What Should Have Won the 1942 Best Picture Oscar?

Welcome to Year Fifteen of the Best Picture discussion, concerning movies released in 1942!

Here’s the entire year, summed up by me in v. 1: “Patriotism should never be allowed to interfere with artistic judgment. Seriously.”

Mrs Miniver poster.gif

Mrs. Miniver won originally. Here’s what I had to say about it: “Mrs. Miniver proved to be the first chance the Academy had to show how patriotic it could be; they handed it every award they could, falling over themselves to show how much dear old England and Mrs. Miniver’s stiff upper lip meant to them. Supposedly, the Minivers are middle class – it says so in the opening titles – but the enormous home they live in seems to undercut that. That disparity between the claims the movie makes, and the reality that certainly existed in England in 1942, cannot be reconciled except as propaganda – or typical MGM folderol. As an historical document of the war, and as an example of propaganda, Mrs. Miniver should be seen and appreciated. But as an artistic achievement, Mrs. Miniver is certainly not the best picture of the year – Pauline Kael went so far as to call it a “generally offensive picture” and “scandalously smug.”

Here are the other original nominees: The Archers began to form with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Invaders (with editing by David Lean); Ronald Reagan screaming about his missing leg in Kings Row; Orson Welles watching his artistic control being stolen in The Magnificent Ambersons Monty Woolley being irascible with children in The Pied Piper; Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees; Ronald Colman going amnesiac and forgetting Greer Garson in Random Harvest; Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and Jean Arthur in The Talk of the Town the Marines fighting it out on Wake Island, and Jimmy Cagney in his greatest musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Other (better?) choices for Best Picture might include: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy falling in love (for real!) on Woman of the Year; Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and a spitting camel in their funniest movie, Road to Morocco; Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and two cigarettes in Now, Voyager; a deer and his dead mother in Bambi; Veronica Lake and Fredric March in Rene Clair’s I Married a Witch; Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not to Be; Sabu in The Jungle Book; Gene Tierney in Josef von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture; Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in Babes on Broadway; Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn; Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in This Gun’s for Hire; Van Heflin and his tears in Johnny Eager; Frank Morgan with Spencer Tracy and the dogs in Tortilla Flats; Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, and William Bendix in Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key; Val Lewton’s Cat People; Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came to Dinner; Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire in You Were Never Lovelier; and Jean Gabin in Fritz Lang’s Moontide.

Given what the Academy overlooked completely in the Best Picture category, if one was being patriotic, I’d start suspecting Nazi infliltrators…either that, or an epidemic of red-white-and-blue lobotomies…

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPEELH0

Here’s your chance to stop the Nazis and hand out some brains! Please vote!


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