Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1936

dtgirbp-1936Here are the ten nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Anthony Adverse
The Great Ziegfeld
Libeled Lady
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Romeo and Juliet
San Francisco
The Story of Louis Pasteur
A Tale of Two Cities
Three Smart Girls

Biggest Snub:

Modern Times

My Overall Thoughts:

Of the films Ive seen, this was truly the year of the biopic since the two best films are from that genre and are much better than the other nominees.

The two adaptations are both decent, but better adaptations were make later on.

Capra, who made a name for himself in the 30’s as the film maker with hope in his films also managed to once again make a film that landed in the list of nominees.

My Rankings:


  • 10.- Libeled Lady – Definitely a screwball comedy because the plot is so ridiculous that one would wonder how a writer would even think such a plot could work. The four stars of this film are the main reason to watch it; Harlow, Powell, Loy and Tracy who are all fun to watch despite knowing how silly the premise is. Yet another film that baffles me as to how it got a Best Picture nomination which ironically was its sole nomination.
  • 9.- San Francisco – Another mediocre Best Picture nominee. This film does a nice job of showing what saloon life was like during that time period and the musical numbers are catchy, but the story itself meanders along too much and just doesn’t manage to really make us care about the characters or the situations they find themselves in.
  • 8. – Romeo and Juliet –  Somewhat mediocre adaptation of The Bard’s famous work.  None of the actors really stand out here but it is clear that the leads should have been younger than Howard and Shearer were.  It’s cold reception led to a drought in Hollywood when it came to adapting Shakespeare’s work until Olivier proved that it could be done a few years later.
  • 7. – Three Smart Girls – Nice premise that is complicated by adding too many side events. The girls seem much older than they are suppose to be and that makes part of this story seem even stranger. The music is nice but seems tacked on and extraneous. Another film that probably shouldn’t have warranted a Best Picture nomination.
  • 6. Anthony Adverse – Interesting story that probably works much better as a novel than it does as an adaptation to the screen. The way that they story is presented comes across as slightly choppy and doesn’t flow as well as it probably should. March and De Havilland are both quite good here and we can feel their character’s pain along the way. Not as bad as it is claimed to be and it’s shocking that this has such a low score on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • 5. – Dodsworth – Huston is really great here because we can feel both his yearning to return to his busy old life yet also explore the freedom that one has when retired.  His wife has the opposite opinions and is more concerned with exploring the world she didn’t know as a millionaires wife in a small town in middle America. The themes discussed here are still relevant 80 years later because it begs to ask the question of what people really want in life and whether they are even aware themselves of their own desires.
  • 4. – A Tale of Two Cities – Great adaptation of Dickens’ novel that really helps the characters jump off the pages. Visually, this film looks amazing and not having known the full story beforehand, I found it all very intriguing to watch unfold.
  • 3. – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – Very well done film by Capra that includes his usual message about the “common man” versus the system. Cooper and Arthur have great chemistry together and make the story even more interesting to follow. Capra won his second Best Director Oscar for this film. Such a timely film during the Depression Era to show how the “common man” would try and use wealth to help his fellow man instead of only wanting to exploit them.
  • 2. – The Great Ziegfeld – Great idea, just not followed through well enough. Too many musical numbers and too little of a real plot and it’s all a bit uneven.
  • 1. – The Story of Louis Pasteur – Great biopic for its time. Muni was amazing in this role and although it’s 80+ years old, it’s very interesting to watch how science was perceived and changed just over 150 years ago

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No.  TGZ is definitely a biopic that came before it’s time due to its epic scope, but TSoLP is a slightly more interesting tale.  Further proof as to how much the Academy members have always loved films about themselves.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

3 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1936

  1. When I watch San Francisco, I get a tear in my eye when Clark Gable falls to his knees and prays, but wish he would have done that before meeting Tracey who lead him to McDonald gloriously singing Nearer, my God to thee…..so I do agree that the plot provided by sin (Gable) religion (Tracy) and Faith (McDonald) could have used some help, but redemption in the end with Nearer, my God to thee is worth watching over and over. Was it Earthquake disaster or Love in San Francisco movie? I need to feel the whole town was rooting for Gable & he finally got his act together with the earthquake. I was confused when McDonald had a more suitable man who died in the earthquake. Why would she have left him and not gone for help for him? The story was inconsistent and confusing. Gable loved what McDonald could do for HIS business. Showcasing her in ridiculous costumes and not including her in decisions. Very different love story than my favorite with O’Hara and Waynes’s THE QUIET MAN who in the end both didn’t care about the money and both tried faith to understand each other. I never felt Clark Gable loved McDonald in the San Francisco movie, but then I never felt he loved Scarlet in Gone with the Wind.

    Liked by 1 person

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