Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1938

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Frank Capra (You Can’t Take It with You)
Michael Curtiz (Four Daughters)
Michael Curtiz (Angels with Dirty Faces)
Norman Taurog (Boys Town)
King Vidor (The Citadel)

Biggest Snub:

Michael Curtiz – The Adventures of Robin Hood


Jean Renoir – The Grand Illusion

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a year with some pretty bad choices for nominees in this category. Curtiz was nominated for 2 of the 3 films that he directed this year yet they missed the best one; Robin Hood which might have given him a chance at winning. Since he cancelled himself out with two lesser productions, the race was between the three that were left over.

My Rankings:


5. Michael Curtiz (Four Daughters)
4. Michael Curtiz (Angels with Dirty Faces)
3. Norman Taurog
2. King Vidor
1. Frank Capra


5. Four DaughtersThis film is really soap opera-py and I found it to be quite tedious in its storytelling. The plot is razor thin and the characters are all too similar to differentiate well enough. The few musical numbers are nice to listen to and help make this film bearable. Yet another Best Picture nominee that I think doesn’t deserve to be in the company of so many other great films.
4. Angels with Dirty FacesCagney does a great job of showing how talented an actor he can be with this role. The character is developed quite well and doesn’t seem like a typical or stereotypical gangster role because of the depth of the character. The story waivers back and forth because it has both poignant and devious scenes all wrapped into one. Cagney and O’Brien have great chemistry as lifelong friends that have chosen very diverse paths in life. Cagney definitely deserved his Best Actor Nomination a the Oscars that year but no one was gonna be able to beat Tracy as father Flanagan.
3. Boys TownExcellent acting job by Tracy (as usual) which earned him his second consecutive Best Actor Oscar. Emotional story, but the movie feels too subdued in certain parts. Rooney is also great as the most difficult pupil Flanagan ever encountered.
2. The CitadelReally well made film that gives us a great arc for a doctor who wants to change the world. The various stops on his journey are all interesting to watch and unfortunately not much has changed in the 80 years since this came out. Russell and Donat are both great here and once again prove how great actors they truly were. One of the best films that year and was most definitely deserving of the nomination for Best Picture.
1. You Can’t Take It with YouExcellent film that shows that there may be vast differences between the classes, but one thing will always stay the same no matter what and that’s the fact that we all came from the same place and will end up in the same place and nothing can ever change that. Excellent cast helps bring out the story so well. Capra does a superb job with this story that he was quite deserving on winning his 3rd Best Director Oscar for this film. Excellent script is filled with very witty and crisp dialogue that works on numerous levels. Winner of Best Picture that year.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Well… yes!  Given the 5 nominees, Capra does the best job, but there were better jobs done by directors that year that should have eclipsed this winner if they had been nominated.

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

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1938

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