Police Lt. Frank Kafka: All I have to do is catch him.
Dr. James G. Kent: You’ll catch ’em, and they’ll kill ’em, and everyone will forget about it. . . that is until the next one comes along. Then it will start all over again.
Maj. Gen. George Broulard: Aside from the inescapable fact that many of your men never left the trenches, there’s the troops’ morale, don’t forget.
Col. Dax: The troops’ morale?
Maj. Gen. George Broulard: Certainly. These executions will be a perfect tonic for the entire division. There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die.
Col. Dax: Well, I never thought of that, sir.
This is one of those early transitioning to sound-era ceremonies where most of the films that were nominated for Best Picture are hard to watch by your average modern moviegoer. The technology was still catching up with itself and everything looks kind of raw. That being said, the stories were as great as ever. I chose The Front Page to discuss from this ceremony because its director Lewis Milestone was clearly trying to experiment with filming techniques regardless of the setbacks caused by the sound transition. The result is a film filled with really interesting camera movements and staging unlike most films made during this transitional era. Another interesting thing about this film is how many times this story was made into a film, this 1931 effort being the first. It’s based on a stage play of the same name by Ben Hect and Charles MacArthur, with the screenplay adapted by Bartlett Cormack and Charles Lederer. Hect and MacArthur’s play was later adapted into Howard Hawk’s 1940 screwball comedy His Girl Friday – with a screenplay by Lederer, Hect and MacArthur, actually – and again in 1972 by Billy Wilder under its original name and a fourth time in 1988 under the name Switching Channels. The Front Page was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning none: Best Actor Adolphe Menjou, Best Director and Best Picture.
The original version of the twice re-made A Star is Born (though, the plot quite resembles 1932’s What Price Hollywood?), is quite wonderful. Perhaps not as memorable as the George Cukor/Judy Garland 1954 musical adaptation, the 1937 version is miles and miles better than the mediocre 1976 Barbra Streisand version. It’s also in the public domain, so it’s available to watch for free in various quality all over the internet. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one: Best Writing Original Story (won), Best Writing Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Assistant Director, Best Director, Best Picture. W. Howard Greene was rewarded an honorary plaque for the color photography of the film, an award that was “recommended by a committee of leading cinematographers after viewing all the color pictures made during the year”. The other films up for Best Picture that year were: The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door and winner The Life of Emile Zola.