Best Picture and Director 1939

1927/28 through 1997

Please select one Best Picture and one Best Director

Dark Victory
1
2%
Gone With the Wind
13
27%
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
0
No votes
Love Affair
0
No votes
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
0
No votes
Ninotchka
0
No votes
Of Mice and Men
0
No votes
Stagecoach
2
4%
The Wizard of Oz
7
15%
Wuthering Heights
1
2%
Frank Capra - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
3
6%
Victor Fleming - Gone With the Wind
16
33%
John Ford - Stagecoach
3
6%
Sam Wood - Goodbye, Mr. Chips
0
No votes
William Wyler - Wuthering Heights
2
4%
 
Total votes: 48

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:33 pm

I made a couple of changes to my Fantasy and Best Guess picks, swapping out Mr. Smith for Wizard in my Fantasy picks and Ford for Fleming in my Best Guess picks.

Here's what Andrew Sarris thought looking back in the spring of 1963:

Best Directors
John Ford, Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, Drums Along the Mohawk
Howard Hawks, Only Angels Have Wings
Ernst Lubitsch, Ninotchka
George Cukor, The Women
Alfred Hitchcock, Jamaica Inn
Leo McCarey, Love Affair
Frank Capra, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Josef von Sternberg, Sergeant Madden)
Raoul Walsh, The Roaring Twenties, St. Louis BLues
King Vidor, Northwest Passage
George Stevens, Gunga Din,
Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz
John Stahl, If Tomorrow Comes
Garson Kanin, Bachelor Mother, The Great Man Votes
Gregory La Cava, Fifth Avenue Girl
Edmund Goulding, Dark Victory, The Old Maid, We Are Not Alone
George Marshall, Destry Rides Again, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man
Victor Schertzinger, The Mikado
William K. Howard, Back Door to Heaven
Allan Dwan, The Three Musketeers, The Gorilla, Frontier Marshall
Zoltan Korda, Four Feathers
Roy Kellino, I Met a Murderer
Busby Berkeley, Babes in Arms

Outside Consensus Choices (meaning others liked them more than he did):
William Wyler, Wuthering Heights
Sam Wood, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
William Dieterle, Juarez
Anatole Litvak, Confessions of a Nazi Spy

Best Actresses
Greta Garbo, Ninotcha
Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind
Jean Arthur, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Only Angels Have Wings
Bette Davis, Dark Victory, The Old Maid, Juarez, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
Irene Dunne, Love Affair

Best Actors
Henry Fonda, Young Mr. Lincoln
James Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights
Cary Grant, Only Angels Have Wings
Charles Boyer, Love Affair

Best Supporting Actresses
Ina Claire, Ninotchka
Claire Trevor, Stagecoach
Geraldine Fitzgerald, Wuthering Heights, Dark Victory
Gladys George, The Roaring Twenties
Maria Ouspenskaya, Love Affair

Best Supporting Actors
Thomas Mitchell, Only Angels Have Wings, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gone with the Wind
Richard Barthelmess, Only Angels Have Wings
Harry Carey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Edward Arnold, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Charles Coburn, Bachelor Mother

Special Mention
June Duprez, Four Feather[, Ingenue
Jane Bryan, The Old Maid, Ingenue
Betty Field, What a Life!, Ingenue
Judy Garland, Babes in Arms, Nymphet

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8566
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Sabin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:13 pm

Big Magilla wrote
Note: Thomas Mitchell still has Mr. Smith, Only Angels Have Wings and Hunchback of Notre Dame in addition to Stagecoach, he doesn't need GWTW to help him win

I just meant that Best Supporting Actor remains unchanged whether or not Gone with the Wind is released.

Big Magilla wrote
My best guess as to what Oscar voters of 1939 would do:

Picture - The Wizard of Oz
Actor - Robert Donat
Actress - Bette Davis
Supp. Actor - Thomas Mitchell
Supp. Actress - Margaret Hamilton
Director Victor Fleming (for Wizard)

And this is because without Gone with the Wind, that would mean Wizard of Oz would get the full backing of MGM?

Directing and Supporting Actress nominations would push Wizard of Oz to eight nominations. Shocking that it wasn't nominated for Best Cinematography Color but in a Gone with the Wind-less field, maybe that's likelier. Also, pretty shocking that it's not up for Sound Recording. To me, these omissions indicate a lack of overall support, but with MGM's full backing, maybe it gets them all. These additions would push it to ten nominations. If Margaret Hamilton isn't nominated, then a still more than respectful nine. But how do you feel about its lack of a writing nomination? Do you think that The Wizard of Oz would be the immediate beneficiary in a Gone with the Wind-less category?

NOTE: I think John Ford makes sense for Best Director. Capra isn't going to get chosen for a fourth win. Oz didn't have Gone with the Wind's impact so the many different directors will work against him. Wyler is a possibility considering he hadn't won yet but Stagecoach had seven nominations and there might be residual sentiment that The Informer should've won Best Picture.
Last edited by Sabin on Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:37 pm

You're overthinking this. Anything that isn't reality is fantasy.

My fantasy picks in the absence of GWTW:

Picture - The Wizard of Oz
Actor - Robert Donat
Actress - Irene Dunne
Supp. Actor - Thomas Mitchell
Supp. Actress - Margaret Hamilton
Director - Frank Capra

Note: All but SWizard (for Picture) Dunne are my Oscar Shouldabeen winners - Stewart will have to wait until 1946 to win one of my awards

My best guess as to what Oscar voters of 1939 would do:

Picture - The Wizard of Oz
Actor - Robert Donat
Actress - Bette Davis
Supp. Actor - Thomas Mitchell
Supp. Actress - Margaret Hamilton
Director John Ford

Note: Thomas Mitchell still has Mr. Smith, Only Angels Have Wings and Hunchback of Notre Dame in addition to Stagecoach, he doesn't need GWTW to help him win

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8566
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Sabin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:29 am

Big Magilla wrote
It's a fantasy world unless it's your own awards so if you want to give Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Best Picture and Actor, that's fine by me, but I don't think the Academy membership of the day was of the same mind.

Magilla, I was only evoking a scenario designed to exist as one of the great perceived injustices. I've only said "if" or "possibly" it could win while also mentioning how unlikely it is because he's already won Best Picture twice and Best Director three times this decade. Why am I entertaining it as a possibility? Because Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has eleven nominations, the SECOND most of all time at that point. Clearly, people liked it somewhat. And this was an era where the movie with the most nominations (let alone most of all time) won roughly half the time, although admittedly, it's hard to measure the second half of ceremonies against the first. But if you're telling me Mr. Smith Goes to Washington winning Best Picture exists in a fantasy world, then okay.

So, it's a toss-up between Wuthering Heights (the epic romance) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (taking up the MGM voting bloc). John Ford possibly sneaks in for Best Director considering The Grapes of Wrath was coming out. Robert Donat still wins Best Actor, it sounds like you think Irene Dunne for Love Affair but I think Bette Davis seems a bit more likely in hindsight. Thomas Mitchell for Best Supporting Actor, the rare Gone with the Wind-less field. And for Best Supporting Actress, who knows because it's a brand new race. It could end up being someone not nominated.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:43 am

Sabin wrote:So, we're looking at a world where Mr. Smith Goes to Washington possibly wins Best Picture but not Best Actor and Jimmy Stewart losing Best Actor gets remembered alongside Marlon Brando for Streetcar as one of the greatest Oscar injustices ever.


It's a fantasy world unless it's your own awards so if you want to give Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Best Picture and Actor, that's fine by me, but I don't think the Academy membership of the day was of the same mind.

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8566
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Sabin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:58 am

Big Magilla wrote
The Women would have benefitted by an MGM bloc vote. Cukor was due, especially after being so unceremoniously dumped from GWTW.

Good to know.

Big Magilla wrote
He wouldn't have. You're looking at this from a latter day perspective. Donat's performance was beloved. He was not a compromise winner over Gable and Stewart. He was a beloved actor playing a beloved character from a best-selling novel. Like Stewart was in 1940, his was also a bit of a makeup award. Spencer Tracy, who won his second Oscar in 1938 famously said he thought Donat should have won for The Citadel which was also based on a beloved best-selling novel. But yes, if Stewart had won in 1939, he wouldn't have won again in 1940.

So, we're looking at a world where Mr. Smith Goes to Washington possibly wins Best Picture but not Best Actor and Jimmy Stewart losing Best Actor gets remembered alongside Marlon Brando for Streetcar as one of the greatest Oscar injustices ever.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:37 am

Sabin wrote:After reading more, didn't the Los Angeles Times break an embargo of secrecy reporting that Donat and Leigh had won over Stewart and Davis by a small number of votes? So, it's somewhat fair to assume that Bette Davis would be the winner for Dark Victory.

The Women got no nominations. Why would we assume it would get in for Best Director? Just a general re-shaking up of the race?

The Women would have benefitted by an MGM bloc vote. Cukor was due, especially after being so unceremoniously dumped from GWTW.

The L.A. Times was supposed to wait until the 11 pm edition to announce the winners' names but jumped the gun by announcing them in an earlier edition. The runners-up were revealed by Variety at a later date. Stewart was revealed to have come in second with Gable well behind. Davis was revealed to be close behind Leigh, but that one is a headscratcher to me. Why would anyone want to give Davis a third Oscar for a popular women's picture over Leigh's incomparable performance in GWTW? Had she won, it would likely have been considered one of the worst wins in Oscar history but with Leigh out of the race it may well have happened.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:25 am

Sabin wrote:
Big Magilla wrote
I see GWTW replacing either Our Town or All This, and Heaven Too for Best Picture with Gable replacing Massey, Leigh replacing Martha Scott, and de Havilland and McDaniel replacing Barbara O'Neill and Marjorie Rambeau. Leigh wins over Ginger Rogers, but Stewart prevails. McDaniel and Darwell are a toss-up.

Not if Stewart won Best Actor in 1939.

He wouldn't have. You're looking at this from a latter day perspective. Donat's performance was beloved. He was not a compromise winner over Gable and Stewart. He was a beloved actor playing a beloved character from a best-selling novel. Like Stewart was in 1940, his was also a bit of a makeup award. Spencer Tracy, who won his second Oscar in 1938 famously said he thought Donat should have won for The Citadel which was also based on a beloved best-selling novel. But yes, if Stewart had won in 1939, he wouldn't have won again in 1940.

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8566
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Sabin » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:38 pm

Big Magilla wrote
I see GWTW replacing either Our Town or All This, and Heaven Too for Best Picture with Gable replacing Massey, Leigh replacing Martha Scott, and de Havilland and McDaniel replacing Barbara O'Neill and Marjorie Rambeau. Leigh wins over Ginger Rogers, but Stewart prevails. McDaniel and Darwell are a toss-up.

Not if Stewart won Best Actor in 1939.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:00 pm

With Gone With the Wind moved to 1940, there are all kind of possibilities.

The National Board of Review included both GWTW and Rebecca among its ten best of the year and still gave the award to The Grapes of Wrath. They also gave an award to Vivien Leigh jointly for GWTW and Waterloo Bridge as well as James Stewart for The Shop Around the Corner and Jane Darwell for The Grapes of Wrath. Henry Fonda was not among the 17 actors they singled out.

I see GWTW replacing either Our Town or All This, and Heaven Too for Best Picture with Gable replacing Massey, Leigh replacing Martha Scott, and de Havilland and McDaniel replacing Barbara O'Neill and Marjorie Rambeau. Leigh wins over Ginger Rogers, but Stewart prevails. McDaniel and Darwell are a toss-up.

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8566
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Sabin » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:45 pm

Greg wrote
If Gable not being a competitor in '39 leads to Stewart winning, then, that should lead to Fonda winning in '40, unless, perhaps, Gone With The Wind is released in '40.

I was going to say it doesn't exist...

But if it's pushed a year, that leads to Gone with the Wind sweeping the 1940 Oscars, presumably recreating its 1939 sweep, possibly adding Best Original Score (now that Wizard of Oz is out of the way), Best Actor, but defending Best Supporting Actress against Jane Darwell and Judith Anderson in what likely will be remembered as one of the great lineups for Best Supporting Actress. A 1940 Best Actress lineup with Vivien Leigh would unquestionably be routinely cited as one of the best ever. If Stewart wins for Mr. Smith, maybe he doesn't even get nominated for The Philadelphia Story? But likely he or Raymond Massey gets forced out for Clark Gabe. I wonder if that tilts the nomination not to Fonda but to Chaplin?
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Greg
Tenured
Posts: 2943
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 1:12 pm
Location: Greg
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Greg » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:57 pm

If Gable not being a competitor in '39 leads to Stewart winning, then, that should lead to Fonda winning in '40, unless, perhaps, Gone With The Wind is released in '40.
The "national debt" isn't.

Sabin
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8566
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Sabin » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:43 pm

After reading more, didn't the Los Angeles Times break an embargo of secrecy reporting that Donat and Leigh had won over Stewart and Davis by a small number of votes? So, it's somewhat fair to assume that Bette Davis would be the winner for Dark Victory.

The Women got no nominations. Why would we assume it would get in for Best Director? Just a general re-shaking up of the race?

Another question: with Gone with the Wind out of the way, does Love Affair benefit the most? Does it become the love story of the year? It has six nominations. It was directed by the previous year's winner. Are Leo McCarey and Charles Boyer (who had two previous nominations and would get another in two more years) immediately beneficiaries of the vacancies, pushing it to eight nominations?

I don't know how much has changed in the decades but it seems as though individual races organically develop dynamics. Viewed in hindsight today, Robert Donat looks like the spoiler in a race between Clark Gable and James Stewart. Or rather, in a race between the old champ and the new blood, they went for a reliable comfortable vet who had been awaiting recognition this whole time (and was nominated the previous year). If Gable is gone (and again, who knows how many votes he actually took), the whole race gets thrown on its head. The person now leading the big epic (Wuthering Heights) is also a new blood import. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington likely becomes the front-runner for Best Picture and it becomes harder to divorce its leading man from the film itself. Or does that make it an even bigger scandal when the film wins but he loses?

Best Supporting Actress seems to be the race that's turned the most upside-down by omissions. I have no idea who would get those nominations let alone who would win.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8925
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Reza » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:43 pm

Anyone BUT Merle Oberon that year. She was ghastly in Wuthering Heights.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 17238
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Picture and Director 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:07 am

These are all good points.

I would think the following for replacements in the top category:

Picture - The Women

Director - Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz), Ernst Lubitsch (Ninotchka) or George Cukor (The Women)

Actor - Charles Laughton (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) or Henry Fonda (Young Mr. Lincoln), although if it were up to me I would throw out Mickey Rooney and put them both in.

Actress - Merle Oberon (Wuthering Heights), but MGM might well have mounted a campaign for Norma Shearer in The Women and Selznick for Ingrid Bergman in Intermezzo if they didn't have a joint interest in GWTW.

Supporting Actress - Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz and Flora Robson in either Wuthering Heights or We Are Not Alone. Other possibilities would include Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell in The Women, and Claire Trevor in Stagecoach, all of whom were given star billing and likely listed among Best Actress contenders. Stronger possibilities at the time might have been Mary Boland in The Women, Gladys George in The Roaring Twenties, and Dame May Whitty in The Lady Vanishes, although the latter was pretty much forgotten by the time Oscar rolled around.


Return to “The Damien Bona Memorial Oscar History Thread”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest