Best Original Story 1939

1927/28 through 1997

What was the Best Original Story of 1939?

Bachelor Mother (Felix Jackson)
0
No votes
Love Affair (Mildred Cram, Leo McCarey)
0
No votes
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Lewis R. Foster)
6
60%
Ninotchka (Melchior Lengyel)
4
40%
Young Mr. Lincoln (Lamar Trotti)
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 10

Mister Tee
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Re: Best Original Story 1939

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Nov 26, 2016 3:26 pm

It probably says something about Hollywood that three of these Original Story nominees were eventually remade in one form or another.

Bachelor Mother (which re-emerged as Bundle of Joy) is an enjoyable enough romantic comedy. Not much to say about it beyond that.

I had the same experience with Love Affair that I did earlier with Lady for a Day/Pocketful of Miracles: seeing the bigger Technicolor remake long before I saw the original. This had a doubly-diluting effect: one's first experience with a story-line is almost bound to be the dominant one, favoring the remakes for me; and the remakes were (to my eye) more elaborate, making the earlier versions feel simpler/less powerful. In this case, though I can see Love Affair laid out the template, like BJ (I think it's what he's saying), I found An Affair to Remember simply more emotionally engaging.

Young Mr. Lincoln is Peter Bogdanovich's favorite movie of 1939, which to me illustrates just how far in the tank Bogdanovich was for John Ford. I find the film enjoyable enough as courtroom drama, but see no particular greatness in it.

Ninotchka's remake, Silk Stockings, took the circuitous route of first becoming a Broadway musical and then returning to the screen. To be honest, I've never been inspired to watch that version -- I can't imagine it living up to the original. I find most of Ninotchka wonderfully funny, with Billy Wilder wit and Lubitsch style.

But for once I'll apply the Magilla emphasis on story here: Ninotchka may be a better screenplay, but the storyline of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is as strong -- and as cynical, even if in the end hopeful -- as any movie made in its era. Capra as usual puts his hero through the Stations of the Cross -- bringing him to the brink of actual martyrdom -- before allowing the audience a narrow escape into a happy ending. The film famously offended both members of Congress and the even-more-thin-skinned press corps, and both deserved every whack they took. As I've noted here before, the heralded class of 1939 doesn't much impress me -- I find too many of the films on display impersonal/officially-designated art -- but Mr. Smith is one of the few of the group to merit its historical reputation. It gets my vote here.

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Original Story 1939

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:11 pm

As far as frivolous '30's comedies go, Bachelor Mother is fairly inoffensive -- it's pleasant enough, and has its laughs. But the basic story -- Ginger Rogers can't get anyone to believe that the baby she found left outside an orphanage isn't her own -- is definitely silly stuff, and evaporates from memory almost immediately after it's over.

Love Affair is a winning enough blend of humor and heart, a solid romantic drama with an ending that's pretty hard to resist. On story terms, though, it's not wildly innovative -- the chemistry between Boyer and Dunne, and McCarey's graceful touch seem to carry the movie far further than the plot. And, of course, we now have the knowledge that the later rendition of this story would prove even more memorable.

Young Mr. Lincoln is the kind of historical movie -- like Amadeus -- where you just have to accept the premise as mostly fiction, and evaluate what the film is saying about real people even if the events depicted are only loosely based on reality. And on those terms, the movie is effective -- by not even showing the point in his life when Lincoln became a Great Man, the film is able to explore the idea that many legendary historical figures come from exactly the same place as average citizens, while perhaps possessing qualities that portend future greatness even then. Still, I don't think the plot is dynamite enough to choose -- as far as courtroom dramas go, it's fairly simple.

Ninotchka really has a peculiar premise for a movie, so the fact that the writers managed to make this story both a charming romantic comedy and a cynical political drama with both elements seeming of a piece is a noteworthy achievement. The movie definitely has elements that land on the silly side -- the trio of Russian thugs are a bit buffoonish -- but the central relationship is quite memorable, and the contrast between the two leads allows for some sharp satire throughout. It's worth considering.

But I'll go with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which is easily the strongest movie on this ballot. It's a film that puts faith in the spirit of American optimism, but isn't afraid to shy away from showing the challenges optimists such as Jefferson Smith face when entering an environment as ugly as the political sphere. The story covers fairly broad ground -- although the film isn't generally thought of as a romance, the Stewart-Arthur relationship is a vividly realized element, and the script fleshes out numerous complex supporting characters as well. And the plot builds to a hugely gripping and powerful conclusion, as Smith filibusters on the floor of Congress, refusing to give up on his ideals in the face of great adversity. Oscar made the right choice.

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Re: Best Original Story 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:39 pm

Good selections, all, but I have to go along with the Oscar winner - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with Love Affair and Ninotchka very close runners-up.

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Best Original Story 1939

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:53 am

The poll is open.


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