Thursday, February 27, 2014

For those who like early 1930s movies

TCM's prime time lineup tonight is the three actresses nominated for Best Actress of 1931/32. Tomorrow night it's going to be the five men nominated for Best Actor in 1943; in between we get a whole bunch of Best Actor winners from other years; one of those is going to be the subject of a full-length post later today. That parade of Best Actor Oscar winners kicks off overnight with some of the winners from the early 1930s, fitting in well with the start of the night. I've also pretty much blogged about every movie on tonight's lineup bar one, that being the Fredric March version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at 12:30 AM.

The night kicks off with the woman who won the Oscar, Helen Hayes for playing the title role in The Sin of Madelon Claudet, at 8:00 PM. When I blogged about it I compared it to Madame X, a comparison I still stand by, although her performance is fairly good.

Next up comes Marie Dressler in Emma, at 9:30 PM. Dressler had just won the previous year for Min and Bill, and while she gives a good performance here, I don't think it's quite as memorable as her Oscar-winning performance.

The other nominee was Lynn Fontanne in The Guardsman, at 11:00 PM. Fontanne certainly gives an Oscar-worthy performance in a fresh and funny role as the wife of a husband-and-wife acting team who playfully tests her husband (real-life husband Alfred Lunt) who thinks she's straying. This movie is the real treat of the three, and probably ought to be on earlier in the evening.

As for the Best Actor winners, in addition to Fredric March, there's Wallace Beery, who tied March resulting in two Oscars being given that year, in The Champ at 2:15 AM;

Lionel Barrymore picking up an Oscar for playing an alcoholic lawyer in A Free Soul at 3:45 AM. Norma Shearer, playing Barrymore's daughter, was nominated, but as she had won the previous year for The Divorcee, it's probably for the best that she lost to Marie Dressler in the aforementinoed Min and Bill

Last, but certainly not least, comes Charles Laughton's bravura performance in The Private Life of Henry VIII, completely overshadowing all of his wives.

As for the availability on DVD, the TCM Shop lists The Sin of Madelon Claudet and Emma available among the Best Actress nominees. I don't believe The Guardsman has ever gotten a DVD release at all. Since it was made at MGM, it probably deserves a Warner Archive release. I don't think that being based on a play should be a problem, since the play should be in the public domain. Among the Best Actor winners, A Free Soul and Henry VIII are both to be had at the TCM Shop. The Champ did get a DVD release several years ago, but it seems to be out of print.

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