Monday, July 15, 2019


This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1935.  My criteria is that I can only use films that are on the 1001 list. To make it a little easier on myself, I am using the rules of the first Academy Award and name a winner for Best Picture (won by Wings for 1927-1928) and Best and Unique and Artistic Picture (won by Sunrise from 1927-1928). 

And the nominees from on the entries released in 1935 from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
Captain Blood
Mutiny on the Bounty
A Night at the Opera
The 39 Steps
Bride of Frankenstein
Top Hat
Peter Ibbertson

And the winner for the Best Picture of 1935 is…The Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein

I had to call into question the basic structure of my memory palace when it comes to The Bride of Frankenstein when I revisited it after many years. I had certainly seen it, but only vaguely remember Dr. Frankenstein’s mentor/associate/rival/villain Dr. Pretorious. I don’t remember Pretorious’s experiment of growing little people in specimen jars, either! Anyway, many film historians prefer this one to the original. I’m a little torn between the two. Boris Karloff pulls off his fractured speech scenes well, but I still like the rawness of the original. So it goes. That being said, I bypassed the original a few days ago and I'll give Bride the award for this year as kind of a cumulative prize for Frankenstein and Bride of...

Bride of Frankenstein

And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1935 is...A Night at the Opera

Duck Soup

When the Marx Brothers left Paramount studios and went to MGM in the mid-thirties, their first film at the studio is often considered by many to be their finest.

A Night at the Opera has many of the Brothers' famous moments. The party of the first part dialogue between Groucho and Chico, some of the best scenes between Groucho and Margaret Dumont, the impersonation of the three bearded aviators, the grand opera finale featuring Harpo and Chico in the orchestra pit and, of course, the crowded stateroom scene, perhaps the Marxes most famous single scene. There is also one of the funner musical interludes between Harpo and Chico (Full disclosure: I always enjoy Chico's piano playing more than Harpo's harp playing). We also have perhaps the Marxes best comic foil in the insufferable Herman Gottlieb, played by Sig Ruman.

We also have the bone of contention with many Marxist fans, that being the musical subplot. This one features the tenor played by Allan Jones and soprano played by Kitty Carlisle. Do their scenes get in the way here? A little. But the two actors are likable enough, can sing and the relationship of their characters to the Marx Brothers does move the plot along.

There is also the issue of the extravagant musical numbers that the boys never had at Paramount. The musical interlude on the ship bordered on being a bit much. However, the opera scene itself was an integral part of the plot and very fun to watch. However, I do think these musical numbers began to start being overblown by the time A Day at the Races came along.

But I shouldn't quibble, the Marxes only made a handful of films and just a couple of great ones.
And A Night at the Opera is certainly on the short list. Whether or not it belongs in this category is certainly debatable, but given the rather limited choices the book presents, it seemed like the best choice.

Duck Soup


  1. I have a weakness for Top Hat as one of the very few musicals I love, which is odd because it is not a particular good movie, so I understand why you did not pick that, but it has that special charm that would make it my pick. Just not certain what category. Captain Blood deserves some love too.

  2. I like Top Hat as well. I didn't think Mutiny on the Bounty was a bad choice for the Oscar at the time, it just hasn't seemed to have the staying power as some of the others.