Friday, July 19, 2019


This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1937.  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 on the entries from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
Captains Courageous
Song at Midnight
Grand Illusion
Stella Dallas
Make Room for Tomorrow
The Life of Emile Zola
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The Awful Truth
Pepe Le Moko

And the winner for the Best Picture of 1937 is…Make Way for Tomorrow

Make Way for Tomorrow

"The most depressing damn film I've ever seen!" Or something to that effect was Orson Welles's commentary on Make Way For Tomorrow.

Leo McCarey's film is about a family's struggle with what to do about aging parents with nowhere to go. Comparable to Ozu's Tokyo Story, it is a rarity among Hollywood movies of the time (and today for that matter) to deal with older people and their struggles as a main focus. It's also a rarity that there are no headline stars to be seen, which actually works in the film's favor. A gem of a movie in my book.

Make Way for Tomorrow

And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1937 is...Grand Illusion

Grand Illusion

Some of my favorite films (“2001,” “8 ½” and “Clockwork Orange”) struck a chord with me much more on the second viewing than the first. Jean Renoir’s “Rules of the Game,” is the best example of this for me. On the first viewing, I didn’t really get it, but on the next viewing, it became one of my favorite films.

Renoir’s other classic “Grande Illusion” may fall into that category too. On this, my first viewing, I saw a lot of great cinematic touches: The German officer and French officer’s common traits, including duty to country, the use of musical motifs for effect, the loneliness war brings to the German widow, groups of soldiers playing as children and children playing as soldiers, the French drag show turning into the patriotic “Marseilles” after a French victory, etc. Now that I’ve starting naming them, they seem to be numerous.

Notable performances include: Dita Parlo in a small role as the war widow, Erich Von Stroheim as the surprisingly sympathetic German officer, and Marcel Dalio as Rosenthal, a much less straight laced character here than I remember him playing in “Rules of the Game.”

What is the Grand Illusion? That this is the war to end all wars, that life changes when you pass imaginary borders or that true love wins out. Or is it something more sinister?

Grand Illusion

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