The 12th Academy Awards Ceremony in 1940

Early Oscar

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A Look at the Academy Awards

Did you know back in 1930, the head of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America,William Hays , established a decency code for what is acceptable in films? People today don't realize there were some pretty risque and naughty things going on in motion pictures. Did you also know the cartoon "Betty Boop" started out in 1930 as a sex symbol? She was very popular with adult audiences, and you thought adult cartoons were something new!

The Fourth Academy Awards in 1932 honored movies released from August 1, 1930 – July 31, 1931, but in 1934 the Awards were honoring movies released from August 1, 1932 – December 31, 1933. None of the earlier Awards were televised but were broadcast on radio. Awards were handed out at a dinner, not the show and pomp they are now.

The "Best Picture Award" was originally called "The Best Production". The Twelfth Academy Awards were the first hosted by Bob Hope. This was also the first year an Oscar was given for 'visual effects'.

If ever there was a year to remember for outstanding films, 1940 was the one. Classics both children and adults are still watching today were Award winners in 1940 and I must admit I think these were some of the greatest films ever!

Now that we've looked at a few quick facts, let's take a look at the movies that won at the 12th Academy Awards.

Gone With The Wind Movie Poster 1939

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Famous Quotes from Gone With The Wind

  • "Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything."
  • "What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one."
  • "I won't think of it now. I can't stand it now. I'll think of it later."
  • “I'll think of it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
  • “No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
  • “Dear Scarlett! You aren't helpless. Anyone as selfish and determined as you are is never helpless. God help the Yankees if they should get you."
  • "Fiddle dee dee. War, war, war. This war talk is spoiling the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream."
  • "I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' no babies."
  • "Take a good look my dear. It's a historical moment. You can tell your grandchildren how you watched the Old South disappear one night."
  • "Tell me Scarlet, do you never shrink from marrying men you don't love?"
  • "Frankly, my dear. I don't give a damn."

Gone With the Wind

There are few people left in this world who haven't heard of Gone With the Wind. The Academy Award winner for Outstanding Production, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Color, and Best Film Editing, eight Academy Awards. It also received two honorary Awards bringing the total to ten. That record stood for twenty years! It was also the longest sound film made at that time.

Did you know F. Scott Fitzgerald did a brief stint as a screenwriter for this film?

Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel came to life in 1939 with the production of a truly amazing movie. This is an epic film depicting the Old South just before, during and after the Civil War. Of course this view of the Civil War is a little different than most, it glorifies the South, not the North. The costumes and sets are something that hadn't been seen before especially with so much authenticity. Additionally, our beloved Scarlett O'Hara is not your typical Southern Belle. She is conniving, strong willed, and not afraid to go after what she wants regardless of the consequences.

The problem here is "Gone With The Wind" truly deserves a hub all it's own but I'm writing about the Oscars so I need to put things in perspective and keep this brief. I will add, just for informational purposes, I named my first daughter Tara after Scarlett's beloved home and plantation of the same name not to mention the theme music, "Tara's Theme".

Clark Gable was not the only one considered for the part of Rhett Butler but thankfully he was the favorite and got the part! Gary Cooper was quoted as saying, “Gone with the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history..." MGM did not want to release Clark Gable to play Rhett Butler and a financial deal was made to allow him to play the part. Four hundred actresses read for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. The public wasn't happy with the choice of Vivien Leigh as she was unknown here.

I was surprised to find out Clark Gable wore dentures and Vivien Leigh did not like kissing him! Amazingly the four main characters are only in one scene together, when Scarlett finds out her second husband has been killed!

The film premiered in Atlanta but the black cast could not sit with their white counterparts. Hattie McDaniel was the first black ever nominated for an Oscar and obviously the first to win for Best Supporting Actress. This film has been re-released eight times over the years.

Fleeing Atlanta

The burning of Atlanta was the first scene shot for this movie. It was done by burning the sets of several other movies. Gone With The Wind was a breakthrough movie, doing things no other movie had done before.

The most famous scenes from Gone With the Wind include of course the burning of Atlanta, the "birthing" of Melanie's baby, and the closing "I don't give a damn" scene.

In case you can't tell, this is a three and a half hour movie not to be missed. Civil War fans, Clark Gable fans, and epic movie fans alike will love this movie.

Now, we're off to see the Wizard!

The Cowardly Lion

My Tonnor Doll depicting Bert Lahr as the Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
My Tonnor Doll depicting Bert Lahr as the Lion in The Wizard of Oz. | Source

The Wizard of Oz

Best Original Score and Best Song ("Over the Rainbow") but we know there is so much more to this wonderful, enchanting, fantasy movie! Most of us know Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are caught up in a Tornado and wind up in the land of Oz. We also know that Dorothy is played by a young and talented Judy Garland. Ms. Garland was awarded a special Academy Award - The Academy Juvenile Award, she was sixteen at the time.

Poor farm girl Dorothy wants to protect her dog from a nasty neighbor and wishes for a better place. Oz is that place. Imagine a yellow brick road, a wicked witch, a good witch, even munchkins and flying monkeys!

Did you know Frank L. Baum named his magical land Oz, in his book, after the letters on the bottom of his filing cabinet - O-Z. That book was written in 1900. There were many differences between the book and the movie. For example, Dorothy's journey to Oz, Oz was real in the book, and a place Dorothy would return to in later books about Oz. Another point of some interest, her 'slippers' were silver in the book, not red.

Did you also know Shirley Temple was first considered for the role of Dorothy, but her studio, 20th Century Fox wouldn't 'loan her out'?

How marvelous it is to watch the sepia toned film turn to complete color when Dorothy lands in Oz! This is not a later colorization, it is how the film was released. Except for that the film was not a huge success on it's first release.

Dorothy Meets the Wicked Witch

As time went on it became more popular. Did you know it was named "the most watched film ever" by the Library of Congress?

Who can forget the Wicked Witch of the West threatening Dorothy or the Good Witch Glinda floating away in her pink bubble? What about the munchkins! Where have we ever seen a larger group of smaller people chatting, running around and singing "Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead"?

The most famous, and often quoted, line from this movie is "Toto... I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore", or is it "there's no place like home?"

If you haven't seen this movie because you think it is only for children,think again. There's more to this movie than just a trip down the yellow brick road. What about the Tin Man's heart and the Lion's courage? Have you ever really listened to the lines and wondered what they're really all about? What about the Wizard saying, “a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others,”

If you haven't seen the Wizard of Oz maybe now's the time, especially if you have children or grandchildren.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Other Academy Award Winners in 1940

Award Recipient
Award
Movie
Robert Donat
Best Actor
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Thomas Mitchell
Best Supporting Actor
Stagecoach
Lewis R. Foster
Best Story
Mr. Smith Goes to Washintgon
Richard Hageman et. al.
Best Score
Stagecoach
Bernard B. Brown, Universal
Best Sound Recording
When Tomorow Comes
Gregg Toland
Best Cinematography, Black and White
Wuthering Heights
E.H. Hansen & Fred Sersen
Best Visual Effects
The Rains Came

Some Movies Nominated for Academy Awards that Didn't Win in 1940

  • Dark Victory
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Ninotchka
  • Love Affair
  • Babes in Arms
  • Young Mr. Lincoln
  • Intermezzo
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Swanee River
  • Beau Geste
  • Gunga Din
  • Topper Takes a Trip

Gunga Din

A scene from one of my all-time favorite movies, Gunga Din.
A scene from one of my all-time favorite movies, Gunga Din. | Source

More Academy Award Winner

After looking at the rest of the Academy Award winners for this year you can certainly tell it was a good year for movies. "Goodbye Mr. Chips", set in Victorian England is the tale of a "schoolmaster' who is loved by all. Though he doesn't have the best academic record, after meeting his wife he begins to relate to his students which leads to their love and respect for him. It also shows the changes Mr. Chips sees as his life is played out in this movie. Mr. Chips is played by Academy Award winner Robert Donat and the lovely Greer Garson plays his wife. It is a sentimental film but I think it is sentimental done well.

"Stagecoach", directored by John Ford and starring John Wayne. Anyone who knows Hollywood knows that's a recommendation for a movie. Obviously its about a stagecoach ride, but its through Apache territory. Of course the cast of characters are certainly characters and like any good western there's lots of action. I believe this was Mr. Ford's first western.

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is another sentimental film but played so well by Jimmy Stewart, the all-American, honest politician. The Governor appoints Mr. Smith to replace a deceased Senator thinking Smith is honest enough to make the people happy and naive enough for the politicians to push him around and get their way. Smith, however, takes the whole thing very seriously and plays it for real. He is helped by the secretary of the deceased Senator played by Jean Arthur. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has been called one of the quintessential whistleblower films in American history."

Of course "Wuthering Heights" is one of the greatest love stories ever written and it is an incredible movie that makes me angry and tearful every time I see it. There isn't enough time or space to go into every award winner, but believe me they are worth viewing as are the other movies made in nineteen thirty-nine. I can safely say, it was a very good year.

I hope you've enjoyed my reviews and will leave a comment sharing your experiences.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

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Comments 28 comments

hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Hi, Mary!

You have quite the niche going on, my friend! Wonderfully done. Of the great movies you reviewed here, some of which I've watched multiple times, the scene that comes to mind is Jimmy Stewart's powerful performance as the young Senator Smith delivering his filibuster speech!

The movies from this particular year, 1940, are of such superior quality that it's certainly understandable why people might say, "They sure don't make 'em like they used to!"

Aloha!

Joe


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Love these movie reviews. Great idea for hubs...Gone with the Wind is still my all time favorite. i read the sequel and it made everything come out wonderful. She was quite the queen of the scene... I love seeing how different Hollywood was ...never to be the same. Voting up+++ and pinning.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you for being the first to comment HawaiiO! These titles are from Exclusive Titles and I love them, as they say, they are right up my alley. They certainly don't make 'em like they used to and that's why I like watching the old ones over and over! Aloha my friend.

Carol, if you took a poll I bet 10 out of 12 women would name "Gone With the Wind" as their favorite. Three and a half hours of pure entertainment. Thanks for the vote and pin, much appreciated.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

What an incredible year for movies. I'll have you know I have seen every single one of those movies, even the ones that didn't win an award.

I don't know how you are doing for views on this series but I love it.

bill


SilverGenes 3 years ago

What a fantastic idea for a series and you've done such a good job with the presentation! I've seen all but three of these movies so will have to find them and curl up on the couch for a marathon soon. There is nothing done today that comes close to matching the old films. The storylines were often far more complex and the acting really let you know you had been to the movies. It was dramatic and bold. None of this 'just like real life' stuff. I love this hub and look forward to reading the rest of your series now. Voted way UP!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

OK, my bubble is burst with Clark Gable and the dentures...oh my and who knew?!

Oh and The Wizard of Oz teaches so many life lessons...I will drop most everything to watch these two movies when they are on TV...

I so prefer classic movies to much of what is on today...appreciate this list of winners and contenders, some of which I have seen, but would certainly see again. You have done an excellent summary, Mary!

Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Believe it. These movies were still in the box office in SF in the late 60s. Thank you for this.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England

Aah now we come to one of my favourite years, 1939, considered by film historians as the greatest year of movies in Hollywoods history. (1940 was the year that Oscar event took place).

Thanks for a good read Mary, enjoyed the trivia, didn't know Clark Gable had dentures and Leigh hated kissing him.

So many favourite films of 1939, Gone With the Wind of course, Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, Destry Rides Again, Marx Bros at the Circus, Gunga Din etc etc

Voted Up and Interesting.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

The series is doing so-so Bill but I love writing it and they are "Exclusive Titles", that's why the skipping around in years. I think 1939 was probably one of, if not the, greatest years for film!

Thank you SilverGenes and I must say I agree with every word you said, I guess that's why I love writing about these old movies, you knew you were going to get something good! I hope you enjoy the rest of my series and appreciate your stopping by.

Ah Maria, I was not smiling when I found out about Clark Gable either! Glad you enjoyed and appreciate your votes GF.

MHatter, thank YOU for reading. Still in the sixties? That's a surprise.

I know Steve, wasn't '39 just one of the best! I LOVED Gunga Din and watched it over and over even though it made me bawl. When I tried out for my high school drama club, I recited Gunga Din and it got me in!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Mary (Till),

I just love this series you have going on here! I remember watching for the first time "The Wizard of Oz" when I was six years old, and have loved it ever since. Those monkeys still amaze and scare me! My favorite character is the Cowardly Lion. It is amazing the creativity put into that movie of so long ago. Also, "Gone With The Wind" well, it was surely a great year for great movies at the Academy!!! That is so interesting about "Betty Boop" and how all the adults loved her and it being a cartoon, but I can see why.

Thanks for the informative and interesting hub once again.

Voted up ++++ and sharing (well, have to come back to share as my buttons are not showing up at the moment)

Hugs and blessings, Faith Reaper


heavenleigh707 profile image

heavenleigh707 3 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

Oh I LOVE this! Thank you soooooooooooo much for compiling! 1939 was an AMAZING year for the movies! (Also the year that my dad was born) so doubly sentimental for me.

I so very much appreciate you writing this wonderful piece! Hurray for Hollywood! ;) Voting Up and Kudos all around. ~h~


paddypicasso 3 years ago

Great to get feedback on the way the movie industry developed, and how society was, in the old times. On account of the lack of technology then, they had to write great characters, no special affects to hide behind, when chicken tasted like real chicken, unlike the rubber chicken we are all too well used to today, brings back reminders of how I learned to grow up, with good in mind, and how so many other folks grew up, with hero's for pin ups rather than celebrities, as is the case today, keep it up, and let those stars of old shine...


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Another wonderful movie year and great hub about it. We need a real Mr. Smith these days. I recall seeing Mr. Chips on an old movie channel years ago.

Beau Geste is always on my favorite list.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Wow amazing ;you certainly know your stuff and your obvious hard work certainy paid off. One to vote up and share. Have a wonderful day and here's to many more hubs for us both to share on here.

Eddy.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Faith, a lot of children were scared by different things in the Wizard of Oz but they always came back for more! Yes, movies back then were very creative and worth watching. Thanks for trying to vote ;)

Heavenleigh, nice to see you here. Glad you enjoyed. See, your Dad must be a classic too!

Paddypicasso you are right, back then they used creativity, emotion, and good acting to make good movies and leave us with a moral. Thanks for the visit.

Wouldn't it be great xstatic if there was a real Mr. Smith right now, and a real Mr. Chips...it would be a better world!

Thanks Eddy, I think I'll do a couple more of these and I'm so glad to see you here. We will go many more!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

1940 was certainly a banner year for movies, Mary, so many great films released in just that one year. Loved your recitation of lines from "Gone With the Wind." I could easily visualize the actors saying those lines while I was reading them. Thanks for your thorough research - it brought back many lovely memories.


wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

Marvelous hubs on the greatest movies ever done. You did a fantastic job. Thanks for the incredible trip down memory lane.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thanks drbj, it seems alot of those lines do stay with us!

WND so glad you enjoyed it.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Hi Mary (Till)

I did vote, but just was unable to share, as the share buttons are not coming up on my end for some reason. Will try again later.

Hugs, Faith Reaper


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thanks so much Faith, how nice of you to put yourself out like that.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Oh, we can never forget Gone with the Wind or the Wizard of Oz, both my favorites. Thanks for sharing!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

It was a good year Michelle...thanks for reading.


idigwebsites profile image

idigwebsites 3 years ago from United States

"Mr. Smith..." was the first Jimmy Stewart movie I watched, and instantly I became his fan. The Wizard Of Oz was an amazing film too, and somewhat a "breakthrough" in its time. Thanks for sharing! Voted up and awesome. :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I am so glad you enjoyed my trip back in time idigwebsites. Thank you for visiting and for the wonderful votes!


PaisleeGal profile image

PaisleeGal 3 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Mary... '39 was the best year for films. Many of my all time favs. Could not believe Clark wore dentures. Did not know that. Was surprised he did not get the Oscar for Rhett. But Robert Donat's portrayal of Mr. Chips was certainly great acting. As well as Greer Garson. What are other movies he's done? His name does not come up often.

Great hub... voted up !


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Donat was an English actor but he was in some other American movies like The 39 Steps, The Citadel, and the Count of Monte Cristo, to name a few. Thank you so much for always reading my Awards hubs, and being such a great support!


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

What an unbelievable year for movies! I will cry through Gone With the Wind as soon as the movie starts until the end, and saying the lines along with the actors. Drives my husband nuts so I am only permitted to watch this movie by myself now LOL! I think every movie on the list of not nominated are fantastic too. Interesting & up. Great hub.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Glimmer. Of all the years I've looked at so far I'd have to say this was one of the best for sure. I know what you mean about crying. Thanks so much for the votes and for stopping by.

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