The 14th Academy Awards Ceremony in 1942

Oscar in the 1940s

Oscar holding a wreath...years later the wreath was changed to a sword.
Oscar holding a wreath...years later the wreath was changed to a sword. | Source

The Academy Awards in the 1940s

I've always been fascinated and entertained by the movie classics. Nothing can take their place and I am grateful so many have been preserved so we can continue to enjoy them.

When looking back at the Academy Awards over the years it is hard to figure out how one picture was selected over another but the people who make up the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences do the nominating. A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the movie going public, and even more uniform than people would suspect. The study showed the median age of voters to be sixty-two years of age. A large percentage of the membership is working professionals including actors or actresses that have been in a film in the last two years. The lack of diversity in the Academy has been an issue for years.

How do you become a member of the Academy? The L.A. Times says, "There are three ways to become a candidate for membership: land an Oscar nomination; apply and receive a recommendation from two members of a branch; or earn an endorsement from the branch's membership committee or the academy staff."

How does a movie or actress, etc. get to be nominated? Haven't you ever wondered who picks the nominees and how they pick them? According to archive.favorite.org,

The Academy uses a very inclusive voting system: proportional representation. This is designed to create a diverse slate of nominees that reflects the preferences of the broad spectrum of film artists who make up the organization's various branches.....Any potential nominee that is supported by 20% of the voters will get 1 of the 5 nominations (that's proportional representation).

Ballots are mailed to members in late December. Members of different branches of entertainment nominate films in their branch, except for Best Picture which all members can submit for nomination.

Now that we've had a crash course in the Academy membership and nomination procedure let's take a look at the movies that won Academy Awards in 1942.


Maureen O'Hara

Maureen O'Hara as Angharad in "How Green Was My Valley".
Maureen O'Hara as Angharad in "How Green Was My Valley". | Source

Quotes from How Green Was My Valley

  • Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my valley then.
  • But remember, with strength goes responsibility - to others and to yourselves. For you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice - only with justice and the help of God.
  • “O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come.”
  • There is no fence nor hedge around time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it, if you can remember.

1942 Academy Awards

To many who were around in 1942, they will remember the big disappointment that year was that "Citizen Kane" did not win the Academy Award for Best Production. All bets had "Kane" as the winner but it went to "How Green Was My Valley". The rumor mill has it famous gossip columnist, Louella Parsons, may have been responsible. Her belief that it was about her employer, William Randolph Hearst, led Mr. Hearst to condemn a movie he'd never seen. Hearst's newspapers banned ads where this movie was to be listed, and theaters were afraid to show the movie. Amazingly, in spite of all the odds, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards. No one will ever know for sure if Ms. Parsons and Mr. Hearst were responsible for "Citizen Kane" losing the now named "Outstanding Motion Picture Award."

As I said, that distinction went to "How Green Was My Valley", It is possible the sacredness of the family and the strong moral values found in this movie got it more votes than the downbeat "Citizen Kane". His life was not exactly a beacon of American morality.

How Green Was My Valley

This movie won Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, Black and White, and Best Cinematography, Black and White. An impressive list of Oscar wins.

I can't remember if I read the book first or saw the movie first, but I loved both of them. Of course having Walter Pigeon and Maureen O'Hara in starring roles made it an even more enticing film to see. Walter Pidgeon's character, though in love with Maureen O'Hara does not marry her because he doesn't want her to have the life he has to lead in the valley. Unrequited love.

A turn of the century Welsh mining town is the setting for this film. The story is told in narrative flashback by the youngest of seven children when the valley was still green, the youngest of a large but close knit family. The trouble began when the unseen mine owners began to lower wages. Accidents, unionization, child abuse and the horrors of a mining town going downhill are all part of the story. Yet, their lives revolve around prayer.

Okay, so its not a happy film but there are happy and heartwarming moments.

Scene from How Green Was My Valley "Teaching the Teacher a Lesson"

Alvin York

The real Alvin York that Gary Cooper portrayed in the movie Sergeant York.
The real Alvin York that Gary Cooper portrayed in the movie Sergeant York. | Source

Sergeant York

This was one of the first war movies I watched that I truly enjoyed! First of all, you have to enjoy a movie with Gary Cooper starring in it and especially when he won an Academy Award for Best Actor in this film.

I think what amazed me most was this is a true story about Alvin York who just happened to be the most decorated war hero in WWI. You laugh, you cry, and you scratch your head in this movie, but all the while you're cheering for Alvin! Alvin wasn't exactly the life of the party back in his hometown in Tennessee but he was a marksman like no other. His shooting is actually amazing. Well, poor Alvin gets drafted into the Army. He tries to get out by claiming to be a conscientious objector which isn't far from the truth because he doesn't think he can shoot a man.

Army brass see the talent he has for shooting and make him a corporal in quick order. A Major Buxton seems to find a way to reach Alvin. He gives him a history book and sends Alvin home to read it. Alvin reads it and thinks about it and more importantly prays about it. He decides to go back to the Army and tells Major Buxton he can do it.

He is sent to Europe with his unit and winds up fighting in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Without giving away the farm, let's just say, as I did in the beginning, Alvin comes out a hero! A down home movie with a real life hero. Definitely worth a look see.

Sergeant York

Citizen Kane

Though Citizen Kane only won one Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay, it may be more well known than the other two films I wrote about above. Directed by and starring Orson Welles, Welles is Citizen Kane! "Rosebud", do you know what Rosebud means? The movie opens showing a dying Kane whispering Rosebud, and so the story begins. A look back into the life of the dead Kane and what Rosebud was or who Rosebud is. The other symbolic item in this movie is the snow globe.

Questions abound as you watch this movie. Why did Kane's mother give him away? The root of his problems seem to stem from that abandonment. Why can't he stay married? No matter how much fame and fortune he accumulates he never forgets Rosebud. Throughout the film we find Kane only has one real friend, his friend and employee Mr. Bernstein. So, who was Charles Foster Kane? His childhood, his marriages, the death of his son, all part of the life that unfolds in this dark film.

A true classic with only one Academy Award.

Citizen Kane

Some Other 1942 Academy Award Nominees

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • The Little Foxes
  • A Yank in the RAF
  • The Invisible Woman
  • Topper Returns
  • Billy the Kid

Award Recipient
Award
Movie
Joan Fontaine
Best Actress
Suspicion
Mary Astor
Best Supporting Actress
The Great Lie
Buchman & Miller
Best Adapted Screenplay
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Harry Segall
Best Story
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Bernard Herrman
Best Score of a Dramatic Picture
All That Money Can Buy
Churchill & Wallace
Best Scoring of a Musical Picture
Dumbo

Obviously I have not covered all the Award winners nor all the Award nominees. Films like "Topper Returns" add humor to a not so humorous time in history. This time Joan Blondell is the ghost seeking answers from Cosmo Topper. No year, especially in the forties, would be complete without a western and "Billy the Kid" fits that bill. Robert Taylor and Brian Donlevy are the co-starts in this remake of the 1930 film.

Of course there were many movies not nominated for Academy Awards including the western, "They Died With Their Boots On", "The Maltese Falcon", which is probably more well remembered than even the Academy Award films!

All in all, the 1942 Academy Awards were not exactly stellar but there were some movies to remember. I hope you enjoyed reading about 1942.

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Comments 20 comments

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

Remember the movies of 1942?? Ummm....considering I was born in 1948, no.

The old movies are a mix of much better story lines and corny plots. I find, though, that I have trouble watching black and white--it tends to give me a headache...some kind of eyestrain, I suppose.

Purists hate it, but I can enjoy them better if they've been 'colorized.'

Great article, with some good movies I've heard of, but never seen; I'll have to look them up. Voted up and interesting.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Oddly I did not see "How Green Is My Valley"....I don't even remember hearing of that title. Guess who needs to watch it soon?

Thanks for another interesting look back. I really do love this series.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I guess the old movies are a part of history but you're right, many of them have been colorized. I hope you are able to watch some of them DzyMsLizzy, they can be enjoyable and educational.

Now Bill, that would be one I would've thought you would see, being a teacher and all ;) It's not upbeat but it is a good movie with a good story. Thanks Bill, I think I have one or two left in me.


wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

I have heard of Sergeant York, but don't believe I saw this.

I do like the black and white movies. Everyone is different.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

This is a very well put together hub, organized well easy to read and enjoyable. I love Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon. Good job. Jamie


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Need to catch up on these!! Easy to read, Mary. Thanks for sharing!


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

I really liked this. Thank you for going through the effort to put this together.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

WND, the black and white movies do have a certain mystique don't they? You might enjoy Sgt. York. Happy to see you here.

Thank you Jamie. You picked two good movies to like! Glad you stopped by.

Michelle there's always movies out there we've missed. Your visits are appreciated.

You are most welcome Mhatter, thank you for reading. It is always good to see you.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England

Thanks for another trip through Oscar history, Mary!

Yes hard to believe now that Citizen Kane only picked up a screenplay Oscar, for decades it's been touted as the best film of all time (last year supplanted by Hitchcock's Vertigo, which is now top of the heap).

My favourites that year include Kane, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, All That Money Can Buy, Sergeant York and Dumbo of course. :)

Voted Up and Interesting.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Steve, I am ashamed of myself for leaving out Dumbo! I loved it when I was a kid. Interesting that Vertigo supplanted Citizen Kane. Thanks so much for always being here for my movie debuts!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Thank you so much tillsontitan for another great share in this series. Wonderful and here's to so many more to come.

Eddy.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

What a great year for movies! I remember seeing Sergeant York in theater at about the age of ten and how great it was. Citizen Kane stands by itself as a great movie, of course. I may have seen How Green Was My Valley on TV at some point, but it does not stand out for me.

I do recall that version of Billy the Kid as one of the worst westerns ever made.

This is a great series Mary!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I so love these old classics. And what a stellar job you've done here! So many interesting facts. I watched the video clips, enjoying each one. Citizen Kane is one of my all time favorites. I made several visits to Hearst Castle in California. What I loved above all was - in spite of all the fine china, crystal etc. so spendidly placed on the very long formal dining room table - Hearst made sure there were several bottles of ketchup right next to all the finery :)

Thank you for this wonderful, fascinating trip back in time. Up, useful, awesome, interesting with a share and pin!


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Oh, Mary! One of my best human interest AND war hero movies was Sergeant York. I remember my dad raving about it when I was a little boy, and he was absolutely right on! Gary Cooper never appeared to be acting, and that's what made him a great actor. (Note to wetnosedogs--you have got to see this movie!)

Shamefully, while I'm well acquainted with the titles because of my passion for Trivial Pursuit, I have never watched Citizen Kane and How Green Was My Valley. So they're now in my bucket list.

Great niche series, Mary! Thanks for doing a dynamite job with these hubs!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Another stellar year for great films, Mary. Thanks for introducing us to them all over again. Do my eyes deceive me or isn't that Roddy McDowell as a very young schoolboy in 'How Green Was My Valley'? I remember Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, too. He was perfect for the role.

Excellent compilation - voted Up.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Oh Eddy its so nice to have you thank me for having fun :)

xstatic I never said these were the greatest movies ;)...well not Billy the Kid anyway...some are, some not...but you know how much fun it is!

Vocalcoach the jury is still out on whether Kane was Hearst but either way, that is so interesting...love the ketchup bottles! Thank you so much for the visit, votes and shares!

HawaiiO it does not surprise me you liked the movie Sergeant York or that you appreciate Gary Cooper...I agree 200% when watching this movie it almost feels like you are watching someone's real life. I am humbled at your appreciation of my hubs. Thank you.

drbj you are right it is Roddy McDowell! Thanks for the compliment and the vote.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Very interesting and takes one back in time too, the best achieved their awards with great smiles


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I guess its all about a fun way to look at our history DDE! Thank you.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

Mary,

Citizen Kane is one of my all time favorite movie. Orson Welles is also my favorite actor. I so much love Orson Welles' in his iconic role as Othello.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

There aren't many actors like Welles, he was definitely the stuff legends are made of Vinaya.

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