The 13th Academy Awards Ceremony in 1941
For the first time the winners of the Academy Awards were not revealed to the public until the Academy Awards Ceremony. Bob Hope was the Master of Ceremonies at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles,California. A special award was given to Mr. Hope for his "unselfish services to the Motion Picture Industry". Another "special award" was given to Nathan Levinson "for his outstanding service to the industry and the Army during the past nine years, which has made possible the present efficient mobilization of the motion picture industry facilities for the production of Army training films." Quote from imdb.com
President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a six minute radio address to the Academy Awards Ceremony. An excerpt from his speech:
In carrying on the program of advancing the spirit of inter-American solidarity and continental defense, our government has established machinery to coordinate our growing commercial and cultural relations with the other republics. Our government has invited you to do your share of the job of interpreting the people of the Western Hemisphere to one another. And all of us in all the 21 American republics and in Canada are grateful that your response is so immediate and so wholehearted.
I do not minimize the importance of the motion picture industry as the most popular medium of mass entertainment. But tonight, I want to place the chief emphasis on the service that you can render in promoting solidarity among all the peoples of the Americas. For all of this, and for your splendid cooperation with all who are directing the expansion of our defense forces, I am glad to thank you.
"When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are,"...and now, to the awards.
Outstanding Production, now known as Best Picture went to "Rebecca". Alfred Hitchock's first American film. Typical of the Alfred Hitchcock we know, this movie is a dramatic thriller. Adapted from the book of the same name. It won two Academy Awards, the other being Best Cinematography, Black and White.
The young heroine, played by Joan Fontaine, meets the handsome widower, Maximilian de Winter played by Laurence Olivier, and two weeks later they are married. They return to his home, Manderley. Here, the action begins. The housekeeper is obsessed with the beauty of her dead mistress, Rebecca. The new Mrs. de Winter begins to doubt her hubsand's love and the undermining of the housekeeper fuels that doubt. To try to remedy things Mrs. deWinter suggests a costume party and the housekeeper talks her into wearing a costume, the one Rebecca wore unbeknownst to the new Mrs. de Winter. Her husband is furious.
A sinking ship reveals more about Rebecca. It seems Maxim (Maximilian de Winter) falsely identified a body as Rebecca's to put an end to his suffering. Rebecca was willful and told Maxim she intended to continue to be promiscuous. When she became pregnant with her cousin's child Rebecca and Maxim argued and she fell and hit her head. The plot thickens as the new Mrs. de Winter helps Maxim try to cover up the accident. However, the cousin shows up and begins to blackmail Maxim. Through many twists and turns we learn Rebecca was not pregnant but was in the late stages of cancer so the police believe her death was a suicide.
When Maxim returns to Manderley, after the police investigation, he finds the house has been set on fire by the housekeeper who has died in the fire.
Now you know I've left out some juicy details. Hitchcock made the housekeeper a mysterious character who taunted the new Mrs. deWinter. He also led us to believe that Maxim was still in love with Rebecca.
I have not done justice to this movie, you'll have to see it for yourself.
Scene from Rebecca
The Philadelphia Story
Nominated for six Academy Awards, Best Actor, James Stewart, and Best Adapted Screenplay went to "Philadelphia Story". James Stewart's co-stars in this comedy included Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn. If you're an old movie buff and you know these names, you know this was a good comedy! Maybe I should say a 'screwball' comedy. Things are tangled and confusing as a Philadelphia socialite approaches her wedding day. Her ex-husband shows up, a reporter wanting a story and of course her husband to be, all interested in marrying her. It was said the script was "witty" and "romantic". Drinking, middle of the night swims, and, as the orchestra plays the strings of the wedding march who will marry whom?
This was Hepburn's comeback movie after a string of box office flops. She shows a range of emotion in this film and carries it off with laughter and amusement. I have to admit I loved watching the three of them, Stewart, Grant and Hepburn. Just as an aside, Cary Grant donated his salary from this movie to the British War Relief effort.
This is one you won't want to miss.
The Philadelphia Story
Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath
Best Director and Best Supporting Actress went to "The Grapes of Wrath". Based on John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, starring Henry Fonda, Russell Simpson, Jane Darwell, and John Carradine.
The story of a family from Oklahoma during the Great Depression. They wind up being migrant workers in California. Their farm was foreclosed on by the bank like so many others in the area. The twelve members of the Joad family, along with Preacher Casy pack everything into a Hudson sedan and head to California. Grandpa dies along the way. They wind up in a migrant camp. When they move to a second migrant camp, the workers are talking about striking. After Tom accidentally kills a guard, who killed Casy, they head out to a third camp. This one is run by the Dept. of Agriculture and is clean with indoor toilets and showers.
Tom leaves his family here and goes on to fight for social justice. Tom says:
I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too.
The film is a bit depressing but leaves you with hope for the Joads and all the other migrants trying to find a living during the depression. It is hard to watch what families endured but it depicts life as it was for so many and it stands as a testament to the human spirit.
The Grapes of Wrath
Other 1941 Award Winners
Best Supporting Actor
Best Original Screenplay
The Great McGinty
Glazer & Toldy
Arise, My Love
Shearer & MGM
Best Sound Recording
Strike Up the Band
Harline, Smith & Washington
Best Original Score
Harline & Washington; When You Wish Upon a Star
Best Original Song
Boulder & Whitney
Best Visual Effects
Thief of Bagdad
I couldn't leave you with the sadness of "The Grapes of Wrath" so I had to just add a bit about "Pinocchio". This was a great decade for Walt Disney Productions. Last year it was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", this year "Pinocchio". "Pinocchio" won Best Original Score and Best Original Song.
I don't know about you but when I was a little girl I thought the Blue Fairy was the best thing ever! I felt so sorry for Pinocchio when he got mixed up with those bad boys and wound up on Pleasure Island. Poor Geppetto worrying about his little wooden boy! Of course Jiminy Cricket tries so hard to keep Pinoch on the straight and narrow.
If you've never seen this movie, watch it with your children or grandchildren. Its a great movie and there'll be lots to talk about when its over.
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