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The 12th Academy Awards Ceremony in 1940
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
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.
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
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
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Best Supporting Actor
Lewis R. Foster
Mr. Smith Goes to Washintgon
Richard Hageman et. al.
Bernard B. Brown, Universal
Best Sound Recording
When Tomorow Comes
Best Cinematography, Black and White
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
- Love Affair
- Babes in Arms
- Young Mr. Lincoln
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Swanee River
- Beau Geste
- Gunga Din
- Topper Takes a Trip
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.
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