Classic Movie Countdown: Best Picture #’s 40 and 39 — Cavalcade (1933) and The Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929)

40. Cavalcade (1933)

Other Nominated Films:
42nd Street, A Farewell to Arms, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Lady for a Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII, She Done Him Wrong, Smilin’ Through, State Fair

At the time of it’s release, Cavalcade was a pretty big triumph. The 110 minute film spans around three decades of history, which is a tough challenge even for directors today. The film is defined by the big events that happen in the lives of the Jane and Robert Marryot, played by Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook. These include the Second Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic, and World War I. Cavalcade can easily be considered a tear-jerker due to the fact that the events we witness with this family are tragic on a more personal level. Using such tragic events in history is risky for a film, especially in a time where people are experimenting with cinema and figuring out what topics are proper or offensive to use in a movie. But by taking this risk, Frank Lloyd is able to bring out the best in his actors and allow the audience into the lives of these individuals and feel as they feel. Diane Wynyard is truly fantastic in her role as Jane. It doesn’t look as if she’s acting, but it looks as if she is Jane Marryot, and all of the pain and suffering that Jane has gone through in her life…well it seems as if Diane has been in her shoes before. This was the first Fox Studios film to be awarded Best Picture.

Nominated for 4 Oscars; Winner of 3
Best Art Direction  William S. Darling (WON)
Best Director  Frank Lloyd (WON)
Best Picture – Fox Studios (WON)
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Diana Wynyard

Jane Marryot: There should never be any good reason for neglecting someone that you love.

39. The Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929)

Other Nominated Films:
Alibi, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, In Old Arizona, The Patriot

The first talkie and the first musical to win Best Picture, The Broadway Melodywas ahead of its time when it was released. The musical was one of the first to feature a Technicolor sequence, but the sequence is presumed lost. While The Broadway Melody may not be the strongest, or the best, musical on my countdown of top Best Picture films, it’s safe to say that this is the first complete example of the Hollywood musical. In a Hollywood musical, the songs and the dance help to move the plot along, as well as to help develop a character. InThe Broadway Melody, this technique is used throughout the whole film for the sisters Harriet and Queenie Mahoney. Another trait of the Hollywood musical is the outrageous background scenery and the fantastic dance numbers that take place. Sometimes the dance numbers take place on a stage, sometimes they take place out in a street where a ton of people automatically know the dance moves. While this may confuse me sometimes, it doesn’t take any of the fun out of the film. While watching The Broadway Melody, I found myself tapping my feet along with some of the musical numbers and wanting to get up and dance (although, I will admit, I wouldn’t have known the dance moves myself. Must be a gift.) The music within the film is extremely catchy, and it’s just a fun film to watch. The success of The Broadway Melody brought about three sequels,Broadway Melody of 1936, Broadway Melody of 1938, and Broadway Melody of 1940, all released by M-G-M. This is one of the first films to feature songs by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, who would together create the classics Singin’ in the RainGood Morning, and You Are My Lucky StarThe Broadway Melody will be known as the film that set the bar for the Hollywood musical, and will always be one of the pillars of the musical genre.

Nominated for 3 Oscars; Winner of 1
Best Picture – M-G-M (WON)
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Bessie Love
Best Director – Harry Beaumont

Eddie Kearns: Those men aren’t going to pay ten bucks to look at your face; this is Broadway!
Hank Mahoney: Yeah, “Broad’s way!”

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