Classic Movie Countdown: Best Picture #’s 42 and 41 — Cimarron (1931) and The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

42. Cimarron (1931)

Other Nominated Films:
East Lynne, The Front Page, Skippy, Trader Horn

One of the first films to ever win an Oscar, it’s interesting watching it now, to say the least. It’s one of those films that, for the time it was released, I can understand why it was a big hit. It has some pretty solid gun slinging sequences, and the story is able to hold up for the majority of the film. I also must compliment the acting of Irene Dunne, who did a dynamite job portraying a wife who must deal with the actions of her husband who keeps on riding out on her to find bigger and better things. It does tend to be racist, and not just to one race, but at some points, to all. I do realize that this is accurate to how attitudes were back in the day and to how movies were written at this time, but the only time I, myself, have seen a film so racist would have to be The Birth of a Nation directed by D.W. Griffith, one of the pioneers of filmmaking. Cimarronis the first Western to win a Best Picture award, and one of only three Westerns to win the award throughout the history of cinema (Unforgiven and Dances with Wolves are the only other ones.)

Nominated for 7 Oscars; Winner of 3
Best Art Direction – Max Rée (WON)
Best Picture – RKO Radio (WON)
Best Writing, Adaptation – Howard Estabrook (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Richard Dix
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Irene Dunne
Best Cinematography – Edward Cronjagor
Best Direction – Wesley Ruggles

Sabra Cravat: Did you have to kill him?
Yancy Cravat: No, I could have let him kill me.

41. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Other Nominated Films:
High Noon, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man

I will admit, this film winning Best Picture does confuse me. The film was given the Best Picture award against classics such as High Noon, which was the favorite, and Singin’ in the Rain, which wasn’t nominated. High Noon wound up being one of the greatest Western films of all time, while Singin’ in the Rainwound up being one of the best musicals of all time. One theory as to why many believed Greatest Show won over High Noon is due to the fact that writer Carl Foreman, who was a writer for High Noon, was eventually blacklisted for once having associations with the Communist party. But, focusing back on The Greatest Show on Earth, I will give it credit for being an enjoyable film at times, and a very suspenseful film during some of the trapeze sequences. The film has a very solid cast with Betty Hutton, Charlton Heston, and James Stewart leading the way (although it was creepy seeing James Stewart as a clown.) The appearances of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are also pleasant surprises in the film. This film wound up being the lone Best Picture win for famous director and producer Cecil B. DeMille.

Nominated for 5 Oscars; Winner of 2
Best Picture – Cecil B. DeMille (WON)
Best Writing, Motion Picture Story – Fredric M. Frank, Theodore St. John, Frank Cavett (WON)
Best Costume Design, Color – Edith Head, Dorothy Jeakins, Miles White
Best Director – Cecil B. DeMille
Best Film Editing – Anne Bauchens

Buttons: How long do you think this can go on before something happens?
Brad Braden: It’s circus, isn’t it?

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