I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cavalcade, 1933

Not Rated

This British drama won Best Picture for the 1932/33 Awards show held in March of 1934. It was the only time nominations were gathered from a 17-month period. From this year forward, the Academy kept the nominations from films in a single year. This film is one of only two that you will NOT find on DVD. You can rent it on VHS or be lucky enough to catch it on the TCM channel, like I did. It definitely wasn't the most riveting film I've seen though... it took me three nights to get through.

After looking up the title word of this movie, I’ve concluded that it must refer to its third definition. Its story is surely a cavalcade, or “noteworthy series of events”- unfortunate ones at that. This film was loosely based on a play by the same name and spans thirty years, from New Year’s Eve 1899 to New Year’s Eve 1932. It is basically the story of an upper-class family and their working-class family servants. The dawn of the century brings with it changes and hardships that have to be endured by the families. As viewers, we see the impact of the Boer War [did I fall asleep in history class when we discussed that one…??], the death of Queen Victoria, World War I, the sinking of the Titanic, and at the end, the birth of jazz.  I’m not sure I would say this is an “anti-war” film but it definitely expresses how irrational and wasteful war can be. War is referred to as a way for men to earn their stripes and for nations to flex their muscles. The butler even tells his maidservant wife, “We have to have wars every now and then just to prove we’re top dog”.

I often wondered throughout the movie if people really talked that way and especially if they kissed that way. They were the type of rather short but passionate kisses where they (almost violently) pull each other so close as if trying to take up no more space than one person would- the kind you only see in movies.

The movie ends with a montage of scenes and sounds, one incorporating a jazzy tune with the lyric “chaos and confusion”. I realized that this was the epitome of their lives back then. It was a time of extreme change and obviously accompanying confusion. You feel for the characters as they learn to deal with the tumultuous times.

I caught a little boo-boo in the film however… My husband often jokes that I should be a fact-checker or editor on a movie set; I wish I was around for them in 1932. When the honeymooners (that I discuss later in MY FAVORITE SCENE) finish their conversation aboard a massive ship, they walk away to reveal a life preserver that says “TITANIC – Southampton”. And the music goes, “Dun, dun, DUN!” First, let me say, that I wasn’t at all surprised by this, like the other viewers I read about. Perhaps that is because I’ve seen that Best Picture winner from 1997 over fifteen times and am actually a little obsessed with that ship. The scene starts with the title “April 14, 1912” for goodness sake… I thought everybody in America knew that’s when it went down. Anyways, my point: the real Titanic was registered in Liverpool, not Southampton. So there.

“Cavalcade” was up against “A Farewell to Arms”, “Lady for a Day”, “The Private Life of Henry VIII”, “Smilin' Through”, “State Fair”, “I’m a Fugitive from a Chain Gang”, “Little Women”, “She Done Him Wrong”, and “42nd Street”. I’ve only seen the last one simply because I’ve had the pleasure in starring in that musical twice. The Director of “Cavalcade”, Frank Lloyd, won for Best Director and inadvertently embarrassed the other director, Frank Capra, when they both stood up to receive the award after the host said, “Come on up and get it Frank!”. Frank Lloyd is one of the 36 founders and later became the President of the Academy. The movie won one other award for Best Art Direction/Decoration.


This poetic scene takes place on one of the decks of the Titanic. The honeymooners are reveling in their love for each other when the new wife simply states that she wouldn’t mind dying; she could even die tonight. She adoringly looks into her husband’s eyes, saying, “We could never in our whole lives be happier than we are now.” Even though it is a morbid thought, I know I want to feel that way before I die.   


Stemming from my favorite scene…
Don’t be afraid of anything.
Be happy right now.
You never know when you’re number is up, so live life joyfully. Then, in turn, you shouldn’t be afraid of death.

1 comment:

  1. Of course I haven't seen this movie. You are good at catching errors.

    You haven't seen the old black and white Little Women? It's good. But Winona Ryder and color are better.

    Also tomorrow I'm hosting an RHA Academy Awards Party for the floor in my dorm.