Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend! We are in for another treat from our good friend H.N. Hernandez! As we are preparing for more time with family and friends, I thought it would be fun to learn about some family movies from the Golden Age! Lucky for us, Mr. Hernandez has the some great suggestions. So get comfy and enjoy this month’s Theatre Treasures!
By H.N. Hernandez
I’m generally not a follower of the Academy Awards but there are particular award winning films that interest me and they are the Academy Award winning comedies. I’m interested in these films first because I like a good comedy and also because it doesn’t happen as often as it once did. During the Golden Age it was far more common for comedies to win top Oscars. For instance the very funny screwball comedy It Happened One Night (one of Blaze’s personal favorites) was the first film to sweep the top five awards (picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay 1934).
One of my favorites of these distinguished comedies is the Bette Davis film All About Eve (I could watch Bette Davis movies all day long). I believe technically it’s classified as a drama but it’s far too funny to leave it at that. It’s a smart and sophisticated look at theatrical backstage rivalries. The brisk dialogue provides plenty of sometimes sly, always slashing humor and woman on woman viciousness. It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards (including one for each of the four actresses) and won six including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay 1950. There are many excellent and clever lines that are all delivered beautifully, but none more beautifully than Davis’ famous: “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
And being a Best Picture it has plenty more to offer than laughs. The script is sharp and the acting is excellent all around, but the real crown of the film is Davis’ mesmerizing characterization of the aging and age-obsessed theater actress Margo Channing.
Another top Oscar winning (Best Picture, Best Director 1938) comedy is Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It with You starring Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur and Lionel Barrymore who you’ll recognize as Henry F. Potter, the richest and meanest man in the Bedford Falls.
It’s a charming and easygoing screwball, and the film I most often turn to when I simply want to have a good and pleasant time watching a movie. It showcases a slightly silly, eccentric and free spirited family as they become prospective in-laws to a wealthy no-nonsense family of bankers. Jean Arthur and James Stewart (two of my favorites) play the two love interests and they sparkle together providing several fantastically funny scenes.
In true Capra fashion, the film’s about appreciating values such as family, love and freedom and not allowing more material concerns to distract you from these things of true and lasting happiness. These heartwarming themes and the wacky family antics help make You Can’t Take It with You an excellent family film for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
Although Stewart was not nominated for You Can’t Take it with You he later received Best Actor 1941 for another screwball comedy, The Philadelphia Story—beating out Charlie Chaplin in his satirical comedy The Great Dictator.
Thank you again Mr. Hernandez! I haven’t seen either of these films, but I’m intrigued and look forward to watching them this week! If you missed our first Theatre Treasures article, please click here. Also, I did a little trailer snooping and found this fun clip below! Someone made a modernized trailer about All About Eve and it has piqued my interest even more! Check it out, and let me if you’ve seen these movies, like them, or if you plan on seeing them!