Saturday, November 05, 2011

Best Actress 1931

The draw for the next Best Actress year took place before I left for Athens, and the result was announced on Twitter. This year is generally known as 1930-1931, but I always call it as Best Actress 1931. Being the 4th Oscar ceremony, I am not very familiar with this group, and, at the time of the draw, I had seen only Cimarron, the Best Picture winner for that year. So it will be nice to discover this Best Actress line-up that very few people talk about. That being said, I’m not expecting to be blown away by any of the performances. :)

The 5 ladies that Oscar had chosen for 1931, in alphabetical order:

Marlene Dietrich as Amy Jolly, in Morocco

Marie Dressler as Min Divot, in Min and Bill

Irene Dunne as Sabra Cravat, in Cimarron

Ann Harding as Linda Seton, in Holiday

Norma Shearer as Jan Ashe, in A Free Soul

I cannot say if any of these were surprising nominations or not, as we’re talking about 1930-1931 films, I’m not familiar with the releases and anyway who knows what the voters were thinking back then, how they chose their performances. But even so, it’s worth going over the nominees, as 3 of these actresses are considered nowadays among the best of their generation.

Marlene Dietrich was already a silent-films star back in Germany, but 1930 was her breakthrough year in Hollywood, with Morocco and most importantly with The Blue Angel. The early 1930s turned her into an icon, but this was the only Oscar nomination she received during her career.

This was Irene Dunne’s second film and she would quickly become one of Hollywood’s most adored actresses, mostly due to her charming acting style, best used in screwball comedies and romantic films.

Norma Shearer was undoubtedly one of the biggest names in Hollywood at that time. She was the wife of Irving Thalbert, producer at MGM, already had an established career and was the Best Actress winner of the previous year. I suspect this nomination could’ve have been a surprise, given her popularity.

Marie Dressler, who ended up winning for Min and Bill, had a solid film career, but was best known for her theatre work and she was considered a major vaudeville star. I don’t know much about Ann Harding and people never seem to talk about her; she was a Broadway actress and also made plenty of films, but this would be her only nomination.

I’ll start with the winner, as usual.

It’s also worth mentioning that this will be the 20th Best Actress year I write about, so I’ll get to do the 100th profile – given the year, I’ll celebrate with a diva, so Marlene Dietrich’s performance will be the last one reviewed.

And here’s the video proof that 1931 was drawn, in case you wanna waste 60 seconds :)


Cal said...

Nice one! I've seen all of these so I'll be able to weigh in. ;-)

dinasztie said...

Haven't seen any of them. Marie will win, I guess.

How did you get A Free Soul?

Alex in Movieland said...

well, you know, it's possible only because you helped me with Holiday. :) we'll see how it goes.

I'm not expecting any masterpieces here. :) I've had Free Soul for quite some time. It's also on torrents, i just checked.

dinasztie said...

Which site? :D

Cal said...

You helped me with "Min and Bill" so this was a very co-operative year for us!

I don't remember liking "Morocco" much but it does have one of the best final shots of any film EVER.

Fritz said...

I've seen three of them so far so I will be able to comment a little bit! :-)

Paolo said...

Rooting for the only one I've seen who is Dietrich, who is better here than in Blue Angel.

I am looking forward to Pre-Code Norma as well.

Alex in Movieland said...

yes, I have no idea how this year will go. :)

Fritz said...

Now I've seen all of them so now I'm really excited how you will see them! :-)

Runs Like A Gay said...

I've seen three so I can at least partly participate.

Only watched Morocco a few days ago, so interesting to see what you think.

Alex in Movieland said...

yeah, well, as I said. I don't have high expectations :)