Best Original Story 1932/33

1927/28 through 1997

What was the Best Original Story of 1932/33?

One Way Passage (Robert Lord)
The Prizefighter and the Lady (Frances Marion)
Rasputin and the Empress (Charles MacArthur)
No votes
Total votes: 9

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Original Story 1932/33

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:54 pm

I agree that Duck Soup is an easy substitution -- even beyond the Marx Brothers' trademark zingers, it probably has the most cohesive plot of any of their films as well.

Mister Tee wrote in another post that a lot of films from this era come off pretty creaky today -- while that's true, the number that I'd say dip down into the flat-out amateurish is pretty low. But I think Rasputin and the Empress is one of them. It's the kind of movie that you just KNOW is going to be a rough sit going in -- an early sound era drama about the Russian Revolution sounds like the last thing I'd ever watch for pleasure. And yet somehow it's even more stiffly written and clumsily silly than you'd imagine, with Lionel Barrymore in that obviously pasted-on beard virtually impossible to take seriously as the eviler-than-evil Rasputin. I think this is a terrible movie. (And one random observation: it's REALLY weird to see a movie where the swastika is associated with the HEROES, something that would be utterly unimaginable within just a few years and on into infinity.)

The Prizefighter and the Lady is just sort of rudimentary, focusing on a love quadrangle that has practically zero invention to it. And the plot has a lot of filler -- at one point the narrative just stops for a big musical number, despite there being no explanation for the boxer protagonist to have suddenly become a musical theater performer. I'm not sure what the movie is even supposed to be building toward either -- Max Baer's character doesn't seem to have learned anything from his affairs, but it seems like we're intended to cheer for him in the big fight regardless just because he's played by the star? I didn't find this very compelling.

While watching a lot of these lesser '30's nominees for these polls, I started to wonder if maybe movies from this era have all just dated so much, it's mostly impossible to watch any of them as entertainment any more. Happily, I came to One Way Passage. It definitely has a movie-movie quality to it -- when Kay Francis looks at William Powell in the opening scene, it's about as obvious a case of love-at-first-sight in movie history. But the central doomed romance is engaging throughout, and the supporting characters provide a lot of welcome humor to act as a tonic to the grim nature of the set-up. And I agree about the ending -- I actually gasped at the surprise of the unexpected final shot. This easily gets my vote among this trio.

Big Magilla
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Re: Best Original Story 1932/33

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:24 pm

Among the nominees, One Way Passage wins my vote in a tight race with The Prizefighter and the Lady.

Better choices would have been Duck Soup and I'm No Angel, which unlike She Done Him Wrong was an original. Also worthy of nomination were two directed by William Wellman, Wild Boys of the Road and Heroes for Sale, co-written by One Way Passage's Robert Lord. I'm not sure if M (a 1933 release in the U.S.) would qualify since it was based on a news article rather than a story.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Mister Tee
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Re: Best Original Story 1932/33

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:04 pm

I'm doubly handicapped here: not sure which films from the 1932 part of 1932-33 are eligible, and as usual not knowing which qualify as original based on the arcane rules of the time. For the former, at least, I use Inside Oscar's list of eligible films not nominated, and come up with the easy substitution of Duck Soup (Hail, Fredonia!). (In fact, you can pencil in the Marx Brothers for the next few years, as their films have endured well beyond much of the dreck the Academy chose.) I can't pinpoint any other key omissions, but I'm open to suggestion.

Rasputin and the Empress is in the history books as the only time all three Barrymores appeared onscreen together. It should also be in there as the most ludicrously slanted pro-Czar film ever. Granted, this was made when the Russian Revolution was still a fresh (and thought-threatening) development, but, good god, Nicholas emerges as practically saintly in his good wishes for his people. As for Rasputin -- let's just say, I wouldn't have thought it possible to unfairly malign Rasputin, but this film manages the trick by making him unspeakably evil. This is really a pretty bad film.

As opposed to The Prizefighter and the Lady, which is merely muddled and mediocre. It is interesting to see a pre-Code effort, where female sexual experimentation isn't instantly punished with pregnancy and/or death. But the story doesn't really seem to know where it's going most of the time, and I couldn't stay much interested.

One Way Passage is, for me, one of those movies like To Each His Own that, while clearly in soap opera territory, work so well in that vein that you have to take your hat off to it. It may be that a personal connection to the film sways me -- I was introduced to it by my mother-in-law, who told me it was the movie she saw on her first date with my father-in-law. But even beyond that, I think the film still plays: that final shot is a complete killer. So, I'll echo the Academy choice of One Way Passage.

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Best Original Story 1932/33

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:12 pm

Here we go...
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

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