Best Actor 1927/28

1927/28 through 1997

Best Actor 1927/28

Richard Barthelmess - The Noose
2
11%
Richard Barthelmess - The Patent Leather Kid
1
5%
Charles Chaplin - The Circus
8
42%
Emil Jannings - The Last Command
7
37%
Emil Jannings - The Way of All Flesh
1
5%
 
Total votes: 19

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Re: Best Actor 1927/28

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:29 pm

All these years later, I've watched The Patent Leather Kid, so I've seen one performance by each of the three nominees.

I should qualify that: I watched a 129-minute version that popped up on YouTube; the IMDB says it originally ran 150 minutes. So, something's been cut -- though I didn't feel any obvious gaps.

I can imagine why the film was a big hit in its time -- it's a scrappy-underdog, John Garfield-y sort of boxer story, mixed into a war movie, bridged by a romance among the proles plot (the female lead gets When Irish Eyes are Smiling as her repeated theme). Much of it seems over-familiar today -- and even then, the war scenes probably felt like second-tier The Big Parade -- but it's engaging (given its length), and it's got an ending that's kitschy in the extreme but effective in the way all good kitsch is.

I hadn't been much impressed by Barthelmess in Weary River, but here he's often good -- flashing the charisma that would have made him a star in the fight world; showing some range in the immediate aftermath of a fight that goes wrong.

I'm still locked in to a Chaplin vote, but now I can say it was honestly cast.

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Postby Okri » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:18 pm

Didn't vote due to only seeing two films, but having just seen The Last Command, I thought Jannings would be entirely deserving.

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:08 pm

It should be noted that The Patent Leather Kid was a once highly regarded 150 minute epic, whereas The Noose was a quick 65 minute film made to capitalize on Barthlemess' success in the former.
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Postby Damien » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:36 pm

No one is second to me in their disdain for Charlie Chaplin so I'm glad he didn't win. I haven't seen the other performances, so I'll have to vote like a real Academy member. Emil Jannings became a Nazi propagandist so I'd never vote for him, and I've liked Richard Barthlemess the few times I've seen him, so he gets myvote. (I did like Akim Tamiroff in the 1940 remake of The Way Odf All Flesh.)
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Postby Greg » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:13 pm

So, considering the machinations surrounding it, should Chaplin's "special award" for The Circus be viewed as the equivalent of three "competative wins?"



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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:43 pm

To inaugurate this best actor series, a cool fact I picked up somewhere else: the 1973 John Frankenheimer version of The Iceman Cometh featured three eventual best actor winners. Most notable stat: two of them were Fredric March, the winner for 1931-32, and Jeff Bridges, the 2009 victor -- a 77-year gap, covering almost the entire hsitory of the Oscars. Do you realize how unlikely such a chasm is? It requires two people with long careers, one of whom wins quite early in his career, another who waits a long time. Amazing.

And, the kicker? If Annette Bening should win this year, she'd be part of a matching team -- given that she appeared in the Love Affair remake with 1933 winner Katharine Hepburn. What were the chances?

On to this year's competition...

Magilla is right that we're very limited in what we can judge here. It won't be till 1930 or '31 that we'll have seriously informed voting in this category.

Some of Barthlemess's other films -- not these two nominated efforts -- have had showings on TCM, but I'm sorry to say I missed them, so I have no basis for any opinion of him.

We're reduced to choosing between two actors with distinguished filmographies nominated for, in my view, not their most impressive work. Jannings of course would be under consideration for The Last Laugh or Variety (Jealousy), and, who knows, maybe The Way of All Flesh. But I don't see The Last Command as an especial career highlight. In fact, as I watched the film, it occurred to me that most silent films I'd seen had fallen into the "official classic" category, and it was odd to view one that seemed to me a simple pot-boiler. There's nothing wrong with Jannings' work, but, by me, the material doesn't provide the makings of a great performance.

The Circus is far from Chaplin's finest as well, but, since I won't get a chance to vote for him for City Lights or Monsieur Verdoux, and since I wouldn't choose him in the 1940 race, this seems the ideal time to vote for him. And, though Jannings may be a better actor on the whole, Chaplin's work in The Circus comes closer to his highest level than Last Command does to Jannings'. So, the Tramp gets my vote.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:34 am

Sabin wrote:I might see The Circus some year. Other than that, there's almost no way I'll be capable of voting in my lifetime most likely.

Oh, come on, Sabin. You've got a good sixty years left. You will see most of the nominees in every category for every year eventually.
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Postby Sabin » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:30 am

I might see The Circus some year. Other than that, there's almost no way I'll be capable of voting in my lifetime most likely.
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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:27 am

rain Bard wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:Oscar got off to a rocky start with its acting nominations. As with Best Actress, there were five slots, albeit just three nominees. In that category Janet Gaynor took up three of the slots. In Best Actor, Richard Barthelemss and Emil Jannings were each nominated for two performances.

The Academy was still trying to figure things out, so much so that after nominating Charlie Chaplin in three categories: Acting, Writing and Directing, they decided to nullify his nominations and honor him with a Special Award instead. That left the distinguished German actor Emil Jannings the clear favorite.

Magilla, I defer to your knowledge of Oscar history in most years, but having done research for a slide show and essay on the first-ever "Oscars", I just have to clear up some of the misinformation you're propagating in your use of the term "nomination" here.

The selection process for the first two years of Academy Awards bore little resemblance to the nomination process we've grown accustomed to. In fact, there were no officially announced "nominees" this year but rather winners and "runners-up", all selected at the same closed-door meeting (a long evening in 1929, reportedly), although the Academy later retroactively designated the "runners-up" as official "nominees" for consistency of the record books.

The reason why there are five performances listed for Best Actor and Best Actress is not because there were five "slots" but because in the first year of the Academy Awards, the awards went to individuals for their body of work over the year, not for specific films. Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin were only in one notable film released during the eligibility period, so one film is listed for each of them (though, as you note, Chaplin was withdrawn from competition in other categories after it was decided to bestow him with a Special Award), but Gaynor & Jannings appeared in multiple films during the eligibility period, so multiple films are listed for their awards.

You've got it partially right, but you're confusing what happened in the first year with what happend in the second.

My reference to five slots was sloppy and inaccurate. There were only three in all categories, but there were official nominees. Individuals were nominated for their body of work, which is why some nominees are mentioned for a single work, while others are mentioned for multiple contributions and the two cinematographers for Sunrise are named separately, although they both won - the Academy's first tie.

According to Robert Osborne's Official History of the Academy Awards, Academy President Douglas Fairbanks explained at the awards banquet that after Academy members made initial suggestions, twenty Academy appointed judges designated official nominees and five other judges made the final decisions. The runners-up in each category were given certificates of honorable mention.

In the second year, 1928/29, no nominations were announced, and those listed in addition to the winners in Academy records were those who according to in-house records were considered for awards by the judges.

In the third year, 1929/30, nominations were announced for multiple achievements in the acting categories, but awards were bestowed for single performances only.

It wasn't until the fourth year, 1930/31 that nominations were given only for single performances.




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Postby rain Bard » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:21 am

Big Magilla wrote:Oscar got off to a rocky start with its acting nominations. As with Best Actress, there were five slots, albeit just three nominees. In that category Janet Gaynor took up three of the slots. In Best Actor, Richard Barthelemss and Emil Jannings were each nominated for two performances.

The Academy was still trying to figure things out, so much so that after nominating Charlie Chaplin in three categories: Acting, Writing and Directing, they decided to nullify his nominations and honor him with a Special Award instead. That left the distinguished German actor Emil Jannings the clear favorite.

Magilla, I defer to your knowledge of Oscar history in most years, but having done research for a slide show and essay on the first-ever "Oscars", I just have to clear up some of the misinformation you're propagating in your use of the term "nomination" here.

The selection process for the first two years of Academy Awards bore little resemblance to the nomination process we've grown accustomed to. In fact, there were no officially announced "nominees" this year but rather winners and "runners-up", all selected at the same closed-door meeting (a long evening in 1929, reportedly), although the Academy later retroactively designated the "runners-up" as official "nominees" for consistency of the record books.

The reason why there are five performances listed for Best Actor and Best Actress is not because there were five "slots" but because in the first year of the Academy Awards, the awards went to individuals for their body of work over the year, not for specific films. Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin were only in one notable film released during the eligibility period, so one film is listed for each of them (though, as you note, Chaplin was withdrawn from competition in other categories after it was decided to bestow him with a Special Award), but Gaynor & Jannings appeared in multiple films during the eligibility period, so multiple films are listed for their awards.

At any rate, I finally saw Emil Jannings in the Last Command on DVD this summer, and was able to compare it against Chaplin's when watching The Circus at the Castro Theatre shortly after. Though I like Barthelmess generally, I so doubt that I'll be able to see either of these two films anytime soon, that I voted for Jannings with little hesitation.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:21 am

Reza wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:Barthelemss' boxing epic, The Patent Leather Kid exists only in an archive print at the Library of Congress and Barthelmess' other film, The Noose, exists only in archive print at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

If prints of both these films exist, as you say, then why aren't they readily available on dvd for worldwide audiences? Is it because the Library of Congress and MOMA hold exclusive rights to the films?

I'm not sure how the licensing works, but both were First National (Warner Bros.) films, so it's likely that the Warner Archive at some point will release them as it has Weary River; Son of the Gods; Central Airport; Midnight Alibi and The Last Flight.

Other early Barthlemess talkies not on DVD include The Dawn Patrol and Drag, which was one of the three films Frank Lloyd was nominated for in 1928/29, along with Weary River and The Divine Lady, winning for the latter.
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Postby Reza » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:21 am

Big Magilla wrote:Barthelemss' boxing epic, The Patent Leather Kid exists only in an archive print at the Library of Congress and Barthelmess' other film, The Noose, exists only in archive print at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

If prints of both these films exist, as you say, then why aren't they readily available on dvd for worldwide audiences? Is it because the Library of Congress and MOMA hold exclusive rights to the films?

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Postby dws1982 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:34 am

Emil Jannings in The Last Command is one of the greatest performances in film history, as far as I'm concerned.

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Postby Reza » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:31 am

My top picks for 1927/28:

Emil Jannings, The Last Command
George Bancroft, The Docks of New York
Charles Chaplin, The Circus
Ramon Novarro, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
Charles Farrell, 7th Heaven

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:47 pm

Oscar got off to a rocky start with its acting nominations. As with Best Actress, there were five slots, albeit just three nominees. In that category Janet Gaynor took up three of the slots. In Best Actor, Richard Barthelemss and Emil Jannings were each nominated for two performances.

The Academy was still trying to figure things out, so much so that after nominating Charlie Chaplin in three categories: Acting, Writing and Directing, they decided to nullify his nominations and honor him with a Special Award instead. That left the distinguished German actor Emil Jannings the clear favorite.

For most of us, the choice is pretty much between Jannings in The Last Command and Chaplin in The Circus. Jannings' other film, The Way of All Flesh is long lost. Barthelemss' boxing epic, The Patent Leather Kid exists only in an archive print at the Library of Congress and Barthelmess' other film, The Noose, exists only in archive print at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

If you are interested in seeing some of Barthelmess' work around this time, many of his early talkies such as Weary River and The Dawn Patrol are more accessible. If you want to know what The Way of All Flesh is like, you can read the book or hunt down the 1940 re-make with Akim Tamiroff.

Some of the performances AMPAS could have recognized in its first year, but didn't, include Lionel Barrymore in Sadie Thompson; Lon Chaney in Laugh, Clown, Laugh and London After Midnight; Charles Farrell in 7the Heaven; James Murray in The Crowd; Ramon Navarro in The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg and George O'Brien im Sunrise.

I voted for Chaplin.
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