Best Screenplay 1929/30

1927/28 through 1997

What was the Best Writing of 1929/30?

All Quiet on the Western Front (George Abbott, Maxwell Anderson, Del Andrews)
7
78%
The Big House (Frances Marion)
2
22%
Disraeli (Julien Josephson)
0
No votes
The Divorcee (John Meehan)
0
No votes
Street of Chance (Howard Estabrook)
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 9

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Re: Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:00 pm

It's odd that there was no credit given to Louis N. Parker, Dorothy Parker's father, for the original play, Disraeli which Arliss first played in 1911 and last played on Broadway in the 1917 revival the first time his wife appeared in the play with him. Billed as Mrs. George Arliss, she was billed as Florence Arliss in the film. In any event, the screenplay is rather stilted and stiff with no indication of much of an adaptation.

The Divorcee quite boring now, was considered daring in its day. The nomination did not go to the adapters or treatment writers as they were called, but to the continuity and dialogue writer. Strange.

Street of Chance had six writers including Hecht and MacArthur who were probably responsible for most of its zip, but the nomination went to just one of the writers for reasons quite obscure now.

Frances Marion was one of the most respected female writers of all time and one of the most respected of any screenwriter, period. She had been writing for film since 1912. George W. Hill, the director of The Big House was her fourth husband. Its screenplay was her 145th out of 189 credits to date (two of them posthumously for remakes of The Champ and Dinner at Eight). She also had the adaptation of Anna Christie this year as well as the blockbuster Min and Bill, in release at the time of the awards but not eligible until the following year. She was a most popular winner and I don't begrudge her the win.

My vote, however, goes to the triumvirate nominated for the brilliant All Quiet on the Western Front, which was released in two versions, one silent and one with dialogue. The title writers for the silent version were not nominated. Maxwell Anderson and Del Andrews who were responsible for the adaptation used in bother, were, along with George Abbott who wrote the screenplay, which included the dialogue for the talkie version.
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Re: Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:34 pm

Pandora’s Box and Blackmail are both far stronger movies than most of the slate, though the Academy by this point was in silents-need-not-apply mode. Of films within Oscar’s wheelhouse, The Love Parade is a stronger script than many of these.

Disraeli is a giant snooze, the kind of glacially paced, deadly dull biopic that makes you amazed the early sound era even managed to survive beyond this sort of thing. And the writing is really clumsy -- the entire plot about the wife’s illness feels like something thrown in at the last minute because the filmmakers had no idea how to end the movie.

Norma Shearer probably makes The Divorcee seem even worse than it is... but it’s not like she was sinking a piece of great dramaturgy either. Presumably at the time, plot points like a woman cheating on her husband for revenge came off more scandalous, but today so much of it just feels ho-hum.

Street of Chance wasn’t as rough a sit as some films on this list -- the decent cast probably helped -- but even for a seventy-five minute movie, there really isn’t that much plot to it. The movie also had me thinking about how filmmakers during this period were still learning how to convey story points clearly in this new medium of the sound film. Because the way the climax is presented is baffling, with the key dramatic event portrayed off screen, to the extent that I figured I must have missed something along the way.

The Big House makes some sense as a writing winner this year; throughout Oscar history, when Picture/Director have gone to action movies (Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, The Deer Hunter, Braveheart), the Screenplay prize has often gone elsewhere, and The Big House at least has a decently engaging narrative at its foundation. But I can’t say I think the script is GREAT, and especially at the end (i.e. when the tank shows up), it even goes a bit off the rails for me.

All Quiet on the Western Front probably wouldn’t be my choice in another year, given that its strengths are primarily in the directing/cinematography areas. But when faced with a list that doesn’t inspire me much, it’s hard not to go all in for the one outstanding movie on the ballot. And it’s not like All Quiet doesn’t have perfectly worthy writing credentials -- the source material alone gives the movie a pretty literate narrative foundation -- and there are a ton of fine details along the way that accumulate to form a very powerful piece of storytelling. I think it’s the clear class of the field.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:08 pm

Greg wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:The was only one writing category in 1930. It was called "Best Writing" and the nominations ran the gamut from original to adaptation to documentary.


Which one(s) is a documentary?

With Byrd at the South Pole, which I had originally listed when I couldn't tell the difference between writing and cinematography. :roll:
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Re: Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby Greg » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:29 am

Big Magilla wrote:The was only one writing category in 1930. It was called "Best Writing" and the nominations ran the gamut from original to adaptation to documentary.


Which one(s) is a documentary?
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Re: Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:01 am

The Original BJ wrote:These are the Cinematography nominees, not the Screenplay nominees.

Fixed. I've had a hectic few days.

I thought it was strange that a) With Byrd at the South Pole had a screenplay and 2) that it won the category!

In any event, we did say we would do Cinematography next, right?
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Re: Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:04 pm

These are the Cinematography nominees, not the Screenplay nominees.

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Best Screenplay 1929/30

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:00 pm

The was only one writing category in 1930. It was called "Best Writing" and the nominations with no distinction between original and adaptation.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire


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