Saturday, February 15, 2014

1927 - The Year in Review

For the debut year of the Academy Awards, and of the advent of sound motion pictures, I found little in common with both. Abel Gance's resilient and astounding silent biopic didn't make it to American shores until much later, and in a truncated form. (We wouldn't see the fullest version of the film until Kevin Brownlow reconstructed it, and Francis Coppola backed it, in the early 1980s; I saw it in 1981 Atlanta at the Fox Theater, with Carmine Coppola conducting his score for the orchestra. This remarkable vision changed my life, and I haven't seen the film since.)  Its future digital release is caught up in a never-ending standoff between Brownlow, who wants to scrap Carmine Coppola's score and add some more footage into the piece, and Francis Coppola, who's understandably adamant about keeping his father's brilliant score intact (here's an obvious solution: release both versions). So, apparently, Gance's epic will be my perennial #1 choice for THE movie that should immediately be released on Blu-Ray. Finally, the now-popular silent sci-fi epic from Fritz Lang was completely ignored by Hollywood (maybe they didn't see this in time as well). Luckily, three Hollywood masterpieces got the notices they deserved--though the Academy anointed the wrong one (Wellman's still exciting Wings) as their first winner--a sign of things to come. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are in no way reflective of the choices made by the Oscars.

PICTURE: NAPOLEON (France, Abel Gance)
2nd: Metropolis (Germany, Fritz Lang), followed by:
Sunrise, A Song of Two Humans (US, F.W. Murnau)
7th Heaven (US, Frank Borzage)
Wings (US, William Wellman)
It (US, Clarence Badger)
The King of Kings (US, Cecil B. DeMille)
College (US, James W. Horne)
The Jazz Singer (US, Alan Crosland)
Berlin--Symphony of a Great City (Germany, Walter Ruttman)

DIRECTOR: Abel Gance, NAPOLEON (2nd: Fritz Lang, Metropolis, followed by: F.W. Murnau, Sunrise; Frank Borzage, 7th Heaven; William Wellman, Wings))

ACTOR: Albert Dieudonné, NAPOLEON (2nd: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Metropolis, followed by: Buster Keaton, College; Harold Lloyd, The Kid Brother; H.B. Warner, King of Kings; Al Jolson, The Jazz Singer; Charles Farrell, 7th Heaven)

ACTRESS: Janet Gaynor, SUNRISE (2nd: Clara Bow It, followed by: Janet Gaynor, 7th Heaven; Brigitte Helm Metropolis) 

DIRECTOR: Abel Gance, NAPOLEON (2nd: Fritz Lang, Metropolis, followed by: F.W. Murnau, Sunrise; Frank Borzage, 7th Heaven; William Wellman, Wings)) 

SHORT FILM: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF 9713, A HOLLYWOOD EXTRA (US, Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich) (2nd: The Battle of the Century (US, Clyde Bruckman), followed by: Invitation to a Journey (France, Germaine Dulac); 24 Dollar Island (US, Robert J. Flaherty); Marche des Machines (France, Eugene Deslaw))

SCREENPLAY: Carl Meyer, Herbert Sudermann, Katherine Hilliker, H.H. Caldwell, SUNRISE (2nd: Abel Gance, Napoleon; Thea Von Harbou, Metropolis; Benjamin Glazer, Katherine Hilliker, H.H. Caldwell, 7th Heaven; Elinor Glyn, Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton, George Marion Jr., It)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Léonce-Henri Burel, Jules Kruger, Jean-Paul Mundviller and Nikolai Toporkoff, NAPOLEON (2nd: Charles Rosher and Karl Struss, Sunrise, followed by: Karl Freund, Günther Rittau and Walter Ruttmann, Metropolis; Ernest Palmer and Joseph H. Valentine, 7th Heaven; J. Peverell Marley, The King of Kings

ART DIRECTION: METROPOLIS, Napoleon, Sunrise, The King of Kings, Casanova 

COSTUME DESIGN: NAPOLEON, Metropolis, Sunrise, It, The King of Kings

FILM EDITING: NAPOLEON, Metropolis, Sunrise, Wings, 7th Heaven 


VISUAL EFFECTS: METROPOLIS, Napoleon, Sunrise, Wings 

MAKEUP: METROPOLIS, King of Kings, The Jazz Singer 


Sam Juliano said...

Terrific idea here Dean! I am actually in agreement with you on NAPOLEON's incomparable greatness, though of course as you document yourself this was also the year of SUNRISE. And of course METROPOLIS, THE JAZZ SINGER and KING OF KINGS. A seminal year in cinema history, and your celebration here is dead-on. Looking ahead to your future coverage, and will now include the link to this post in a lofty position on today's MMD my friend.

Dean Treadway said...

Thank you so much, Sam!