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This year’s Oscars are just six days away. I am no fan of other awards shows, but I do watch the movies’ biggest night.
I will continue to give you my picks for Turner Classic Movies’ “31 Days of Oscar” celebration. But during this week, I want to post my thoughts on past winners and losers.

There have been some years where I thought one nominee should have gotten it. But that one couldn’t argue about the actual winner. And there have been some selections that rolled the eyes of many who follow the movies.

1932 — “I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang” (1932) — Paul Muni received a best actor Oscar nomination, one of three given to the film, for his performance on a movie that dealt with the problems and horrible conditions of the legal and prison systems in this country at the time. But it was shut out at Oscar time. It’s based on Robert Elliott Burns’ autobiography and I consider it the best movie to deal with a social issue up to that time and the performances are realistic with Muni’s on top of the list. It was also nominated for best picture and that went to “Cavalcade” and Charles Loughton got best actor for “The Private Life of Henry VIII.”

1939 — Best Actor — I’ll never understand this selection. Clark Gable gives the most memorable performance of his career as Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind.” Jimmy Stewart fights corruption in the halls of the United States Congress and gives an emotional, heartfelt performance in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The winner goes to Robert Donat in the pleasant “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, a story of the career of a English schoolteacher over several decades. Stewart won the next year for “The Philadelphia Story” and his performance in a romantic comedy about a Philadelphia society wedding was well-deserved as he held his own with co-stars Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.

1942 — Best Supporting Actor — Charles Coburn won that year for “The More the Merrier”, a romantic comedy that also starred Jean Arthur, who was nominated for Best Actress, about three people trying to share a small apartment during World War II in space-starved Washington D.C. I have no problem with that pick, but couldn’t it have been a tie? Claude Rains was brilliant in “Casablanca” as the corrupt police official, Captain Renault.

UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .

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