Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1929 Top 10, Year in Review, and Awards

1929 was a major year of transition for Hollywood. The last silent movies were being released and a new era of cinema would soon be born. But if the silents were ending in 1929, they would go out with a bang, as the top 6 films on my list were all silent films, and only two talkies made the top 10.

Problems with proper line delivery hampered many of the talkies, not to mention the stationary camera that was now required due to problems with moving sound equipment around. Best Picture winner The Broadway Melody is far from the best film of the year, but was actually one of the better early talkies and certainly better than the previous winner of the award (Wings).

We had some interesting debuts this year. The Coconauts was the first film from the Marx Brothers. Ernst Lubitsch made his first musical and introduced movie audiences to Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette Macdonald. Nina Mae Mckinney was dazzling in King Vidor's otherwise mediocre Hallelujah!, notable for being the first major Hollywood film with an all-black cast.

It will be exciting and interesting to see how sound films develop through the years, but it was great to see several great films that showcased the strength of silent cinema in its final year. Now here is my top 10 of 1929:

10. Queen Kelly (Erich Von Stroheim)

The Prince will do anything to see Gloria Swanson.

9. Lucky Star (Frank Borzage)

Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell in a heartbreaking romance.

8. Alibi (Roland West)

The memorable interrogation sequence.

7. The Love Parade (Ernst Lubitsch)

Lupino Lane and Lillian Roth steal the show.

6. Diary of a Lost Girl (GW Pabst)

Louise Brooks as the resilient Thymiane.

5. Asphalt (Joe May)

Betty Amann (with her seductive eyes) makes a great femme fatale.

4. Pandora's Box (GW Pabst)

Louise Brooks is captivating in her most famous film role.

3. Napoleon (Abel Gance)

The memorable triptych sequence.

2. Spies (Fritz Lang)

Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the menacing Haghi.

1. The Iron Mask (Allan Dwan)

Fairbanks displays his acrobatic skill in this stirring goodbye to silent cinema.


Best Picture

*The Iron Mask
Pandora's Box

Best Director

Allan Dwan, The Iron Mask
*Abel Gance, Napoleon
Fritz Lang, Spies
Joe May, Asphalt
GW Pabst, Pandora's Box

Best Lead Actor

Maurice Chevalier, The Love Parade
Albert Dieudonne, Napoleon
*Douglas Fairbanks, The Iron Mask
Charles Farrell, Lucky Star
Chester Morris, Alibi

Best Lead Actress

Betty Amann, Asphalt
Louise Brooks, Diary of a Lost Girl
*Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box
Janet Gaynor, Lucky Star
Jeanette MacDonald, The Love Parade

Best Supporting Actor

Nigel De Brulier, The Iron Mask
*Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Spies
Lupino Lane, The Love Parade
Purnell Pratt, Alibi
Vladimir Roudenko, Napoleon

Best Supporting Actress

Bessie Love, The Broadway Melody
*Nina Mae McKinney, Hallelujah!
Seena Owen, Queen Kelly
Alice Roberts, Pandora's Box
Lillian Roth, The Love Parade

Best Screenplay

*The Iron Mask (Douglas Fairbanks)
The Love Parade (Ernest Vajda, Guy Bolton)
Napoleon (Abel Gance)
Pandora's Box (Joseph Fleisler, Ladislaus Vajda)
Spies (Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou)

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