A Serious Mistake
Earlier this week, the Oscars aired and being the cinephile I am, I dutifully watched it as I do every year. This year’s ceremony did something that I absolutely loved—they honored the 75th anniversary of THE WIZARD OF OZ. As I’ve stated before, OZ is my absolute favorite film. No film could ever be as near and dear to my heart as this one is. Because of that, I definitely cried when the wonderful singer Pink sang “Over the Rainbow” as scenes from the movie played in the background. Call me a baby, but I felt so thrilled that Judy and Co. were being remembered like that. And having Judy’s children there just made it even more special.
Despite all that, I did have a small problem with the Academy’s decision to honor OZ. Don’t think I’m ungrateful, but why didn’t they mention all the other great films that have a 75th anniversary this year? You all know what I’m talking about: Hollywood’s greatest year, 1939, the year that produced classic after classic after freaking classic.
MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, STAGECOACH, NINOTCHKA, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, THE WOMEN, DARK VICTORY, DODGE CITY, GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, THE RULES OF THE GAME, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, GUNGA DIN, THE ROARING TWENTIES, GOLDEN BOY, THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE, THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX, BABES IN ARMS…
And of course, most noticeably of all, was the omission of GONE WITH THE WIND. The favorite movie of my sister and my mom, they were both asking why Scarlett and Rhett weren’t being honored. (Being the great person I am, I rubbed it in their faces that my personal favorite was picked.)
Just read that list. It’s incredible. You have Greta Garbo’s beautiful comedic performance, John Wayne’s breakout role (and William Holden's too!), some of Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra’s most magnificent work, Bette Davis’s favorite role as Judith Traherne, Astaire and Rogers’s last RKO film…it goes on and on.
How much trouble would it have been to have a montage of these films? Or maybe show quick interviews where today’s stars say which one is their favorite? Or how about showing scenes from the movies while someone sings a song from that era, similar to what they did for OZ? Hell, I’d even take someone standing up on stage and just saying the titles.
Is anyone else as bothered by this as I am? I’m sincerely hoping that something will happen in 5 years for the 80th anniversary. If it doesn’t happen then, I’ll keep on hoping for it until maybe, just maybe, the 100th anniversary wakes the Academy up. You just can’t celebrate one film from 1939—you’ve gotta celebrate them all. Not only do they deserve it, but the fans do, too.