- May 31, 1999
- Castaic, CA
- Real Name
- Jonathan Burk
The Broadway Melody of 1929 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the first of 75 screenings of the Best Picture Oscar winners. This Monday evening series will be held at the theater of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills.
Since The Broadway Melody of 1929 is considered by some to be the worst Best Picture Winner Ever (as printed in Sunday's LA Times), I hoped the crowds would be light. Imagine my shock when I arrived on scene 30 minutes early and saw a line snaking around the block! It turns out the Academy was expecting light crowds for this show as well, and they weren't staffed to handle that many people for ticket sales. In addition, many people wanted the $75 pass, which slowed down ticket sales.
After purchasing my $75 pass (which gets me into all 75 screenings), I found a seat in the theater and waited for the show to start.
We were greeted by a member of the Academy board, who outlined what they had in mind for these screenings. Basically, they were scouring the globe for the finest prints in existence of each film. Each film would be preceded by the Academy Award winner for best animated short, as well as vintage trailers and a recording of the winner for best song.
After cracking a joke about how hard it was to find a cast member from the film , we were surprised to be introduced to none other than Anita Page, one of the stars of the film! She received a standing ovation, and it brought a tear to my eye to think of an actress receiving such appreciation for work done 75 years earlier.
There were two trailers. One was for the Paramount silent film "The Patriot". Sadly, this is a "lost" film, with no surviving prints. There was also a trailer for "All Quiet on the Western Front", next week's show. Both trailers were silent, with live piano accompaniment. There were chuckles as each trailer enthusiastically proclaimed their movie "The Most Dramatic Tale Ever to Hit The Screen!" Then, a vintage Hearst newsreel showing George Gershwin rehearsing for one of his upcoming broadway musicals.
I'm not a critic, so I'll limit my appraisal of the film to saying it was better than I expected, but nothing I'd ever watch again. The presentation was passable, with the most glaring imperfection being the frame being off-center to the left, no doubt the result of adding a soundtrack after the fact. So the film was alway cropped on the left, with characters frequently being out of frame.
Also included was a program with a full color reproduction of the original poster art on one side, and details of the Academy Awards for that year on the back.
Considering the turnout for this show, I can't imagine what Gone With The Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, or Titanic are going to be like. I know I'll be getting there early, and maybe I'll see some of you there.
Note: Wings was the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar, but it won't be screened until next May, when they'll have a restored print and a live chamber orchestra.