The Golden Age of Hollywood was also the Golden Age of the Academy Awards, right? Ha! The sickening sneer you have on your face is matched by the one I have perpetually smeared on my own grubby mug as I scratch out my own personal Top Ten Oscar Travesties. However, before the series commences, I'd better lay down the ground rules.
Only the Golden Age: For the purposes of this series, let’s just say it’s 1934 to, oh, 1950-something. That way I don’t have to delve into the unpleasantness of Glenda Jackson’s two Oscar wins or the fact that Jerry Goldsmith has only one measly Oscar out of his multitude of nominations.
Snubs: While this qualifies as a travesty in itself, this countdown won’t have me moaning and wailing like an elderly, old-world-widow over Myrna Loy’s zero nominations. More importantly, the list will not discuss “should’ve been nominated” performers, directors, writers, and technical personnel. The travesties will only include the actual nominees of a given year.
Just One Person’s View: Remember, it’s just how I see it. I’m sure everyone out there has their own strongly-held opinions about Oscar’s greatest travesties, and believe me; I can’t wait to read what you consider the best/worst omissions and inclusions.
Now let’s begin the countdown…
The #10 Oscar Travesty of the Golden Age:
Sweet Leilani wins the 1937 Best Song Oscar over They Can't Take That Away From Me.
Apparently, "they" could AND did...take that away from them, that is.
Poor George Gershwin. Not only did the man die at the tragically early age of 38 in July 1937, but to add further insult to this most grievous event, one of his finest compositions, from the Astaire-Rogers musical Shall We Dance, They Can’t Take That Away from Me lost the Best Song Oscar to Harry Owens’ Sweet Leilani. We should all be so lucky as to have a Hawaiian vacation and have a grateful Bing Crosby go to bat for you against a tough Hollywood producer to include your ditty in a most forgettable movie. To be fair, Sweet Leilani must’ve sounded exotic to haole ears in 1937, and Bing Crosby had a huge-selling record with it, so its commercial appeal is also understandable. It still ruffles my feathers, though.
Perhaps Gershwin’s masterwork lost because of his prolonged journey into “highbrow” music. Or maybe it was due to the fact that an Astaire song—The Way You Look Tonight—deservedly won the Best Song Oscar in 1936. Politics always played a part with the Oscars, and this has been proven over the course of many decades. However, to show what a restrained, stand-up blogger I am, this will be the only music-related travesty on the top ten list.