Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Top Ten Oscar Travesties of the Golden Age: #9

The #9 Oscar Travesty of the Golden Age

Luise Rainier wins Best Actress Oscars in 1936 and 1937.

Luise Rainier's consecutive Oscar wins were a blight on an otherwise glorious era of cinema. I honestly don't have much ire to vent about her win for The Great Ziegfeld. Yes, it's melodramatic and painful to watch, but the other nominees' performances didn't move me much, either. It didn't make me angry as when Rainier won the next year's award, for The Good Earth. That is when we’ve entered travesty territory! The travesty is that the other nominees she bested all gave career-defining or near-career defining performances. Her winning a second time denied more-deserving actresses two years in a row. It's one thing for an actress to win along with a film's Oscar sweep, but to have it happen two years running is where my incredulity begins. In fact, I'll bet during my more "vulnerable" moments, my eyes will bulge and my face will contort and stretch just like Rainier's did in The Good Earth. It's especially painful when you realize the calibre of performer that she defeated among that year's Best Actress nominees:

Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth
Greta Garbo in Camille
Janet Gaynor in A Star Is Born
Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas

To make matters worse, Rainier split from Hollywood at the peak of her stardom, making an appraisal of what "could have been" impossible. I truly believe that Hollywood wants to forget she ever existed. God bless her for fighting the system, kicking the moguls to the curb before they could do the same to her, and living a long life, but Luise Rainier had no business winning Academy Awards; and certainly not two in a row. Her back-to-back wins exist only as the answer to a trivia question and to serve as a reason to shake one's head in disbelief.


  1. Well, I couldn't disagree more since I think very much of Luise and her two Oscar wins. I haven't seen all nominees from 1936 yet but I think that she gave one of the best performances ever in The Good Earth.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Fritz. I'm sure we'd disagree on a lot of topics, especially since you rank Chicago over The Best Years of Our Lives and From Here to Eternity! :o

  3. Well, I always say it would be a boring world if we all agreed on everything! :-)
    And I am very interested in your remaining travesties!

  4. Barbara Stanwyck never winning is a travesty!

  5. i will totally agree with you on this. Luise Rainer winning in 1936 alone is a bunch of bull. i saw The Great Ziegfeld and thought she was nothing anyone could have done what she did her performance was just normal. Carole Lombard should have totally won that year. the next year she should not even have been nominated especially with Irene Dunne, Garbo, and Barbara Stanwyck. i never even heard of Rainer before i saw Ziegfeld and i would have been perfectly fine if i never saw her.

  6. C.K., another apt choice. Rainer's role in "The Great Ziegfeld" was a SUPPORTING ONE! Why wasn't she nominated in the appropriate category? Other actresses have won in this category for one big dramatic scene, and that's what her performance in this movie was for me. (I'm referring to the famous telephone scene.) I too would have chosen Carole Lombard in "My Man Godfrey." I have better feelings about her performance in "The Good Earth," but still she would have been at the bottom of the list for me. And consider that at least five nomination-worthy performances didn't get nominations: Jean Arthur in "Easy Living," Carole Lombard in "Nothing Sacred," Katharine Hepburn in "Stage Door," Sylvia Sydney in "Dead End," and Beulah Bondi in "Make Way for Tomorrow."

  7. Yes, I absolutely agree, that Ziegfeld stuff was terribly stupid! This proves, those awards are utterly ridiculous. They don't mean a thing.

    EASY LIVING, with Jean Arthur, was not even nominated. How can that Ziegfeld junk be considered obviously nothing else but a dictatorship of dopes?!

    Just to think, people like Harry Cohn were ruling Hollywood.... Who wonders?

    My focus is always on artists, like Jean Arthur, Irene Dunne, Eleanor Powell &ct./&ct. -- I'm used to skip all the rest of Hollywood, because it's mostly anti-intellectual.

    It does me good, that you name and shame it here. :D

  8. Irene Dunne for all the awards.

  9. Luise Rainer was great in both roles. She certainly deserved her win for "The Good Earth." It's a bit of a stretch for her win in "The Great Ziegfeld," mostly because her role was so small. As much as I adore anything that Irene Dunne did, "The Awful Truth" should never win an Oscar for her. Great, great movie... Oscar material, no.

    Greta Garbo was probably the most overrated actress of all time. I could never get past her manly looks and her monotone delivery. Acting? Hardly. Hype? Absolutely.

    Janet Gaynor was a joy in a great movie; Stanwyck was a bit much to take in "Stella Dallas," but overall, in my opinion, Ms. Rainer was much much MUCH deserving of the Oscar for 1937.

  10. Greta Garbo was a horrible actress and over rated does not begin to describe her. I saw two pictures with her and disappointed comes to mind. She was hunched over and her pelvis thrust forward and yes that manly tone was a turn off. Don't know how she was nominated for anything. She looked and sounded like she was in drag. She was horrible and yes over rated. As a matter of fact B rating was far too good for her. She should have been rated - DDDD


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