Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1939

Ah, 1939, the last year of the Depressing '30s. It is the year that Germany invaded Poland, thereby turning what had previously been a messy conflict going on in China into a true World War. It was the year a young kid named Ted Williams burst onto the scene fresh from the beaches of San Diego and led the league in RBIs while blasting 31 home runs, but not even he can help the Red Sox topple the Yankees, who went on to win their fourth straight pennant en route to their fourth straight World Series title over Willard Hershberger's Reds.

But for most people, 1939 is the pinnacle of Hollywood moviemaking. Oh, there have been several other great years. 1994 was a particularly good year (Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption), and so were 1951 (A Streetcar Named Desire, The African Queen), 1959 (Ben-Hur, North By Northwest, Some Like It Hot), 1969 (Midnight Cowboy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), 1974 (Chinatown, The Godfather Part II), 1976 (Rocky, Network, Taxi Driver), but for most film fanatics 1939 was tops.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Non-Nominated Highlight: You Ought to Be in Pictures (1940)

So last week we talked about the 1940 Oscar race which was between two MGM films and a Warner Bros. film, with MGM's The Milky Way coming out on top. Previously, I had covered that year's Oscar race as part of the History of Animation class whose responses I used during the prior hiatus from November through February. The question asked about why Disney was not nominated, and one of the reasons was that because the other studios were putting out films that eclipsed that of Disney after Disney ended the Silly Symphonies. In it I specifically cited four films from the other two major animation studios, MGM and Warner Bros. Three of those four films were the ones nominated for the Oscar and that I wrote about in my review last week. And yet the best of all four films may very well the one that was left off the final ballot: Warner Bros.'s self-referential classic You Ought to Be in Pictures.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1940

Well, we're in the year of 1940. It's not quite as memorable as 1941, but it's got its moments. One significant moment was the suicide of Willard Hershberger. Hershberger was a catcher with the Cincinnati Reds. You'd think that somebody that's played baseball at the major leagues would be set for life, but you'd be dead wrong. There is nothing more mentally stressful than a career in professional sports. Think about it, you spend essentially your whole life dedicating yourself to a sport, where you dominated at virtually every level. Then you get thrust into a work environment where all of a sudden your best may not be good enough, and even if it is and you do get to the majors, you'd have to maintain your level of performance lest somebody else takes your job. And you don't have anything to fall back on. Those that are not on solid ground mentally usually do something drastic once their careers end.

History is littered with players that decided to end their lives: Catcher Marty Bergen killed himself and his family in 1900. Popular young star Win Mercer drank gas to end his life. A pitcher named Pea Ridge Day slit his throat after an unsuccessful operation on his pitching arm. And Christy Mathewson's brother Nicholas shot himself in the head from the stresses of trying to maintain his studies while playing professional ball. It's a brutal track record.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

300 Win Club - 125th anniversary

Are you enjoying my switch to two weeks between reviews? No? Tough, because I like it. It's giving me time to focus on my work and to work on some other projects, like this 30,000-word post about the 300-win pitchers on the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the 300-win club. It's kind of like the post I made back in June for the 4th anniversary of Randy Johnson's 300th win, only without graves. Maybe I should have ranked the 300-win games this time, but I suppose I can save that for next year on the 5th anniversary of the milestone. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy.

300-Win Club: the 125th anniversary