THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD

1927/28 — Emil Jannings. The German actor won his Best Actor Oscar for two performances, “The Last Command” and the now-lost “The Way of All Flesh.” However, these were silent films and the introduction of sound to movies doomed Jannings, whose heavily-accented English would limit his screen roles. Jannings was literally given his Oscar the day he left Hollywood to return to Germany, where he made one classic (“The Blue Angel” in 1930) and too many stinkers, including a large number of Nazi-produced features which eventually resulted in his blacklisting in postwar Germany.

1927/28 — Janet Gaynor. Winning the first Best Actress Oscar for three films (“Sunrise,” “Seventh Heaven” and “Street Angel”), Gaynor had no problem adapting to the talking pictures but had problems getting parts that matched her Oscar-winning prestige. Aside from “State Fair” in 1933 and “A Star is Born” in 1937, her output in the 1930s was fairly desultory and by 1938 she responded to the lack of good parts by retiring from movies.

1928/29 — Warner Baxter. Playing the Cisco Kid, former silent film star Baxter won the first Best Actor Oscar for a talkie with “In Old Arizona.” He reprised the role in two subsequent films and continued working non-stop through the 1930s. However, with the exception of “42nd Street” (1933) and “The Prisoner of Shark Island” (1936), Baxter’s ability to land quality parts diminished steadily and by the end of the 1930s he suffered a nervous breakdown. Resuming his career in the 1940s, Baxter was relegated to starring in the B-Movie series of “Crime Doctor” potboilers which were far beneath his talents.

1922/29 — Mary Pickford. Having gained international superstardom in the silent era by playing spunky little girls, Pickford made a flawless transition to both sound and mature parts by starring in the soapy drama “Coquette.” While the film was a commercial success, audiences quickly decided they did not want to see Pickford playing complex and sophisticated adult roles. But the aging star was clearly unsuited to continue in juvenile parts, and following the 1933 drama “Secrets,” she could not avoid the obvious problems with her career and announced her retirement from screen acting.

The curse continues in part three of THE OSCAR JINX STALKS HOLLYWOOD>>>




Posted on March 20, 2003 in Features by
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