Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

My #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

I nominated three works for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) in the 1941 Retro Hugos - Pinocchio, The Thief of Bagdad and Fantasia. All three of these made it to the final ballot - rather better than my usual strike rate! - but for some reason Pinocchio has been placed in the Short Form rather than Long Form category, even though two of the Long Form nominees (One Million B.C. and Dr Cyclops) are actually shorter.

Anyway, it's (mostly) a good list, representing a decent spread of what could be considered genre film in 1940 - the nominations process doing what it is supposed to do and giving us a wide field to choose from. I confess that I've only watched my two nominees in full, but I feel I dipped into the others sufficiently to establish an order of preference.

6) Dr Cyclops
Full film:

I have to say this one lost me in the first few minutes with the awful acting in the first few scenes. Perhaps if I'd been more patient, the special effects might have lifted it above No Award on my ballot. It may yet happen; we have four weeks to go.

5) No Award. All the others seemed to me to have sufficient points of strength.

4) One Million B.C.
Full film:

I skimmed this, to be honest. It's very much in the shade of the 1960s remake with Raquel Welch, and one can't help but be reminded of the later better version while watching this. However, the special effects are pretty remarkable for the 1940s, in particular the dinosaurs and other monsters, and for me that redeems it.

3) Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe
In full starting with first episode:

I watched the first of the twelve episodes, which I hope is enough to give me a decent feel for it. One has to laugh at the unimaginative approach to the Earth of
whatever century Flash Gordon is set in, which looks just like the 1940s without even any extra flanges. The plot is pretty formulaic. But it's all done very zestfully, and I think it's largely forgiveable.

2) Fantasia
Full (probably not legit, watch it soon before it disappears):

This has tremendous sentimental value, and I'm sure it will win. The animation is superb and its merging with the music is genius. But I found myself a bit annoyed on rewatching by the overt didacticism, and for modern tastes some of the sequences drag a bit. So, somewhat to my own surprise, I've bumped it down from the top spot to second.

1) The Thief of Bagdad
Full (again, probably not legit, watch it soon before it disappears):

I nominated this on the strength of the scene with Mary Morris as Kali but I sat down and watched it from beginning to end the other night, and, good lord, I was blown away. This is one of very few films with a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and while I wouldn't go that far, it's tremendously enjoyable. On the one hand, it's supposed to be about the romance between the rightful but displaced Sultan of Bagdad and the daughter of the Sultan of Basra; on the other, the stars of the show are Sabu as Abu, the eponymous thief, and the amazing special effects - this was apparently one of the first films to use greenscreening, and they used it very well. Sure, one can rightly question the Orientalism of the project; but the fact is that it's rather nice to be reminded of a time when Iraq was celebrated for its cultural and scientific heritage, even in Holywood style, rather than for other reasons. It gets my vote, and I commend it to your attention.

Best Novel (1941/2016) / Best Novella (1941/2016) / Best Novelette (1941/2016) / Best Short Story (1941/2016) / Best Related Work (2016) / Bet Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) / Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) (1941/2016) / Art categories (1941/2016) / John W. Campbell Award
Tags: films, hugos 2016, retro hugos 1941

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