The History Beat: Seven Oscar-winning early films that screened in Glens Falls | Local
MAURY THOMPSON Special for The Post-Star
The movie that The Post Star hailed as “one of the best pictures of the year” won three Oscars at the first Academy Awards competition in 1929.
“This photo caused a stir and drew crowds across the country, and is considered one of the best photos of the year,” The Post Star reported May 8, 1928 from the film ‘7th Heaven’, opening for three days at the Empire Theater on South Street in Glens Falls.
Viewers who wanted to directly compliment the film’s leading lady could write to actress Janet Gaynor in care of Fox Studios in Hollywood, The Post Star reported May 12, 1928.
Lux toilet soap, in case you were wondering, was the actress’ favorite soap, if a June 13, 1929, Post-Star advertising can be believed.
“There’s a caressing quality to Lux toilet soap that I’ve never found except in expensive French soaps,” Gaynor said in the ad. “My skin is soft and smooth.”
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The praise for the film wasn’t just marketing.
“7th Heaven” won three Oscars in 1929, the first year of the awards: Frank Burzage for Best Director; Gaynor for Best Actress; and Benjamin Glazer for Best Writing, Adaptation.
“7th Heaven” also performed in January 1928 at the Rialto Theater in Glens Falls, in February 1928 at the Strand Theater in Hudson Falls, and in April 1928 at the Bradley Theater in Fort Edward.
Here are six other Oscar-winning films that screened in Glens Falls during the Oscars’ first decade. Quotes are from Post Star the news.
- 1930: Outstanding Picture – “The Broadway Melody”, screened May 2, 1920 at the Rialto Theater on Warren Street. “Musical and vaudeville dancers, recruited from stage shows in New York City and the Pacific Coast, have their sleeves in the screen’s first all-word, song, and dance musical.”
- 1931: Best Cinematography – “With Byrd at the South Pole”, screened July 30, 1930 at the Strand Theater in Hudson Falls. “The humorous and human-interest incidents of daring feats are recorded in every detail. The breathtaking plane flights over the pole, performed by Admiral Byrd and three companions, are a vivid experience in pictures .
- 1932: Best Picture – ‘Grand Hotel’, opened September 24, 1932 at the Paramount Theater on Ridge Street. “After sensational tours of New York and other major cities across the United States and Canada, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s long-awaited and much-discussed all-star production ‘Grand Hotel’ will open today. today at the Paramount Theater at the People’s Awards. … ‘Grand Hotel’ brings to the screen the most stunning galaxy of stars and players ever seen in a movie.”
- 1933: Best Actor – Fredric March in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” shown January 20 and 21, 1933 at the Rialto Theater on Warren Street. “Seven distinct characterizations are adopted by Frederic March in his portrayal of the role of double personality in ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, which continues to run today and tomorrow at the Rialto Theatre.
- 1934: Best Cinematography and Best Sound Recording – ‘A Farewell to Arms’, closed June 5, 1933 at the Rialto Theater on Warren Street and opened June 5, 1933 at the Paramount Theater on Ridge Street. “The film is a faithful reproduction of Hemingway’s novel.”
- 1935: best actor, Clark Gable; Best Actress, Claudette Colbert; Outstanding production; Best Director, Frank Capra; Best Writing, Robert Riskin – ‘It Happened One Night,’ opened April 24, 1934 at the Rialto Theater on Warren Street; May 20, 1934, at the Empire Theater on South Street; and July 22, 1934 at the State Theater in Warren Street. “There was considerable excitement in the office of Rialto Theater manager Harry Black yesterday after the matinee, which was of such magnitude that it was decided to hold the most enjoyable comedy of the year, ‘It Happened One Night”.
Maury Thompson was a Post Star journalist for 21 years before retiring in 2017. He is now a freelance writer and documentary filmmaker specializing in the history of politics, labor organizing and the media in the region.