Clarence Brown was not a great artist but he was one of MGM’s most reliable craftsmen, working with all the studio’s great stars, including Gable and Garbo.
This lavish adaptation of Louis Bromfield’s romantic novel, was one of MGM’s prestige “epic” productions of the year, benefiting from a big budget, a large portion of which went to the reconstruction of a spectacular flood. The Academy voters responded with six Oscar nominations, all in the technical categories, winning one for Special Effects.
Myrna Loy plays Lady Edwina Esketh, the unhappily married wife of Lord Albert Esketh (Nigel Bruce), a middle-aged English businessman.
To escape her misery and loneliness, she engages in various love affairs. When Lord Albert travels to the Indian province of Ranchipur, Edwina encounters one of her past lovers, Tom Ransome (George Brent). Tom wants to rekindle their romance, but she is more interested in a young Indian doctor, Major Rama Safti (Tyrone Power), the court favorite of the reigning maharajah (H.B. Warner).
An honorable man, Rama is dedicated to helping the poor, and through him Edwina begins to get a more acute social conscience, which means caring for the poor.
Melodrama kicks in, when a terrible earthquake hits Ranchipur, and Edwina joins Rama in helping the tragedy’s victims.
Oscar Nominations: 6
Cinematography (black-and-white): Arthur Miller
Interior decoration: William darling and George Dudley
Sound Recording: E.H. Hansen
Original Score: Alfred Newman
Film Editing: Barbara McLean
Special Effects: E. H. Hansen, visual; Fred Sersen, sound.
Oscar Awards: 1
In 1939, considered to be the best year in Hollywood’s history, “Gone With the Wind” swept most of the Oscars, including Art Direction and Editing.
Arthur Miller’s name was later taken off the final ballot, when the Academy decided to have just two contenders for lensing. The Cinematography Oscar went to Gregg Toland for “Wuthering Heights.”
The Sound Oscar was given to Bernard B. Brown for “When Tomorrow Comes,” and the Original Score to Herbert Stothart for “The Wizard of Oz.”