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For the first time at DeOscarize.com we are about to deoscarize a director. There is a connection between the director we’re about to deoscarize and Elvis Presley.
That will come, momentarily. The director’s name is Norman Taurog who won his Best Director Academy Award in 1931 and to this day remains the youngest director to have received an Academy Award at the age of 32.
Perhaps you are saying, it seems a shame, deoscarizing a director with that particular distinction. There are two reasons to deoscarize Norman Taurog as far as I’m concerned and after all, the entire object of this exercise at deoscarize.com is to see if you don’t agree that cinematic justice has been denied and that right should finally prevail. Firstly, Norman Taurog was nominated best director for a movie called Skippy
an exceedingly dated film that carries the distinction of having been nominated Best Picture 1931, losing of course, while its child star Jackie Cooper remains to this day the youngest performer to have been nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award.
Yeah, yeah I know about Justin Henry, 8 years old nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
So, Jackie still holds true to this day.
Norman Taurog, the youngest director to win an Academy award; Jackie Cooper, the youngest actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. That’s all well and good except for the fact that Skippy is not a good movie, not even for 1931 especially when you realize that 1931 was also the year they made The Public Enemy, the 8th greatest gangster movie ever made, selected for preservation for its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance by the Library of Congress a film with an iconic scene involving a grapefruit and an actor who became an icon himself earning the distinction of being the American Film Institute’s 8th greatest movie star of all time, James Cagney.
My contention is that the director of this iconic film should finally get the recognition that was so meanly denied him at the time, namely William A. Wellman.
So there’s the fact that there is a director who is more deserving with a film that still has the juice to this day after 83 years. There is another reason for deoscarizing Norman Taurog and that is, how he won his Best Director Academy Award. Norman Taurog won his academy award for getting the performance that he got out of 9 year-old Jackie Cooper;
a performance that made Jackie Cooper an Academy Award nominee for best actor that year for really one scene; a scene where Jackie’s character, named Skippy, cries when he hears his dog has been put away.
Guess how Taurog got that performance from 9 year-old Jackie Cooper. He got it by telling this nine-year-old boy that if he didn’t cry for the scene, he was going to shoot his dog. The boy gave a performance that gave him a career for the rest of his life but it didn’t do his psyche any good and he never spoke to the director again.
I guess people back then in 1930 thought it was o.k. for Taurgo to get a performance that way out of a nine year old child, the same way people back then thought it was ok to perform in black face and for pregnant mothers to smoke and drink. That was then but now there is no way a director would get away with doing something like that nor should he or she. So, deny or affirm my intention to deoscarize Norman Taurog Best Director 1931 and give William Wellman the credit where credit was due him 83 years ago and make William Wellman the New Best Director 1931 for his iconic gangster film The Public Enemy with an Academy Award calibre performance by James Cagney. Back then actors who played gangsters didn’t win Academy Awards. Giving approbation to such roles would incur the wrath of the holier-than-thou’s grasping for power by seeming to take the higher road. What a crock! Which reminds me, I had been considering a deoscarize exercise for James Cagney and this very film. For future thought, perhaps. At DeOscarize.com, everybody gets what’s coming to them, bad or good. Granted, it’s not life but it is a reasonable facsimile to an alternate reality, thereof.
Oh yes, the Elvis connection. The last decade of Norman Taurog’s career was in the 1960’s and during that decade he directed nine of Elvis’s MGM movie musicals starting with G.I. Blues in 1960 which one could argue was the template for most if not all of the ensuing movie musicals that Elvis made. The last movie musical that Norman Taurog directed, Live a Little, Love a Little was Norman Taurog’s very last film, for Norman Taurog went blind soon after he directed this movie. Talk about a Hollywood ending.
Of course I can see where folks might think I’m wrong. I’m prepared to make my case for DeOscarizing Norman Taurog. Can you make the case to prevent it? Is there someone else you would DeOscarize Norman Taurog for? Let’s discuss it.
Pick a year! Pick a category! Pick a Nominee! Name your own Nominee!
It’s Your Choice! It’s Your Universe!
Enjoy! Discuss! Prevail!
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