Yesterday morning, I diligently researched how to get to UCLA before embarking on my journey. The bus schedule informed me that the No. 2 bus leaving at noon would take me from Sunset & Gower (which is near the Hollywood apartment in which I am staying thanks to Aussie friends Steve & Josh) all the way to the UCLA campus in Westwood. Like clockwork, the No. 2 bus arrived precisely on time and I happily hopped on board. About fifteen minutes later, with UCLA still about five miles away, the bus driver notified the remaining passengers that the current stop was the last that this bus would make. Apparently, I had hopped on the wrong No. 2 bus. This No. 2 bus, the driver explained, only went as far as West Hollywood. To get to UCLA, I needed to catch the No. 2 bus that terminates at Pacific Palisades ... Wait. So, there are two different bus routes that call themselves the No. 2? ... Well, that's perfectly reasonable. Nobody will ever be confused by that...
Even though I actually watched East Lynne first, I will save that for the next post, which means our first Best Picture nominee from 1930/31 is...
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Don Marquis, Norman Z. McLeod, Sam Mintz
(based on the comic strip by Percy Crosby)
Jackie Cooper, Robert Coogan, Mitzi Green, Jackie Searl, Willard Robertson, Enid Bennett, Donald Haines, Helen Jerome Eddy
1 win, for Best Director
Skippy (Cooper) is a precocious little rascal, constantly disobeying his parents (Robertson & Bennett). Despite being told that he must never venture to the other side of the tracks, Skippy spends most of his time there, befriending a poor boy named Sooky (Coogan). When Sooky's dog is taken away by the local government (of which Skippy's father is the health supervisor), the two boys attempt all sorts of crazy schemes to make enough money to buy the required dog license. Skippy is also dismayed to hear that his father plans to tear down the shanty town where Sooky and his family live.
Today, most comic book adaptations are of the large-scale superhero blockbuster kind. Not so in 1931. Skippy is light entertainment that could easily be written off as a piece of fluff. Most of the characters are one-dimensional caricatures. And the simple plot hides the fact that the story is merely a whole bunch of comic strips strung together.
Norman Taurog garnered the Best Director Oscar, probably due to his fine work in guiding the young stars to such impressive performances. With the comic timing of a seasoned comedy performer, Jackie Cooper (pictured) is particularly compelling. Not only does he still hold the record for the youngest Best Actor nominee (he was nine years old!), but his nomination is the earliest of any living Oscar nominee in any category.