Best Picture Nominees: 1937

In 1937, Japan invaded China and conquered most of its coastal areas. An American gunboat, the Panay, was sunk by the Japanese on China's Yangtze River. Italy quit the League of Nations. And war seemed inevitable.

But in America, with unemployment still over 14%, Hollywood and the radio networks were just getting started. In this year, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy made their debut on NBC. The Glenn Miller Band opened in New York. And Walt Disney released the first full-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

For more information about 1937, see The Learning Network's Fact Monster.

The Life of Emile Zola (William Dieterle)
Won Best Picture
The film biography of Emile Zola (Paul Muni), a famous 19th century French intellectual and novelist. It traces his life from his youth, as a friend of Cezanne (Vladimir Sokoloff) starving in a Parisian attic, to the peak of his career. He is celebrated as France's greatest author and the champion of the oppressed. However, on the eve of membership to the French academy, with great personal cost, he defends a Jewish officer Captain Alfred Dreyfus (Joseph Schildkraut)--the Dreyfus Affair--who is unjustly accused of treason, and then banished to Devil's Island for a life term.

The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey)
Nominated Best Picture
IMDB Highest Rated
In this film (one of the best screwball comedies of the decade), Jerry and Lucy Warriner (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) both do their best to ruin each other's plans for remarriage after their divorce--Jerry to haughty socialite Barbara Vance (Molly Lamont) and Lucy to oil-rich bumpkin Dan Leeson (Ralph Bellamy). Among their strategies: Jerry's court-decreed visitation rights with Mr. Smith, their pet fox terrier, and Lucy's flamboyant impersonation of Jerry's brassy "sister" before his prospective bride's scandalized family.

Stage Door (Gregory La Cava)
Nominated Best Picture
Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn), a rich society beauty, has decided to see if she can break into the Broadway theatre scene without her family connections. She goes to live in a theatrical boarding house and finds her life caught up with those of the other inmates and the ever-present disappointment that theatrical hopefuls must live with. Her smart-mouth roommate, Jean (Ginger Rogers), is approached by a powerful producer for more than just a role. And Terry's father has decided to give her career the shove by backing a production for her to star in, in which she's sure to flop. Notable for some of the up-and-coming female stars in the cast: Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, and Ann Miller.

The Good Earth (Sidney Franklin)
Nominated Best Picture
From the novel by Pearl Buck, this is the story of Wang (Paul Muni), a poor Chinese farmer, who marries O-Lan (Luise Rainer), a slave from the 'Great House' and starts raising a family. When famine hits, Wang takes his family south to the city in search of work. O-Lan stays with him through hard times and revolution and helps get enough money to return the family to their northern farmlands. Wang becomes prosperous but his passions sway to a younger woman. The young woman's indiscretions with Wang's now grown up son cause a family rift but O-Lan remains steadfast. Then a new challenge arrives--a plague of locusts.

Lost Horizon (Frank Capra)
Nominated Best Picture
From the novel by James Hilton, this is the story of British diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) and a small group of civilians who crash land in the Himalayas and are rescued by the people of the mysterious, Eden-like valley of Shangri-La. Protected by the mountains from the world outside, where the clouds of World War II are gathering, Shangri-La provides a seductive escape for the world-weary Conway.

Captains Courageous (Victor Fleming)
Nominated Best Picture
Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling, this film tells the story of Harvey Freddie Bartholomew), a spoiled brat used to having his own way. When a prank goes wrong onboard an ocean liner, Harvey ends up overboard and nearly drowns. Fortunately, he is picked up by a fishing boat just heading out for the season. He tries to bribe the crew into returning early to collect a reward, but none of them believe him. Stranded on the boat he must adapt to the ways of the fishermen and learn more about the real world. Starring Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn DouglasMickey Rooney, and John Carradine.

In Old Chicago (Henry King)
Nominated Best Picture
The fictionalized story of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It focuses on the two sons of Mrs. O'Leary (Alice Brady), the owner of the cow which started the fire. One son is a rogue (Tyrone Power) and the other is a lawyer (Don Ameche). In re-staging the fire, it was one of the most expensive films made to that point.

Dead End (William Wyler)
Nominated Best Picture
A career gangster, Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart) goes back to the dead end street where he grew up. The Dead End Kids are introduced in their intricate East Side slum, overlooked by the apartments of the rich. Their antics, some funny, some vicious, alternate with subplots. Unemployed architect Dave (Joel McCrea) is torn between Drina (Sylvia Sidney), sweet but equally poor, and Kay (Wendy Barrie), a rich man's mistress.


A Star is Born (William A. Wellman)
Nominated Best Picture
The first of three famous versions of this story. Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) is just another starry-eyed farm kid trying to break into the movies. Waitressing at a Hollywood party, she catches the eye of alcoholic star Norman Maine (Fredric March), is given a test, and is caught up in the Hollywood glamor machine. She and her idol Norman marry; but his career abruptly dwindles to nothing. While Norman's career is ending, Esther's is just beginning.


One Hundred Men and a Girl (Henry Koster)
Nominated Best Picture
A struggling musician (Adolphe Menjou) has a daughter (Deanna Durbin) who forms a symphony orchestra made up of her father's unemployed friends. Through persistence, charm and a few misunderstandings, she is able to get Leopold Stokowski to lead them in a concert that leads to a radio contract.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (David Hand)
The first full-length animated film. Adapted from the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, a jealous queen attempts to get rid of her beautiful step-daughter, Snow White, who takes refuge with seven dwarfs in their forest home. The queen changes into a witch and tempts Snow White with a poisoned apple which puts her into an everlasting sleep, until a prince finds her in a glass coffin and awakens her with Love's First Kiss.

A Day at the Races (Sam Wood)
Solonor's Pick
Another Marx Brothers' romp--one of their best. Town villain Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille) has his sights set on taking over the sanitarium run by Judy (Maureen O'Sullivan) and turning it into a casino. Aiding Judy in saving the sanitarium are Dr. Hugo Hackenbush (Groucho Marx), a horse doctor illegally employed as the sanitarium director; Tony (Chico Marx), a helper at the sanitarium; and Stuffy (Harpo Marx), a jockey formerly employed by Morgan. Judy's boyfriend, Gil (Allan Jones), a singer, has invested all his money in Hi Hat, a race horse he hopes will win enough to pay off the sanitarium debts. After Gil figures out the horse is a jumper and not a racer, the boys try to win a major steeplechase race, while Morgan and his men try to prevent the horse from getting onto the race track. Obligatory appearance by Margaret Dumont as the wealthy hypochondriac who might also save the santitarium from financial ruin.

Download PDF with IMDB and other rankings for these movies.

Navigate to Other Years

1936 <- Main Menu -> 1938

Many posters provided in affiliation with

Search For Posters on!

Filmography links courtesy of IMDb link-it programme.
Many film synopses are summarized versions of complete film biographies found at, used without permission.

All posters are from, or other sources as noted. Non-commercial posters are used without permission, and are not intended for commercial use. These works will be immediately removed upon request of the copyright holder.

Oscar« and Academy Awards« and Oscar« design mark are the trademarks and service marks and the Oscarę statuette the copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This site is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Best Picture: 1937
What is the Best Picture of 1937?

The Life of Emile Zola
The Awful Truth
Stage Door
The Good Earth
Lost Horizon
Captains Courageous
In Old Chicago
Dead End
A Star is Born
100 Men and a Girl
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
A Day at the Races

Current Results

Navigate to Other Years

1936 <- Main Menu -> 1938

Home   ¦  Sitemap   ¦  Search   ¦  Thanks   ¦  E-Mail