What you cannot legally have
We've been in the process of gathering our materials to start the second round of the Oscar Project, and we've both agreed that one of our failings in the first round was a lack of contemporaneous note-taking during the process. By the end of the massive movie list, some early parts of the project were a bit blurry around the edges.
If you're unfamiliar —and you may well be, because I'm not particularly talkative online these days —we watched the Best Picture winners in round one. In round two, we are focusing on screenplays. What started out as the "Best Story" category began to overlap with "Best Original Screenplay" by 1940, and until 1956, both "Best Story" and "Best Original Screenplay" were both given. After 1956, "Best Story" was discontinued, leaving the "Best Original Screenplay" and "Best Adapted Screenplay" categories modern movie-goers are familiar with.
We're somewhat more interested in original screenplays than adapted ones, but we'll see how that shakes out as we go along. We're planning to be kinder to ourselves in round two than we were in round one: unlike last time, if we've seen the next movie in the sequence sometime in the past, we'll discuss whether or not to rewatch it. For the Best Picture winners, it was every movie, in order, no matter what.
(Noah would rather have eaten his own arm than rewatch Gone With The Wind; I similarly would've begged for a free pass to skip Dances With Wolves.)
In the spirit of leaving notes, I do want to note that round two is harder to source —and that's even with the fantastic Multnomah County Library system and Movie Madness Video here in Portland. The following winners of various screenplay Oscars can't be legally obtained in the US:
- 1928/1929 Best Adapted Screenplay winner: The Patriot is mostly lost. Wikipedia indicates 25% of the total film length still exists, and resides in the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
- 1935 Best Story winner: The Scoundrel, for various reasons, has never received an official DVD release. 16mm versions of the film exist, as do bootleg DVDs. It's Noël Coward's film debut.
- 1936 Best Story and Best Adapted Screenplay winner: The Story of Louis Pasteur finally received a region 1 DVD (movie-on-demand) release in 2018.
- 1940 Best Story winner: Arise, My Love (partially screenwritten by Billy Wilder) has never received a region 1 DVD release, but in 2010, Universal Cinema Classics released a region 2 DVD in Spain (Adelante Mi Amor). The GTIN barcode on the release is 5050582768893. Bootleg, low-quality region 1 DVDs exist.
- 1945 Best Original Screenplay winner: Marie-Louise, a German film, never received a region 1 DVD release, but it is available as a Swiss region 2 DVD with a GTIN barcode of 7611719424174. Low-quality bootleg DVDs exist, some with English subtitles.
- 1946 Best Original Screenplay winner: The Seventh Veil, a British film, has never received a region 1 DVD release. It's available inexpensively as a region 2 DVD.