This week in history 24th February – 2nd March

The Academy Awards on February 26, 1942 were a different affair. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour the previous December, the Academy wanted to show support for the war effort. The guests at the Biltmore Hotel that evening all paid to attend and proceeds went to the Red Cross.

Guests were also asked not to wear formal dress and the statuette that year (and all following until the end of the war) was made of plaster as the government needed all the metal for the war effort. The 14th Academy Award winner for Best picture that year was John Fords How Green Was My Valley, and the first award for a documentary was given to Churchill’s Island. 

In March 1926 Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden was shown to British Press. At the time, Alfred Hitchcock was a promising art director and writer. Critics were shocked by the film; journalist Cedric Belfrage who wrote for Picturegoer wrote that “Hitchcock has such a complete grasp of all the different branches of film technique that the is able to take far more control of his production than the average director of four times his experience”.

During shooting of The Pleasure Garden, cinematographer Gaetano di Ventimi hid the camera underneath Hitchcock’s bunk as they wanted to avoid Italian duties. When it was found the unexposed film was confiscated and the crew had to buy new film to shoot on location, increasing the films budget. The confiscated film was returned later. Hitchcock became engaged to Alma Reville while filming.

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