Cavalcade is another decade spanning epic worthy of winning Best Picture. Cimarron seemed to set the precedence for movies like this. Cavalcade was the last film to win the Academy Award when 2 release years were eligible. After awhile it made more sense to stick to 1 year. As the second to last pre-Code winner, Cavalcade might have inspired stricter Hollywood guidelines. The film has some scandal, but it was mostly light swearing like “damn” and “hell.” Cavalcade is based on a play that covers three decades of a British families life until it reaches modern day. Starting with the turn of the century in 1900.
A cavalcade of soldiers march in the background as a metaphor for time marching on. A big reason why the movie also won Best Art Direction and Best Director for Frank Lloyd. Important historic events include the Second Boer War in South Africa, the death of Queen Victoria, the tragic sinking of the Titanic, and the devastation of World War I. Of course these events mostly play out in the background and only affect the main characters to increase drama. Cavalcade is more slice of life from the perspective of the wealthy Marryot family and their less fortunate servants the Bridges.
Jane and Robert are well off, but they aren’t snobs. They love their sons Edward and Joey and respect those who work for them. Their equally wealthy friend Margaret Harris and her daughter Edith are also important to their story. Ellen and Alfred have their own problems, but their daughter Fanny ends up doing pretty well for herself. It’s sentimental, but tragedy comes when you least expect it. Diana Wynyard earned a Best Actress nomination since Jane goes through a lot as a wife and mother. Cavalcade is full of hardship, but it makes sure to highlight hopeful moments at the same time.