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Cavalcade

From Academic Kids

Cavalcade was a spectacular stage play written by Noel Coward, premiered in London in 1931 and later made into a commercially and critically successful film, though it is little remembered now.

For a Best Picture Oscar winner, the film version of Cavalcade has certainly fallen into obscurity. Reginald Berkeley wrote the screenplay based on the original play by Noel Coward. A couple lives through their marriage from 1899 to 1933, and watches the events of history affect them, or as it tagline goes "The march of time measured by a mother's heart!" The lead roles were played by Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook, supported by a cast of unknowns.

The film won three Oscars

Diana Wynyard was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Coward's original play, one of the biggest stage successes of 1931 in London's West End, was a huge production requiring enormous sets, vast armies of extras and costumes, and a special hydraulic stage mechanism. It featured a large array of period songs and old music-hall favourites as well as an original Coward number, Twentieth Century Blues. The original premiere of Cavalcade took place shortly before the 1931 British General Election, and the play's strongly patriotic themes were credited by the Conservative Party for helping to secure them a large number of middle-class Londoners' votes. Although Coward was certainly a Conservative, he always strenuously denied having planned any kind of effect on the Election and indeed maintained that he had been entirely unaware an election was even due to take place. Owing to the sheer cost of production, the play has not been staged in anything like its original form ever since, and most revivals have traditionally trimmed a number of Coward's more spectacular scenes, in particular the chaotic finale.

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