Thursday, August 6, 2015

1943--The Year in Review

Of course, World War II had a tremendously negative effect on the film output this year, as many of the planet's most talented movie artists were deeply preoccupied with the battleground. If you subtract Casablanca from the running (as I did--it's really a 1942 release, despite what the Academy determined), then Alfred Hitchcock's own favorite of his own works, Shadow of a Doubt, hits the top spot quite easily in most areas. I revel in both the darkness of Carl Dreyer's radically silent-flavored Day of Wrath--an incisive dramatization of ancient witch hunting--and the stirringly patriotic work of UK auteurs Powell and Pressberger, whose magnificent wartime character study was confidently led by the vibrant, unforgettable Roger Livesey. But Hitchcock's first uncontestably brilliant foray away from British shores wryly dramatized the fascination with violence that would continue to eat up the United States (I consider this his first resolutely American film, and a precursor to Psycho). I adore Shadow of a Doubt--it's easily the most entertaining movie of the year, and how great is it that Thornton Wilder, the penman of the iconic Our Town, lended his own unique cornfed-America-flavored voice to the screenplay? Best Actress was won at the Oscars by Jennifer Jones (mainly because her husband David O. Selznick campaigned vociferously on her behalf). But previous winner Joan Fontaine was simply dazzling playing both a bouncy young girl and a mature woman in the little-seen The Constant Nymph (a lost film only recently revealed again on Turner Classic Movies around 2012). On the craft level, the remake of Phantom of the Opera marked a colorful notch for the horror genre, but then so did the evocative black-and-white work in Jacques Tourneur's I Walked With a Zombie and Mark Robson's The Seventh Victim (each working under the aegis of legendary producer Val Lewton, who also contributed The Leopard Man this year). As for short films, we received two of the most spirited ever made: Maya Deren and Alexander Hamid's Meshes of the Afternoon and Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood. Meanwhile, the Best Song category was as hotly contested as ever in this tuneful era. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.

PICTURE: SHADOW OF A DOUBT (US, Alfred Hitchcock) (2nd: Day of Wrath (Denmark, Carl Th. Dreyer), followed by: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (UK, Michael Powell); The More the Merrier (US, George Stevens); I Walked With a Zombie (US, Jacques Tourneur); The Ox-Bow Incident (US, William A. Wellman); The Human Comedy (US, Clarence Brown); Hangmen Also Die (US, Fritz Lang); Heaven Can Wait (US, Ernst Lubitsch); Air Force (US, Howard Hawks); The Song of Bernadette (US, Henry King); A Guy Named Joe (US, Michael Curtiz); Five Graves to Cairo (US, Billy Wilder); The Seventh Victim (US, Mark Robson))

ACTOR: Roger Livesey, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (2nd: Joseph Cotten, Shadow of a Doubt, followed by: Joel McCrea, The More the Merrier; Don Ameche, Heaven Can Wait; Orson Welles, Jane Eyre)

ACTRESS: Joan Fontaine, THE CONSTANT NYMPH (2nd: Jean Arthur, The More the Merrier, followed by: Teresa Wright, Shadow of a Doubt; Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette; Lisbeth Movin, Day of Wrath)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Charles Coburn, THE MORE THE MERRIER (2nd: Henry Travers, Shadow of a Doubt, followed by: Vincent Price, The Song of Bernadette; Frank Conroy The Ox-Bow Incident; Anton Walbrook, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Collinge, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (2nd: Anne Svierkier, Day of Wrath, followed by: Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls; Edna May Wonacott, Shadow of a Doubt; Gladys Cooper, The Song of Bernadette)

DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (2nd: Michael Powell, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, followed by: Carl Th. Dreyer, Day of Wrath; Jacques Tourneur, I Walked With a Zombie; George Stevens, The More The Merrier)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (2nd: Robert Russell, Frank Ross, Richard Flournoy and Lewis R. Foster, The More The Merrier, followed by: John Wexley, Bertold Brecht, and Fritz Lang, Hangmen Also Die; Dalton Trumbo, Chandler Sprague, David Boehm, and Frederick Hazlett Brennen, A Guy Named Joe)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Thornton Wilder, Alma Reville and Sally Benson, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (2nd: Lamar Trotti, The Ox-Bow Incident, followed by: Carl Th. Dreyer, Poal Knudson, and Mogens Skot-Hansen, Day of Wrath; Samson Raphelson, Heaven Can Wait; Howard Estabrook, The Human Comedy)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (Maya Deren and Alexander Hamid) (2nd: The Silent Village (Humphrey Jennings); They Stooge to Conga (The Three Stooges; Del Lord); Dizzy Pilots (The Three Stooges; Jules White); Heavenly Music (Sam Coslow))

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: RED HOT RIDING HOOD (Tex Avery) (2nd: Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarves (Bob Clampett); A Corny Concerto (Bob Clampett); Yankee Doodle Daffy (Friz Freleng); An Itch in Time (Bob Clampett))

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Karl Andersson, DAY OF WRATH (2nd: J. Roy Hunt, I Walked With a Zombie, followed by: Hal Mohr and W. Howard Greene, Phantom of the Opera; George Perinal, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp; Leonard Smith, Lassie Come Home)

ART DIRECTION: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Shadow of a Doubt, Day of Wrath, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Five Graves to Cairo

COSTUME DESIGN: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, The Song of Bernadette, Day of Wrath, Jane Eyre, The Constant Nymph 

FILM EDITING: SHADOW OF A DOUBT, The Ox-Bow Incident, Air Force, Five Graves to Cairo, The Song of Bernadette 

SOUND: AIR FORCE, Hangmen Also Die, Shadow of a Doubt, Phantom of the Opera, The Song of Bernadette

ORIGINAL SCORE: Alfred Newman, THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (2nd: Roy Webb, I Walked With a Zombie, followed by: Allan Gray, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp; Bernard Herrmann, Jane Eyre; Hanns Eisler, Hangmen Also Die)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Ray Heindorf, THIS IS THE ARMY (2nd: Edward Ward, Phantom of the Opera, followed by: Dimitri Tiomkin, Shadow of a Doubt; Leigh Harline, The Sky's The Limit; Frederic E. Rich, Stage Door Canteen)

ORIGINAL SONG: "That Old Black Magic" from STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM (Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer) (2nd: "You'll Never Know" from Hello, Frisco, Hello (Music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon); "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" from Thank Your Lucky Stars (Music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by Frank Loesser); "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" from Something to Shout About (Music and lyrics by Cole Porter); "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe" from Cabin in the Sky (Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harberg))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: AIR FORCE, Crash Dive, So Proudly We Hail!

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