Tuesday, September 15, 2015

1949--The Year in Review

Easily my most obscure Best Picture pick from the 1940s is Robert Wise's boxing noir The Set-Up, constructed in real time way before Fred Zinneman's 1952 western High Noon made it widely known a movie could be built in this fashion (though I suppose Hitchcock's 1948 film Rope did it earlier). I know many will have problems with this pick, simply because Carol Reed's extremely popular The Third Man appears as competition. But I think Reed's movie lacks a bit of energy when its main assets--Orson Welles and composer Anton Karas--aren't apparent. Wise's film, meanwhile, is still as strong and economical as it was the day of its release--a damning indictment of boxing, and its bloodthirsty fans, too (almost as good in this respect was Mark Robson's soapier boxing film Champion, with Kirk Douglas in the lead). The UK output was particularly lively this year, with comedic masterpieces Kind Hearts and Coronets, Passport to Pimlico and Whisky Galore, while Japan gave us prime films from Ozu and Kurosawa. Alec Guinness wins the lead actor award for his robust, eight-character performance in Kind Hearts and Coronets, while Olivia De Havilland lands her second lead nod in a row for her devastating show in William Wyler's The Heiress. The Oscars, meanwhile, saw fit to give its top awards to Robert Rossen's All The King's Men--a groundbreaker when released but sadly dated today (though Mercedes McCambridge's hard-bitten supporting turn still resonates). 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 Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold. 

PICTURE: THE SET-UP (US, Robert Wise) (2nd: The Third Man (UK, Carol Reed), followed by: The Heiress (US, William Wyler); Kind Hearts and Coronets (UK, Robert Hamer); White Heat (US, Raoul Walsh); Late Spring (Japan, Yasujiro Ozu); On the Town (US, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly); Stray Dog (Japan, Akira Kurosawa); A Letter to Three Wives (US, Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Battleground (US, William A. Wellman); She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (US, John Ford); The Window (US, Ted Tetzlaff); Champion (US, Mark Robson); Criss Cross (US, Robert Siodmak); Adam’s Rib (US, George Cukor); Whisky Galore (UK, Alexander Mackendrick); All the King’s Men (US, Robert Rossen); Come to the Stable (US, Henry Koster); Madame Bovary (US, Vincente Minnelli); The Big Steal (US, Don Siegel); Passport to Pimlico (UK, Henry Cornelius); Jour de Fête (France, Jacques Tati); Border Incident (US, Anthony Mann); It Happens Every Spring (US, Lloyd Bacon); Colorado Territory (US, Raoul Walsh); The Fountainhead (US, King Vidor); Sands of Iwo Jima (US, Allan Dwan); Caught (US, Max Ophuls); Intruder in the Dust (US, Clarence Brown); I Shot Jesse James (US, Samuel Fuller); Samson and Delilah (US, Cecil B. De Mille); Take Me Out to the Ball Game (US, Busby Berkeley); Mighty Joe Young (US, Ernest B. Schoedsack))

ACTOR: Alec Guinness, KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (2nd: James Cagney, White Heat, followed by: Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men; Toshiro Mifune, Stray Dog; Dennis Price, Kind Hearts and Coronets; Robert Ryan, The Set-Up; Kirk Douglas, Champion; Joseph Cotten, The Third Man; John Wayne, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Spencer Tracy, Adam’s Rib) 

ACTRESS: Olivia De Havilland, THE HEIRESS (2nd: Setsuko Hara, Late Spring, followed by: Katharine Hepburn, Adam’s Rib; Loretta Young, Come to the Stable; Joan Bennett, The Reckless Moment; Patricia Neal, The Fountainhead; Jane Greer, The Big Steal; Jennifer Jones, Madame Bovary; Deborah Kerr, Edward My Son; Jeanne Crain, Pinky)  

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Orson Welles, THE THIRD MAN (2nd: Ralph Richardson, The Heiress, followed by: Bobby Driscoll, The Window; James Whitmore, Battleground; Wylie Watson, Whisky Galore; Dan Duryea, Criss Cross; Kirk Douglas, A Letter to Three Wives; Dean Jagger, Twelve O’Clock High; Arthur Kennedy, Champion; William Bendix, The Big Steal) 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mercedes McCambridge, ALL THE KING'S MEN (2nd: Thelma Ritter, A Letter to Three Wives, followed by: Keiko Awaji, Stray Dog; Celeste Holm, Come to the Stable; Margaret Wycherley, White Heat; Joan Greenwood, Kind Hearts and Coronets; Ethel Waters, Pinky; Jean Cadell, Whisky Galore; Jean Hagen, Adam’s Rib; Judy Holliday, Adam’s Rib)

DIRECTOR: Robert Wise, THE SET-UP (2nd: Carol Reed, The Third Man, followed by: Robert Hamer, Kind Hearts and Coronets; Yasujiro Ozu, Late Spring; Akira Kurosawa, Stray Dog; William Wyler, The Heiress; Raoul Walsh, White Heat; Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, On The Town;Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives; William A. Wellman, Battleground)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Graham Greene, THE THIRD MAN (2nd: Valentine Davies and Shirley Smith, It Happens Every Spring, followed by: T.E.B. Clarke, Passport to Pimlico; Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, White Heat; Ryuzo Kikushima and Akira Kurosawa, Stray Dog; Carl Foreman and Ring Lardner, Champion)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Robert Hamer and John Dighton, KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (2nd: Ruth and Augustus Goetz, The Heiress, followed by; Art Cohn, The Set-Up; Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu, Late Spring; Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Vera Caspery, A Letter to Three Wives; Compton Mackenzie and Angus McPhail, Whisky Galore)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: LONG HAIRED HARE (Chuck Jones; Bugs Bunny) (2nd: Begone Dull Care (Canada, Norman McLaren), followed by: For Scent-imental Reasons (Chuck Jones; Pepe Le Pew); Little Rural Riding Hood (Tex Avery); High Diving Hare (Friz Freleng); Fast and Furry-Ous (Chuck Jones; Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote); Bad Luck Blackie (Tex Avery); The Counterfeit Cat (Tex Avery))

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: LAND OF PROMISE (aka DIM LITTLE ISLAND) (UK, Humphrey Jennings) (2nd: Who Done It? (Edward Bernds; The Three Stooges), followed by: The Lead Shoes (Sidney Peterson)

BLACK-AND-WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY: Paul Vogel, BATTLEGROUND (2nd: Milton Krasner, The Set-Up, followed by: Yuharu Atsuta, Late Spring; Robert Krasker, The Third Man; Robert Surtees, Intruder in the Dust; Leo Tover, The Heiress; Franz Planer, Criss Cross)

COLOR CINEMATOGRAPHY: Winton Hoch, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (2nd: Harold Rosson, On The Town, followed by: Robert Planck and Charles Schoenbaum, Little Women)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ART DIRECTION: THE FOUNTAINHEAD, Madame Bovary, Late Spring, The Set-Up, The Heiress

COLOR ART DIRECTION: LITTLE WOMEN, The Adventures of Don Juan, Saraband


COLOR COSTUME DESIGN: LITTLE WOMEN, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Samson and Delilah 

FILM EDITING: THE SET-UP, Champion, Battleground, All The King's Men, The Window

SOUND: THE SET-UP, All The King's Men, Twelve O'Clock High, Champion, Sands of Iwo Jima

ORIGINAL SCORE: Anton Karas, THE THIRD MAN (2nd: Aaron Copland, The Heiress, followed by: Miklós Rózsa, Criss Cross; Dimitri Tiomkin, Champion; Victor Young, Samson and Delilah)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Roger Edens and Lennie Hayton, ON THE TOWN (2nd: Morris Stoloff and George Duning, Jolson Sings Again, followed by: Roger Edens and Conrad Salinger, Take Me Out to the Ball Game)

ORIGINAL SONG: "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from Neptune's Daughter (Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser) (2nd: “Through a Long and Sleepless Night” from Come to the Stable (Music by Alfred Newman, lyrics by Mack Gordon); "My Foolish Heart: from My Foolish Heart (Music by Victor Young, lyrics by Ned Washington)


MAKEUP: KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, The Heiress, Sampson and Delilah


expo66 said...

THE SET UP....Fuck yes Dean! Saw this with Robert Wise in 1979 at the Miami Film Festival and I was like an infant cheering for this. Wise never knew what became of Audrey but she had a decent career and retired young A great film without a spare frae. Great call.

Dean Treadway said...

So glad you agree, Expo66. I only hope I can propel more movie lovers to further agreement!

louishill1981 said...

The Set Up is a fantastic noir set in the world of boxing and I admire you for giving it the top spot for the year but it is hard for me to look past The Third Man. I know you put it second so it isn't as if you dislike the film but I think it possibly one of the ten or twenty greatest films ever made. I agree with your point that it feels slow but I don't think that is a bad thing and I think the pacing gives the film a dreary quality that is echoed by the setting, score and the performances (especially Cotten's).

As for the Set Up, I need to re-watch it as I've only seen it once. I'm a film noir fanatic and it isn't one of my favorites but I've got the DVD so I'll revisit it soon.

I'm loving your year by year breakdowns!

Dean Treadway said...

Thank you, Louis!