Monday, October 5, 2015

1954--The Year in Review

It's a tight race here. Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai became the template for which many action movie would be built from hence forth. But Hitchcock's Rear Window would stand as the great director's most exciting puzzle, deftly directed from its main character's static vantage point, and a witty commentary on the TV obsession eating up the US. It still might arguably be Hitchcock's finest movie--for me, it certainly is, and so there was no way I could vote for Kurosawa above it (and I also hate snubbing Fellini's melancholy breakthrough, too). Aside from these titles, the only main competition was the Academy's choice: Kazan's On The Waterfront, a magnificent drama made less so by the political ideals at its core (whether you like it or not depends on how much you know or care about the Communist-hunting blacklist eating up Hollywood's best at the time, as director Kazan was definitely a person who named names; in this realm, it should be noted that Salt of the Earth, Herman Biberman's moving tale of a New Mexico worker's strike, was a work independently produced by blacklisted film artists). Still, Brando and his stellar supporting cast are untainted, as is Budd Schulberg's superb script, filled with extremely memorable dialogue (many might find Leonard Bernstein's score the best of the year, but I see it as extremely overblown, and so I voted for the more tuneful choice). Among the saddest of Oscar's snubs, in all of the voting body's history, is that of Judy Garland who delivered her downright best as a musical AND a dramatic artist in George Cukor's remake of A Star is Born. As far as crafts go, 1954 seems to be the moment which color photography resolutely overtook black-and-white as American cinema's preferred mode of storytelling, and it's among the first years where costume designer Edith Head reigned. It also boded as a stronger year for fantasy films, with Godzilla, The Naked Jungle, Animal Farm, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them!, and Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea making great strides for such genre pictures. As for short films, Kenneth Anger makes his first vibrantly toned appearance in the live action race, while Chuck Jones again hits it out of the planet with a sci-fi masterpiece featuring Daffy Duck. 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: REAR WINDOW (US, Alfred Hitchcock) (2nd: The Seven Samurai (Japan, Akira Kurosawa), followed by: On the Waterfront (US, Elia Kazan); La Strada (Italy, Federico Fellini); Salt of the Earth (US, Herbert J. Biberman); A Star is Born (US, George Cukor); Sansho The Baliff (Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi); Magnificent Obsession (US, Douglas Sirk); Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (US, Stanley Donen); Johnny Guitar (US, Nicholas Ray); Executive Suite (US, Robert Wise); Bad Day at Black Rock (US, John Sturges); The Caine Mutiny (US, Edward Dmytryk); Late Chrysanthemums (Japan, Mikio Naruse); Hobson’s Choice (UK, David Lean); Crime Wave (US, Andre De Toth); An Inspector Calls (UK, Guy Hamilton); Sabrina (US, Billy Wilder); The Far Country (US, Anthony Mann); Suddenly (US, Lewis Allen); Dial M for Murder (US, Alfred Hitchcock); 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (US, Richard Fleischer); Senso (Italy, Luchino Visconti); Animal Farm (UK, Jon Halas and Joy Batchelor); Samurai Part One: Musashi Miyamoto (Japan, Hiroshi Inagaki); Godzilla (Japan, Ishiro Honda); Them! (US, Gordon Douglas); Carmen Jones (US, Otto Preminger); About Mrs. Leslie (US, Daniel Mann); It Should Happen to You (US, George Cukor); The High and the Mighty (US, William A. Wellman); The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (US, Luis Bunuel); River of No Return (US, Otto Preminger); The Glenn Miller Story (US, Anthony Mann); Broken Lance (US, Edward Dmytryk); The Barefoot Contessa (US, Joseph L. Mankiewicz); The Egyptian (US, Michael Curtiz); There's No Business Like Show Business (US, Walter Lang); The Naked Jungle (US, Byron Haskin); Riot in Cell Block 11 (US, Don Siegel); The Creature from the Black Lagoon (US, Jack Arnold))

ACTOR: Marlon Brando, ON THE WATERFRONT (2nd: James Stewart, Rear Window, followed by: James Mason, A Star is Born; Humphrey Bogart, The Caine Mutiny; Alastair Sim, An Inspector Calls; Spencer Tracy, Bad Day at Black Rock; Charles Laughton, Hobson’s Choice; Anthony Quinn, La Strada; Toshiro Mifune, The Seven Samurai; Frank Sinatra, Suddenly)

ACTRESS: Judy Garland, A STAR IS BORN (2nd: Giulietta Masina, La Strada, followed by: Shirley Booth, About Mrs Leslie; Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession; Joan Crawford, Johnny Guitar; Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones; Grace Kelly, Dial M for Murder; Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina; Debbie Reynolds, Susan Slept Here)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: John Williams, DIAL M FOR MURDER (2nd: Karl Malden, On the Waterfront, followed by: Lee J. Cobb, On the Waterfront; Rod Steiger, On the Waterfront; Robert Ryan, Bad Day at Black Rock; Louis Calhern, Executive Suite; Jack Carson, A Star is Born; John Carradine, Johnny Guitar; Takashi Shimura, The Seven Samurai)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Eva Marie Saint, ON THE WATERFRONT (2nd: Thelma Ritter, Rear Window, followed by: Nina Foch, Executive Suite; Agnes Moorehead, Magnificent Obsession; Mercedes McCambridge, Johnny Guitar; Jan Sterling, The High and the Mighty; Claire Trevor, The High and the Mighty; Pearl Bailey, Carmen Jones; Katy Jurado, Broken Lance)

DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock, REAR WINDOW (2nd: Akira Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai, followed by: Federico Fellini, La Strada; Elia Kazan, On The Waterfront; Herbert J. Bieberman, Salt of the Earth; Kenji Mizoguchi, Sansho The Baliff; Nicholas Ray, Johnny Guitar; Stanley Donen, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Douglas Sirk, Magnificent Obsession)

NON-ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILM: THE SEVEN SAMURAI (Japan, Akira Kurosawa) (2nd: La Strada (Italy, Federico Fellini), followed by: Sansho The Baliff (Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi); Late Chrysanthemums (Japan, Mikio Naruse); Samurai Part One: Musashi Miyamoto (Japan, Hiroshi Inagaki))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni,  THE SEVEN SAMURAI (2nd: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, and Ennio Flaiano, La Strada, followed by: Michael Wilson, Salt of the Earth; Borden Chase, The Far Country; Richard Sale, Suddenly)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Budd Schulberg, ON THE WATERFRONT (2nd: John Michael Hayes, Rear Window, followed by: Ernest Lehman, Executive Suite; Millard Kaufman and Don McGuire, Bad Day at Black Rock; Fuji Yahiro and Yoshikata Yoda, Sansho the Baliff; Stanley Roberts and Michael Blankfort, The Caine Mutiny)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (Kenneth Anger) (2nd: This Mechanical Age (Robert Youngson)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24 1/2th CENTURY (Chuck Jones) (2nd: Bewitched Bunny (Chuck Jones), followed by: Pigs is Pigs (Walt Disney); Bugs and Thugs (Friz Freleng); Dixieland Droopy (Tex Avery); When Magoo Flew (Stephen Bosustow))

BLACK-AND-WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY: Boris Kaufman, ON THE WATERFRONT (2nd: Asaichi Nakai, The Seven Samurai, followed by: Kazuo Miyagawa, Sansho the Baliff; Burt Glennon, Crime Wave; George Folsey, Executive Suite

COLOR CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robert Burks, REAR WINDOW (2nd: George Folsey, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, followed by: Leon Shamroy, The Egyptian; Russell Metty, Magnificent Obsession; Harry Stradling, Johnny Guitar)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ART DIRECTION: EXECUTIVE SUITE, On the Waterfront, Sabrina, The Barefoot Contessa, Sansho the Baliff

COLOR ART DIRECTION: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, The Egyptian, Rear Window, A Star is Born, Desiree

BLACK-AND-WHITE COSTUME DESIGN: SABRINA, La Strada, The Seven Samurai, Executive Suite, It Should Happen to You 

 COLOR COSTUME DESIGN: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, A Star is Born, Desiree, The Egyptian, Rear Window

FILM EDITING: REAR WINDOW, On the Waterfront, The Seven Samurai, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

SOUND: REAR WINDOW, The Glenn Miller Story, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Brigadoon

ORIGINAL SCORE: Dimitri Tiompkin, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (2nd: Leonard Bernstein, On The Waterfront, followed by: Nino Rota, La Strada; Franz Waxman, Rear Window; Fumio Hayasaka, The Seven Samurai)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Ray Heindorf, A STAR IS BORN (2nd: Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin, Seven Brothers for Seven Brides, followed by: Joseph Gershenson and Henry Mancini, The Glenn Miller Story; Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman, There's No Business Like Show Business; Hershel Burke Gilbert, Carmen Jones)

ORIGINAL SONG: “The Man That Got Away” from A STAR IS BORN (Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin) (2nd: "Three Coins in the Fountain" from Three Coins in the Fountain (Music by Jule Stein, lyrics by Sammy Cahn), followed by: "The High and the Mighty" from The High and the Mighty (Music by Dimitri Tiompkin, lyrics by Ned Washington); "It's A New World" from A Star is Born (Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin); "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" from White Christmas (Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, Them!, Hell and High Water 


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