Saturday, July 25, 2015

1941--The Year in Review

In the year of Citizen Kane, nothing else could confidently approach it in most categories. It was still a landmark period, with Sturges (contributing two of his finest movies), Huston, Ford, Hawks. Korda and Wyler all throwing in yeoman work. But, honestly, there was no real competition--even though the Academy thought differently and handed most awards to John Ford's resilient memory piece How Green Was My Valley (mainly because of the powerhouse Hearst campaign against Citizen Kane, but maybe also as a makeup award for partially snubbing The Grapes of Wrath the year before). Still, Welles and crew had it locked down in terms of posterity, and Welles himself will probably remain the only film artist I'll choose for the titles of best director, actor, writer and producer for a single piece. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks this is just. And I should note: with the short films, I again went with The Three Stooges and their ridiculously epic pie fight and, for the second year in a row, Warner Brothers' newly-named Bugs Bunny. 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.

(2nd: Sullivan’s Travels (US, Preston Sturges), followed by: 
The Maltese Falcon (US, John Huston)
The Lady Eve (US, Preston Sturges)
Ball of Fire (US, Howard Hawks)
How Green Was My Valley (US, John Ford)
The Little Foxes (US, William Wyler)
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (US, Alexander Hall)
The 47 Ronin (Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
49th Parallel (UK, Michael Powell)
Man Hunt (US, Fritz Lang)
That Hamilton Woman (UK/US, Alexander Korda)
Sergeant York (US, Howard Hawks)
Dumbo (US, Ben Sharpsteen, Walt Disney)
The Devil and Miss Jones (US, Sam Wood)
Meet John Doe (US, Frank Capra)
Suspicion (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
High Sierra (US, Raoul Walsh)
The Shanghai Gesture (US, Josef Von Sternberg)
Never Give a Sucker An Even Break (US, Eddie Cline)
Hellzapoppin (US, H.C. Potter)
The Wolf Man (US, George Waggner)

ACTOR: Orson Welles, CITIZEN KANE (2nd: Joel McCrea, Sullivan's Travels, followed by: Gary Cooper, Sergeant York; Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon; Henry Fonda, The Lady EveCary Grant, Penny Serenade; Humphrey Bogart, High Sierra; Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan; Charles Coburn, The Devil and Miss Jones; Gary Cooper, Meet John Doe)

ACTRESS: Barbara Stanwyck, THE LADY EVE (2nd: Barbara Stanwyk, Ball of Fire, followed by: Bette Davis, The Little Foxes; Olivia de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn; Joan Fontaine, Suspicion; Vivien Leigh, That Hamilton Woman; Wendy Hiller, Major Barbara; Irene Dunne, Penny Seranade; Mary Astor, The Maltese Falcon; Jean Arthur, The Devil and Miss Jones)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Sydney Greenstreet, THE MALTESE FALCON (2nd: Joseph Cotten, Citizen Kane, followed by: Claude Rains, Here Comes Mr. Jordan; George Colouris, Citizen Kane; Donald Crisp, How Green Was My Valley; Everett Sloane, Citizen Kane; Peter Lorre, The Maltese Falcon; James Gleason, Here Comes Mr. Jordan; S.K. Szagall, The Devil and Miss Jones; George Sanders, Man Hunt)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Veronica Lake, SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (2nd: Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes, followed by: Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes; Dorothy Comingore, Citizen Kane; Margaret Wycherley, Sergeant York; Maria Ouspenskaya, The Wolf Man; Sara Allgood, How Green Was My Valley; Joan Bennett, Man Hunt; Mary Astor, The Great Lie; Agnes Moorehead, Citizen Kane)

DIRECTOR: Orson Welles, CITIZEN KANE (2nd: Preston Sturges, Sullivan's Travels, followed by: John Huston, The Maltese Falcon; John Ford, How Green Was My Valley; Preston Sturges, The Lady Eve; Howard Hawks, Ball of Fire; William Wyler, The Little Foxes; Kenji Mizoguchi, The 47 Ronin; Fritz Lang, Man Hunt; Alexander Hall, Here Comes Mr. Jordan)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, CITIZEN KANE (2nd: Preston Sturges, Sullivan's Travels, followed by: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe, Ball of Fire; Monckton Hoff and Preston Sturges, The Lady Eve; Emeric Pressberger and Rodney Ackland, 49th Parallel)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Henry Buchman, Harry Seagall and Seaton I. Miller, HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (2nd: John Huston, The Maltese Falcon, followed by: Lillian Hellman, The Little Foxes; Yoshikata Yoda, The 47 Ronin; Dudley Nichols, Man Hunt)  

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: IN THE SWEET PIE AND PIE (The Three Stooges; Jules White) (2nd: I'll Never Heil Again (The Three Stooges; Jules White), followed by: Words for Battle (Humphrey Jennings); An Ache in Every Stake (The Three Stooges; Del Lord); Christmas Under Fire (Harry Watt, Charles Hasse); Churchill's Island (Stuart Legg))

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: WABBIT TWOUBLE (Bugs Bunny; Bob Clampett) (2nd: Superman (Dave Fleischer), followed by: Lend a Paw (Mickey Mouse; Walt Disney); How War Came (Paul Fennell); Tortoise Beats Hare (Bugs Bunny; Tex Avery); Contrathemis (Dwinnel Grant))

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gregg Toland, CITIZEN KANE (2nd: Arthur Miller, How Green Was My Valley, followed by: Kojei Sugiyama, The 47 Ronin; Sol Polito, Sergeant York; Rudolph Mate, That Hamilton Woman; Arthur Miller, Man Hunt)

ART DIRECTION: CITIZEN KANE, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, How Green Was My Valley, Blood and Sand, The Little Foxes

COSTUME DESIGN: THAT HAMILTON WOMAN, Blood and Sand, The 47 Ronin, The Chocolate Soldier, The Little Foxes 

FILM EDITING: CITIZEN KANE, Sullivan's Travels, Sergeant York, The Little Foxes, Man Hunt 

SOUND: CITIZEN KANE, How Green Was My Valley, That Hamilton Woman, Ball of Fire, Sergeant York 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Bernard Herrmann, CITIZEN KANE (2nd: Meredith Willson, The Little Foxes, followed by: Franz Wazman, Suspicion; Alfred Newman, How Green Was My Valley; Victor Young, Hold Back the Dawn)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace, DUMBO (2nd: Herbert Stothart and Bronislau Kaper, The Chocolate Soldier, followed by: Charles Previn, Buck Privates; Robert Emmett Dolan, The Birth of the Blues; Morris Stoloff, You'll Never Get Rich)

ORIGINAL SONG: "Baby Mine" from DUMBO (music by Frank Churchill, lyrics by Ned Washington) (2nd: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" from Sun Valley Serenade (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon), followed by: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" from Buck Privates (music by Hugh Prince, lyrics by Don Rave); "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from Lady Be Good (music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II); "When I See an Elephant Fly" from Dumbo (music by Oliver Wallace, lyrics by Ned Washington)) 


MAKEUP: CITIZEN KANE, The Wolf Man, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde

Thursday, July 9, 2015

1940--The Year in Review

Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca reigned supreme at the Oscars, but its director went home unrewarded (despite Judith Anderson's unforgettable villain, I've always found Du Maurier's story a little dull and quite honestly subpar to Hitch's more exciting Foreign Correspondent released this same year). The Oscars instead wisely gave the Best Director prize to John Ford, whose movie of John Steinbeck's dust bowl saga remains among cinema's finest film-to-novel adaptations (Steinbeck even thought it improved upon his work). Fonda would be nominated for his stirring lead as Tom Joad, and would then escape Academy recognition year after year until the end of his career; but, in fact, this was the assured performance that should have won him the gold. Rosalind Russell's fast-talking reporter gal in Howard Hawks' dizzying His Girl Friday ran rings around her already harried co-stars, and the actress wouldn't find a more energetic character until the 1950s and Auntie Mame. Chaplin popped up again, in his first speaking (double) role as both the oppressed and globe-juggling oppressor, while his fellow Brits behind The Thief of Bagdad garnered much international love for their quirky, vibrantly hued adventure (it was the most visually stunning movie of the year, and the one 1940 production--aside from Tyrone Power swashbuckling through The Mark of Zorro--I'd encourage all present-day genre movie lovers to check out). Yet again, Disney stole the year as the mastermind behind the ambitious two-shot of Fantasia and Pinocchio, both of which still enrapture audiences with their visionary power. In fact, Fantasia would for years stand as a singular blending of sound and image, and no one would approach such chutzpah in that realm until the 1960s. Finally, in the shorts categories, The Three Stooges scored again, and Bugs Bunny--though still unnamed--debuted under Tex Avery's pen to much adoration, although the Academy saw matters in a different way.  NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and they are in no way reflective of the choices made by the Oscars.

(2nd: The Great Dictator (US, Charles Chaplin), followed by:
Fantasia (US, Ben Sharpsteen, Walt Disney)
The Thief of Bagdad (UK, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Ludwig Berger)
His Girl Friday (US. Howard Hawks)
The Shop Around the Corner (US, Ernst Lubitsch)
They Drive by Night (US, Raoul Walsh)
Foreign Correspondent (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Letter (US, William Wyler)
Rebecca (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Sea Hawk (US, Michael Curtiz)
Dance, Girl, Dance (US, Dorothy Arzner)
Pinocchio (US, Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, Walt Disney)
The Great McGinty (US, Preston Sturges)
All This and Heaven, Too (US, Anatole Litvak)
The Bank Dick (US, Eddie Cline)
Christmas in July (US, Preston Sturges)
The Philadelphia Story (US, George Cukor)
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (US, John Cromwell)
Broadway Melody of 1940 (US, Norman Taurog))

ACTOR: Henry Fonda, THE GRAPES OF WRATH (2nd: W.C. Fields, The Bank Dick, followed by: Charles Chaplin, The Great Dictator; Brian Donlevy, The Great McGinty; Cary Grant, His Girl Friday; Laurence Olivier, Rebecca; Herbert Marshall, The Letter; James Stewart, The Shop Around the Corner; Raymond Massey, Abe Lincoln in Illinois)

ACTRESS: Rosalind Russell, HIS GIRL FRIDAY (2nd: Bette Davis, The Letter, followed by:Joan Fontaine, Rebecca; Margaret Sullivan, The Shop Around the Corner; Ginger Rogers, Kitty Foyle; Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story; Carole Lombard, They Knew What They Wanted; Irene Dunne, My Favorite Wife)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Walter Brennan, THE WESTERNER (2nd: Jack Oakie, The Great Dictator, followed by: Rex Ingram, The Thief of Bagdad; John Carradine, The Grapes of Wrath; Frank Morgan, The Shop Around the Corner; Albert Basserman, Foreign Correspondent; James Stephenson, The Letter; Akim Tamiroff, The Great McGinty)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Judith Anderson, REBECCA (2nd: Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath, followed by: Barbara O’Neil, All This and Heaven, Too; Lucille Ball, Dance Girl Dance; Fay Bainter, Our Town; Ida Lupino, They Drive by Night; Margaret Lockwood, The Stars Look Down; Marjorie Rambeau, Primrose Path)

DIRECTOR: John Ford, THE GRAPES OF WRATH (2nd: Charles Chaplin, The Great Dictator, followed by: Ben Sharpsteen, Fantasia; Michael Powell, Tim Whelan and Ludwig Berger, The Thief of Bagdad; Alfred Hitchcock, Foreign Correspondent; Ernst Lubitsch, The Shop Around the Corner; Raoul Walsh, They Drive by Night)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Charles Chaplin, THE GREAT DICTATOR (2nd: Preston Sturges, The Great McGinty, followed by: W.C. Fields, The Bank Dick; Charles Bennett, Joan Harrison, James Hilton and Robert Benchley, Foreign Correspondent; Preston Sturges, Christmas in July; Tess Slesinger, Frank Davis and Vicki Baum, Dance, Girl, Dance)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Nunnally Johnson, THE GRAPES OF WRATH (2nd; Charles Lederer, His Girl Friday; Samson Raphelson, The Shop Around The Corner; Robert E. Sherwood, Joan Harrison, Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan, Rebecca; Donald Ogden Stuart, The Philadelphia Story; Jerry Wald and Richard Macaulaey, They Drive By Night)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: A-PLUMBING WE WILL GO (Del Lord; The Three Stooges) (2nd: London Can Take It! (Humphrey Jennings and Harry Watt), followed by: From Nurse to Worse (Jules White; The Three Stooges); Quicker 'N A Wink (George Sidney; Pete Smith); Britain at Bay (Harry Watt); You Nazty Spy (Jules White; The Three Stooges))

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: A WILD HARE (Tex Avery; Bugs Bunny) (2nd: The Milky Way (Rudolph Ising), followed by: Boogie Doodle (Norman McLaren); Swinging the Lambeth Walk (Lenny Lye); Themis (Dwinnel Grant); You Ought To Be in Pictures (Friz Freling); Elmer's Candid Camera (Chuck Jones))

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Georges Perinal, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (2nd: Gregg Toland, The Grapes of Wrath, followed by: George Barnes, Rebecca; Tony Gaudio, The Letter; Arthur Miller and Ray Rennahan, The Blue Bird; Rudolph Mate, Foreign Correspondent; Gregg Toland, The Long Voyage Home; Oliver T. Marsh and Joseph Ruttanberg, Broadway Melody of 1940)

ART DIRECTION: THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice, The Westerner, Broadway Melody of 1940 

COSTUME DESIGN: THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, Broadway Melody of 1940, Bitter Sweet, His Girl Friday, The Blue Bird

FILM EDITING: THE GRAPES OF WRATH, Foreign Correspondent, Rebecca, They Drive By Night, The Letter 

SOUND: FANTASIA, Broadway Melody of 1940, The Grapes of Wrath, The Sea Hawk, Strike Up the Band

ORIGINAL SCORE: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, THE SEA HAWK (2nd: Aaron Copland. Our Town, followed by: Leigh Harline, Paul J.Smith Pinocchio; Miklós Rózsa, The Thief of Bagdad; Franz Waxman, Rebecca; Alfred Newman, The Mark of Zorro; Max Steiner, The Letter)

ORIGINAL SONG: "When You Wish Upon A Star" from PINOCCHIO (Music by Leigh Harline, lyrics by Ned Washington) (2nd: "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio (Music by Leigh Harline, lyrics by Ned Washington), followed by: "I Concentrate on You" from Broadway Melody of 1940 (Music and lyrics by Cole Porter); "Remind Me" from One Night in the Tropics (Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields); "Down Argentina Way" from Down Argentine Way (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon); "Who Am I?" from Hit Parade of 1941 (music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Walter Bullock); "Love of My Life" from Second Chorus (music by Artie Shaw, lyrics by Johnny Mercer)

SPECIAL EFFECTS: THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, The Sea Hawk, Dr. Cyclops, One Million BC

MAKEUP: THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, Dr. Cyclops, One Million BC

Finally, I need to add my favorite clip from 1940: the dazzling dance to "Begun the Beguine" shared by Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire in Norman Taurog's Broadway Melody of 1940. This is some serious athleticism here, and I don't think we'll be seeing its like ever in the future. The movie, as a whole, is utter fun and the best out of the Broadway Melody series: