Sunday, August 30, 2015

1946--The Year in Review

Three stunning tales of fantasy led the film parade in 1946, and the one that should have emerged victorious--a notorious box-office flop by Frank Capra--would still land a number of nominations from the Academy (including a Best Picture nod) but would have to settle, in future years, for an eternal place among the most beloved movies ever made. It's a Wonderful Life is a much darker and cynical picture than many assume (its once-ubitquitous appearance as a Christmas-time TV staple has craftily fooled people into thinking it's a goopy batch of sentimentality, but when they finally really watch it, minds are changed). It is a film, however, that can reduce even the hardest heart to tears, so the sentiment is definitely there. Same goes for the UK's A Matter of Life and Death (known for many years on US shores as Stairway to Heaven); Powell and Pressberger's magical, realm-hopping romance, shot in both black-and-white and color by master cinematographer Jack Cardiff, remains today a philosophically challenging look at mortality and morality. And Jean Cocteau's gorgeous La Belle et la Bete would land as the most dynamic adaptation of that oft-told story (even today, only Disney's animated version from the '90s comes close to besting it, and even then, it's not a close contest). Film noir continued to take hold of cinema with Gilda, The Big Sleep, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Stranger, The Blue Dahlia, and The Killers dominating screens. Even with the myriad of great female leads in those films, it would be The Spiral Staircase's Dorothy McGuire who'd emerge with the most effective showing this year, and without having to utter a sound in Robert Siodmak's suspense classic. The western genre would see two of its landmark offerings, John Ford's exciting My Darling Clementine and King Vidor's wildly hallucinogenic Duel in the Sun. And David Lean would continue his rise to the top of the film world with a ridiculously entertaining adaptation of a Charles Dickens novel, adorned with a superb ensemble cast. As far as the Oscars were concerned, it was all about paying tribute to those who returned home from World War II, and so William Wyler's respectful but slightly ponderous The Best Years of Our Lives took all the top awards. In the shorts categories, Maya Deren contributed another eerie experimental piece in the live-action category, while the animated film industry exploded with the now unhinged work at Warner Brothers' Termite Terrace, where Bugs Bunny continued to reign supreme; this team's output would be so huge that the category could barely contain the limit of ten nominees. 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: A Matter of Life and Death (UK, Michael Powell), followed by:
La Belle et la Bete (France, Jean Cocteau)
Great Expectations (UK, David Lean)
My Darling Clementine (US, John Ford)
The Best Years of Our Lives (US, William Wyler)
The Big Sleep (US, Howard Hawks)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (US, Tay Garnett)
Shoeshine (Italy, Vittorio de Sica)
Paisàn (Italy, Roberto Rossellini)
The Killers (US, Robert Siodmak)
Notorious (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
Gilda (US, Charles Vidor)
Ivan the Terrible Part Two: The Boyars Plot (USSR, Sergei Eisenstein)
Green for Danger (UK, Sidney Gilliat)
The Spiral Staircase (US, Robert Siodmak)
Duel in the Sun (US, King Vidor)
The Yearling (US, Clarence Brown)
The Stranger (US, Orson Welles)
To Each His Own (US, Mitchell Leisen)
The Blue Dahlia (US, George Marshall)
Anna and the King of Siam (US, John Cromwell)

ACTOR: James Stewart, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (2nd: John Garfield, The Postman Always Rings Twice, followed by: Fredric March, The Best Years of Our Lives; Henry Fonda, My Darling Clementine; Nikolai Cherkassov, Ivan the Terrible Part Two: The Boyars Plot; Alastair Sim, Green for Danger; Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep; David Niven, A Matter of Life and Death)

ACTRESS: Dorothy McGuire, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (2nd: Olivia de Havilland, To Each His Own, followed by: Myrna Loy, The Best Years of Our Lives; Donna Reed, It's A Wonderful Life; Lana Turner, The Postman Always Rings Twice; Ingrid Bergman, Notorious; Barbara Stanwyck, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers; Rita Hayworth, Gilda)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Finlay Currie, GREAT EXPECTATIONS (2nd: Roger Livesey, A Matter of Life and Death, followed by: Bernard Miles, Great Expectations; Lionel Barrymore, It’s a Wonderful Life; James Baskett, Song of the South; Claude Rains, Notorious; Harold Russell, The Best Years of Our Lives; Victor Mature, My Darling Clementine) 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Martita Hunt, GREAT EXPECTATIONS (2nd: Jean Simmons, Great Expectations, followed by: Lillian Gish, Duel in the Sun; Ethel Barrymore, The Spiral Staircase; Kim Hunter, A Matter of Life and Death; Martha Vickers, The Big Sleep; Rosamund John, Green for Danger; Linda Darnell, My Darling Clementine)

DIRECTOR: Frank Capra, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (2nd: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger, A Matter of Life and Death, followed by: David Lean, Great Expectations; Jean Cocteau, La Belle et la Bete; John Ford, My Darling Clementine; Vittorio de Sica, Shoeshine)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Philip Van Doren Stern, and Frank Capra, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (2nd: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger, A Matter of Life and Death, followed by: Ben Hecht, Notorious; Sergio Amidei, Adolfo Franci, Cesare Giulio Viola, and Cesare Zavattini, Shoeshine; Charles Brackett and Jacques Thiery, To Each His Own)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: David Lean, Ronald Neame, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Cecil McGivern, and Kay Walsh, GREAT EXPECTATIONS (2nd: Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller and Sam Hellman, My Darling Clementine, followed by: Robert E. Sherwood, The Best Years of Our Lives; Anthony Veiller, John Huston, and Richard Brooks, The Killers; Sidney Gilliat and Claude Guerney, Green for Danger)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (Maya Deren) (2nd: A Bird in the Head (Eduard Bernds; The Three Stooges), followed by: Tall Tan and Terrific (Bud Pollard); Rhythm and Weep (Jules White; The Three Stooges); Frontier Frolic (Lewis D. Collins))

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: HARE-RAISING HARE (Chuck Jones; Bugs Bunny) (2nd: Baseball Bugs (Friz Freling; Bugs Bunny), followed by: The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (Bob Clampett; Daffy Duck); Northwest Hounded Police (Tex Avery; Droopy Dog); Peter and the Wolf  (Clyde Geronimi and Walt Disney); Walky Talky Hawky (Robert McKimson; Foghorn Leghorn); Book Revue (Bob Clampett); Rhapsody Rabbit (Friz Freling; Bugs Bunny); Lonesome Lenny (Tex Avery; Screwy Squirrel); John Henry and the Inky Poo (George Pal)

BLACK-AND-WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY: Henri Alekan, LA BELLE ET LA BETE (2nd: Guy Green, Great Expectations, followed by: Rudolph Maté, Gilda; Nicholas Musuraca, The Spiral Staircase; Arthur Miller, Anna and the King of Siam) 

COLOR CINEMATOGRAPHY: Lee Garmes, Ray Rennahan, and Harold Rosson, DUEL IN THE SUN (2nd: Charles Rosher, Leonard Smith, and Arthur Arling, The Yearling, followed by: Jack Cardiff, A Matter of Life and Death; Andrei Moskvin and Edouard Tisse, Ivan the Terrible Part Two: The Boyars Plot; Eduard Cronjager, Canyon Passage)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ART DIRECTION: GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Beauty and the Beast, Anna and the King of Siam, It's a Wonderful Life, The Spiral Staircase 

COLOR ART DIRECTION: THE YEARLING, Duel in the Sun, Ivan the Terrible Part Two: The Boyars Plot

BLACK-AND-WHITE COSTUME DESIGN: ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, Great Expectations, Beauty and the Beast, Gilda, The Spiral Staircase 

COLOR COSTUME DESIGN: CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA, Ivan the Terrible Part Two: The Boyars Plot, Duel in the Sun 

FILM EDITING: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, The Killers, My Darling Clementine, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Postman Always Rings Twice 

SOUND: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Jolson Story, Duel in the Sun, Great Expectations 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Dimitri Tiomkin, DUEL IN THE SUN (2nd: Georges Auric, La Belle et la Bete, followed by: Miklós Rózsa, The Killers; Bernard Herrmann, Anna and the King of Siam; Franz Waxman, Humoresque)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Morris Stoloff, THE JOLSON STORY (2nd: Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner, Night and Day, followed by: Lennie Hayton, The Harvey Girls)

ORIGINAL SONG: "You Make Me Feel So Young" from THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE (Music by Josef Myrow, lyrics by Mack Gordon) (2nd: "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah: from Song of the South (Music by Allie Wrubel, lyrics by Ray Gilbert), followed by: "Put The Blame on Mame" from Gilda (Music by Allan Roberts, lyrics by Doris Fisher); "Personality" from Road to Utopia (Music by Jimmy Van Heausen, lyrics by Johnny Burke); "On The Acheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls (Music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Johnny Mercer))

MAKEUP: LA BELLE ET LA BETE, Great Expectations, Ivan the Terrible Part Two: The Boyars Plot

Sunday, August 16, 2015

1945--The Year in Review

The American film industry relaxed in 1945 while the rest of the world took a life-giving, newly post-war breath. In fact, this period informed the world of a fully vibrant cinematic cosmos outside of the US studio system (even though, really, on American screens, many of the year's best films wouldn't be seen for years to come). But, for the purposes of this and all subsequent and previous overviews, time and space have been equaled--in other words, we're going by ORIGINAL release years in this ongoing series of articles, regardless of WHERE these movies were first seen. In 1945, Marcel Carne's devastating, gorgeously romantic French epic would outclass nearly equally supreme works from British directors David Lean and Michael Powell, Russian auteur Sergei Eisenstein, and Italy's Roberto Rossellini, whose intimate wartime tale would propel its dynamic star Anna Magnani into the stratosphere. This would also be the first year that no American actors (in my estimation) deserve the top accolades. Britain's Boris Karloff is finally recognized, this time for his eerie, villainous performance in The Body Snatcher. Similarly, Michael Redgrave--the great patriarch of Britain's luminous acting family--is noted for his show as a ventriloquist possessed by his alter ego in the benchmark horror anthology Dead of Night. David Lean's Brief Encounter was a tense but cherished look into a chancy wartime affair, with Trevor Howard and the superb Celia Johnson as leads, while Michael Powell's "I Know Where I'm Going!" further deepened the UK's continually essential contribution to movies. As far as the Oscars were concerned, Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend prevailed (in my opinion, this was a make-up award for not giving due to Double Indemnity the year before). Even so, The Lost Weekend was the first film to attack the scourge of alcoholism overtaking many World War II veterans (this is why, I think, the film won as many accolades as it did). Still, as far as American cinema is concerned, John Ford's complicated, downbeat war drama They Were Expendable is the most mature and elaborate US selection of the year--it's a war film unlike any other. But there's no way it could compete with the developing, enveloping brilliance of world cinema. 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: Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni (USSR, Sergei Eisenstein), followed by:
Brief Encounter (UK, David Lean)
They Were Expendable (US, John Ford)
Rome: Open City (Italy, Roberto Rossellini)
"I Know Where I’m Going!" (UK, Michael Powell)
Detour (US, Edgar G. Ulmer)
Scarlet Street (US, Fritz Lang)
Leave Her to Heaven (US, John M. Stahl)
The Lost Weekend (US, Billy Wilder)
Spellbound (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
Mildred Pierce (US, Michael Curtiz)
The Southerner (US, Jean Renoir)
Dead of Night (UK, Robert Hamer, Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, and Charles Crichton)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (US, Albert Lewin)
The Body Snatcher (US, Robert Wise)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (US, Elia Kazan)
Blithe Spirit (UK, David Lean)
And Then There Were None (US, René Clair)
Anchors Aweigh (US, George Sidney)
Christmas in Connecticut (US, Peter Godfrey)
The Clock (US, Vincente Minnelli)
A Walk in the Sun (US, Lewis Milestone))

ACTOR: Boris Karloff, THE BODY SNATCHER (2nd: Nikolai Cherkassov, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni, followed by: Jean-Louis Barrault, Children of Paradise; Edward G. Robinson, Scarlet Street; Trevor Howard, Brief Encounter; Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend; James Mason, The Seventh Veil; Rex Harrison, Blithe Spirit)

ACTRESS: Celia Johnson, BRIEF ENCOUNTER (2nd: Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce, followed by: Anna Magnani, Rome: Open City; Wendy Hiller, "I Know Where I’m Going!"; Joan Bennett, Scarlet Street; Ingrid Bergman, Spellbound; Arletty, Children of Paradise; Gene Tierney, Leave Her to Heaven; Judy Garland, The Clock)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Michael Redgrave, DEAD OF NIGHT (2nd: James Dunn, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, followed by: Barry Fitzgerald, And Then There Were None; George Sanders, The Picture of Dorian Gray; Michael Chekhov, Spellbound; Robert Mitchum, The Story of G.I Joe; Frank Faylen, The Lost Weekend)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Angela Lansbury, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (2nd: Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce, followed by: Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce; Peggy Ann Garner, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Margaret Rutherford, Blithe Spirit; Anne Revere, National Velvet)

DIRECTOR: Marcel Carné, CHILDREN OF PARADISE (2nd: Sergei Eisenstein, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni, followed by: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger, "I Know Where I’m Going!"; David Lean, Brief Encounter; Roberto Rossellini, Rome: Open City; John Ford, They Were Expendable; Edgar G. Ulmer, Detour; Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger, "I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING!" (2nd: Sergio Amedei and Federico Fellini, Rome: Open City, followed by: Martin Goldsmith, Detour; Jacques Prevert, Children of Paradise; Sergei Eisenstein, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Noel Coward, Anthony Havelock-Allan, David Lean and Ronald Neame, BRIEF ENCOUNTER (2nd: Frank Wead, They Were Expendable, followed by: Ranald McDougall, Mildred Pierce; Tess Slesinger and Frank Davis, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Dudley Nichols, And Then There Were None)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (Mervyn Le Roy) (2nd: A Story in Choreography for Camera (Maya Deren); Micro-Phonies (The Three Stooges; Eduard Bernds); If a Body Meets a Body (The Three Stooges; Jules White)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: QUIET PLEASE! (Tom and Jerry; William Hanna and Joseph Barbera) (2nd: Hare Tonic (Bugs Bunny; Chuck Jones), followed by: The Bashful Buzzard (Robert Clampett); Life With Feathers (Friz Freling))
BLACK-AND-WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY: John Seitz, THE LOST WEEKEND (2nd: Andrei Moskvin and Eduard Tisse, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni, followed by: Harry Stradling, The Portrait of Dorian Gray; Roger Hubert, Children of Paradise; Robert Krasker, "I Know Where I'm Going!")

COLOR CINEMATOGRAPHY: Leon Shamroy, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (2nd: Leonard Smith, National Velvet, followed by: Robert Plank and Charles Boyle, Anchors Aweigh)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ART DIRECTION: THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni, Children of Paradise, "I Know Where I'm Going!", Mildred Pierce

COLOR ART DIRECTION: LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, National Velvet, A Thousand and One Nights

BLACK-AND-WHITE COSTUME DESIGN: CHILDREN OF PARADISE, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni, Mildred Pierce, Blithe Spirit

COLOR COSTUME DESIGN: A SONG TO REMEMBER, Leave Her to Heaven, Wonder Man, A Thousand and One Nights

FILM EDITING: BRIEF ENCOUNTER, They Were Expendable, Rome: Open City, The Lost Weekend, Children of Paradise 

SOUND: THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, Wonder Man, Spellbound, Leave Her to Heaven, The Southerner

ORIGINAL SCORE: Miklos Rosza, SPELLBOUND (2nd: Miklos Rosza, The Lost Weekend, followed by: Sergei Prokoviev, Ivan the Terrible, Part One: Ivan Grozyni; Max Steiner, Mildred Pierce; Victor Young, Love Letters)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Georgie Stoll, ANCHORS AWEIGH (2nd: Miklos Rosza and Morris Stoloff, A Song to Remember, followed by: Alfred Newman and Charles Henderson, State Fair; Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner, Rhapsody in Blue; Ray Heindorf and Lou Forbes, Wonder Man)

ORIGINAL SONG: “Ac-cen-tu-ate The Positive” from HERE COME THE WAVES (Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer) (2nd: "It Might as Well Be Spring" from State Fair (Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II), followed by: "I Fall in Love Too Easily" from Anchors Aweigh  (Music by Jule Stein, lyrics by Sammy Cahn); "Love Letters" from Love Letters  (Music by Victor Young, lyrics by Eddie Heyman); "I'll Buy That Dream" from Sing Your Way Home (Music by Allie Wrubel, lyrics by Herb Magidson))

MAKEUP: IVAN THE TERRIBLE, PART ONE: IVAN GROZYNI, Children of Paradise, The Body Snatcher

Monday, August 10, 2015

1944--The Year in Review

Film noir didn't begin in 1944, but it sure gained some traction with Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler's Double Indemnity. This shadowy genre would command cinema, really, from hence forth (weathering many changes), but this sultry L.A.-set potboiler starring Barbara Stanwyk as the femme fatale duping goofball insurance investigator Fred MacMurray into nowheresville would remain the noir against which to measure all others. Even though he ventured out into other genres, Wilder remained one of the its stars, and so would his cinematographer, the fiercely creative John Seitz (who also photographed 1944's greatest comedy The Miracle of Morgan's Creek). This same year delivered arguably the most important musical ever made, Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me in St. Louis, a work which transformed its genre in similarly profound ways (for one, it was the first to dramatize a story with its characters breaking out into song OUTSIDE of the stage, ostensibly in real life; it's also among the first of cinema's popular operas, in which songs from past eras are utilized to tell its story--much like 2001's Moulin Rouge would later do, to many moviegoers' disgust and confusion).

Meanwhile, Alfred Hitchcock decided to challenge himself with a film taking place completely on a single set (and with a nearly perfect cast). Lawrence Olivier commanded the screen as producer, director, lead writer and actor of Henry V (for which he won a Special Oscar). Preston Sturges continue his comedy thrills with the hilarious Hail The Conquering Hero, and with the naughtiest of films from this era, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, starring the energetic Betty Hutton as hot-to-trot Trudy Kockenlocker who finds herself pregnant after a one-night-stand with a departing soldier (this is a shockingly bawdy comedy--the equivalent of, say, The Hangover, today). Henry King's Wilson stands as a intelligent and reverent US presidential biography, even if its rarely talked about now. The Oscars, we should note, had overwhelming love for Going My Way, though in my estimation, it barely needs remembering (only its supporting performance from Barry Fitzgerald--forever to remain the only actor to be nominated for both lead and supporting awards for the same film--and its main hit song rings any bells at all today, and even that had much competition from the Meet Me in St. Louis numbers). With the shorts, the live action category brought a stunningly well directed peer into the jazz scene, and the animation slate was nearly completely controlled by the Warner Brothers team. I should NOTE this is the first year I've split the three craft categories of cinematography, art direction, and costume design into SEPARATE categories for black-and-whie and color design (this will remain in place until 1970, when color takes over completely). 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: Meet Me in St. Louis (US, Vincente Minnelli, followed by: 
Lifeboat (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
Laura (US, Otto Preminger)
Henry V (UK, Laurence Olivier)
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (US, Preston Sturges)
Arsenic and Old Lace (US, Frank Capra)
Since You Went Away (US, John Cromwell)
To Have and Have Not (US, Howard Hawks)
Hail the Conquering Hero (US, Preston Sturges)
Wilson (US, Henry King)
Ministry of Fear (US, Fritz Lang)
Murder My Sweet (US, Edward Dmytryk)
This Happy Breed (UK, David Lean)
The Uninvited (US, Lewis Allen)
A Canterbury Tale (UK, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger)
Gaslight (US, George Cukor)
The Sullivans (US, Lloyd Bacon)
Curse of the Cat People (US, Robert Wise, Gunther Von Fritsch)
The Suspect (US, Robert Siodmak)
The Lodger (US, John Brahm)
Mr. Skeffington (US, Vincent Sherman)

ACTOR: Laurence Olivier, HENRY V (2nd: Eddie Bracken, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, followed by: Edward G. Robinson, The Woman in the Window; Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace; Alexander Knox, Wilson; Fred MacMurray, Double Indemnity; Charles Boyer, Gaslight;  Dana Andrews, Laura; Laird Cregar, The Lodger; Frederic March, The Adventures of Mark Twain)

ACTRESS: Barbara Stanwyck, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (2nd: Betty Hutton, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, followed by: Tallulah Bankhead, Lifeboat; Ingrid Bergman, Gaslight; Claudette Colbert, Since You Went Away; Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis; Joan Bennett, The Woman in the Window; Celia Johnson, This Happy Breed; Bette Davis, Mr. Skeffington; Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Clifton Webb, LAURA (2nd: Edward G. Robinson, Double Indemnity, followed by: Walter Slezak, Lifeboat; William Demarest, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek; Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way; Dan Duryea, The Woman in the Window; William Bendix, Lifeboat; Claude Rains, Mr. Skeffington; Monte Woolley, Since You Went Away; Raymond Massey, Arsenic and Old Lace)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Margaret O’Brien, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (2nd: Josephine Hull, Arsenic and Old Lace, followed by: Angela Lansbury, Gaslight; Diana Lynn, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek; Jean Adair, Arsenic and Old Lace; Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington; Jennifer Jones, Since You Went Away; Gail Russell, The Uninvited)

DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (2nd: Vincente Minnelli, Meet Me in St. Louis, followed by: Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat; Laurence Olivier, Henry V; Otto Preminger, Laura; Preston Sturges, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek; John Cromwell, Since You Went Away)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: John Steinbeck and Jo Swerling, LIFEBOAT (2nd: Preston Sturges, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, followed by: Preston Sturges, Hail the Conquering Hero; Edward Doherty, Jules Schermer and Mary C. McCall Jr., The Sullivans; Lamar Trotti, Wilson)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (2nd: Jay Dratler, Betty Reinhardt, and Samuel Hoffenstein, Laura; Margaret Buell Wilder and David O. Selznick, Since You Went Away; Irving Brecher and Fred A. Finkelhoffe, Meet Me in St. Louis; Anthony Havelock-Allan, Ronald Neame and David Lean, This Happy Breed)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: JAMMIN' THE BLUES (Gjon Mili) (2nd: At Land (Maya Deren), followed by: The Yoke's on Me (The Three Stooges; Jules White); The Fuhrer Gives The Jews a City (the only film known to be made by the Nazis inside an operating concentration camp; Kurt Gerron)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: LITTLE RED RIDING RABBIT (Bugs Bunny; Friz Freling) (2nd: Swooner Crooner (Porky Pig; Frank Tashlin), followed by: How to Play Football (Goofy; Walt Disney); Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (Bugs Bunny; Friz Freling); The Old Grey Hare (Bugs Bunny; Robert Clampett)

BLACK-AND-WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY: John Seitz, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (2nd: Joseph Lashelle, Laura, followed by: Charles Lang, The Uninvited; Stanley Cortez and Lee Garmes, Since You Went Away; Lucien Ballard, The Lodger)

COLOR CINEMATOGRAPHY: Leon Shamroy, WILSON (2nd: George Folsey, Meet Me in St. Louis, followed by: Allen M. Davey and Rudolph Mate, Cover Girl; Robert Krasker and Jack Hildyard, Henry V; Ray Rennahan, Lady in the Dark)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ART DIRECTION: GASLIGHT, Laura, Since Your Went Away, Mr. Skeffington, The Uninvited

COLOR ART DIRECTION: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, Wilson, Cover Girl, Lady in the Dark, Kismet

BLACK-AND-WHITE COSTUME DESIGN: GASLIGHT, Mr. Skeffington, The Adventures of Mark Twain, Laura, Since You Went Away

COLOR COSTUME DESIGN: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, Cover Girl, Kismet, Henry V, Lady in the Dark

FILM EDITING: DOUBLE INDEMNITY, Lifeboat, Since You Went Away, Wilson, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

SOUND: WILSON, Double Indemnity, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Cover Girl, Since You Went Away

ORIGINAL SCORE: David Raksin, LAURA (2nd: Max Steiner, Since You Went Away, followed by: Miklós Rózsa, Double Indemnity, William Walton, Henry V; Franz Waxman, Mr. Skeffington; Dimitri Tiomkin, The Bridge of San Luis Rey; Victor Young, The Uninvited)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Georgie Stoll, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (2nd: Morris Stoloff and Carmen Dragon, Cover Girl, followed by: Robert Emmett Dolan, Going My Way; Edward H. Plumb, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Walcott, The Three Cabelleros; Ray Heindorf, Hollywood Canteen)

ORIGINAL SONG: "Swinging on a Star" from Going My Way (Music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke) (2nd: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from Meet Me in St. Louis (Music by Ralph Blaine, lyrics by Hugh Martin), followed by: "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me in St. Louis (Music by Ralph Blaine, lyrics by Hugh Martin); "It Could Happen to You" from And The Angels Sing (Music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke); "How Little We Know" from To Have and Have Not (Music by Johnny Mercer, lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael))



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.

(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 and Emeric Pressberger, 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!

Monday, August 3, 2015

1942--The Year in Review

This is a VERY complicated year. Even after the previous drubbing of Citizen Kane by the Hollywood community, Orson Welles still had it in him to contribute another stunning masterpiece to cinema with his adaptation of Booth Tarkington's acclaimed novel The Magnificent Ambersons. However, when it came time to show the movie to the public, it was vengefully relegated to being a second feature trailing criminally lesser movies. Still, it got a Best Picture nomination, even though it was severely hampered by its studio RKO, who demanded (because of its downbeat ending and also as a blowback from the negative publicity following Citizen Kane) that its final minutes be reshot and re-edited by some now barely-remembered schlubs (so, when you see the movie, be aware the final abrupt and subpar scenes were NOT the work of Welles). For that outcome, its editor--later the diversely talented director Robert Wise, who actually was the last to see Orson Welles's now presumably destroyed finale--is often seen as an unwitting cinema villain (even though he was doing as he was told by the studio, surely he went to the grave with due regrets, as he was ordered to destroy the negatives of Welles' work). Welles' actual final minutes of the movie are now considered among the most desired pieces of film in all of cinema, and the day they're finally recovered--if they ever are--will be one of immense joy for film fans worldwide (we all know that The Magnificent Ambersons is a finer movie than we can even conceive of, as brilliant as it already is, and Agnes Moorehead as the fed-up Aunt Fanny is definitely one of the film's MVPs). As supreme as Welles work is, I have to give him points off in the Best Director category for letting his guard down regarding control over Ambersons, so for Best Director, I finally recognized someone who's not gotten enough due in his time or in times hence. Even now, if you watch Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story, you'll recognize it as being maybe the wildest, most unpredictable comedy ever made (its ridiculous ending will leave your mouth dropped open). With the actual Best Picture winner, the now insufferable WWII propaganda piece Mrs. Miniver, let's just say that it didn't deserve its acclaim and leave it at that (though I do love Teresa Wright in it--she had a superb year with this and The Pride of the Yankees). 

I need to say here: Casablanca, the winner of the 1943 Oscar, actually premiered in 1942, and with that, I have to note that all films in my YEARS IN REVIEW will hail from the actual year in which they were released (this becomes much more complicated as the years progress--especially when it comes to non-American films and festival darlings). Casablanca is a landmark movie, of course--even despite it being filmed without a solid screenplay--its script was pieced together, page by page, as filming went on. As a result, it's a bit confusing and treacly, even though it's difficult not to admire its compelling central romance (between two dazzling stars) and its terrific dialogue (which is so packed with quotable lines, I HAD to give it the adapted screenplay award over The Magnificent Ambersons). And that commanding and slyly hilarious supporting performance by Claude Rains is one of the main reasons such a devoted cult has grown around the movie. I mean, honestly, I know I'll be pilloried for my lack of devotion to Casablanca, but I have to remain true to my impressions--it's among the film classics that I find myself mystified by the love it engenders. Even with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's indelible lead performances, I confidently hand the lead awards this year to James Cagney and Ginger Rogers, simply because they were venturing so far out of their wheelhouse (they each really deserved the Oscar for their immensely fun and physical performances). I should note this is the first year I'm giving an award to a Documentary Feature, and not to the one some film fans might expect. As World War II is now in total effect, we see its influence mainly in the short film category, where John Ford comes out with a superb color short about the battle of Midway. Then, in the animated films, Chuck Jones bests Disney's Donald Duck not with a Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck piece, but with an unforgettable one-off spoof of 1942 jocks. As for Best Song--it remains the best-selling song from a movie ever! 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: The Palm Beach Story (US, Preston Sturges), followed by:
Casablanca (US, Michael Curtiz)
To Be or Not To Be (US, Ernst Lubitsch)
Bambi (US, David Hand)
Went the Day Well? (UK, Alberto Cavalcanti)
The Pride of the Yankees (US, Sam Wood)
In Which We Serve (UK, David Lean, Noël Coward)
Saboteur (US, Alfred Hitchcock)
Cat People (US, Jacques Tourneur)
The Talk of the Town (US, George Stevens)
Woman of the Year (US, George Stevens)
The Major and the Minor (US, Billy Wilder)
Now, Voyager (US, Irving Rapper)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (US, Michael Curtiz)
For Me and My Gal (US, Busby Berkeley);
Random Harvest (US, Mervyn le Roy)
Road to Morocco (US, David Butler))

ACTOR: James Cagney, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (2nd: Jack Benny, To Be or Not To Be, followed by: Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca; Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees; Tim Holt, The Magnificent Ambersons; Spencer Tracy, Woman of the Year; Joel McCrea, The Palm Beach Story; Alan Ladd, This Gun for Hire) 

ACTRESS: Bette Davis, NOW VOYAGER (2nd: Ginger Rogers, The Major and the Minor, followed by: Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca; Carole Lombard, To Be or Not To Be; Katharine Hepburn, Woman of the Year; Claudette Colbert, The Palm Beach Story; Teresa Wright, The Pride of the Yankees; Jean Arthur, The Talk of the Town; Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Claude Rains, CASABLANCA (2nd: Joseph Cotten, The Magnificent Ambersons, followed by: Norman Lloyd, Saboteur; Robert Dudley, The Palm Beach Story; Rudy Vallee, The Palm Beach Story; Ray Collins, The Magnificent Ambersons; Laird Cregar, This Gun for Hire; Cecil Kellaway, I Married a Witch)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Agnes Moorehead, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (2nd: Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver, followed by: Gladys Cooper, Now, Voyager; Celia Johnson, In Which We Serve; Betty Field, Kings Row; Marie Lohr, Went the Day Well?; Maria Ouspenskaya, Kings Row)

DIRECTOR:  Preston Sturges, THE PALM BEACH STORY (2nd: Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons, followed by: Michael Curtiz, Casablanca; Ernst Lubischt, To Be or Not To Be; Alberto Cavalcanti, Went The Day Well?; David Hand, Bambi; Sam Wood, The Pride of the Yankees) 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Preston Sturges, THE PALM BEACH STORY (2nd: Graham Greene, John Dighton, Diana Morgan, and Angus MacPhail, Went The Day Well?, followed by: Melchior Lengyel and Edwin Justus Mayer, To Be or Not To Be; Ring Lardner and Michael Kanin, Woman of the Year; Peter Viertel, Joan Harrison and Dorothy Parker, Sabotuer)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch, CASABLANCA (2nd: Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons, followed by: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, The Major and the Minor; Sidney Buchman, Irwin Shaw, and Dale Van Every, The Talk of the Town; Robert Pirosh and Marc Connelly, I Married a Witch)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: MOSCOW STRIKES BACK (Ilya Kopalin, Leonid Varlamov) (2nd: Prelude to War (Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak) 

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY (John Ford) (2nd: Listen to Britain (Humphrey Jennings), followed by: Marines in the Making (Pete Smith); Three Smart Saps (The Three Stooges; Jules White); Matri Phony (The Three Stooges; Harry Edwards)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: THE DOVER BOYS OF PIMENTO UNIVERSITY (Chuck Jones) (2nd: Der Führer’s Face (Jack Kinney), followed by: Pigs in a Polka (Leon Schlesinger); My Favorite Duck (Chuck Jones); Tulips Shall Grow (George Pal))

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Stanley Cortez, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (2nd: W. Howard Greene, Jungle Book, followed by: Nicholas Musuraca, Cat People; Arthur Edeson, Casablanca; Rudolph Mate, The Pride of the Yankees; Charles Clarke, Moontide)

ART DIRECTION: THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Casablanca, Jungle Book, Arabian Nights, This Above All

COSTUME DESIGN: YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, The Magnificent Ambersons, Jungle Book, My Gal Sal, The Black Swan

FILM EDITING: THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES, The Palm Beach Story, Cat People, Casablanca, Went The Day Well? 

SOUND: THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Bambi, Casablanca, Cat People

ORIGINAL SCORE: Max Steiner, CASABLANCA (2nd: Bernard Herrmann, The Magnificent Ambersons, followed by: Leigh Harline, The Pride of the Yankees; Frank Churchill and Edward Plumb, Bambi; Alfred Newman, The Black Swan; Max Steiner, Now, Voyager)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemfeld, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (2nd: Frank Churchill, Bambi, followed by: Robert Emmett Dolan, Holiday Inn; Alfred Newman, My Gal Sal; Roger Edens and Georgie Stoll, For Me and My Gal)

ORIGINAL SONG: "White Christmas" from HOLIDAY INN (Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin) (2nd: "It Seems I've Heard That Song Before" from Youth on Parade (Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn), followed by: "At Last" from Orchestra Wives (Music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon) "Little April Showers" from Bambi (Music by Frank Churchill, lyrics by Larry Morey); "I Remember You" from The Fleet's In (Music by Victor Schertzinger, lyrics by Johnny Mercer); "There Will Never Be Another You" from Iceland (Music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon); "Tangerine" from The Fleet's In (Music by Victor Schertzinger, lyrics by Johnny Mercer); "Jingle Jangle Jingle" from The Forest Rangers (Music by Joseph J. Lilley, lyrics by Frank Loesser); "Be Careful, It's My Heart" from Holiday Inn (Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin)