Saturday, August 17, 2019

Day Ten: Best Picture, 1969

I mentioned it in last month's 1968 retrospective - '67 was the announcement of New Hollywood, '68 was the last gasp of Old Hollywood...and '69 is where '67 paid off.

Even Anne of the Thousand Days, a prime example of Royal Melodrama, puts such an emphasis on sex and semen that it could only have been touched by a major studio in this period (well...unless Otto Preminger had his hands on it). Even the Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is a hangout buddy flick with a decidedly non-western score, unorthodox romantic trio, and a fare-thee-well to the genre. Even the standard Liberal Cause Drama is the cynical, French-language, Socialist-sympathizing Z. Only Hello, Dolly! actually stands as a prime example of the Big Studio Musical, albeit with some anarchic twists. And Midnight Cowboy...well, hell, ain't nothing like Midnight Cowboy. Maybe that's why it won:

The nominees, after the jump...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Day Nine: Best Supporting Actress, 1969

Best Actor had one; Best Actress and Best Director each had three; Best Supporting Actor had four; hell. But only Best Supporting Actress had a roster of all first-timers.

It doesn't happen all that often. So where were the members of last year's class? Lynn Carlin was doing television; she'd be back on the big screen the next year in ...tick...tick...tick.... Sondra Locke was filming a movie that also wouldn't come out 'til 1970, Cover Me Babe. Estelle Parsons, who had ridden her 1967 Oscar win to a follow-up 1968 nomination, was upgraded to leading lady status for the comedy Don't Drink the Water. Reigning winner Ruth Gordon also had an arguably lead role, playing the thorn in psycho-biddy Geraldine Page's side in the thriller What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?. Only Kay Medford had a definite supporting role in a 1969 film - Angel in My Pocket, a little-seen Andy Griffith film that resulted in the latter ending his film deal with Universal.

And so that left the field open for five newcomers, none of whom were Brenda Vaccaro. Why mention Brenda Vaccaro? Well, believe it or not, either of these names could have been hers. Vaccaro has, perhaps, the most screentime of any woman in Midnight Cowboy, appearing as a party girl who brings Joe Buck home with her. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for the performance, but co-star Sylvia Miles got the Oscar nod. Meanwhile, Goldie Hawn's Cactus Flower performance wound up winning the Oscar:

But did you know that Vaccaro originated that role on Broadway? She was even nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play, losing out to Zoe Caldwell for Tennessee Williams' Slapstick Tragedy (Caldwell also won the Tony for originating The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on Broadway). Vaccaro would have to wait another six years for an Oscar nomination, when she was honored for her work in Once is Not Enough. Her fellow nominee that year? Midnight Cowboy's own Sylvia Miles...

Back to 1969, friends. The nominees are....

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Day Seven: Music, 1969

Music time, folks - a ten-deep one, as we look at the nominees for both Best Score and Best Musical Score.

Naturally, John Williams shows up in both categories, the first of many times he would be double-nominated. He had recently broken-through with his nomination in Best Adaptation and/or Treatment Score (as Best Musical Score was then known) for Valley of the Dolls in 1967. Thus was launched one of the most successful careers in all of show business, the rare composer that's also a household name: 24 Grammys, seven BAFTA Awards, five Oscars, four Golden Globes. His movie themes can be heard in theme parks across the world, and his theme for the NBC Nightly News can be heard, er, nightly.

Let's hear the competition after the jump.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Day Six: Best Actress, 1969

Every single nominee here was a five-for-five transfer from the Golden Globes' Best Actress in a Drama category. That has only happened one other time, in 1995: Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas), Sharon Stone (Casino), Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County) and Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility). Stone won the Globe, but Sarandon won the Oscar.

If one wants to stretch it a bit, one could also count 1962, in which the Academy's lineup of Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker), Bette Davis (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?), Katharine Hepburn (Long Day's Journey Into Night), Geraldine Page (Sweet Bird of Youth) and Lee Remick (Days of Wine and Roses) were also all up for the Drama Actress Golden Globe...albeit within an expanded slate of ten nominees. Page won the Globe, Bancroft the Oscar.

And in 1969, Geneviève Bujold won the Globe...while Maggie Smith won the Oscar:

The nominees, after the jump....

Sunday, August 11, 2019

More Coming Attractions, 1969

This week, we continue the great adventure through the films of 1969 with the nominees for Best Actress, Best Score, Best Musical Score, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture of the Year. Featuring:

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Further Thoughts: 1969 in Review(s)

Further thoughts on some of the 1969 films discussed earlier this week.

Alice's Restaurant
dir: Arthur Penn
pr: Hillard Elkins / Joseph Manduke
scr: Venable Herndon and Arthur Penn, from the song by Arlo Guthrie
cin: Michael Nebbia

Overall an admirable, if cautious and somewhat skeptical, attempt to humanize and sympathize with a misunderstood movement, balancing clear-eyed observations about using "freedom" and "protest" to excuse shirking your own responsibilities with criticism of the establishment's adherence to form and appearance. If only Penn could consistently pay off on the characters he introduces, or handle the tonal whiplash between the comedy of the song and the drama of his and Herndon's additions. Guthrie proves a surprisingly compelling presence on screen.

Sex, class, change, and more, after the jump..