Tuesday, May 17, 2022

1950: Catskill Honeymoon (and other historical documents)


We're gonna hitchhike up to the Catskills
Get on the highway to 17
We're gonna hitchhike up to the mountains
Up to the finest resort we have seen!

A group of ladies against a painted backdrop mapping the way to Young's Gap Resort, a montage of holidayers enjoying the amenities such a vacation offers. You've seen Dirty Dancing, now experience for yourself the entertainment offerings of the Borscht Belt in Catskill Honeymoon. Less a film than a document (even the contemporaneous New York Times review notes this) of popular Yiddish acts, a niche within a niche. Musical performances range from a nice young man singing dire ballads to a female cantor smoothly transitioning between Hebrew prayers and Pagliacci; sketches touch on subjects from overpriced food to linguistic differences between Lithuanians and Galicians.

Monday, May 16, 2022

1950: Best Picture of the Year

The Academy Awards' Best Picture lineup for 1950 is full of classics, stories so undeniable that, indeed, they remade 'em again and again. 

All About Eve became the 1970 Broadway musical Applause, which not only nabbed some Tony Awards, but two Emmy nominations for the 1973 telefilm; offstage, it's been riffed on everywhere, from Anna to Showgirls. Born Yesterday was already a Broadway show, but 43 years after this film, a remake starring Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson, and John Goodman came to cinemas. Nowadays, this Father of the Bride is not as known as the 1991 remake with Steve Martin...and yet another remake is on its way with Andy Garcia. King Solomon's Mines was just the latest adaptation of the classic novel: there was one in 1937 with Paul Robeson, another one in 1985 with Richard Chamberlain, even a 2004 miniseries with Patrick Swayze...though before this, I mostly knew protagonist Allan Quatermain as Sean Connery's character in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sunset Blvd. remains relatively untouched onscreen, despite Glenn Close attempting to get a film of her Broadway triumph off the ground - though if memory serves, the 2010 Keira Knightley vehicle London Boulevard (dig that title) is a modern riff on its themes. 

What makes these classics work so? Let's see...

Sunday, May 15, 2022

1950: Actress

More so than the Best Picture race, the Best Actress race of 1950 has divided Oscar fans and cinephiles for over 70 years. Yes, of course, Bette Davis or Gloria Swanson should have won for their immortal performances in, respectively, All About Eve and Sunset Blvd., who had the audacity to win?



OH, iconic Judy Holliday for iconic Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday? Hm...well...who else was...OH, Eve Harrington herself and the lead of women-in-prison cult classic Caged. Ahem, well, uh, in that case...hm.

An embarrassment of riches, clearly, so much so that I wrote much more about these performances than I did their male counterparts. But there's just so much to chew on, such great choices made by each performer, in such rich roles, how could I resist? See for yourself:

Friday, May 13, 2022

1950: Actor

Today we look at 1950's nominees for Best Actor. Three of these nominees first played their parts on Broadway, including the eventual winner:



Let's talk about it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

1950: Supporting Actress

A bit of business first: somehow, I neglected to mention the non-Oscar awardage for films nominated for the Music Awards, the Writing Awards and Director. If you revisit those pages, you'll see such info.

Now, on to the business at hand: Best Supporting Actress. An exquisite lineup. For Celeste Holm, it was the last of a series of nominations; for Thelma Ritter, it was the first of many. Hope Emerson, Josephine Hull, and Nancy Olson were one-and-dones, but from that trio came the night's Oscar winner:



All five gave great performances in fine films. Emerson as the butch matron in an all-female prison, Holm as the playwright's wife and best friend to the grande dame of the stage, Hull as the worried wealthy widow whose brother's mental state is an embarrassment, Olson as the script reader who wants to be a screenwriter, Ritter as the former vaudevillian turned dresser/housekeeper/assistant who sees her position threatened by Anne Baxter! Nothin' but riches I tells ya! Let's discuss:

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

1950: Supporting Actor

And we're back, with the nominees for Best Supporting Actor. Presented by the previous tyear's Best Supporting Actress winner, All the King's Men's Mercedes McCambridge.