Friday, July 29, 2011

Food of Love, Indeed: Original Score, 1964

The wrong music can kill a film (Aaron Zigman's The Proposal). Luckily, '64 had it mostly right. Two Best Picture nominees appear here, of course, but there's also Mancini's most famous work, a make-up to De Vol for the Baby Jane snub two years earlier, and legendary composer Tiomkin's thirteenth nomination in the category! Let us begin!

Laurence Rosenthal for Becket
Appropriately righteous in flavor and, as befits the church, subdued. The holy chants echo throughout the film, and the big brass is only used when needed. The strings in this particular piece, like a gathering storm, are particularly effective.

Dimitri Tiomkin for The Fall of the Roman Empire

I love these old historical epics, with the big orchestra proudly proclaiming its importance. Tiomkin certainly succeeds in bombast, even if he falls a little short of memorable.

Frank De Vol for Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

The titular theme is frequently revisited, but we also get those horror trappings of eerie violins, chimes and harpsichords. Gothic grand guignol at its best!

Robert and Richard Sherman for Mary Poppins

One can just refer to my write-up in Adapted Score, as that's what's really being nominated here. The score is fantastic, of course, though I still think it's strange that there are two separate categories for the same work. Eh, bask in the beauty and ignore all else.

Henry Mancini for The Pink Panther

Iconic. We all know the "Pink Panther" theme, and this is where it all began. Not that it rests on those laurels alone, though, with some slinky lounge music to set the mood for those Claudia Cardinale scenes, the sexy "It Had Better Be Tonight", and comical Sennett-esque music for the chase scenes.


Hard to argue with the Oscar bestowed on the Sherman Brothers for their iconic work in Mary Poppins. But I will. The Oscar goes to....

if it's gonna win an Oscar, it had better be tonight

Redux: Myth Makes Dream a Reality

I originally wrote this review in August of 2010. In celebration of the film's recent release, I am reposting my review here, to get you all excited. The Myth of the American Sleepover begins playing in Los Angeles today at the Nuart Theater, and opened in New York last week at the Angelika. It's now available on VOD, I believe.
When I was 15 years old, I spent a sleepover talking with two friends until daybreak. Then one of us pulled a prank on someone else, we had breakfast, one of my friends got quite grumpy that we were depriving her of her sleep, and we eventually dropped off at, like, ten or eleven. But that night stuck with me,and as I continued to hang out with this particular group, I became fascinated by the web of relationships -- friends, crushes, exes, etc. -- that was all around me. And I thought to myself -- I swear to God, I thought this, and my friend Allie can back me up on this -- "My God, there should be an ensemble film about us, a realistic, Altman-esque look at young teens as they navigate their way through raging hormones and growing up!" I wrote several drafts of my version of what this could be, but it wound up becoming a thriller, and much more sensational than anything I'd actually experienced. But the idea of such a film intrigued me.

When I was following Cannes coverage in Spring, one title stuck out to me. One of my friends had sent me the page for it on Facebook, but I don't "Like" movies I haven't seen, you know? But you never forget a title as epic as The Myth of the American Sleepover, so I stuck with it, especially when I heard that it was the first American film to be selected for Critics' Week in five years. That, plus the good buzz I'd been reading from Indiewire and my favorite film journalist Jeff Wells, who called it "much smarter, better acted, more subtle" than the mainstream teen-oriented films. And, ok, full disclosure: writer-director David Robert Mitchell, producer Adele Romanski, associate producer Cherie Saulter, editor Julio Perez IV, cinematographer James Laxton and co-star Brett Jacobsen are all graduates of my film school.

Don't think that last part biases me in the least. Sometimes, I get a little dickish in screenings, and so when we were given the chance to see Myth Friday evening, I had a bit of a "we'll see" attitude. Congratulations to them, of course, because when a young filmmaker makes a successful, acclaimed film on his/her own terms and represents the Garnet & Gold, that's solid. It gives me hope. But I'm also not going to automatically go to bat for something just because of the FSU connection. If anything, it makes me a tougher critic, because I don't want just anyone representing my school. And so, it was with both excitement (SXSW Ensemble Winner! Cannes!) and uncertainty (low budget? amateur actors?) that I took my seat. It didn't take long for me to realize that writer-director David Robert Mitchell was granting me a wish six years in the making: this is the film I wanted when I was 15.

Myth has four clear leads: new girl Claudia (Amanda Bauer), hormonal Rob (Marlon Morton), heartbroken Scott (Brett Jacobsen) and soon-to-be-freshman-hoping-for-a-night-of-fun Maggie (Claire Sloma). So, yes, four characters who provide the central storylines, but this is an ensemble piece, all the way. This is a summer night preceding high school for some and college for others, which means there's a whole host of couples, crushes, besties, etc. Claudia goes to a sleepover, Rob leaves a sleepover, Scott crashes a sleepover, Maggie ditches a sleepover, Rob's sister is having a sleepover, dancers are having a sleepover, a university is having a freshman orientation/sleepover. Surely, the film's title spelled all that out for you. And Mitchell uses this innocent tradition to capture that magical moment in your life when you couldn't wait to grow up but wanted to remain young. It's universal, it's relatable, it's outstanding.

I love Sloma's Maggie, a girl who self-consciously tries to act older than she really is. She's got a confident smile and a shrug that reminded me of so many girls from middle school. Amanda Bauer believably, humorously portrays Claudia, a nice girl who can become ruthless when she feels crossed. And I love that she does do it humorously, that this film knows that no matter how seriously the youth take themselves, they are rarely serious at all. And Scott is going into his last year of college, but is going to look for these twins he liked in high school in order to treat the wounds of a bad breakup, and Brett Jacobsen has the task of making this guy, essentially a creeper, into someone relatable and likable. AND HE FUCKING DOES IT. Aided by Mitchell's sparse yet effective writing, Jacobsen makes Scott into a guy who knows he's about to do something weird, but goddamn sometimes desperate measures are necessary. And damn if I didn't see a little lot of myself in Marlon Morton's Rob, who at 14 years old is obsessed with women, knowing that Destiny awaits in the form of a hot blonde he saw at the supermarket. This kid is so deadly serious about this love and romance business, but his attention constantly wavers, depending on what girl is in the room. The fickleness of teen love!

Rob's best friend Marcus is played by Wyatt McCallum. It is my favorite performance. What this kid does with silence is wow. He's off to the side much of the time, but as a loyal friend beginning to discover himself, he gives a memorable, heart-wrenching performance. And it's all subtly done. I'll never get over his reading of, "Do you ever think...?" Hope and sadness and confusion rolled into one, and out of everyone else in the movie, he was the one I most wanted to get the kiss. A beautiful performance.

But then, it's a beautiful film. As one classmate said, it's French New Wave meets John Hughes, without any bullshit. There's no big Losing Your Virginity storyline, no Deep Moment of Tears and Reflection. Not everyone gets a triumphant ending. Hell, not everyone gets a climax. That's life. More than that, though: it's refreshing. The Myth of the American Sleepover is doing well on the festival circuit, but I can only hope and pray that it gets a release and some recognition from audiences. If ever you have a chance to see it, do so. Those of us that wish we could see something as true and real as something like, say, Nashville...that wish has come true. It's the film I dreamed about when I was 15, and I am not worthy of such a miracle.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's All About Men: Actor, 1964

Once again, the members of the Academy selected from their group of five. Alas, Becket's two-lead combo and the backlash against Dick Van Dyke's cockney accent in Mary Poppins meant that only four of the five Best Picture/Best Director/Best Adapted Screenplay nominees were represented here. Still, what a strong lineup this is, with three actors giving career-defining performances, and the other two just rocking it!

Richard Burton in Becket

Burton is our titular hero, and it's one of his most subdued and effective performances. He believably plays the arc from jocular kinsman to reluctant Archbishop to stubborn saint -- believably and, what's more, effectively. You just stare in wonder at the man Burton creates, a man humbled by his rise in station who chooses to do his job, even at the expense of those who put him there...even at the expense of his own feelings. Reluctant yet firm, Burton's Becket is the kind of saint I can get behind -- an all too human one. His private plea to God during his first night as Archbishop is powerful, beautiful stuff.

Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady

What Harrison succeeds in bringing to Higgins is balance. It's very easy to play this role too much one way or the other, either too friendly or too snotty or too warm or too cold. Harrison presents a likable yet sometimes boorish man, completely oblivious to anyone's feelings but his own, yet also totally un-self-aware. He is honest, tactless, sporting, cruel, funny and irritating. And when Harrison gets a gleam in his eye, or smiles more warmly than usual, we see -- ever so subtly -- Higgins' fondness for Eliza, even if he has yet to realize it. Harrison's lack of singing voice is a great boon to his characterization, too, as it allows him to bring a relish to every syllable he utters. Higgins loves language, but he's in love with how it sounds coming from him.

Peter O'Toole in Becket

A co-lead that's borderline supporting, O'Toole plays Henry II with infectious energy and entitled cruelty. He also, quite clearly and wisely, plays him as in love with Becket. You can see it in the way O'Toole watches Burton, in the jealous glare that comes over his face when he sees his friend with women. True, sometimes that boisterous posturing and indignant shouting get to be repetitive in scenes without Burton (good Lord, I thought that final dinner was never going to end), but when the two are sharing the screen, O'Toole is on fire.

Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek

Well, Quinn definitely earned a place here. He plays his role so naturally that one almost forgets that this is a Mexican-born Hollywood star and not a Greek everyman. Zorba's selfishness and selflessness feel more consistent with Quinn than as written. His joie de vivre is deeply felt, and you can see that this is a man who has lived. Not just those scars and the stories he tells, but in his sympathetic eyes when he sees another outsider. He's been there.

Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove 

It's a difficult performance to judge, since it's three performances that take us through the tonal switches of the narrative. As Wing Commander Mandrake, RAF, Sellers plays it straight, the only one without an agenda. His logic, incredulity and horror ground the story, emphasizing the gravity of the situation. As President Merkin Muffley, Sellers is almost too straight-faced, bringing us into the more satirical element of the screenplay. His president is forgetful, worrisome, befuddled, a little childish, and almost hopeless, a nice guy who's in way over his head. As mad ex-Nazi Dr. Strangelove, Sellers goes for full-on parody, with a ridiculous accent and a hand with a mind of its own. This is the man in charge with assuring our survival, so of course Sellers goes all-out with his ridiculous characterization, an absurd character to bring us to the impossible finale. It's an ingenious structure and a one-of-a-kind performance.


Harrison won the Academy Award for reprising his Broadway role of Henry Higgins. And it's a close one for me, but in the end I must give my own Oscar vote to...

consider this my hymn to him

Friday, July 22, 2011

All the Single Ladies: Supporting Actress, 1964

Ah, Supporting Actress! I can't believe there was once a time when other categories seemed to matter. When Stinky Lulu devoted himself to those Actresses at the Edges, it was as though the clouds had lifted and all was revealed. "Of course!" I realized. "This is the greatest category ever!" Truth: the first time I made a conscious decision to sit down and watch the Oscars, it was because of Best Supporting Actress (Smith/Mirren/Connelly/Tomei/Winslet). My five favorite actresses are Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Patricia Clarkson, Judi Dench and Drew Barrymore; four have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress, three of them winning. When I think back to my favorite performances of a given year, it's usually a supporting actress: Meryl Streep in 2006, Amy Adams in 2008, Mo'Nique in 2009, Valerie Perrine in 1974. Can 1964 also offer a Year's Best from this category? Is the Supporting Actress crop an improvement on Supporting Actor, or is it more of the same? Read on...

Gladys Cooper in My Fair Lady

Oh, she's amusing, certainly, and her unconcealed annoyance at her son, Henry Higgins, does its job well. Cooper's his equal, and you can see where he gets that witty snobbery from, though she's much warmer than he is. Still, there's not much there, is there? Does she even change expression?

Dame Edith Evans in The Chalk Garden

It's not her fault she's saddled with a dull character in a dull film, but she could liven it up a little. Bonus point: she and Gladys Cooper are making the exact same face -- Grande Dame Haughtiness.

Grayson Hall in The Night of the Iguana

As chaperone to a lusty Sue Lyon, Hall is the chief antagonist of Richard Burton's shamed Father Shannon, a minister given to drink and the ways of the flesh. She is also the best thing about this movie. Give her a secretly "butch" spinster to play and Hall will deliver a lonely woman fighting herself with her faith. As written, she's a harpy, but as played by Hall...I mean, my God! Her tears at the beach as she begs the beautiful nymphet to get away from Shannon. Her maternal cooing as she tries to win the girl back to her side. Her fear and confusion when Ava Gardner's Maxine calls her out on being a lonely butch. Aw, hell, just watch her in the background, look at her ever-watchful eyes as they follow Shannon and Sue Lyon (I forget her name in this, obviously) simultaneously, even if they're on opposite sides of the room. She's incredible, and the film is rarely as exciting as when she's on screen.

Lila Kedrova in Zorba the Greek

I shudder to think what others might have done with such a role, since it's a character that is so tempting to overplay: bawdy stories, silly foreigner, incurable illness, etc. Kedrova underplays so much of it while giving her character a great zest for life. She plays it with both sadness and a glimmer of hope, and breaks your heart in the meantime.

Agnes Moorehead in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Moorehead surprises via the deglam approach, as the po' white trash housekeeper who mutters under her breath in her Louisiana patois, shuffling slowly, her big ass hanging in the air. Well, don't just stand there: applaud the woman, for she uses all the tricks of a broad comic without compromising the believability of the characters of the tone of the film. Her almost feral approach to the role makes Elvira a devoted dog, baring its teeth at the intruder who threatens her mistress. This truly is one of Moorehead's most accomplished performances.


Kedrova won the Academy Award for her role -- a role for which she learned and quickly mastered English. Awesome feat, great performance, but I give the Oscar to...

if only it was The Night of the Chaperone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One Good Song Deserves a Scorer: Adapted Score, 1964

The more I see films from this category, the more I realize how important this category could be now. Last year especially gave us cause to consider the reemergence of the Adaptation Score category when films like Black Swan and True Grit eschewed original pieces in favor of variations of existing work. For both films, the musical choice further contributed to the film's mood. So, too, do these underscores, arranged by their composers from the films' songs (all are musicals, you'll notice), contribute to the zany, the lovely, the melancholy, the confidence and the Sinatra.

George Martin adapting The Beatles for A Hard Day's Night

George Martin arranges some very inventive, if seldom-used, variations on the title tune. I only noticed it the one time and quite enjoyed it, but otherwise it's the Beatles' songs providing the magic. And that's a different category altogether.

Irwin Kostal adapting The Sherman Brothers for Mary Poppins

Strangely, this was nominated for both original and adapted score. I believe Irwin Kostal arranged the underscoring of the Sherman Brothers' original songs, so there was just enough confusion to warrant its placement in two categories. Well, Kostal does a wonderful job, and his use and appreciation of "Feed the Birds" -- the favorite song of both fans and Disney -- is especially effective.  I don't fully understand how this category works, but I do know that I like all the music in Mary Poppins.

Andre Previn adapting Frederick Loewe for My Fair Lady

The only proper nominee in this category. No confusion over original music, or how often it plays, or anything like that. Previn's arrangements of "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "I'm An Ordinary Man" are well-executed. I never appreciated until this viewing how often the tune of "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" creeps ever so subtly into numerous scenes. Lovely.

Nelson Riddle adapting Jimmy Van Huesen for Robin and the 7 Hoods

I honestly just don't remember this, but I remember liking the music at the time.

Robert Armbruster, Leo Arnaud, Jack Elliott, Jack Hayes, Calvin Jackson and Leo Schuken adapting Meredith Willson for The Unsinkable Molly Brown

With most of the musical numbers from the show excised, it's up to the arrangers here to keep the music going. They certainly do a good job, though I wish they were working with better music (I can't stand "I Ain't Down Yet"). Still, substantial work from all involved. God bless 'em, every one.


It's like the Academy and I were on the same wavelength this year! I'd award the Oscar to...


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Glorious Technicolor: Cinematography, 1964 - Part One

Yep, another two-parter, also courtesy of the distinctions made for the Visual Splendor categories. Hopefully, we can look at B&W Cinematography and Color Art Direction soon, but for now, let us bask in the brilliance of these nominees:


Geoffrey Unsworth, director of photography
Unsworth does marvelous tricks with his lighting. He gives us a fuller sense of the glory of God.


 William Clothier, director of photography
Certainly the snowy climax is impressive enough, but I adore those mountains and rivers and officers' tents. Beautiful work.


 Edward Colman, director of photography
Really: it never left the soundstage, yet that exterior is perfectly lit! But, of course, I have to go with the iconic chimney sweeps and the Bird Woman, with that Vaseline sheen on the edges.


 Harry Stradling, director of photography
Also a soundstage show, Stradling gives us equally beautiful day and night.


Daniel L. Fapp, director of photography
Subtle work, solidly done.

Oscar and I once again team up to bring you the champion:

 I could have danced in this light

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Man Behind the Curtain: Director, 1964

You've seen 'em in Adapted Screenplay, you'll see 'em in Best Picture, and you're seeing them right now. Between the enfant terrible, the old school, the foreigners and the Disney rep, Best Director had a real nifty lineup this year. Honestly the Dir/Pic nominees wouldn't be this interesting again until 1995, when the only matches were for -- of all things -- historical epic Braveheart, Italian rom-com The Postman, and talking-pig children's flick Babe. Weird years are cool. Of course, I kind of wish they'd had spread the wealth a little, but this is a pretty solid lineup, non?

Michael Cacoyannis for Zorba the Greek

I'm impressed with the long takes, the performances and the shot design. Working from his own, flawed script, Cacoyannis proves himself more adept as an auteur rather than author. Still don't think he handles those tone shifts comfortably, but maybe the character of Zorba's shifts make me uncomfortable. And surely if there was a way to inject life into Basil, it would be here?

George Cukor for My Fair Lady

If one were to judge by performances alone, Cukor does a bang-up job, everyone pitch-perfect and wonderfully memorable. It feels stagebound, though, and Cukor's direction does little to enliven the affair. When he's on, though -- Ascot, the ball, Doolittle's visit -- the material soars. Otherwise, it sometimes feels as though anyone could have done this, with much the same results.

Peter Glenville for Becket

It's so absurd that Becket is as visually impressive as it is. The shot design takes my breath away, the execution of the beach scene is phenomenal, the moments of humor are not at odds with the established tone. Glenville's done an impressive job. I don't think he keeps that momentum going near the end, though, beginning with a tone-deaf scene in Rome, then a too-long scene at Henry II's court that feels tedious and redundant. Worst of all, those finals blows in the cathedral just did not feel as effective as they should have. Somethings weird with the pacing here, almost as if Glenville and his editor got tired by that point. A shame, too, because that's the cap-off to an otherwise exquisite film.

Stanley Kubrick for Dr. Strangelove

Seller's improv, George's story, the realism, the absurdity, the comedy -- all come together beautifully under the exacting hand of Stanley Kubrick. There's a unique tone that is at once hilarious and horrifying. The screenplay, as ever with Kubrick, is the blueprint, but the real magic happens when he's behind the camera and running the show.

Robert Stevenson for Mary Poppins

The kids aren't annoying and the parents aren't alienating. The sweetness of the title character isn't overbearing, and her sternness lives comfortably alongside it. The musical numbers are lively and exciting, showing off without being tedious. Do you realize a full hour goes by the time they leave the chalk drawing? I didn't until I glanced down at the running time. A man running a ship like this better have a good head for actors and pacing. Stevenson's got it.


George Cukor finally won his Oscar for My Fair Lady. Of his competitors, only one was nominated again -- and never won. A shame, really, because not only should he have at least won once...but it should have been this year. I award the Oscar to...

he made people laugh at Fail-Safe

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Leaders, Commoners, Category Fraud: Supporting Actor, 1964

Come on, you know this is why you're here. It's to look at the actors, those faces you've grown to know and love throughout your cinematic experiences. The year 1964 brought nominations for two veteran character actors, two previous winners, and John Gielgud.

John Gielgud in Becket

Appearing in only two scenes, Gielgud displays his knack for dry wit. He's the foppish French king (complete with English accent?) who refuses to dismiss his tailors when meeting with representatives of Henry's court, and he's hiding the despised Becket as the archbishop travels to Rome. It's funny and fun, but it's too slight for a nomination. Gielgud never does anything beyond be funny, and I have to imagine this is a coaster nomination...though wouldn't Donald Wolfit have been a worthier choice?

Stanley Holloway in My Fair Lady

Holloway gets two show-stopping numbers and a lengthy transaction scene with Henry Higgins, as Eliza's cockney chimney-sweep father Alfie Doolittle. Higgins says that Eliza is "so deliciously low", but that description is more apt for her dear ol' dad, a man fully aware of his laziness and amorality who refuses to change. He's comfortable borrowing money that will never be paid back, getting drunk and carousing with friends; Higgins calls him "the most original moralist in England". Holloway gets everything just right, his eyes half-closed in a drunken stupor throughout much of the film, comfortable whether in the streets or in Higgins' study. Holloway is just so disarmingly charming in the role, and it's not because he's trying to endear him to us; just the opposite, rather, and his comfort in the role makes Alfie that much more believable -- and hilarious. The character may be extraneous, but Holloway's performance really does command the screen.

Edmond O'Brien in Seven Days in May

Boozy Georgia senator, best friend of the President of the United States, supports the treaty with Russia. O'Brien's Senator Clark is one of the more interesting characters in Seven Days of May, one with strong moral convictions, though not above a little boudoir blackmail; the ends justify the means, right? O'Brien looks out with his bug eyes, bellows in his stentorian voice, sweats profusely and limps along uncertainly. It's a breath of fresh air among all the hand-wringing, moralizing and speechifying to have this honorable drunk, and O'Brien plays him with the right balance of humor and seriousness.

Lee Tracy in The Best Man

As the dying former President of the United States, Tracy is delicious. His President plays the "aw, shucks, I'm just a country hick who got lucky" card all he wants, he has no equal in that handshaking, backslapping, schmoozing manipulations of politics. Tracy heaps every bit of smarts and scoundrel to his role. You can see the strong leadership and intelligence that made him a great leader, but he's a dastardly man, too, a master of the double-cross. Tracy's tiny stature, elfin face and creaky Georgia drawl add to the surprising power of the role. A very watchable -- and rewatchable -- supporting performance.

Peter Ustinov in Topkapi

Let's get it out of the way: he's the lead. It takes ten minutes to get to him, but afterward, the entire film is from his point of view. Now that's out of the way: wow. A deserved Oscar winner, every moment of his performance is a delight. Hilarious, slightly shy, holding his large frame close to himself, Ustinov's small-time conman is in over his head with the jewel thieves. He's inept at being oily, but it's strangely sweet to watch him try. Look also at his face when he thinks Mercouri fancies him...breaks (and wins!) your heart.


Once again, I have to award category fraud. Once again, I have to agree with the Academy. The Oscar goes to:

sweet, funny, wonderful

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The World is Full of Singing: Original Song, 1964

Apologies for my absence. I actually planned to have posts up for every day this week, but I've been so busy with The Move. Yes, friends, after twenty-two years as a Florida resident, I have finally packed up my bags and headed LOS ANGELES! Like Xtina in Burlesque, I am following my dreams and took the first bus out of town. Well, no, it was an airplane, and it was an evening flight, and I bought it a month in advance, but the feeling is the same! Now that I've figured out the gas stove, lunched at Sony, seen the Hollywood sign from the road (!!!!), and settled into my new apartment (shared with a few of my best friends), I figure I can get back on track (although how more on track could one get than to be living in Cinema Paradise?).

So, let us continue our 1964 journey with...BEST ORIGINAL SONG!

"Dear Heart" from Dear Heart

A beautiful song for a beautiful film. The heroine's longing and the hero's epiphany are both wonderfully expressed in the lyrics, and those sweeping strings make it soar. Used in the film's final scene, its timed to perfection so that, like "Moon River" in Breakfast at Tiffany's, we are swept up in the music and the romance and have no defense against the tears. So lovely.

"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" from Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Well, I have loved this song since before I saw the movie, and I always thought it was strange that this Patti Page tune could be used for a hag horror flick, which just shows that one should never underestimate the instincts of Robert Aldrich (director) and the talent of Frank DeVol (composer). The song is played and replayed throughout the film, as a mocking nursery rhyme along the lines of Lizzie Borden; an eerie atonal ballad screeched by Bette Davis; and a triumphant, climactic sweep with some male singer. A lovely and haunting tune.

"Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins

The tune comes up frequently, brief bits here and there as jack-of-all-trades Bert brings us into a new sequence. It's really quite a fun and catchy tune. I think it's the most solid representation of what this movie is all about, more so than "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "Spoonful of Sugar" or what-what. For me, it's all about finding joy where you can in life, for though "you might think a sweep's on the bottommost rung/...In this 'ole wide world there's no 'appier bloke." Then you step in time!

"My Kind of Town" from Robin and the 7 Hoods

Man, this movie is a lot of fun, but most of the songs have little to do with the plot...such as there is. This song is not only the exception, but is one of Sinatra's most popular tunes. It's pretty good, though it's no "Mr. Booze" or "Bang! Bang!". Still, I suppose the Academy could have done worse...

"Where Love Has Gone" from Where Love Has Gone

And they did! A boring song for a lifeless film. Blech.


Mary Poppins won here, and I am so down with that! Any of its songs are Oscar-worthy, really. Love of The Poppins aside, though, I have searched my heart and found that I would have voted for something else...

makes me cry every time

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Silver Screen, Slick Sets: Art Direction, 1964 - Part One

As color was becoming more prominent, the Academy found it necessary to separate the colorful from the monochromatic in the craft categories. After all, a black-and-white film cannot emphasize reds and blues the same way a color film can, and a color film cannot emphasize its shadows and light-play the same way a black-and-white film can. The nominees for B&W Art Direction were for subtle approaches, whether single-set, minimalist work, or dressing up what was already there.


George W. Davis, Hans Peters & Elliot Scott, art directors
Robert R. Benton & Henry Grace, set decorators

From the offices of high-ranking naval officials to supply rooms, every detail is seen to. It's organized clutter, as only the military can do.


William Glasgow, art director
Raphael Bretton, set decorator

From the wealth of the father to the chaos of the daughter. Good ol' Southern Gothic.


Stephen Grimes, art director

Looks like the kind of small getaway my parents would love. It may not look like much, but it'll do.


Cary Odell, production designer
Edward Boyle, set decorator

From the honorable Oval Office to the sinister Joint Chiefs Conference Room. The not-too-distant future is eerily close.


Vassilis Photopoulos, art director

From the wealthy Frenchwoman to the poor Greek. Every item is deeply personal, giving us a sense of the residents.


Photopoulos' art direction for Zorba the Greek won, and for good reason! Indeed, I'm inclined to agree...

someone built that