Monday, June 30, 2014

1953 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part 2

It's Day Two of the Retro Hollmann Awards, honoring the best of 1953! 

Yesterday, The Cruel SeaPickup on South Street, Titanic, and The War of the Worlds all picked up one award each; The Importance of Being Earnest got two!

And this is a rare treat -- one of the acting categories here doesn't have a single Oscar nominee to correspond with! Is it Best Actor? Best Supporting Actress? Find out as the awardage continues...

3. Beneath the 12-Mile Reef
Bernard Herrmann

4. Invaders from Mars
Raoul Kraushaar

2. Lili
Bronislau Kaper

1. The Robe
Alfred Newman

5. Shane
Victor Young

So closes the entertainment portion. Continue after the jump for more...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

1953 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part 1

And so begins the first day of the Retro Hollmann Awards of 1953!

It was a long process, a marathon of "this one, no this one!" Constant changes, choices worthy of Sophie. Finally culminating in what you now see here.

What did I have to choose from, though? You know I saw more than just the Academy Award Nominees. Here is the complete list of 1953 releases I saw, in alphabetical order:

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
Above and Beyond
All the Brothers were Valiant
The Band Wagon
Battles of Chief Pontiac
Beneath the 12-Mile Reef
The Big Heat
The Bigamist
A Blueprint for Murder
Calamity Jane
Call Me Madam
Captain Scarface
The Captain's Paradise
City That Never Sleeps
The Cruel Sea
The Desert Rats
Fear and Desire
From Here to Eternity
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Girl on the Run
Glen or Glenda?
The Hitch-Hiker
House of Wax
How to Marry a Millionaire
I, the Jury
I Confess
The Importance of Being Earnest
Invaders from Mars
The Joe Louis Story
Julius Caesar
Kiss Me Kate
Knights of the Round Table
The Limping Man
Little Fugitive
The Man in the Attic
Man on a Tightrope
Martin Luther
The Maze
Miss Sadie Thompson
The Mississippi Gambler
The Moon is Blue
The Naked Spur
Peter Pan
Pickup on South Street
The Robe
Roman Holiday
Sins of Jezebel
Small Town Girl
Stalag 17
The Story of Three Loves
Torch Song
War of the Worlds
Wicked Woman
The Wild One
Young Bess

That's a total of 65 films, the usual amount for the Retro series. I know that seems low, but I do what I can.

The first six categories, for a total of 18, are: Best Sound, Best Visual Effects (an honorary award to War of the Worlds, that year, but I'll give it a full category), Best Supporting Actor, Best Costume Design, Best Ensemble (not an Academy category), and Best Editing!

Shall we begin?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Picture, 1953

Whew! Sorry for the delay! But now, without any further ado, the nominees for Best Picture, 1953!

(After the jump, I mean)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Actress, 1953

Talk about thinking with your dick. 

We have Leslie Caron, all wide-eyed innocence in Lili. We have Audrey Hepburn, all wide-eyed innocence in Roman Holiday. And we have Maggie McNamara, all side-eyed semi-innocence in The Moon is Blue. All short-haired brunettes being romanced by older men, all new stars (though Caron had recently burst onto the scene in Best Picture An American in Paris). 

Then there's Ava Gardner -- few considered her a good actress, all considered her one of the sexiest sirens to ever hit the screen. The first we see of her in Mogambo, she's in the shower, rebuffing Clark Gable -- but you know from her body language (cue Ursula) that she's open to a roll in the sack. A great performance, though.

Another great performance? Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. Her persona was positively virginal; here, she's an adulterous wife getting hot and heavy in the sand with Burt Lancaster. Va-va-voom! A big star, she's here in the Lead category -- though in my mind, she's strictly supporting.

None of these are bad performances, but when three of these roles have sex at the forefront, and three of them are wispy dream girls (look at you, Maggie McNamara, getting into both categories), it ain't exactly the talent that's being evaluated here. Especially when, waiting in the sidelines, is 50-year-old Jean Arthur being amazing in Shane, but you know. Not sexy enough.

But there's no sense in getting huffy -- these are all fine performances. Here are the nominees for Best Actress...

Director, 1953

Of all the categories, this and Best Picture were the two that had me in constant back-and-forth. At first, for instance, I gave George Stevens a lower score -- but the more I thought of Shane, the more I appreciated, admired, and adored it. Then there was my own wrassling with the results -- no, it can't be. That can't be my choice!

But it is. As unexpected as it may seem, I gotta be me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Song, 1953

Damnably late, I know, and sadly I must dash off quickly -- it's my bedtime, you know. It's for the best -- now I won't keep you long from the Songs!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Screenplay, 1953

The final writing category was, then, simply known as Screenplay, cluing us in to the fact that the nominated scribes were not the originators of these tales, but the ones who knew how to flesh them out for cinematic purposes.

In retrospect, the idea of dividing the categories between Original and Adapted seems kind of obvious. Alas, this would not be done until 1956, which meant another coupla confusing years where original properties like Love Me Or Leave Me were nominated beside true adaptations like East of Eden.

Thus this lineup. Although let me quell those fears -- this is just a curious lineup. As far as quality goes, it's actually pretty legit!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Actor, 1953

I can already tell that this year's Retro Hollmann Awards are going to be most unusual. That's all I'm gonna say about that for now...

This lineup for Best Actor is an intriguing one, a telling one. Burt Lancaster credited From Here to Eternity with changing his career, allowing studio execs to see him as more than beefcake, but as a real actor. William Holden's career was already on the rise after his nominated turn in Sunset Blvd; Stalag 17 could only cement his status as a star, and the Lead Actor nomination is evidence of that: he's one part of a large ensemble. Marlon Brando was the sole Streetcar Named Desire cast member not to win an Oscar, but he was still a Hollywood heavy-hitter: top billing and a Lead Actor nomination for what is essentially one scene in a two-hour flick. Montgomery Clift was a beauty who pioneered the brooding, sensitive male Brando and James Dean would popularize -- this was his third nomination. And Richard Burton was starting out on his Hollywood career, after garnering attention -- and a Supporting Actor nod -- for his performance in My Cousin Rachel.

With the exception of Burton, who is mostly defined by the Taylor years, these are actors one immediately thinks of when one thinks of 50s Hollywood. Without exception, they are all timeless icons, actors every movie lover should know.

And here they are, together at last.....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Color Cinematography, 1953

As promised, my look at the nominees for Color Cinematography.

Yeah, that's all the intro you need. Carry on.

Supporting Actress, 1953

Did you ever know that Best Supporting Actress is among my top five Favorite Categorie at the Oscars? If you've been a longtime reader, you probably did. If you're new here -- hi, I adore Supporting Actresses!

Of course, not all of Oscar's contenders are actual supporting roles. Geraldine Page is clearly the female lead of Hondo -- but I guess only pixie ingenues get lead campaigns for their film debuts. And Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner are co-leads of Mogambo, both vying for the affections of Clark Gable. Hers you could argue a little more about, but there's no doubt in my mind...

For more fun, check out Stinkylulu's write-up of this year -- he makes a strong case, even if I don't agree at all with his assessment of Kelly and her film. But you'll see. Just continue after the jump...  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Score, 1953

A good chunk of my iTunes is devoted to film music -- even more than Christmas music, which I have a healthy collection of (not mentally healthy, tho).

Not to take the Academy to task too much for what was left out -- for the most part, this is a solid line-up -- but I do think it's surprising that Alfred Newman's work on Best Picture nominee The Robe was left off (something which caused Franz Waxman to resign from the Academy). What can ya do?

On to the ones what made it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Story and Screenplay, 1953

The Story and Screenplay category -- five contenders, and not a single one a Best Picture nominee! And boy they run the gamut: a movie I still haven't seen; a MUSICAL (how often do those get nods anymore?); a British war drama; a western with a small ensemble; and Titanic, accomplishing what the later 1997 film could not: get credit for the writing.

Shall we?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Color Art Direction, 1953

Another week, another peek -- at the 1953 Academy Award Nominees! Exactly one week ago, we started off by looking at the contenders for Black and White Art Direction; now, we're looking at their more colorful cousins!

While I wasn't exactly sure if these were the best representatives of this category, I will say this: all five of these films are a bit of terrific. Knights introduced me to the greatness of one Robert Taylor; Lili and Young Bess surprised me; The Story of Three Loves was at least 2/3 an interesting flick (anthologies -- why do people do those?); and The Robe is a Biblical epic.

Shall we have a look at their looks?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Black-and-White Cinematography, 1953

Well, as Blanche Devereaux would say, "Better late than pregnant." But hey -- I was busy this weekend, being the Best Man for my best friend's wedding. Congratulations, you two!

But -- back to business, and our continuing coverage of the 1953 Oscars. Tonight: the nominees for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Supporting Actor, 1953

Yeah, this is what you all wanted, right? The stars. The faces. Never mind musical arrangements or monochromatic sets -- we want to see acting at the edges!

Well, here ya go. And what a neat mix this is, too: a child, a stage vet, a star looking for a comeback, a previous nominee, and the future star of Green Acres. And all in genuine supporting roles!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Motion Picture Story, 1953

Hollywood was so complicated! Back in the day, it took three categories to honor the writers: Screenplay, which seemed to primarily honor adaptations; Story and Screenplay, which is the equivalent to Original Screenplay; and Story, which we don't have anymore, and which, for some reason was separate from the other category? As best as I can tell, it was used when the Story and the Screenplay were written by different people, so at least it was an attempt to distinguish between the creative individuals who contribute to a film.

Still, there is some understandable confusion, especially when some are credited with "From a story by", which sounds like an adaptation, but often isn't. Like, OK -- it's weird that the original Roman Holiday is nominated here and in Screenplay, but not in Story and Screenplay; the confusion also led to a nomination for Louis L'Amour for Hondo, even though he only wrote the original short story and had no hand in the adaptation. With such problems, it's no wonder the category was discontinued in 1957.

But that's in another four years. 'Til then, here's who benefited...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Black-and-White Art Direction, 1953

It's here! My look at the Academy Award nominees of 1953 is here!

Our journey begins with the nominees for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White. Ah, yes, that era when the color line divided Costumes, Art Direction and Cinematography. It makes sense -- color really does have the edge when it comes to those first two, since it can use reds and blues and greys to make a statement

But those black-and-white artists weren't just putzin' around, as you'll see.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Party Like It's 1953!

Tomorrow marks the true beginning of the 1953 retrospective!

This marks the 6th Retrospective on the Silver Screening Room. Previously, I've applauded the Academy's laurels for My Fair Lady; meh'd The Godfather: Part II; wept with Schindler's List; enjoyed The Sting; and celebrated my favorite film, Nashville. But 1953 offers new challenges, new discoveries, and new categories -- well, old categories, but new to me -- well, OK, not new to me since I've been well-versed in all things Oscar for years, get it.


As with the other years, I'll be covering certain Oscar categories, offering my reactions to the nominees, and sharing who I'd vote for. But because it's 1953 -- a time when color and black-and-white had equal screen time, writing credits were more complicated, and musicals were so numerous they had their own category -- we have even more categories to cover than usual. Quelle fun!

This week, we take a look at Black-and-White Art Direction-Set Decoration, Motion Picture Story, Musical Score, Supporting Actor, and Black-and-White Cinematography. The films we cover are:

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (score)
Above and Beyond (story)
The Band Wagon (score)
Calamity Jane (score)
Call Me Madam (score)
The Captain's Paradise (story)
The Four Poster (cinematography)
Hondo (story)
From Here to Eternity (supporting actor, cinematography)
Julius Caesar (art direction, cinematography)
Kiss Me Kate (score)
Little Fugitive (story)
Martin Luther (art direction, cinematography)
The President's Lady (art direction)
Roman Holiday (art direction, story, supporting actor, cinematography)
Shane (supporting actor)
Stalag 17 (supporting actor)
Titanic (art direction)

And if you can't wait for my posts, please -- check out the Casting Coup Week I indulged in with Andrew (Encore Entertainment) last week, where we recast the Best Picture nominees of this year -- From Here to Eternity, Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday and Shane.

You May Also Enjoy:

Like us on Facebook