Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The 1947 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

At last, the 1947 Retro Hollmann Awards are here! Part One consists of nine categories, including three that were not awarded at the 20th Academy Awards. For a full list of nominees, refer to yesterday's full list of nominees.

Best Ensemble 
Black Narcissus
Adele Raymond, casting

2. Green for Danger, 3. A Matter of Life and Death, 4. Brute Force, 5. Miracle on 34th Street

A sister superior who clings to that second word. A cloister of nuns - loyal, flighty, tempted. A beautiful native girl and the prince who is smitten with her. A capital-m Male advising a distracted royal. A holy man permanently perched. Each embodied vividly in Black Narcissus.

Green for Danger boasts an impressive who's who in British character acting. Everyone in A Matter of Life and Death is game for fantastic realism and impossible romance. Brute Force is full of brooding, guilt-ridden, desperate men. Miracle on 34th Street's cast just looks like they're having a blast.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Ivan the Terrible, Part One
Vasili Goryunov, makeup artist

2. A Matter of Life and Death, 3. Great Expectations, 4. Miracle on 34th Street, 5. Forever Amber

Ivan the Terrible has some of the most beautifully-applied lashes and liner in cinema. Big beards clutter the court, whether round and full, like the tsar's loyalists, or long, white, intricately carved, like the high priest. Ivan's own looks: the greasy beard, matted hair, the sunken-in eyes on his deathbed. And that one idiot boyar's lipsticked, femininely made-up face.

A Matter of Life and Death delivers impossibly rosy cheeks, French foppery, and very clean angels. Great Expectations makes a haggard prisoner, a wild-haired aging beauty, and the curls of Victorian male hair. Miracle on 34th Street delivers a real Santa Claus. Forever Amber is some good-ass 17th-century style.

Best Costume Design

Ivan the Terrible, Part One
Leonid Naumov

2. Black Narcissus, 3. A Matter of Life and Death, 4. Great Expectations, 5. Mother Wore Tights

Ivan the Terrible's costumes are incredibly detailed, as seen on Ivan himself - the ornate coronation robes, the intimidating simplicity of his court attire, his armor on the battlefield. Surrounded by men and women in big fur coats - so many heavy layers!

Black Narcissus' white habits, native garments, and royal finery. A Matter of Life and Death's looks across space and time. Great Expectations' styles spanning the class system. Mother Wore Tights' vaudeville glamor.

From here on, the categories continue in the same order as their counterparts at the 20th Academy Awards. But that's after the jump....

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The 1947 Retro Hollmann Awards Nominees

Can you believe this is the thirteenth iteration of the Retro Hollmanns? Probably you never thought about it!

Following are my picks for what should have been nominated in 1947...but with some not so small differences:

  • Best Costume Design - not an Oscar category until the following year; nevertheless, it is a Hollmann Awards category
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling - not an Oscar category until 1981; nevertheless, it is a Hollmann Awards category
  • Best Ensemble - not an Oscar category; nevertheless, it is a Hollmann Awards category, awarded where possible to the casting director(s)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay - not an Oscar category until 1957; nevertheless, it a Hollmann Awards category
  • Best Original Screenplay - considered separate from Motion Picture Story until 1958; both are combined into this single designation for the Hollmann Awards

For a complete list of the 64 films considered, check out my Top Ten of 1947. Eighteen categories in all. And now, the nominees, in the order that I figured them out...except Best Picture, which comes at the end. I've linked to my review the first time each title appears.


John P. Fulton, special photographic effects
Harry Redmond, Jr., special effects

Ivor Beddoes, special photographic effects
W. Percy Day, process shots / matte painter
Arthur George Day / Thomas Sydney Day, matte painters
E. Hague / Jack Higgins / Sydney Pearson / James Snow, special effects

Fred Sersen, special photographic effects

Stanley Grant, special photographic effects
William C. Andrews / Henry Harris / Douglas Woolsey, special effects

Ub Iwerks, special processes
Brad Case / Blaine Gibson / Joshua Meador / George Rowley, effects animators

18 more films, 17 more categories, all after the jump....

Monday, November 27, 2017

Top Ten of 1947

Many Top Tens are difficult to draft up, but I must confess, this was one of the easiest I've ever made. In alphabetical order....

The Bishop's Wife
dir: Henry Koster
scr: Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood, based on the novel by Robert Nathan
cin: Gregg Toland

Like the angel Dudley, the film possesses a deceptively light touch whose gentle caresses bring forth great depths of feeling. It's funny but not silly, fanciful but not absurd, and it winks at extramarital flirtations without compromising anyone's integrity. Given the subject matter, it is only fitting that it be, from beginning to end, a pure joy.

Black Narcissus
dir/scr: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, based on the novel by Rumer Godden
cin: Jack Cardiff

A triumph of craftsmanship - the awe-inspiring effects and matte work, Jack Cardiff's photography capturing warmth and tempestuousness in eye-popping Technicolor, the detailed decay of a mountaintop convent. A triumph, too, of narrative - the unhappy woman who shuts herself up behind convent walls in the Himalayas, little realizing that only here, high enough to touch the heavens, is she truly exposed. Sexy and sad!

Tsars, circus folk, holy men and more, after the jump....

Saturday, November 25, 2017

For the Twentieth Time: Best Picture, 1947

I took a day to recover from making rather merry this Thanksgiving, but here, at last...the Best Picture nominees for the 20th Academy Awards...after the jump.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Shoo-In and the Shocker: Actress, 1947

Best Actress 1947 is one of the best Oscar stories to read about. It encompasses everything: campaigns creating narratives, one nominee steamrolling the circuit, a surprise twist, confidence becoming graciousness...jesus, no one could have guessed the outcome!

According to Mason Wiley and Damien Bona's essential Inside Oscar, the man we have to thank for this story is Henry Rogers, a publicist and Oscar strategist who was behind the campaigns for Olivia de Havilland in 1946 and Joan Crawford in 1945 - both resulting in wins. He offered his services to Rosalind Russell for Mourning Becomes Electra, a nearly three-hour drama based on the classic Eugene O'Neill play that Russell herself didn't enjoy. He orchestrated a campaign that led many to consider the other four also-rans - especially Susan Hayward, whose nomination was the most unexpected of the lineup, and Loretta Young, who even Variety mistakenly reported was up for The Bishop's Wife instead of The Farmer's Daughter. Russell received plaudits from USC, UCLA, even the PTA - and being named Best Actress at the Golden Globes didn't hurt, either.

This was the first year the Academy scrambled up the order of awards, instead of giving out "the technicals" first and "the majors" last. This meant changes like Best Actor coming in the middle of the show, and Best Film Editing being one of the final three awards. It also meant the last award of the night wasn't Best Picture, but Best Actress. And boy, did that decision pay off.

Legend has it Russell had already half-risen from her seat when Fredric March opened the envelope. Audience members were already quietly exiting. March even started to say, "Ros--" when he suddenly did a double-take. The award for Best Actress goes to....


Russell turned her anticipatory rise to leading the standing ovation that greeted the stunned Young, who was visibly shaking when she eventually left the stage...but not before planting a big kiss on Oscar. A shocking win closing out the Oscars - when was the last time that happened?

But was it deserved? My take on the nominees, after the jump...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Maybe It's Me, But....

Thor: Ragnarok's abrasively absurdist/jocular tone is annoying, condescending - we're the fun one, we can take the piss, check out this soft-spoken polite rock monster, Loki's such a twat, haw-haw-haw. Marvel films already feel like filler; this one's an aside within a footnote. Cate Blanchett's villain and her whole plot are approached with shrugging obligation. But boy oh boy, the score by Mark Mothersbaugh is one of the best of the year, the one element that truly grounds the fun in emotional resonance. (dir: Taika Waititi, scr:  Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle & Christopher L. Yost, based on the comics by Stan Lee & Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby)

The latest from Denzel and Julia Roberts after the jump....

Repeat Offenders: Musical Score, 1947

We're presenting two categories in a single post today, both very song-and-dance-oriented.

The first is a companion to Best Dramatic or Comedy Score called Best Musical Score, sometimes known as Best Adapted Score, also referred to as Best Adapted and/or Original Song Score. It's gone through a lot of name changes just to honor the work of orchestrators and arrangers. Currently, the category is known as Best Original Musical Score, and can be activated at any time should a studio and/or the music branch deem it necessary. I don't know why they don't: even if it were just a field of three, last year could have had a lineup of La La Land, Moana, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

I digress, and I make the point a lot anyway. Toss this broken record aside and get to the nominees already...after the jump....

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Psycho Killer, Santa's Sleigh, Fa-fa-fa-fa...: Supporting Actor, 1947

What a lineup, this year's Best Supporting Actors, not a dud in the bunch! History is made! Movie debuts honored! And Santa Claus goes home a winner!

The skinny on the nominees and their performances, after the jump.

1947, Part Seven: Final Four

The final films screened for our look back at 1947....

Mother Wore Tights (#3 at the box office)
dir: Walter Lang
scr: Lamar Trotti, based on the memoir by Miriam Young
Oscar Winner: Best Musical Score (Alfred Newman)
Oscar Nominee: Best Original Song ("You Do"), Best Cinematography (Color)

A woman looks back at her vaudeville parents' lives and their sometimes strained relationship with her older sister. The musical numbers are wow, the kind that have you dancing in your seat and trying to sing along even though you've never heard them before. I loved Betty Grable and Dan Dailey! I was sobbing by the end, tears and awful noises and everything. And the costumes! It has it all!

The A-bomb and more, after the jump....

Monday, November 20, 2017

Christmas Miracles, Anti-Semitic Crimes: Screenplay, 1947

Here we have the nominees for Best Screenplay, separate from Original Screenplay and Motion Picture Story for reasons we covered in our post on the latter.

Four of the five nominees for Best Picture are represented here: Crossfire, written by one-time nominee John Paxton, and covering similar thematic ground as Gentleman's Agreement, written by Tony-winner/Pulitzer Prize winner/two-time Oscar nominee Moss Hart. There's Great Expectations, adapted by director David Lean (his third of eleven nominations), former cinematographer Ronald Neame (his third of three nominations), and producer Anthony Havelock-Allan (his second of three nominations). The family-friendly comedy Miracle on 34th Street is here, the only original work, whose source material was a Motion Picture story; director George Seaton wrote the screenplay, received his second of five nominations....and won his first of two Oscars!

The outlier - and outlier it indeed is - is Boomerang!, adapted from a Reader's Digest article by Richard Murphy, who would later be nominated for Story and Screenplay for The Desert Rats. Unlike its competitors, it was not nominated anywhere else, and personally, I feel the only thing that keeps it relevant and available today isn't its nomination, but its status as an Elia Kazan picture. That's just me, though.

Let's talk turkey, shall we? After the jump, of course...

My Funny Valentine: Motion Picture Story, 1947

Ah, the writers! We're talking all writers, all the time today, beginning with Motion Picture Story. Story comes before the Screenplay - I believe it's a scenario or a treatment, something for the eventual screenwriter to work with. Although these are original stories, these are considered separate from Original Screenplay if they are the work of different writers. This also means that there is no Adapted category, but just Screenplay, denoting works based on either previously published material...or an original story not written by the credited screenplay author.

Following? Wonderful.

Many of these writers are here for the first and only time, but there are three with some Oscar history. Smash-Up's Frank Cavett already had an Oscar for the Screenplay to Going My Way, and won again for the Motion Picture Story of The Greatest Show on Earth; this is his second of three nominations. Dorothy Parker (yes, that Dorothy Parker) was previously nominated for co-writing the Screenplay to the original A Star is Born. And first-timer Valentine Davies would be back for the Motion Picture Story of It Happens Every Spring, the Story and Screenplay for The Glenn Miller Story, and the Documentary Short "The House Without a Name". Guess winning the Oscar this year really paid off!

So what do we have? A feel-good semi-musical Christmas tale; another feel-good Christmas tale; a vicious noir; an addiction drama; some French flick I didn't see. Let's talk, after the jump.

1947, Part Six: Sing for Me (and Miracle on 34th Street)

Starting with number one, every other film here is a musical....

Road to Rio (#6 at the box office)
dir: Norman Z. MacLeod
scr: Edmund Beloin & Jack Rose
Oscar Nominee: Best Musical Score

Bing and Bob are musicians who get mixed up with a hypnotized dame forced into -- oh, who cares? It's the fifth Road movie, the plot is secondary to the gags and songs, and brother, I was chuckling and toe-tapping the whole way. Great tunes, big laughs.

More songs, plus adultery, slavery, and Santa Clause, after the jump....

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Enter Kazan: Director, 1947

Today, we take a look at Best Director. By now, you should be somewhat familiar with the films involved: the actor-goes-nuts drama A Double Life, the anti-anti-Semitism polemic Gentleman's Agreement, its B-picture equivalent Crossfire. The only ones we have not gone into detail about so far are The Bishop's Wife, in which an angel comes to Earth to help a disillusioned bishop and his wife, and Great Expectations, which I assume most of us know from our Dickens. If you don't, it's about a poor boy who becomes a well-off young man thanks to a mysterious benefactor; the most famous element is a wealthy woman forever encased in the wedding dress she wore when she was jilted many many many years ago.

The nominees should be familiar to us all. George Cukor was a favorite of Katharine Hepburn's and was one of the initial directors of Gone with the WindA Double Life was his third of five nominations, and he eventually won for My Fair Lady. Edward Dmytryk helmed many a noir, but this would be his first and only nod; better known is his status as one of the original Hollywood Ten held in contempt of Congress during the red scare, who saved himself from the Blacklist by later naming names. Elia Kazan received his first nomination for his fourth film - and won!

He went on to four more Best Director nods, one of which resulted in a second win, but more importantly, he became known as one of the great directors of the 1950s - and, yes, all time. He was unapologetic about naming names to the House Un-American Activities Committee, something that caused a bit of a rift in the audience of the 71st Academy Awards, where he received an Honorary Oscar.

Henry Koster did great and acclaimed films like Harvey, My Cousin RachelThe Robe, Flower Drum Song...those all came after his nomination for The Bishop's Wife, his first and only. And David Lean would become known for his epics, winning Oscars for The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. In all, he received eleven Academy Award nominations.

But let's talk about their work in these movies. Let's do that after the jump.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Maestro, If You Please: Score, 1947

Today was going to be focused on Best Original Song and Best Musical Score, but I had some trouble with two of the nominated films in those categories. Thus, I will focus on those next week. But I still wanted a musical interlude, so, why not present the nominees for Best Dramatic or Comedy Score, a category won by Miklos Rozsa for A Double Life?

Rozsa previously won for Spellbound and would win again for Ben-Hur. He was nominated another 14 times between 1940 and 1961. Indeed, the whole crop of 1947 was made up of heavyweights. This was David Raskin's first nod, but he would be back for Separate Tables. Hugo Friedhofer had just won the year before for The Best Years of Our Lives, and would be nominated another six times after this. Max Steiner, also up in Best Musical Score for My Wild Irish Rose, won his third and final Oscar three years previously with Since You Went Away, though he would continue getting nominations until 1955. And Alfred Newman - deep breath - won a whopping nine times, including this year (just not this category), with nods stretching from 1937 through 1970.

Anyway, after the jump, selections from the nominated films, in ascending order of my rankings (that means bottom's up).

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Blonde with the Sympathetic Ear: Supporting Actress, 1947

We continue our trip through 1947 today with Best Supporting Actress!

This year, the category consists of two past winners and three first-time nominees, playing mothers, wives, and sympathetic listeners - literal "supporting" parts. Three are nominated for their work in Best Picture nominees (two in the same movie!). And of course, there is only one winner:

That's Celeste Holm, Broadway's original Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, and here's a fun fact: her next nomination would come two years later for Come to the Stable, a film starring 1947's Best Actress winner Loretta Young.

But did Holm deserve the win? Let's talk, after the jump...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bobby-Soxers and Bigamists: Original Screenplay, 1947

Goodness! I had quite the weekend, so apologies for the lateness of this getting written and posted - but hey! I promised it would start this week, and I darn well keep most of my promises!

And by it, I mean, of course, our look back at the Oscars of 1947!

In my first post about this cinematic year, I set the scene a little bit regarding post-war Hollywood, what movies were focused on, and how a newly-emerging Blacklist would affect the industry for the next decade and change. The class most impacted were the writers, who were seen by the government as the brains behind "subversive" messaging in films...despite long being considered by their peers the low rung on the ladder.

That said, the category of today's focus, Best Original Screenplay, does showcase works whose themes warn against the dangers of capitalism, greed, and institutional decay, two of which were penned by alleged Communists: Charlie Chaplin, a British citizen, had his passport revoked, while Abraham Polonsky was blacklisted. Their films, Monsieur Verdoux and Body and Soul respectively, didn't win; nor did the Italian juvenile prison drama Shoeshine. Instead, the Academy bestowed their prestigious Oscar upon...The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer:

I know usually, I include a clip of the actual ceremony, but in 1947 we were still five years away from the first Oscars broadcast on TV. Actually, a lot was still different in this era. For instance, there were three categories for writing: Original Screenplay, which honored original works conceived of and written by the same source; Motion Picture Story, which honored original concepts/treatments by someone who not credited as screenwriter; and Screenplay, which honored works based on original motion picture stories or pre-existing properties.

Today, we focus on Original Screenplay. After the jump...

Friday, November 10, 2017

It Came True: Murder on the Orient Express, 2017

The day has finally come! I have seen a brand new Agatha Christie movie in the theater! Did it do the Queen of Crime justice? How did it compare to the many other versions we've watched and discussed? Was it any good? My dears, it's the exciting conclusion of Murder on the Orient Express week!

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
dir: Kenneth Branagh

1947, Part Five: Directors Roundup (and A Double Life)

This next batch of ten were all helmed by Best Director nominees - I've helpfully identified the film they were up for beside each name. Fittingly, the final film was nominated for Best Director! It's like there's a theme...

Brute Force
dir: Jules Dassin (Never on Sunday)
scr: Robert Wise, story by Robert Patterson

Prisoners plan a breakout amid the tyranny of a sadistic captain. A bleak tale led by furious Burt Lancaster and brutal Hume Cronyn. Glimpses of life on the outside through flashback are ok, but interrupt the story's flow...and intrude on the claustrophobia. Great sound design.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Murder on the Orient Express, 2015

With the new Murder on the Orient Express in theaters tomorrow, we're taking a look at every adaptation of Agatha Christie's infamous novel. Each version has its own unique spin on the story. We've talked about the all-star cast of the original cinematic versionthe updated setting of the 2001 TV Movie, and the serious themes of the 2010 TV movie. Today, a Japanese miniseries gives us...a lot. More spoilers than usual, so if you don't know the material, proceed at your on peril...

オリエント急行殺人事件 (2015)
[Oriento kyuuko satsujin jiken]
dir: Keita Kono

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Law or Order: Murder on the Orient Express, 2010

With the new Murder on the Orient Express in theaters this Friday, we're taking a look at every adaptation of Agatha Christie's infamous novel. Each version has its own unique spin on the story. We've talked about the all-star cast of the original cinematic version and the updated setting of the 2001 TV Movie. Today, the definitive Poirot takes it on, with a much more dour tone...

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010)
dir: Philip Martin

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

1947, Part Four: Grab Bag (and Crossfire)

I didn't have a theme for this group of ten, I just watched a bunch of movies. Join us!

Captain from Castile
dir: Henry King
scr: Lamar Trotti, based on the novel by Samuel Shellabarger
Oscar Nominee: Best Dramatic Or Comedy Score

Spanish nobleman escapes the Inquisition and joins Cortez's Mexican expedition. Rousing music, beautiful costumes, and Jean Peters in her acting debut - my God but she's a presence! Flirts with complication by having our hero support Cortez, while not shying away from the conquistador's greed and megalomania, yet seems weirdly divided in its feelings re: Spanish colonization of Mexico.

Timeless?: Murder on the Orient Express, 2001

With the new Murder on the Orient Express in theaters this Friday, we're taking a look at every adaptation of Agatha Christie's infamous novel. Each version has its own unique spin on the story. Yesterday, we talked about the old school homage approach Sidney Lumet took with the original cinematic version; today, Poirot gets a 21st-century update...with mixed results.

Murder on the Orient Express (2001)
dir: Carl Schenkel

Monday, November 6, 2017

1947, Part Three: Love! Romance! (and Gentleman's Agreement)

This group is all about love stories. There's a pair of married detectives, a woman in love with a ghost, a teenager obsessed with an adult, and multiple (multiple!) incest-y relationships! Wow! Even the socially-conscious Best Picture winner Gentleman's Agreement illustrates its war against anti-Semitism with an increasingly wary romance between two liberal Gentiles, one of whom is pretending to be Jewish.

So strap in, baby! There's some passion to be felt here.

Mourning Becomes Electra
dir/scr: Dudley Nichols, based on the play by Eugene O'Neill
Oscar Nominee: Best Actor (Michael Redgrave), Best Actress (Rosalind Russell)

An American riff on Greek Tragedy about a New England family at the end of the Civil War. You'd think incest and murder would be more interesting. That Russell was even nominated, much less the frontrunner for much of the season, says more about her campaign than her performance. A real bore.

Spirits, farmers, murder, and more - after the jump!

There Is Murder In Your Eyes: Murder on the Orient Express, 1974

Murder on the Orient Express is in theaters this Friday, undoubtedly my most anticipated film event of the year. Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, the world-famous whodunnit has Hercule Poirot traveling on the Orient Express when the train becomes snowbound...and murder strikes. The solution is simultaneously shocking and one of the most famous in literature. The mystery is glamorous, with Poirot interviewing thirteen suspects from around the world, from butlers and car salesmen to diplomats and royalty. It's the quintessential Christery.

Small wonder, then, that it has inspired filmmakers time and again over the years. Including the new film, starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, there are five adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express. We're taking a look at each one every day this week, and what better place to start than at the beginning? Let's go back 43 years, so we can check out...

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
dir: Sidney Lumet

Friday, November 3, 2017

1947, Part Two: Among the Ranks (and Great Expectations)

Today, all ten movies are brought to us by the Rank Organisation, who classic film fans will know by their gong...

J. Arthur Rank was the son of Joseph Rank, founder of one of the largest flour milling and bakery companies in Britain, Joseph Rank Limited - he had money. Yet J. Arthur's start in films was not the result of financing from an industrialist with stars in his eyes (as happens), but of his Methodist faith. A devout Sunday school teacher, Rank often showed religious short films in his class, a practice which became so popular that he eventually started his own distribution company for the purpose, called Religious Film Society. When the Methodist Times complained of the moral quality of films in the mainstream, Rank co-founded the British National Films Company with John Corfield and Lady Yule. The trio bought the newly-formed Pinewood Studios in 1935, and issues with distribution and exhibition for their first film, Turn of the Tide, were solved when Rank bought up distributors and exhibitors.

By 1939, Lady Yule and Corfield were gone, and Rank consolidated his production, distribution, and exhibition shingles under one company: The Rank Organisation. Over the next decade, the Rank Organisation, and the studios within it, would make some of the finest films in British film history. While the initial intention to produce family-friendly flicks with good Christian values seems to be occasionally forgotten, Rank dedicated himself to an equally important task: production of quality cinema. And here are ten such examples, spanning four years in the UK, but all released in the United States in 1947.

Green for Danger
dir: Sidney Gilliat
scr: Sidney Gilliat and Claude Guerney, based on the novel by Christianna Brand

An inspector investigates double-murder at a hospital in wartime England. A thrilling mystery, a talented ensemble, chilling cinematography, witty dialogue, and fascinating observations about life during The War. Great character work, specific in speech, manner, and agenda.

The power of Powell and Pressburger.....after the jump.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

1947, Part One: The Beginning (and The Bishop's Wife)

Even though Agatha Christie Month is wrapped, we'll still be looking at Murder on the Orient Express in all its on-screen incarnations starting Monday. In the meantime, as stated before, this month is dedicated to the movies of 1947 and the 20th Academy Awards.

It's a historic year for Hollywood, but not because of the movies. This is the year that saw the beginning of the Hollywood Blacklist. Earlier efforts to rout out Communist filmmakers were unsuccessful and openly mocked. Hell, Russia was our ally during the War just two years earlier, with friendly relations and pro-Soviet feelings encouraged. But that was then, and as Best Picture nominee Crossfire put it, "We're too used to fighting, but we just don't know what to fight. ...A whole lot of hate and fight that doesn't know where to go." By October, the House Un-American Activities Committee was holding hearings; by November, the Hollywood Ten were cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the line of questioning; the next day, 48 Hollywood executives released the Waldorf Statement, assuring the public that no Communist would find work within their hallowed gates. (You can get a fuller account of these events, as well as their effect on individuals, from the 2015 season of Karina Longworth's invaluable podcast, You Must Remember This.)

On this blog, we focus more on the individual films, though to pretend that events outside did not influence their reception is goofy. Pre-blacklist, we find a large output of socially-conscience films dealing with American society post-World War II. Some films are almost propagandistic in their praise of government bodies and officials, sure, but many deal with veteran malaise, housing shortages or prejudice. These themes enter films noir, dramas, comedies, even holiday treats. We'll be looking at these and more over the coming weeks.

Here are the first ten movies. My reactions are honest, and while I've tried to keep in mind the times, in the end, I like what I like.

dir: Anthony Mann
scr: John C. Higgins, suggested by a story by Virginia Kellogg
Oscar Nominee: Best Sound Recording

Patriotic noir trumpeting valiant efforts of treasury department's secret service. Semi-documentary approach breezes by minutiae via narrator, getting to the action. Fine performances, moody cinematography, gasp-worthy twists, surprisingly brutal.

Vincent Price, Uncle Remus, an angel, and so much more - after the jump!