Monday, November 11, 2019

Day Six: Best Story and Screenplay, 1954

The screenplay categories always have room for surprises. On the Waterfront being nominated is no surprise, and nor, I think, is it particularly shocking that the latest Joseph L. Mankiewicz joint The Barefoot Contessa or a hit biopic like The Glenn Miller Story have spots here as well. But in what other category could you find these three Oscar-friendly titles up against a quaint British comedy about marriage and classic car aficionados like Genevieve, or a Danny Kaye comic thriller about a ventriloquist entangled with spies like Knock on WoodWriters love weird shit, and God bless them for it.

Let's take a look, after the jump.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

More of the Same

Tomorrow, we continue covering the Oscar nominees of 1954 (in select categories). The categories of November 11th - 15th are, in this order: Story and Screenplay, Score (both Musical and Non-Musical), Supporting Actor, Actress, and Best Picture of the Year. The nominated films are:








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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Films of '54: Eight

Next week, we'll delve fully into the Best Picture nominees. But while we have the weekend, let's take a closer look at some of the films discussed earlier this week that weren't up for Best Picture...


The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
nominee - Best Actor (Dan O'Herlihy)

My only exposure to this story was a comic adaptation (I think Classics Illustrated) I read in either fourth or fifth grade. I barely remembered any of it except that Crusoe's deserted on an island and then Friday eventually appears and is more or less adopted, so I was prepared for some problematic times. But wow, I was not ready for such a beautifully-shot satire about stubborn imperialism and white supremacy, in which a spoiled idiot almost dies, spends thirty years trying to recreate a parody of western society, before realizing there are other, non-white people on "his" island. It's hilarious.

Eight more, after the jump......

Friday, November 8, 2019

Day Five: Best Actor, 1954

I have no way of knowing this for certain - I wasn't there, I don't have access to archives - but historians tell us that Bing Crosby was the favorite to win for his performance as a recovering alcoholic in The Country Girl. It seems bonkers now, considering Crosby was already an Oscar winner for Going My Way in 1944, while Marlon Brando was not only in the Best Picture frontrunner, but had been accumulating momentum with three previous, unsuccessful nominations, all in consecutive years: 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire, 1952's Viva Zapata!, and 1953's Julius Caesar. Not to mention it was a rematch against Humphrey Bogart, whose win for The African Queen came the same year as A Streetcar Named Desire. Plus, he had already swept what we now call "the precursors." But there you have it - the results were a shock, an upset:


Just another example of how times have changed as far as Oscar narratives, momentum, and expectations go. Anyway, the nominees were:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Day Four: Best Supporting Actress, 1954

In both Damien Bona and Mason Wiley's Inside Oscar and John Harkness's The Academy Awards Handbook, the 1954 Best Supporting Actress race is heralded as the first instance of category fraud successfully resulting in a win.

At a time when the studio decided category placement, with no wiggle room for Academy members to decide for themselves (as when Kate Winslet won lead for The Reader when she was campaigned supporting), Columbia's decision to campaign Eva Marie Saint as supporting rather than lead was a surprise to many. It was also smart - it kept her out of the bloodbath happening between The Country Girl's Grace Kelly - named Best Actress of the Year by the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics' Circle and the Golden Globes (in the Drama category) - and A Star is Born's Judy Garland, giving a ferocious performance that netted her the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy. Saint's performance was earning her magazine covers and praise from critics and audiences, but as a newcomer making her film debut, a win, hell maybe even a nomination, seemed a far-off bet. So, Saint was declared Supporting....where she was nominated....and eventually....


And so was born one of Oscar's favorite traditions! From Tatum O'Neal to Viola Davis, Jack Albertson to Mahershala Ali, there's always at least one winner whose category placement seems...suspect. Then again, supporting is often in the eye of the beholder - I think Davis is absolutely supporting in Fences, and Saint's case is a little less clear-cut than its reputation would suggest.

Still. All that really matters is - does the performance deserve the gold? Let's talk about that, and more...

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Day Three: Original Song, 1954

The nominees for Best Original Song are:


"The High and the Mighty" from The High and the Mighty
music by Dimitri Tiomkin
lyrics by Ned Washington
** / disqualified

Like "Jean", a nominated song that doesn't even appear in the film! Not for us, anyway - Elmer Bernstein was reportedly so intent on repeating the Score/Song double dip of 1952's High Noon, he had a special print featuring his original song booked for one week in a Los Angeles theater, thus meeting the standards for qualification. A cheap stunt, if you ask me - and for a song that mars his own beautiful score with stupid, stupid lyrics!

"The Man That Got Away" from A Star is Born
music by Harold Arlen
lyrics by Ira Gershwin
*****

The song that convinces Norman Maine that Esther Blodgett is star material. Goosebumps! The song was shot a number of times with different outfits, background, etc. The one above made the cut, but no matter the look, the song - and Judy's performance of it - is perfect.

"Hold My Hand" from Susan Slept Here
**

Completely forgot about this moment, this song - but not the movie. It's a romantic-comedy about a 35-year-old screenwriter who weds a 17-year-old transient to keep her out of trouble. Lord have mercy. The song's not bad, though. It's fine.

"Three Coins in the Fountain" from Three Coins in the Fountain
music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn
***

we;ll talk more about the movie when we do Best Picture (oh, how we'll talk!), but this tune, performed over the opening titles by an uncredited Frank Sinatra, is....cute! It's certainly memorable. Very nice, very nicely done.

"Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" from White Christmas
music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
****

Oh wow, watching this movie for the first time in four years was a great reminder of why it's a classic. what a gem! As for the song, I love it, even if the lyric where it's implied his "blessings" are his kids make absolutely no sense in this context.

--------------------------------------

"Three Coins in the Fountain" was a bona fide radio hit, so you better believe it won. Here's Dean Martin performing it on the broadcast:


For me, it's not even a question, no thinking required, my vote goes to

ARLEN & GERSHWIN
for
"THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY"
from
A STAR IS BORN

Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Supporting Actress: Nina Foch (Executive Suite), Katy Jurado (Broken Lance), Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront, Jan Sterling (The High and the Mighty) and Claire Trevor (The High and the Mighty)

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Day Two: Best Screenplay, 1954

Until 1957, the Academy Awards had three writing categories: Best Motion Picture Story honored original stories (obviously) as written in the treatment stage, but not the final screenplay; Best Story & Screenplay honored original works where the story and screenplay came from the same writer or writing team; and Best Screenplay honored the work of writers either adapting another work, such as a play or novel, or writing the script from the original story. Often it was more the former than the latter, and this year is no exception: two Broadway shows, two short stories, and a novel that was simultaneously adapted into a Broadway showhile the film version was in production.

The nominees are...

Monday, November 4, 2019

Day One: Best Director, 1954

As I mentioned earlier, musicals brought me to 1954, particularly the Actor-and-Actress-nominated A Star is Born and Best Picture nominee Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - stellar cinematic works whose directors (George Cukor and Stanley Donen, respectively) went un-nominated. You'd think Seven Brides would have a better shot here, but 1954 was one of those odd years where only 2/5 of the Best Director roster helmed Best Picture nominees: On the Waterfront's Elia Kazan and The Country Girl's George Seaton.

The three "lone" director slots went to Alfred Hitchcock for the unassailable thriller Rear WindowBilly Wilder for the influential rom-com Sabrina, and William A. Wellman
 for the execrable-but-profitable disaster flick The High and the Mighty. For Hitchcock, it was the second of three times that he would be up for a film that wasn't a Best Picture nominee, the other two being Lifeboat and Psycho. For Wilder, it was the second time in a row, having been nominated just the previous year for Stalag 17 - he'd be a lone director nominee again for Some Like It Hot in 1959For Wellman, it was a first, his previous nods having come from Best Picture nominees Battleground...and the original A Star is Born! Funny how things work out...


Was their 1954 output worthy of a nomination? Let's check after the jump....

Friday, November 1, 2019

Give Thanks...

...because the Retrospectives are back! Starting Monday, we're looking at the Academy Awards honoring the films of 1954! 

I have to thank Screen Drafts and hosts Clay Keller and Ryan Marker for inspiring this one. My best friend and I recently guest-starred to draft the seven greatest original American musicals of all time (reactions run the gamut from "I think this is my favorite episode" to "this is objectively wrong and bizarre"). The viewings introduced me to, among others, 1954 releases There's No Business Like Show BusinessSeven Brides for Seven Brothers and A Star is Born - and from there, I simply had to see the rest of the slate.

As in the past, each weekday covers an individual category, ranking and rating the nominees and deciding who my vote goes to. This time, I shan't be doing categories where I have not seen the full roster of nominees - I've previously abstained from rating a film I didn't get to, but it feels unfair to decide a "winner" when there's a gap. So, sorry, Motion Picture Story - unless I can find a copy of Bread, Love and Dreams in time, you shall have to sit this one out. I'm also not doing every category (though I will for my Retro Hollmann Awards at month's end), but keeping it to writing Awards, Acting Awards, Music Awards, Director and Picture.

November 4th - 8th covers, in this order: Director, Screenplay, Song, Supporting Actress, and Actor. The nominated films are:










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Thursday, September 5, 2019

The 1969 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part Two

And the final day of 1969! I've given you the Top Ten, a full roster of nominees, and nine awards already. The final nine herein, beginning with....

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

The Damned
Mauro Gavazzi, makeup artist
Luciano Vito, hair stylist

2. Black Lizard; 3. The Comic; 4. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; 5. Once Upon a Time in the West 

The Damned takes its aristocrats from chic to ghoulish, all in the way they apply their makeup - and how much of it they're using. Martin's drag, Sophie's increasingly painted face, the blood (God the blood) - it's all perfect.

In second, Black Lizard gives you face. In third, The Comic's early cinema pancake and convincing old age. In fourth, the dried makeup and frazzled hair on tired, sticky faces in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?. In fifth, the sweat and beards of Once Upon a Time in the West. 

The rest of the show, after the jump....

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The 1969 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

Day One of my awards for the best of 1969. For further context, check out the full list of nominees and my Top TenWith the exception of the first category, all are presented in the order they appeared at the corresponding Academy Awards ceremony.

Best Ensemble 
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

2. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; 3. Z; 4. Hello, Dolly!; 5. If....

Difficult to name a best in show for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice - so I won't! The central four are terrific - including one of my favorite performances given by Natalie Wood - perfectly in sync with their characters' shared history, fantasies, morals. The ensemble surrounding them is just as perfect: Dyan Cannon's therapist, perfectly stone-faced, a challenge; Wood's tennis pro, young and handsome and willing and comically nervous; everyone at the retreat in the opening sequence, from guru to attendee, each on the wavelength that makes this film dryly funny without  being condescending.

In second, Miss Brodie and her "gehls" in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. In third, Z's political pawns and opponents. In fourth, screwball perfection embodied by Hello, Dolly's ensemble. In fifth, the students and clueless adults of If.....

Score, Supporting Actor, and more, after the jump...

Friday, August 30, 2019

The 1969 Retro Hollmann Awards Nominees!

Finally - the nominees for the 1969 Retro Hollmann Awards!

Best Director

 
Robert Altman
That Cold Day in the Park


Costa-Gavras
Z


Sergio Leone
Once Upon a Time in the West


Paul Mazursky
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice


Luchino Visconti
The Damned


25 more films in 17 more categories, after the jump!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten of 1969

Here we go - 69 films later, the Top Ten of 1969.

  

Apologies to the honorable mentions for not finding room for them: Blind BeastGoodbye, Mr. ChipsHello, Dolly!, If....Laughter in the Dark, Medium CoolOh! What a Lovely War, Paint Your Wagon, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Salesman, Stolen Kisses, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and The Wild Bunch.

The ten, in alphabetical order, after the jump....

Sunday, August 25, 2019

1969: The Films

Tomorrow is my Top Ten of 1969, followed by three days of the Retro Hollmann Awards: Nominations, Awards Part One, and Awards Part Two.

I watched 69 films that received US releases in 1969 for this series. They were:

Age of Consent
Alice's Restaurant
Angel, Angel, Down We Go
Anne of the Thousand Days
The Babysitter
Battle of Britain
The Big Cube
Black Girl
Black Lizard
Blind Beast
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cactus Flower
The Chairman
The Comic
The Damned
Destroy All Monsters
Easy Rider
Devil's Temple
Don't Drink the Water
Downhill Racer
Eye of the Cat
Gaily, Gaily
The Gay Deceivers
Goodbye, Columbus
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
The Happy Ending
Hello, Dolly
I Am Curious (Yellow)
If....
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
John and Mary
Krakatoa, East of Java
Last Summer
Laughter in the Dark
Marooned
Me, Natalie
Medium Cool
Midnight Cowboy
The Oblong Box
Oh! What a Lovely War
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Once Upon a Time in the West
Paint Your Wagon
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Putney Swope
The Reivers
Riot
Salesman
Satan's Sadists
Shark
Simon of the Desert
Staircase
The Sterile Cuckoo
Stolen Kisses
Sweet Charity
Take the Money and Run
Tell Them Willie Boy is Here
Teorema
That Cold Day in the Park
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Topaz
True Grit
Twisted Nerve
The Ultimate Degenerate
The Wedding Party
The Wild Bunch
What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?
Z

How many of you seen?


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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Day Eleven: The Others, 1969

As you see, I only go in on about eleven categories in these Oscar retrospectives. Naturally, that doesn't cover all the nominees. Here are four more films nominated at the 1969 Oscars:

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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