Monday, May 4, 2020

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The 1956 Hollmann Awards, Part Two

So far, of the 28 films nominated in eighteen categories, six films have divided the first nine awards among them. The Ten Commandments, which led the nominations with 15, also leads the wins with far.

Best Supporting Actress
Mercedes McCambridge as Luz Benedict

2. Nina Foch in The Ten Commandments; 3. Mildred Natwick in The Court Jester; 4. Helen Hayes in Anastasia; 5. Yvonne De Carlo in The Ten Commandments

I still can't believe McCambridge is only in Giant for 10 minutes and change. It's a marvelously thorny performance that haunts the rest of the movie - her tenacity, her jealousy, her idea of what Benedict means. And she does it without unclenching her jaw. A subtle power.

In second, Foch's Bithiah is as loyal a mother as anyone could want. In third, Natwick's Griselda is straight-faced no matter what kooky incantations she spouts. In fourth, Hayes' Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna is bitter, heartbroken, skeptical. In fifth, De Carlo's Sephora is patient beyond reason.

The rest after the jump.

Best Ensemble
Seven Samurai

2. The Catered Affair; 3. The Ladykillers; 4. The Killing; 5. The Court Jester

It is not enough that we know all seven of the samurai, but also many of the poor villagers seeking their help; the men in the neighboring "big city" who mock the poor village; the fighters who challenge the individual samurai; even the bandits, with no real arc of their own, are distinct. Terrific roles perfectly cast.

In second, The Catered Affair's family. In third, The Ladykillers and the little old lady they're targeting. In fourth, The Killing's conspirators and their reasons. In fifth, The Court Jester's knights, revolutionaries, royals, murderers...a big ensemble it be.

Best Actor
Eli Wallach as Silva Vaccaro
Baby Doll

2. Rock Hudson in Giant; 3. Danny Kaye in The Court Jester; 4. Takashi Shimura in Seven Samurai; 5. John Wayne in The Searchers

I keep coming back to Wallach's eyes, the way they shine. That's cinematography, sure, partly; but it's also the performance. There's a madness there, a single-minded obsession with squaring things his way, that informs every other bit of his performance: the way he walks, the way he eats the potlicker, the seductive fondling of Baby Doll, the juvenile game of "ghost" he plays - watch the way he watches her, sneaks around, having way too much fun being a kid...isn't he supposed to be playing her? His first movie is already one of his greatest roles.

In second, Hudson's Jordan Benedict is stubborn, loving. In third, Kaye's Hubert Hawkins is a masterly musical-comedy performance. In fourth, Shimura's Kambei Shimada is quietly wise, a sadness within. In fifth, Wayne's Ethan Edwards is brutal, narrow...and necessary.

Best Score
1. Godzilla, King of the Monsters
Akira Ifukube

2. The Ten Commandments
Elmer Bernstein

3. Seven Samurai
Fumio Hayasaka
4. Giant
Dimitri Tiomkin

5. Anastasia
Alfred Newman

Best Production Design

The Ten Commandments
Albert Nozaki / Hal Pereira / Walter H. Tyler, art direction
Sam Comer / Ray Moyer, set decoration

2. Carousel; 3. Invitation to the Dance; 4. Forbidden Planet; 5. Seven Samurai

The detail in the palace (so inviting under Sethi, so cold and remote under Rameses), in the village of Goshen, in Dathan's garden, even in Mt. Sinai and its crags and valleys; the ornate splendor of Egypt, the unexpected splendor in the tents of the bedouin, the humble quarters of the Jewish slaves.

In second, Carousel's stage-y look is perfect for its unreal story. In third, Invitation to the Dance's three stories each have a unique look, from literal to suggested to set. In fourth, Forbidden Planet's planet and all its technology are fantastic. In fifth, Seven Samurai's detailed villages.

Best Cinematography

1. Seven Samurai
Asakazu Nakai

2. The Ten Commandments
Loyal Griggs

3. Baby Doll
Boris Kaufman

4. Diabolique
Armand Thirard

5. Giant
William C. Mellor

Best Sound
Seven Samurai
Masanao Uehara, sound recordist
IchirĂ´ Minawa, sound effects editor

2. The Ten Commandments; 3. Moby Dick; 4. The Eddy Duchin Story; 5. Forbidden Planet

It was genuinely difficult, deciding between Seven Samurai and The Ten Commandments. In the end, I gave the edge to the former because of the way it values silence in its soundscape. No music, not even a clash of blades - just a shout and feet running across dirt. Or maybe even a moment among the flowers, just a brook and the wind.

In second, The Ten Commandments lets you hear the miracle of God. In third, Moby Dick delivers crashing waves, stentorian shouts, and a whale. In fourth, The Eddy Duchin Story's big band sound. In fifth, Forbidden Planet's beeps and whirrs and roars.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Ten Commandments
Frank Delmar / Wally Westmore, makeup supervisors
Nellie Manley, hair stylist

2. Giant, 3. Richard III, 4. Seven Samurai, 5. The Creature Walks Among Us

The aging is done just right, impressive considering what Heston has to don regarding wigs and beards. Anne Baxter, Nina Foch, and Debra Paget are appropriately glamorous; Judith Anderson, decidedly not. And then, too, there are all the bloody wounds and bruises and sores and sunburns and caked mud the Hebrews must deal with.

In second, Giant's aging cast. In third, Richard III's Richard III. In fourth, Seven Samurai's period hairstyles and battle wounds. In fifth, The Creature Walks Among Us takes the creature to land.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Baby Doll
Elia Kazan, producer

2. The Ten Commandments; 3. Seven Samurai; 4. Giant; 5. Alexander the Great

and the rest of the Top Ten:
6. The Catered Affair; 7. The Court Jester; 8. Godzilla, King of the Monsters; 9. The Searchers; 10. Diabolique

And there it is. The Ten Commandments goes home with five Hollmann Awards, the most; but Baby Doll wins four, including both Best Picture and Best Director for Elia Kazan!

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