Ah, the Golden Globes! Awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association since 1944, they're a guaranteed mix of future Oscar nominees, bizarre curiosities, and genuinely good movies. As it is now, so it was in 1972 when, alongside eventual Academy Award nominees, these were the honored films:
winner: Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Jack Lemmon)
nominee: Best Picture - Musical/Comedy, Best Director, Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (Juliet Mills), Best Supporting Actor (Clive Revill), Best Screenplay; WGA Award for Best Adapted Comedy
dir: Billy Wilder
pr: Billy Wilder / Alberto Grimaldi
scr: Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond
cin: Luigi Keveiller
Lemmon is an American picking up his father's dead body in Italy, whereupon he learns that for the better part of a decade, dear Dad was carrying on an affair with an Englishwoman, whose daughter has also just arrived! It should seem like an outdated sex comedy, but maybe I'm just square enough for it: I loved it, a bizarre celebration of adultery that gets away with it, mostly due to the charm of its cast - Lemmon balances his comic frustration with real tenderness, Mills gives her Wacky Free-Spirited Broad a subtext of determined liberation, Revill walks off with the film as the most accommodating hotel manager. The screenplay? A bit of bloat there, it's more over-the-top screwball machinations provided by a cavalcade of stereotypes. Besides that, the fat jokes lobbed Mill's way are curious: if she's unhealthy, what does that make the rest of us? Fun for me, your results may vary.
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
nominee: Best Actress in a Drama
dir/pr: Paul Newman
scr: Alvin Sargent
cin: Adam Holender
Woodward is a self-centered single mother in a rundown house with two daughters: Ruth, who is rebellious and apparently epileptic; and Tilly, a quiet and curious girl encouraged by her science teacher to want, to try, to do more. Paul Zindel's source play, I understand, is meant to comment more on Tilly, who, like the titular marigolds, manages to bloom and thrive in spite of the destructive metaphorical gamma rays aimed at her. Admittedly, I found little in her performance to interest me. Woodward's Beatrice, on the other hand...oh my God, I understood her completely! To live is to struggle, and we can either lick our wounds and carry on or pick at never-healing scabs, pointing to the blood as evidence of how cruelly we've been treated. Beatrice is the latter, one of the world's many self-appointed Jobs. I recognized in her complaints and ramblings, echoes of the times when bitterness and cynicism overtook my outlook, and all offers of help were waved away with the twin attitudes of, "I can help myself!" and "Why bother, it won't work out, anyway." I had time, and the support system, to get through to the other side of it; Beatrice has never had either consistently. Her resentment has already long festered, a cycle of delusion (constantly rewriting history and conversations to better serve her martyrdom) and self-fulfilling prophecy (the more hostile you become to people you think dislike and mock you, the more they begin to actually dislike and mock you). The clarity with which I recognized and felt for her, even as she does and says some truly horrendous things to her family, is, I think, largely thanks to Woodward and Newman. The work's central metaphor really only works if you see her as a monster, which is perhaps why I didn't click with that aspect of it.
nominee: Best Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Score (Ron Goodwin)
dir/pr: Alfred Hitchcock
scr: Anthony Shaffer
cin: Gilbert Taylor
Another of Hitchcock's "innocents on the run," as abrasively hot Jon Finch is suspected of being a modern-day Jack the Ripper following the rape and murder of his ex-wife. No mystery here: we see the rape and murder committed by Finch's pal Barry Foster at a punishing length, in excruciating detail. Hitchcock's usual cheekiness is still there in the film, but in this scene - and a later one which shows us nothing but a closed door, a flight of stairs, and the street outside as the camera pulls back from the next murder - he presents his most chilling, brutal depiction of murder and misdeeds since Psycho's shower. Sweaty suspense intercut with absolutely bananas domestic sequences between detective Alec McCowen and wife Vivien Merchant played for comedy. The ending is a little too contrived, too pat, feels tacked-on after almost two hours of injustice and lazy police work.
nominee: Best Score (Quincy Jones)
dir: Sam Peckinpah
pr: Mitchell Brower / David Foster
scr: Walter Hill
cin: Lucien Ballard
I don't know, it's fine? Culminates in an exciting final shootout, but otherwise... I don't know, as executed, I just wasn't convinced by anything. Not Ali MacGraw's performance, certainly, nor by the initial setup, the plot twists, the subplot returning again and again to Sally Struthers and Al Lettieri. A surprising letdown from director Sam Peckinpah, who seems to know exactly what to do with certain scenes, but not consistently enough to make it feel like a complete movie.
Kansas City Bomber
nominee: Best Supporting Actress (Helena Kallianiotes)
dir: Jerrold Freedman
pr: Martin Elfand
scr: Thomas Rickman and Calvin Clements, Sr., story by Barry Sandler
cin: Fred J. Koenekamp
Raquel Welch is a roller derby star who transfers to another team. Romanced by the scheming owner, despised by her teammates, she faces adversity and romance both with a blank expression, occasionally reminded by the screenplay that she does, in fact, have children thousands of miles away. Welch gives an opaque performance, Kallianiotes has been better, and even the derby scenes are lacking in spark.
Play It As It Lays
nominee: Best Actress in a Drama (Tuesday Weld)
dir: Frank Perry
pr: Frank Perry / Dominick Dunne
scr: Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne
cin: Jordan Cronenweth
Fractured drama about an actress in the midst of a breakdown - not a hysterical one, but one that seems to dull her spirit, deaden the soul. Elusive, this movie, the memory of it fading with each new scene, save a climactic scene with Weld and gay best friend Anthony Perkins. I'm sure it has its champions, but I was disappointed.
nominee: Most Promising Newcomer to Film - Male (Michael Sacks)
dir: George Roy Hill
pr: Paul Monash
scr: Stephen Geller
cin: Miroslav Ondrícek
If you must adapt Kurt Vonnegut's novel about a man unstuck in time, this is probably the best way to do it. Barring one humiliating sequence focused on his wife, it's a pretty decent exploration of an otherwise pretty unremarkable person's state of mind, with a focus on the bombing of Dresden and events surrounding it. Bittersweet whimsy, a devastatingly brutal depiction of war. Michael Sacks feels like the Billy Pilgrim I remember in high school (though who knows if that's accurate). Impressive production design and visual effects bring to life the Tralfamadorian zoo and the Dresden apocalypse.
Tomorrow, films not nominated for Golden Globes, but honored elsewhere.