Monday, October 25, 2021

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Cinema '62: Best Original Screenplay

For the second year in a row, non-English language films dominate the Original Screenplay race. Last Year at Marienbad had been submitted by France for Best Foreign Language Film consideration the year before; beautiful yet inscrutable (to me), it's the kind of film people picture when they say "art film." Through a Glass Darkly won Best Foreign Language Film the previous year for Sweden, a Bergman film dealing with a family on the verge of collapse. And then there's the previously-discussed Divorce Italian Style, not even submitted for Foreign Language Film consideration, just a hit!

Joining them are the biopic Freud and That Touch of Mink, a rom-com in the Rock Hudson-Doris Day-Tony Randall style but with Cary Grant instead of Hudson, Gig Young instead of Randall. Day remains, thank goodness. 

The nominees:

Divorce Italian Style
Ennio De Concini & Alfredo Giannetti & Pietro Germi
first and only writing nominations for all

A man plots and fantasizes about his wife's death, which he hopes to bring about through Italy's bizarre "honor killing" loophole, so that he may wed his teenage cousin. Dark comedy, and despite the credit to an Italian novel that deals with the same theme, the plot specifics seem different enough. Like Lolita, presents a despicable man's POV, and if you don't get that it's not on his side, the last scene says enough. 

first and only nominations; WGA Award nominee for Best Written American Drama

Tells the story of the young doctor coming to his theories about sex and psychology. Tells much of it through intriguing sessions with a neurotic young woman (a composite) and discussion with other doctors - and his wife. It's kind of fun to see a movie where people have serious conversations that straddle clinical and horny; the dryness is part of the point. Not enough of the father, who proves to be an important character, so I'm not sure what that's all about.

Last Year at Marienbad
Alain Robbe-Grillet
first and only nomination

What is memory, what is a dream? An impossible-to-describe experience, it's best to enter the film knowing only that there's no narrative. Its repetition of phrases, contradictory images, and specificity of gesture all make it one hell of an prose. And not a bad one as a film, either, though as U say, it's not for all - I include myself in that grouping, though I admire it.

That Touch of Mink
Stanley Shapiro and Nate Monaster
fourth and final nomination for past winner Shapiro, first and only nomination for Monaster; WGA Awards winner for Best Written American Comedy

A good girl is tempted by a wealthy lothario - without a wedding ring! I quite like the way this movie talks about sex: how do you communicate your boundaries, when do you let them down, who do you let them down for, how far do you go, etc. A Pillow Talk riff, but so what? It's funny. The early gay panic jokes? Great payoff!

Through a Glass Darkly
Ingmar Bergman

Bergman's ensemble of depressed neurotics and egomaniacs, this time with some taboo sexual attraction to boot. This is one of his that I find in its head and up its ass. Interesting elements at play, but I find they fit together awkwardly...maybe I mean shallowly.


Oscar and I agree. The vote for Best Original Screenplay belongs to:


Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Actor: Burt Lancaster (Bird Man of Alcatraz), Jack Lemmon (Days of Wine and Roses), Marcello Mastroianni (Divorce Italian Style), Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia), and Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird).
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