Monday, October 11, 2021

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Cinema '62 Starts Now!

It's been three months - long overdue for our next retrospective, this time focusing on the year 1962. Why 1962? Honestly, Mutiny on the Bounty led me to this decision: it's the first and, so far, only time a remake of a previous Best Picture winner (1935's Mutiny on the Bounty) was itself nominated for Best Picture. With Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story coming, I figured it was appropriate. 

But we'll get into Best Picture next week. This week, we're looking at Adapted Score, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director,  and Adapted Screenplay. But first, some of the other nominated films:

Bon Voyage!
nominee: Best Costume Design - Color (Bill Thomas), Best Sound (Robert O. Cook)
dir: James Neilson
pr: Walt Disney
scr: Bill Walsh
cin: William E. Snyder

Midwestern family vacations in Europe. Another everyone-has-fun-but-Dad comedy. Fred MacMurray thwarted at every turn, Jane Wyman indifferent to the existence of her children, writers indifferent to the third child (why is he there?), Tommy Kirk great fun as he goes from sulking teen to would-be playboy. Unexpectedly moving scene between MacMurray and Françoise Prévost. No classic, but a harmless distraction. Overlong.

nominee: Best Foreign Language Film (Greece)
dir/pr/scr: Michael Cacoyannis
cin: Walter Lassally

A woman mourns her father and plots vengeance against his killers: her mother, and her mother's lover. A Greek tragedy, so be prepared for some terrific monologuing; a Cacoyannis film, so be prepared for oppressive gloom. Strong performances.

nominee: Best Cinematography - Color (Russell Harlan)
dir/pr: Howard Hawks
scr: Leigh Brackett, story by Harry Kurnitz

Life and love among a group of friends who trap animals in Tanzania to sell to zoos. A hangout movie, small on plot and big on vibes. Hard to be mad when everyone's having such a good time, though those aforementioned love stories don't do the female characters much justice. Kooky, cartoonish sequence involving a rocket and monkeys. Elsa Martinelli smokes so many cigarettes in one scene I felt hoarse. Striking cinematography - those on-location scenes following the chase and capture of the animals are thrilling, clearly the raison d'être of the enterprise.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
nominee: Best Costume Design - Black-and-White (Edith Head)
dir: John Ford
pr: John Ford / Willis Goldbeck
scr: James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck
cin: William H. Clothier

A bookish lawyer, a tough rancher, the woman they love, and sadistic outlaw Liberty Valance in a story of love and legends. Just about everyone's thirty years too old for their roles. It doesn't matter, these are great performances in a great movie, James Stewart sputtering with pride and dignity, John Wayne commanding every room he's in without breaking a sweat - he'll move you, he'll break your heart! Terrific black-and-white cinematography from Clothier, most effective in that titular shootout.

Period of Adjustment
nominee: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Black-and-White (George W. Davis / Edward C. Carfagno / Henry Grace / Richard Pefferle)
dir: George Roy Hill
pr: Lawrence Weingarten
scr: Isobel Lennart
cin: Paul Vogel

Newlyweds spend their honeymoon at the home of the groom's best friend, whose own marriage is on the rocks. Simplest way to pitch that, I suppose. A comedy, I guess, based on a play by Tennessee Williams. Just an unpleasant watch. Tony Franciosa is as Southern as he is Chinese.

nominee: Best Costume Design - Black-and-White (Theoni V. Aldredge)
dir/pr: Jules Dassin
scr: Margarita Lymberaki / Jules Dassin
cin: Jacques Natteau

The wife of a shipping magnate falls in love with her stepson. Oh my God, why haven't I been hearing about this movie all my life? Melina Mercouri purrs seductively, a natural flirt surprised by the genuine affection. Anthony Perkins is adorable, hilariously spoiled and immature. Raf Vallone gives an interesting depiction of strength and vulnerability, a man who genuinely loves his family but will absolutely strike his betrayers. Natteau's black-and-white cinematography captures the thrill of a party and the eroticism of fireside love-making - oh, ho, what love-making!

Tomorrow, the nominees for Adapted Score: Billy Rose's JumboGigot, Gypsy, The Music Man, and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.

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