Sunday, May 29, 2022

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The 1950 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part Two

Yesterday, our first nine awards were given out, with Best Pic nominees Gun Crazy and The Rules of the Game each receiving two. But what will actually take the title of the Best Picture of 1950? Reacquaint yourself with the nominees and Top Ten, and then read on:

Best Supporting Actor
Alec Guinness as Ethelred, Duke of Chalfont / The Reverend Lord Henry / General Lord Rufus / Admiral Lord Horatio / Lord Ascoyne / Lady Agatha / Young Ascoyne / Young Henry, all D'Ascoyne
Kind Hearts and Coronets
2. Erich Von Stroheim in Sunset Blvd.; 3. Vincent Price in Champagne for Caesar; 4. Gaston Modot in The Rules of the Game; 5. George Sanders in All About Eve

He's effective as the sympathetic banker who becomes a surprising father figure, as the old bumbling bishop, as the awful Ethelred who believes too firmly in the family name, even in his brief, wordless appearances as the suffragette Lady Agatha and the seafaring Admiral. His victims are deserving and undeserving, innocent and cruel, visual gags and full performances. One film represents an incredible body of work.

Best Actor
Vincent Price as James Addison Reavis
The Baron of Arizona
2. William Holden in Sunset Blvd.; 3. James Stewart in Winchester '73; 4. James Stewart in Harvey; 5. Jose Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac

The Baron of Arizona may be the greatest use of Price's particular talents (until Theatre of Blood...maybe House on Haunted Hill in between). It's a more complex, more subtle performance than he is usually asked to give, full of the Price penchant for playing pride and sneakery, but without a trace of the accompanying patrician sliminess of other roles. Like many a cinema conman, you can't help rooting for the man. If it's difficult to actively play intelligence and thinking and non-verbal plan-hatching, you wouldn't know it by watching him here. His defiance in the face of the lynch mob is an all-timer. It's a part he was born to play.

Best Supporting Actress
Betty Garde as Kitty Stark
2. Paulette Dubost in The Rules of the Game; 3. Hope Emerson in Caged; 4. Marlene Dietrich in Stage Fright; 5. Kay Walsh in Stage Fright

There is no forgetting Garde's Kitty Stark. Tough but helpful, a woman who knows what it takes to survive, does it with confidence - and knows it can be taken away in a second. Such a reliable, tough old bird is she that the way she's broken down is genuinely traumatic for audience and character alike: Garde has made her so human, such a natural presence, such an identifiable personality, you really feel you've seen someone's spirit die before you. You miss her when she's not on screen.

Best Ensemble
The Third Man
2. All About Eve; 3.The Rules of the Game; 4. Harvey; 5. Caged

When I think of the most perfectly cast film, the one whose actors are so in sync there is no way to declare a best - I think of The Third Man, I really do. Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, yes, exactly what they need to be and more, but I think of the oddness of Ernst Deutsch, the boyish excitement of Bernard Lee, the menace of Siegfried Breuer, the pitch-perfect inscrutability of Alida Valli. And so on.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Cyrano de Bergerac
Gustaf Norin / Josef Norin, makeup creators
Helen Turpin, hair stylist
2. Kind Hearts and Coronets; 3. Annie Get Your Gun; 4. Treasure Island; 5. The Magnificent Yankee

Not a seam shows, you'd swear that nose is the real deal, as much a part of Ferrer's face as his eyes.

Best Production Design

Samson and Delilah
Hans Dreier / Walter Tyler / John Meehan, art direction
Sam Comer / Ray Moyer / Maurice Goodman, set decoration
2. Sunset Blvd.; 3. Cheaper by the Dozen; 4. The Walls of Malapaga; 5. The Rules of the Game

Besides the Temple of Dagon, I am struck by Delilah's huge tent and the oasis at which it is encamped; the palace of the Saran of Gaza, both its throne room and the cellar where Samson is sentenced to turn the wheel; the humble land of Dan; the way-too-many-tapestries wealth of the house of Tubal. I am struck by these sets, impressed - they are unforgettable, vital to the story.

Best Score
1. The Third Man
Anton Karas
2. Gun Crazy
Victor Young
3. Sunset Blvd.
Franz Waxman
4. Harvey
Frank Skinner
5. Samson and Delilah
Victor Young

Best Original Screenplay
Sunset Blvd.
Charles Brakcett & Billy Wilder & D.M. Marshman, Jr.
2. The Third Man; 3. The Rules of the Game; 4. Winchester '73; 5. Last Holiday

What I said before still stands. A well-observed, passionate, witty look at the seductions and pitfalls of Hollywood and its values. One of the best ever.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Rules of the Game
produced by Jean Renoir
2. The Furies; 3. Gun Crazy; 4. Sunset Blvd.; 5. The Next Voice You Hear...
6. The Baron of Arizona; 7. All About Eve; 8. Kind Hearts and Coronets; 9. Samson and Delilah; 10. The Third Man

Yes, the Best Picture of 1950 is from 1939! A good spread though, with 13 films winning at least one award. Not bad, and a testament to the embarrassment of riches this year has to offer!

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