Monday, November 28, 2022

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The 1946 Retro Hollmann Awards

Now to put to rest the film year that was 1946. I watched these 67 films:

Anna and the King of Siam
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Big Sleep
Blithe Spirit
The Blue Dahlia
Blue Skies
Brief Encounter
Caesar and Cleopatra
Canyon Passage
Centennial Summer
Children of Paradise
Cluny Brown
Dark Alibi
The Dark Mirror
Dick Tracy
The Dolly Sisters
Dressed to Kill
Duel in the Sun
The Green Years
The Harvey Girls
Henry V
House of Dracula
I Know Where I'm Going!
It Happened at the Inn
It's a Wonderful Life
Johnny in the Clouds
The Jolson Story
The Kid from Brooklyn
The Killers
Little Giant
Magnificent Doll
Monsieur Beaucaire
My Darling Clementine
My Reputation
Night and Day
A Night in Casablanca
Nobody Lives Forever
The Outlaw
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Razor's Edge
The Red Dragon
Road to Utopia
Rome, Open City
Saratoga Trunk
Scarlet Street
The Seventh Veil
She-Wolf of London
Sister Kenny
Specter of the Rose
The Spiral Staircase
A Stolen Life
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
The Stranger
Terror by Night
The Time of Their Lives
To Each His Own
Tomorrow is Forever
Vacation from Marriage
The Verdict
The Yearling

Of those 67, 30 were nominated across 18 categories for my Retro Hollmann Awards. And of those 30, only eleven won. Which ones? These ones:

Best Supporting Actor
Claude Rains as Alexander Sebastian
2. Walter Brennan in My Darling Clementine; 3. Burgess Meredith in Magnificent Doll; 4. Jimmy Hanley in Henry V; 5. Marcel Herrand in Children of Paradise

As I said: "He's a mama's boy who's never in control of his own life. His urbanity at dinners and lunches cannot hide the nervous glances, the determined attempts at control, the tight-throated inner tantrums. He's a dupe for everyone he's around and doesn't seem to realize it. Rains' greatest moments? Gosh, all of them...!"

Best Score
1. Henry V
William Walton
2. The Harvey Girls
Harry Warren / Lennie Hayton / Conrad Salinger
3. Children of Paradise
Maurice Thiriet with Joseph Kosma
4. The Spiral Staircase
Roy Webb
5. Specter of the Rose
Georges Antheil

Best Original Screenplay
Children of Paradise
Jacques Prévert
2. Magnificent Doll; 3. Gilda; 4. The Time of Their Lives; 5. I Know Where I'm Going!

As I said, it's a "vivid, character-rich dramedy about artists and artistes finding their form of expression, polishing the act, and crisscrossing each others' love lives...the tragedy of having your prayers answered. An array of distinct characters worthy of Dickens or Hugo, meditations on happiness that strike too deep, and a finale that manages to be heartbreaking without anyone committing suicide!"

Best Actor
James Stewart as George Bailey
It's a Wonderful Life
2. Claude Rains in Caesar and Cleopatra; 3. Jean-Louis Barrault in Children of Paradise; 4. Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine; 5. Aldo Fabrizi in Rome, Open City

As I said: He is the movie! ...He's "selling" you a message or a character...he's expressing so much empathy and understanding for the struggle of the everyman, the family man, the decent man...he's relating to you, and he does it better than anyone else could. It's a masterful performance, a marriage of actor and character that has made this film an enduring classic.

Best Adapted Screenplay
It Happened at the Inn
Jacques Becker
from the novel Goupi-Mains rouges by Pierre Véry
2. Brief Encounter; 3. Anna and the King of Siam; 4. The Best Years of Our Lives; 5. Dragonwyck

An ensemble mystery involving buried treasure, mistaken identity, and murder, also exploring the strains between relatives, class resentment, community solidarity, and economic worry. Keeps track of its sprawling family tree and their individual quirks and secrets, surprisingly romantic, very funny.

Best Ensemble
Children of Paradise
2. It Happened at the Inn; 3. The Best Years of Our Lives; 4. Specter of the Rose; 5. Henry V

As evidenced by it being the rare film with nominations in each acting category (joining the ranks of The ExorcistNetwork, and A Raisin in the Sun), I adore the performances in Children of Paradise - and, naturally, that goes beyond my nominees: Gaston Modot as the not-really-blind beggar, Pierre Renoir as the old Jericho, Pierre Brasseur as the pretentious leading man Lemaître, Jane Marken as the boardinghouse owner. They're all part of the beautiful quilt of characters that makes Children of Paradise unforgettable.
Best Visual Effects
The Time of Their Lives
Jerome Ash / David S. Horsley, special photography
2. A Stolen Life; 3. I Know Where I'm Going!; 4. Blithe Spirit; 5. A Night in Casablanca

To not give the win to a ghost story seems absurd, but as impressive as Blithe Spirit's are, there's just so much in The Time of Their Lives, scene after scene of people walking through ghosts, ghosts falling through walls, ghosts getting stuck between forms - and then, of course, the usual gags of floating objects and self-operating apparatus.

Best Cinematography

1. My Darling Clementine
Joseph MacDonald

2. Caesar and Cleopatra
Jack Cardiff / Jack Hildyard / Robert Krasker / Freddie A. Young

3. Henry V
Robert Krasker

4. Children of Paradise
Roger Hubert

5. It Happened at the Inn
Jean Bourgoin

Best Director
Marcel Carné
Children of Paradise
2. Laurence Olivier for Henry V; 3. John Ford for My Darling Clementine; 4. Alfred Hitchcock for Notorious; 5. Charles Vidor for Gilda

Getting those performances, making a film at that scale, hiring collaborators whose involvement must be kept secret from the Nazis, and doing it all without seeming to compromise at any point (surely a 190-minute runtime isn't the result of compromise?) Never boring, often moving and funny and transcendent.

Best Film Editing
Children of Paradise
Henri Rust
2. The Time of Their Lives; 3. Gilda; 4. Caesar and Cleopatra; 5. It Happened at the Inn

People bristle at three-plus-hour dramas getting a nomination for Editing, but when every moment feels as vital as this one's, respect must be paid. Rust keeps the momentum, the interest going.

Best Production Design

Children of Paradise
Léon Barsacq / Raymond Gabutti, production design
Alexandre Trauner, collaboration dans la clandestinité
2. The Harvey Girls; 3. Gilda; 4. Henry V; 5. Humoresque

Its depiction of mid-19th-century Paris is impressive enough - the theatre! the backstage! the crowded streets! the Boulevard of Criminals! the bars! - but the fact that much of that detail was executed either in secret or by some means of deception under the nose of the Nazi occupiers and their Vichy government? Whew!

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Henry V
Tony Sforzini, makeup artist
Vivienne Walker, hairdresser
2. Children of Paradise; 3. Road to Utopia; 4. The Green Years; 5. Blithe Spirit

Not a single detail has escaped Olivier's conceit of a genuine Elizabethan stage production transforming into cinema before our eyes. That extends to this department: we actually witness the ensemble applying the wigs and powders for their roles before stepping onstage in their draggiest best; by the climax, a more realistic period style has been applied, still wigs and prosthetics, but the seams are no longer visible, the shading undetectable. 

Best Costume Design

The Harvey Girls
Helen Rose / Valles
2. Henry V; 3. Children of Paradise; 4. Caesar and Cleopatra; 5. Anna and the King of Siam

It's always difficult to make this decision - what do we mean by best anyway, in this regard? Most iconic? Patterns we can't stop thinking about? Period accuracy? I mean, The Harvey Girls certainly fits all these, but so do Children of Paradise and Anna and the King of Siam. Still, a decision must be made, and I make it here: I find something so enchanting in the story these costumes tell, particularly Judy's from mail-order bride to Harvey girl to romantic heroine. Angela Lansbury looks great in her burlesque garb, too.

Best Original Song
1. "Centennial" from Centennial Summer
music by Jerome Kern
lyrics by Leo Robin
2. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls
music by Harry Warren
lyrics by Johnny Mercer
3. "It's a Great Big World" from The Harvey Girls
music by Harry Warren
lyrics by Johnny Mercer
4. "Put the Blame on Mame" from Gilda
music and lyrics by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher
5. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" from Canyon Passage
music and lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael and Jack Brooks

Best Supporting Actress
Margaret Rutherford as Madame Arcati
Blithe Spirit
2. Leopoldine Konstantin in Notorious; 3. Angela Lansbury in The Harvey Girls; 4. María Casares in Children of Paradise; 5. Gloria Grahame in It's a Wonderful Life

Rutherford's Madame Arcati is no spook, nor does she play up the eccentricities of such a role. Clad in a casual jumper and perched atop a bicycle, she suggests an athleticism whose outlet could have found itself in any number of physical activities...but instead, she was gifted with the powers of a medium. Passionate, straightforward, nailing the comedy without playing it, Rutherford's down-to-earth approach makes Madame Arcati unforgettable.

Best Sound
The Harvey Girls
Douglas Shearer, recording director
2. Children of Paradise; 3. The Jolson Story; 4. It's a Wonderful Life; 5. Blue Skies

It is not solely for the mixing of its musical numbers that it's here. It's also here for the train, whistling, squealing, chugging along, the sound of its engine humming under the dialogue. It's here for the footwork that we hear, tapping and shuffling and softly scraping in time with the music. It's here for the snap of the flames in an unexpected inferno. It's here for the fullness of its crowd scenes, especially when the hum of people is interrupted by Judy Garland's gunfire.

Best Actress
Rita Hayworth as Gilda
2. Arletty in Children of Paradise; 3. Olivia de Havilland in To Each His Own; 4. Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter; 5. Ginger Rogers in Magnificent Doll

A movie like Gilda requires a Gilda that could convincingly shake up one's center of gravity. Beauty's one element, sure, but there also needs to be an undeniable confidence, an unknowable quality that draws one to Gilda. She must be inviting and guarded, but she must also be...vulnerable? Gilda should be almost impossible to play, but Hayworth plays her perfectly - you buy it!

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Children of Paradise
produced by Adrien Ramougé
2. Gilda; 3. My Darling Clementine; 4. Henry V; 5. Caesar and Cleopatra
6. It Happened at the Inn; 7. Magnificent Doll; 8. The Harvey Girls; 9. Notorious; 10. The Time of Their Lives

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