My Top 10:

The ultimate femme fatale: Barbara Stanwyck in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944)

  1. Double Indemnity
  2. Gaslight
  3. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  4. Hail the Conquering Hero
  5. Arsenic and Old Lace
  6. Ministry of Fear
  7. Laura
  8. The Princess and the Pirate
  9. Kismet
  10. The Seventh Cross

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Going My Way
  • Best Director:  Leo McCarey  (Going My Way)
  • Best Actor:  Bing Crosby  (Going My Way)
  • Best Actress:  Ingrid Bergman  (Gaslight)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Barry Fitzgerald  (Going My Way)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ethel Barrymore  (None But the Lonely Heart)
  • Best Screenplay:  Going My Way
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Wilson
  • Best Original Story:  Going My Way

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Going My Way
  • Best Director:  Leo McCarey  (Going My Way)
  • Best Actor:  Alexander Knox  (Wilson)
  • Best Actress:  Ingrid Bergman  (Gaslight)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Barry Fitzgerald  (Going My Way)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Agnes Moorehead  (Mrs. Parkington)

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  • Double Indemnity –  #94
  • Meet Me in St. Louis –  #220
  • Laura –  #304
  • The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek –  #593
  • Arsenic and Old Lace –  #868

Top 5 Awards Points:

  1. Going My Way –  1045
  2. Wilson –  491
  3. Gaslight –  346
  4. Since You Went Away –  285
  5. Double Indemnity –  240

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • Double Indemnity –  #38  (1998)  /  #29  (2007)

Nighthawk Awards:

Charles Boyer was Oscar-nominated for Gaslight while Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar. They both win Nighthawk Awards.

  • Best Picture:  Double Indemnity
  • Best Director:  Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity)
  • Best Actor:  Charles Boyer  (Gaslight)
  • Best Actress:  Ingrid Bergman  (Gaslight)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Clifton Webb  (Laura)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Angela Lansbury  (Gaslight)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Double Indemnity (from the novel by James M. Cain)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  • Best Foreign Film:  Torment

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  • Best Scene:  When Bob Hope loses the girl in The Princess and the Pirate
  • Best Line:  “Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops.”  (Arsenic and Old Lace – Cary Grant)
  • Best Ending:  The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

Ebert Great Films:

  • Double Indemnity
  • Laura

Was it because of the war?  Or was it just a bad year for film?  Yes, there is Double Indemnity and the great double whammy of Preston Sturges.  But outside of that?  Easily the two big films going into the awards were Going My Way and Wilson and has either aged well?  Wilson was such a big film in that year and it was so hard for me to find in college that I expected great things from it, and rarely have I felt so let down.  Then there is Going My Way.  The big winner of all the year’s awards and yet it can’t even make the Top 1000?  Or AFI?  Clearly I am not the only one who thinks it is over-rated.  After the top 5, things fall off pretty quickly and this is one of the few years where I couldn’t even find 10 films at the **** or ***.5 level.  Even Laura, which I find to be a much better film than 3 of the 5 Oscar nominees I don’t feel really earns its placement on Ebert’s list.

Film History: Olivia de Havilland wins her case in Los Angeles Superior Court, freeing her from her contract in perpetuity and begins the end of the Studio System.  Lauren Bacall makes her screen debut in To Have and Have Not (which will not be Oscar eligible until 1945); it is still the only film to ever involve two Nobel Prize winning authors — Hemingway, who wrote the original novel and Faulkner who wrote the screenplay.  Paramount makes a 30 minute promotion for The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, the first television advertisement for a film.  Torment debuts, the first film written by Ingmar Bergman.  RKO releases Days of Glory, a film in which nearly every actor in it is making their screen debut; the experiment is a failure and the film flops but one actor goes on to stardom: Gregory Peck.

Academy Awards: Barry Fitzgerald manages the bizarre, getting nominated as both the lead and supporting for the same performance in Going My Way and he wins Best Supporting Actor.  Leo McCarey also gets double nominated – winning both his nominations, for Best Director and Best Original Story, the first person to win two Oscars in one night.  In this, the first year for 5 Best Picture nominees, all 5 are nominated for a lead acting award, something that will not happen again for 20 years.  With the drop in Best Picture nominees, comes the split with Best Director.  For the first time since 1931, more than one Best Director nominee is from a film that fails to get nominated for Best Picture.  This year is the worst for me — with the second most feature film nominations (145), I have only seen 123 (84.83%), my lowest score since 1930.  With 65 different feature films that earn nominations, it ties 1941 for the most.  Going My Way becomes only the second film to win Best Picture and Best Actor (after It Happened One Night), but begins a trend.  The next two Best Pictures will, like Going, win Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay and four of the next five Best Pictures will win Best Actor.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Editing for Wilson
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Special Effects for Wilson
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Song for Meet Me in St. Louis (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”)
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Dragon Seed
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Editing – none of the nominees deserved nominations
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actress
  • Best Oscar Nomination:  The double nomination for Preston Sturges two great screenplays: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Awards Agreements:  Best Actress, Best Interior Decoration – Black and White, Best Special Effects

Golden Globes: Going My Way is again the biggest film, winning Best Picture, Supporting Actor and the initial award for Best Director.  Ingrid Bergman takes home a Golden Globe to go with her Oscar while Oscar nominees Alexander Knox (Wilson) and Agnes Moorehead (Mrs. Parkington) take home Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Awards: Going My Way becomes the most awarded film of all-time, winning 3 awards from the New York Film Critics (Picture, Director, Actor) to go along with its 7 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes.  Tallulah Bankhead makes it back to back years that the NYFC Best Actress fails to get an Oscar nomination.  The National Board of Review, in the first year of 5 Oscar nominees for Best Picture only manages to find room for 2 of them in its top 10 (Going My Way and Wilson), though it does list 1943 nominee The Song of Bernadette.  In their final year of having a long list of the Best Acting, they manage to mention three of the Oscar winners, though not Barry Fitzgerald who wins Best Actor over Bing Crosby from the NYFC.

Bob Hope on his own in The Princess and the Pirate (1944)

Under-appreciated Film of 1944:

The Princess and the Pirate (dir. David Butler)

I never would have suspected how much I would enjoy this.  Growing up in the seventies and eighties, Bob Hope was the guy who did the U.S.O tours, someone who seemed conservative and friendly with Reagan in the same way that Charlton Heston and Frank Sinatra were.  His film history, starring in the Road movies with Bing Crosby, were completely unknown to me.  Nor could I have imagined his enjoyable screen persona of the lovable coward.

But Bob Hope brings something to the screen.  He was never a particularly talented actor and certainly he would always come off worse when paired with Crosby, but he had a goofy charm, a charisma that could explain why people would flock to him.  In a sense, he was a forebear of the early Woody Allen roles; he was the loser who kept hoping to get the girl when he knew he absolutely wasn’t going to get the girl.

So here we have one of Hope’s most effortless performances.  He is one his own and he makes sly digs at his studios, at his fellow Hollywood stars, and certainly at himself.  He is a coward who ends up protecting the princess who keeps talking about how much she wants to get back home to the soldier that she loves (he’s a commoner, so she fled because she can’t marry him), only to find herself drawn closer and closer to Hope.  By the end of the film, Hope has done enough, saved her, comforted her, befriended her, to hope that perhaps something might come out of this, that he might not end up alone and losing like always.

Then something happens which I won’t describe except to say that it made me laugh so hard that I had to pause the film.  It is an ending so absolutely perfect for the film, such a charming, brilliant way to capture all this goofy romantic energy and send it packing on its way.  If all you can think of when you think of Bob Hope is those same U.S.O shows, then give this a try.  Even if you’ve seen a lot of the Road films, watch this anyway.  It’s charming and sweet and really funny and a reminder how enjoyable the movies can be.

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