My Top 10:

The magnificent statue come to life in La belle et la bete

  1. La belle et la bete
  2. Great Expectations
  3. A Matter of Life and Death  (Stairway to Heaven)
  4. Gentleman’s Agreement
  5. Ivan the Terrible Part I
  6. Miracle on 34th Street
  7. Crossfire
  8. Ride the Pink Horse
  9. Brighton Rock
  10. Out of the Past

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Gentleman’s Agreement
  • Best Director:  Elia Kazan  (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • Best Actor:  Ronald Colman  (A Double Life)
  • Best Actress:  Loretta Young  (The Farmer’s Daughter)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Edmund Gwenn  (Miracle of 34th Street)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Celeste Holm  (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • Best Screenplay:  Miracle on 34th Street
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  • Best Original Story:  Miracle on 34th Street

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Gentleman’s Agreement
  • Best Director:  Elia Kazan  (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • Best Actor:  Ronald Colman  (A Double Life)
  • Best Actress:  Rosalind Russell  (Mourning Becomes Electra)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Edmund Gwenn  (Miracle on 34th Street)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Celeste Holm  (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • Best Screenplay:  Miracle on 34th Street

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  • L’Atalante –  #16
  • Out of the Past –  #117
  • A Matter of Life and Death –  #126
  • Black Narcissus –  #138
  • Ivan the Terrible Part I –  #149
  • Monsieur Verdoux –  #170
  • La belle et la bete –  #196
  • Germany, Year Zero –  #236
  • Zero for Conduct –  #239
  • Great Expectations –  #360

Top 5 Awards Points:

  1. Gentleman’s Agreement –  877
  2. Miracle on 34th Street –  382
  3. A Double Life –  261
  4. Crossfire –  245
  5. Great Expectations –  225

Nighthawk Awards:

Twice a Nighthawk winner, never an Oscar winner: Deborah Kerr in I See a Dark Stranger

  • Best Picture:  La belle et la bete
  • Best Director:  Jean Cocteau (La belle et la bete)
  • Best Actor:  Nicolai Cherkasov  (Ivan the Terrible Part I)
  • Best Actress:  Deborah Kerr  (I See a Dark Stranger)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Robert Ryan  (Crossfire)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Celeste Holm  (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  La belle et la bete (from the fairly tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  A Matter of Life and Death
  • Best Foreign Film:  Shoeshine

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  La belle et la bete
  • Best Scene:  The teardrops turning to diamonds in La belle et la bete
  • Best Ending:  Ride the Pink Horse

Ebert Great Films:

  • Great Expectations
  • La belle et la bete
  • L’Atalante
  • Out of the Past

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. Forever Amber –  $16.0 mil
  2. Welcome Stranger –  $15.3 mil
  3. Mother Wore Tights –  $10.0 mil
  4. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer –  $8.3 mil
  5. Till the Clouds Roll By –  $6.7 mil

It is a year of overlooked classics and forgotten films.  It is a year when the Oscars actually did a fairly good job with their Best Picture choices, but the choices have fallen by the wayside, nonetheless.  Miracle on 34th Street is still thought of as a Christmas classic, though often forgotten the rest of the year, Gentleman’s Agreement has not aged well for a lot of people, Crossfire seems to be one of the more forgotten Best Picture nominees and The Bishop’s Wife is a minor Christmas classic, if anything.  What that leaves is Great Expectations to carry the brunt of the Oscar choices in a year where more contemporary film buffs will look at the Michael Powell imports or the Jean Vigo films finally getting an American release.

Film History: Richard Widmark debuts with an Oscar nominated performance in Kiss of Death.  He will appear in another 63 films and never receive another nomination.  Forever Amber becomes the biggest box office hit of the year in spite of being condemned by the Legion of Decency.  Luis Buñuel makes his first film in Mexico.  Two of the most influential events begin to unfold, bringing Hollywood to both its heights and its depths: the foundation of the Actors Studio in New York, where Lee Strasberg will train Marlon Brando, James Dean and Paul Newman and change the course of film acting, while in Washington, the House Un-American Activities Committee begins to investigate Communist influence on the film industry.

Academy Awards: Gentleman’s Agreement becomes the first Best Picture since How Green Was My Valley to lose Best Screenplay.  Both films lose to a film that manages to win Best Screenplay and Best Original Story (Miracle on 34th Street and Here Comes Mr. Jordan).  Best Interior Decoration is renamed Best Art Direction / Set Decoration.  Sylvester and Tweetie star in Tweetie Pie, the first Warner Bros cartoon to win the Oscar for Short Subject-Cartoon.  The five Best Picture nominees combine for 27 nominations, the fewest until 2006.  Only one film (Gentleman’s Agreement) has more than 5 nominations, something that will never happen again.

Quite frankly, I think this is a terrible year for the Academy Awards, one of the worst of all-time.  They didn’t too bad a job with Best Picture, with four of the five making my top 7 of the year, but the rest of the categories are filled with lackluster choices.  And it wasn’t because of the options either.  The only categories in which I would have nominated more than two of the actual nominees were in Best Supporting Actress (I agree with the Holm win and would have nominated Gloria Grahame and Anne Revere, but I would have replaced Ethel Barrymore and Marjorie Main with Kay Walsh for This Happy Breed and Martita Hunt for Great Expectations) and Best Screenplay.  Aside from the expected snubs of Foreign language films like La belle et la bete and Ivan the Terrible, a whooping 0 nominations went to amazing British films A Matter of Life and Death, I Know Where I’m Going, I See a Dark Stranger, This Happy Breed and Brighton Rock while future critical faves Brute Force and Out of the Past were also ignored.  They went for lesser performances like John Garfield in Body and Soul or Michael Redgrave in Mourning Becomes Electra instead of Trevor Howard in I See a Dark Stranger or Robert Montgomery in Ride the Pink Horse.  Thomas Gomez was the lone nomination for the under-rated and hard to find Ride the Pink Horse, when they could have skipped him and Charles Bickford for Supporting Actor and instead gone for Kirk Douglas in Out of the Past, Frances L. Sullivan in Great Expectations or Art Smith in Ride the Pink Horse.  While they did manage to bestow nominations upon Charlie Chaplin for Monsieur Verdoux and the Italian quartet behind Shoeshine for writing, they were also nominating lackluster fare like A Cage of Nightengales and giving an Oscar to the likes of The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer while ignoring Michael Powell (A Matter of Life and Death and I Know Where I’m Going).  And the Oscar win by Loretta Young is perhaps the worst acting choice in the entire history of the Academy.  Well, at least they gave the Oscar to “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, even if Disney tries to forget that Song of the South ever existed.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Actress for Loretta Young (The Farmer’s Daughter)
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Actress for Loretta Young  (The Farmer’s Daughter)
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Art Direction – Black and White for La belle et la bete
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  The Farmer’s Daughter
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Actress – I wouldn’t have nominated any of them in a year with Deborah Kerr (I See a Dark Stranger and Black Narcissus), Wendy Hiller (I Know Where I’m Going), Celia Johnson (This Happy Breed) and Kim Hunter (A Matter of Life and Death)
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Screenplay
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreement:  Best Supporting Actress, Best Song

Golden Globes: The Globes become the warm-up act to the Oscars, agreeing with them on every major award except Best Actress (they go with Oscar nominee Rosalind Russell).  They even institute a Best Cinematography and go with Oscar winner Black Narcissus, though their newly minted Best Score goes to Life with Father, which is only an Oscar nominee.

Awards: Elia Kazan becomes the first director with a clean sweep, getting not only the Oscar and the Globe, but also the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics, though both critics groups hail him for not only Gentleman’s Agreement, but also Boomerang.  There isn’t much agreement aside from that.  Both groups pick an Oscar nominee for Best Actor (Michael Redgrave from the NBR, William Powell from the NYFC), but neither actor wins the Oscar or Globe.  Both groups pick a British actress who fails to even get nominated for an Oscar (Celia Johnson from the NBR and Deborah Kerr from the NYFC).  While the NYFC do go with Gentleman’s Agreement for Best Picture, it comes in 7th from the NBR, who chooses Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux Best Picture.  The NBR doesn’t bother with a Best Foreign Film and the NYFC go with To Live in Peace, an Italian film that is almost impossible to find.  In the meantime, The British Academy of Film and Television begins their own awards, choosing simply two awards: Best Picture, which they give to the 1946 Oscar winner for Best Picture, The Best Years of Our Lives; also they decide on a Best British Picture which they give to Odd Man Out.

The young Richard Attenborough oozing menace in Brighton Rock

Under-appreciated Film of 1947:

Brighton Rock (dir. John Boulting)

It’s not too difficult to find the 1950’s versions of The Quiet American and The End of the Affair, two brilliant Graham Greene novels that made mediocre films.  But it’s much harder to find Brighton Rock and The Heart of the Matter, two extremely strong Greene adaptations (I had to see both on TCM).  Even more odd, American and Affair have both been remade and have far superior remakes, whereas Brighton and Heart only have the one film version each (although Brighton is being remade as we speak with a great cast).  It’s time for these films to see the light of day.

Brighton Rock doesn’t get as much attenti0n as the other films for several reasons.  First, while it is a very good book, it is not up to the par of the other three novels.  Second, unlike Heart, it wasn’t nominated for any BAFTA awards (it was released the year of the first awards) and thus doesn’t get noticed by awards completists like myself.  Third, it had problems with the censors when it was first released who made it change the despair of the original ending.

But it needs to be rescued from obscurity.  First, it is a Graham Greene adaptation and a reminder that when done correctly, like this or The Fugitive or The Third Man, Greene was one of the great writers of the 20th century, with far better characters than most novels but a greater interest in plot and story than any of the great modernists.  The character of Pinkie is one of the great horrible characters in all of great 20th century literature, a smug, nasty youth that represented so much of what Greene saw wrong in Britain.

Then there is Richard Attenborough.  If you’re only experience of Attenborough is as a kindly old director of Gandhi or the nice rich old man in Jurassic Park, or even just as the leader in The Great Escape, then you need to expand your film knowledge.  In films such as The Angry Silence, 10 Rillington Place and The Guns at Batasi he proved himself the equal of other great British actors who were stars in their own country but never got as much exposure over here (that honorable list includes Anthony Quayle, John Mills and Jack Hawkins).  But this was the first film that really showed what Attenborough was capable of as the ever dangerous presence of his malice invades every scene he is in.  That’s not to say that there aren’t other great performances, such as Carol Marsh, so young and beautiful and fragile as Rose or Hermione Baddeley, so perfectly loud and obnoxious and the epitome of the kind of woman that a Jane Austen character would have criticized for her indiscretion.  But this film so much rests on Attenborough’s shoulders, and even in the final scene, cut as it is for the censors who couldn’t bear the thought of poor Rose being destroyed by the truth, shows how well Attenborough could have been some of the great villains on screen.

Advertisements