My Top 10:

Tim Holt, Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston in John Huston's brilliant 1948 film about greed: Treasure of the Sierra Madre

  1. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  2. Hamlet
  3. Red River
  4. The Eagle Has Two Heads
  5. Fanny
  6. Macbeth
  7. Monsieur Vincent
  8. All My Sons
  9. Cesar
  10. The Search

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Hamlet
  • Best Director:  John Huston  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Actor:  Laurence Olivier  (Hamlet)
  • Best Actress:  Jane Wyman  (Johnny Belinda)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Walter Huston  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Claire Trevor  (Key Largo)
  • Best Screenplay:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre (from the novel by N. Traven)
  • Best Motion Picture Story:  The Search
  • Best Foreign Film (special award):  Monsieur Vincent

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Best Director:  John Huston  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Actor:  Laurence Olivier  (Hamlet)
  • Best Actress:  Olivia de Havilland  (The Snake Pit)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Walter Huston  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ellen Corby  (I Remember Mama)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Search

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  • Letter from an Unknown Woman –  #77
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre –  #111
  • The Red Shoes –  #128
  • Red River –  #139
  • Day of Wrath –  #266

Top 5 Awards Points:

  1. Treasure of the Sierra Madre –  948
  2. Hamlet –  648
  3. Johnny Belinda –  587
  4. The Snake Pit –  546
  5. I Remember Mama –  306

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre –  #30  (1997)  /  #38  (2007)

Nighthawk Awards:

Oscar and Nighthawk winner for 1948: Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda

  • Best Picture:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Best Director:  John Huston (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Actor:  Humphrey Bogart  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Actress:  Jane Wyman  (Johnny Belinda)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Walter Huston  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Agnes Moorhead  (Johnny Belinda)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre (from the novel by N. Traven)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Red River
  • Best Foreign Film:  Drunken Angel

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Best Scene:  The hall of mirrors in The Lady from Shanghai
  • Best Line:  “You shoulda let ’em kill me.”  (Red River – John Wayne)
  • Best Ending:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Ebert Great Films:

  • Red River
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • The Red Shoes

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. The Snake Pit –  $10.0 mil
  2. Red River –  $9.0 mil
  3. Key Largo –  $8.1 mil
  4. The Three Musketeers –  $8.0 mil
  5. Easter Parade –  $6.8 mil

With only three **** films, this stands as one of the weakest years in all of film history.  There are a number of very good films, but when it comes to great films, the only ones that make my cut are Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Hamlet and Red River.  With creative people starting to move away from Hollywood because of the HUAC Hearings, the great Foreign directors only getting started and method acting only beginning to surface, we did not yet have the great wave of creativity that would mark the 50’s while we already had the death of the Studio Era creeping in.

Film History: On 15 May, the Supreme Court breaks up the monopoly of block booking and setting exhibition prices by the five Majors and they are ordered to divest themselves of their theaters.  Two of the greatest early directors, Sergei Eisenstein and D.W. Griffith, both die.  Montgomery Clift makes his debut with both Red River and The Search.  In the year in which his Fanny Trilogy finally makes it to the United States, Marcel Pagnol becomes the first film figure to be inducted in the French Academy.  The first of Contempt of Congress convictions are handed down, with the primary ones going to the Hollywood Ten:

  1. Alvah Bessie  (screenwriter)
  2. Herbert Biberman  (director/producer)
  3. Lester Cole  (screenwriter)
  4. Edward Dmytryk  (director/writer)
  5. Ring Lardner Jr.  (screenwriter)
  6. John Howard Lawson  (screenwriter)
  7. Albert Maltz  (screenwriter)
  8. Samuel Ornitz  (screenwriter)
  9. Adrian Scott  (screenwriter)
  10. Dalton Trumbo  (screenwriter)

Academy Awards: The Academy finally catches up to the critics by announcing their first Foreign Film award, a special award given to Monsieur Vincent.  They also add Best Costume Design as a new category.  Edith Head is nominated in the new category, in the first of 19 consecutive years with a nomination.  Hamlet wins Best Picture, the first non-Hollywood film to do so.  Laurence Olivier becomes the first director to direct himself to an Oscar, while John Huston directs his father to an Oscar (37 years before he would do the same for his daughter).  Treasure of the Sierra Madre becomes the first film since The Informer in 1935 to win Director and Screenplay, but not Picture.  Hamlet becomes the first Best Picture since 1937 to not get a nomination for Best Editing and the first since 1933 to not get a nomination for its Screenplay.  It is the last film to win Best Picture but not get nominated for either its Screenplay or Editing.  Johnny Belinda, by going 1 for 12, sets the Oscar record (since tied but never surpassed) for Oscar losses.  Joan of Arc sets a record with 7 nominations without a Best Picture nomination, which will stand (though tied many times) until 1969.  Johnny Belinda becomes the first film ever nominated for all 4 acting awards and the 5 main technical categories (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction).  The only other film to do it is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

I am a fan of both Hamlet and Olivier, having written a paper on the film history of Hamlet, but to me (and most contemporary critics) there is no question that Treasure of the Sierra Madre is the better film.  Even people at the time seemed to sense it, giving it Best Director and Screenplay, perhaps just admiring that Olivier had done a lavish film version of Hamlet.  Martin Scorsese is certainly a fan of The Red Shoes, and while I have warmed to it over the years, it is still not a favorite of mine.  The other two were the social dramas of the day, The Snake Pit and Johnny Belinda, the kind of thing the Academy has rewarded but which has failed to find much traction with current film writers looking back.  It is surprising that they passed up Red River, one of the biggest hits of the year and the film that finally proved John Wayne could act, not to mention bringing method acting into the film industry with the debut of Montgomery Clift.  Aside from snubbing Bogart, the acting was a group of fairly good choices (though they missed out on Peter Lorre’s fine work in Casbah and Angela Lansbury’s sly work in State of the Union).  But they lavished Pit and Belinda with technical noms and nominated such lackluster films as Loves of Carmen and Green Grass of Wyoming while missing the fine technical work in Treasure and Red River.  Overall, though, given that most of my top 10 are Foreign films finally getting a U.S. release, I can’t be too hard on the nominations for this year.  There just wasn’t that much to work with.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Song for “Buttons and Bows” from The Paleface
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Cinematography – Color for The Loves of Carmen
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Actor for Humphrey Bogart in Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  The Green Grass of Wyoming
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Song
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Supporting Actress
  • Most Baffling Oscar Nomination:  Best Motion Picture Story for The Louisiana Story – a documentary
  • Best Oscar Nomination:  Best Song for “The Woody Woodpecker Song” from Wet Blanket Policy – noticing the short cartoon classic
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Agreements:  Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction – Black and White, Best Art Direction – Color, Best Costume Design – Black and White

Golden Globes: For Best Picture, the Globes have a tie between Johnny Belinda and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but outside of that, they were fairly similar to the Oscars.  Oscar winners Olivier, Wyman and both Hustons are all winners at the Globes as is Oscar nominee Ellen Corby.  For Screenplay, the Globes choose The Search, which would lose Screenplay but win Story at the Oscars and they again have Best Cinematography, awarding The Pearl while giving Best Score to The Red Shoes.  This is the final year where there are no records of nominees, just the winners.

Guilds: Both the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America decide to get a piece of the awards pie.  The DGA has quarterly awards and those winners become the nominees for the initial Best Director award, but because of how they break up the timing, the winner, Joseph L. Mankiewicz wins for A Letter for Three Wives, which isn’t released until 1949, while the other nominees are Howard Hawks (Red River), Anatole Litvak (The Snake Pit) and Fred Zinnemann (The Search).  Only Zinnemann is among the 1948 Oscar nominees.  The WGA decides on several categories: Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Musical, Best Western and Best Screenplay Dealing Most Ably with Problems of the American Scene with a large number of nominees in each category.  The Snake Pit wins the latter and Drama, with Treasure losing Drama but winning Western.  The other two winners are Sitting Pretty and Easter Parade.  Billy Wilder is nominated twice (Emperor Waltz in Musical, A Foreign Affair in Comedy) for the first two of his eventual 15 nominations.

Awards: The National Board of Review goes foreign, giving Best Picture and Director to Paisan, which will not become Oscar eligible until 1949.  For Best Actor, they go with Oscar Supporting Actor winner Walter Huston.  They give Best Actress to Olivia de Havilland and Best Screenplay to John Huston.  The New York Film Critics also award de Havilland and Huston (though they give Huston Best Director, not having a Screenplay award).  The NYFC also give Treasure Best Picture, while giving Olivier Best Actor and finding room for Paisan as Best Foreign Film.  The BAFTAs, in their second year, expand just slightly, still keeping the same two categories of Best Picture and Best British Picture, but this time have seven nominees in each category.  Hamlet wins Best Picture but loses Best British Picture to The Fallen Idol, which lost Best Picture to Hamlet.  It is confusing to line up the years, as BAFTA nominees include 1947 Oscar nominee Crossfire, as well as Hamlet and The Fallen Idol (which would be Oscar-nominated for Best Director in 1949), so when it comes to awards points, I keep everything in its Oscar eligible year, no matter when they win their awards.

Raimu, Orane Demazis and Fernand Charpin in Fanny (1932) which finally got a U.S. release in 1948

Under-appreciated Film of 1948 / 1932:

Fanny (dir. Marc Allegret)

I would say that the original Fanny Trilogy has been forgotten due to the Hollywood remake, Fanny, that was nominated for Best Picture in 1961, but as that is one of the more forgotten Best Picture nominees, I can’t even use that excuse.  It just seems that they haven’t been given their due as magnificent storytelling, a story that began as a play, then moved into a film trilogy as Marcel Pagnol became determined to see where his characters would take him.

But Kino, that great company which has saved many a film from obscurity has released the Fanny Trilogy in a DVD box set and we get to see what a magnificent story it truly is.  While the 1961 film is a good film, a better one than I thought when I first saw it, it is nothing compared to the original trilogy, the best of which is Fanny itself.  The first film, Marius, is too much tied into the character of Marius himself and his desire to flee to the sea and the third film, Cesar, needs to tie together too many plot points.  Both are very good, but the true masterwork is Fanny, both for the story it has to tell and for the character herself.

Orane Demazis never came to the States, never became an international film star.  She made only 20 films and her best work was in the 1930’s.  She had a very strange look (which I suppose made her role well suited to be reprised by Leslie Caron who was also very odd looking).  When she played Fanny in the first two films as a young woman of about 20 she was already in her late 30’s.  But she makes the character come to life.  She is fully believable as a young woman in love and who refuses to let her love (or pregnancy) tie down that man she loves.  She is willing to marry for security, to keep secrets to allow her true love to have the life that he wants.  Like the great silent stars, she is able to do much of her acting with her eyes and her range of expression tells us so much more than the other characters are allowed to know.

But of course, there is also the story.  Fanny loves Marius and he gets her pregnant and their parents are determined that they marry.  But Fanny will not let herself hold down Marius and his dreams and she lets him go at the end of the first film, leaving her on her own to deal with the problems in Fanny.  That’s where Cesar, Marius’ father comes in.  It is the more flashy role and that’s where Raimu, one of France’s great actors in the 30’s, steps in, all bluster and talk until her realizes just what Fanny has done and then there is his soft, sentimental side, one that loves Fanny perhaps even more than it loves his own son.

Fanny is a perfect example of the time that people used to allow to tell a story.  The remake condenses all three films into one.  This one allows the characters to grow, to reflect, to learn, to change.  It is no coincidence that Marcel Pagnol, who wrote all three films, helped with the directing of the first two and directing the third one himself was the first man in the French film industry to be invited to join the vaunted French Academy.  Works like Fanny only show his mastery of human emotion and the way people deal with it.

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