My Top 10:

Three greats who would end tragically: Natalie Wood, James Dean and Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

  1. Rebel Without a Cause
  2. Mister Roberts
  3. To Catch a Thief
  4. Bad Day at Black Rock
  5. East of Eden
  6. Picnic
  7. The Man With the Golden Arm
  8. Lady and the Tramp
  9. Othello
  10. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Marty
  • Best Director:  Delbert Mann  (Marty)
  • Best Actor:  Ernest Borgnine  (Marty)
  • Best Actress:  Anna Magnani  (The Rose Tattoo)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jack Lemmon  (Mister Roberts)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Jo Van Fleet  (East of Eden)
  • Best Screenplay:  Marty (from the teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky)
  • Best Story and Screenplay:  Interrupted Melody
  • Best Motion Picture Story:  Love Me or Leave Me
  • Best Foreign Film:  Samurai I: Miyamoto Musashi

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Marty
  • Best Director:  Delbert Mann  (Marty)
  • Best Actor:  Ernest Borgnine  (Marty)
  • Best Actress:  Anna Magnani  (The Rose Tattoo)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jack Lemmon  (Mister Roberts)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Marisa Pavan  (The Rose Tattoo)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Marty (from the teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Love Me or Leave Me

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

Top 1000 has it as the #1 film of 1955 and #37 all-time: Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter

  1. Night of the Hunter –  #37
  2. Ugetsu –  #54
  3. Sansho the Bailiff –  #88
  4. The Wages of Fear –  #206
  5. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday –  #242

Top 5 Films  (Consensus 1953 Awards):

  1. Marty
  2. East of Eden
  3. Guys and Dolls
  4. The Wages of Fear
  5. Picnic

Top 5 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Marty –  1150
  2. The Rose Tattoo –  640
  3. Picnic –  509
  4. East of Eden –  478
  5. Guys and Dolls –  342

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. Lady and the Tramp –  $36.3 mil
  2. Mister Roberts –  $21.2 mil
  3. The Sea Chase –  $12.0 mil
  4. The Tall Men –  $12.0 mil
  5. Galapagos –  $11.5 mil

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • Rebel Without a Cause –  #59  (1998)

Nighthawk Awards:

The Nighthawk Award (and pretty much every other award) for Best Actress of 1955: Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo

  • Best Picture:  Rebel Without a Cause
  • Best Director:  Alfred Hitchcock (To Catch a Thief)
  • Best Actor:  James Dean  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  • Best Actress:  Anna Magnani  (The Rose Tattoo)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jack Lemmon  (Mister Roberts)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Natalie Wood  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Mister Roberts (adapted from the play by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan, based on the novel by Thomas Heggen)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Rebel Without a Cause
  • Best Foreign Film:  Smiles of a Summer Night

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Mister Roberts
  • Best Scene:  James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sil Mineo together in the mansion in Rebel Without a Cause
  • Best Line:  “Captain, it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinkin palm tree overboard.  Now what’s all this crud about no movie tonight.”  (Jack Lemmon in Mister Roberts)
  • Best Double Entendre:  “Would you like a leg or a breast?”  (Grace Kelly to Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief)
  • Best Ending:  Mister Roberts
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause

Ebert Great Films:

  • Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
  • Night of the Hunter
  • Ugetsu
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Sansho the Bailiff

“I can’t say On the Waterfront.  It’s Marty.  I saw Marty three times.”  I remember watching Quiz Show and thinking, why, why would you have watched Marty three times?  But it’s actually very easy.  Marty is very much a movie of its times.  It was a success, quite profitable and had no problem sweeping through the major awards, with the exception of the Golden Globes, where it still won Best Actor.  It had something to say to people in the middle fifties, stuck as they were in the rut of the Eisenhower years in a way it doesn’t now and its reputation suffers because it’s not great art and there really isn’t much to it.  But in 1955, well, it was the type of film that Herb Stempel would have seen three times because it very much spoke to people, even a smart guy like Herb.

Film History: After completion of Giant, his third starring role, James Dean dies on 30 September in an auto accident.  Marilyn Monroe’s skirt is blown up by a subway in New York in The Seven Year Itch, becoming the most iconic moment of the actress’ career.  Rock ‘n’ roll comes to motion pictures with the use of “Rock Around the Clock” in The Blackboard Jungle.  Otto Preminger once again defies the MPAA by releasing his film The Man with the Golden Arm and again is rewarded with several Oscar nominations.  Charlie Chaplin sells his shares in United Artists.  Grace Kelly meets Prince Rainier of Monaco and Alfred Hitchcock expands into television.  The Ealing Comedies come to an end with the closing of the studio.  Satyajit Ray gets international attention with his debut, Pather Panchali.  At a time when most serious films are filmed in Black and White, Fox demands that all films in CinemaScope must be in color and thus Rebel Without a Cause begins filming again, this time in color.  The Constant Husband, a British film, plays on NBC, the first time a feature film plays on television before playing in U.S. theaters.  Walt Disney takes his company to a new level with the opening of Disneyland on 18 July.

Academy Awards: Japan wins its third Honorary Best Foreign Film Award in the final year before the regular category begins.  It will not win one in competition until 2008.  East of Eden becomes the first film to fail to get a Best Picture nomination after winning Best Picture (Drama) from the Golden Globes.  Only one film, Marty, is nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay and it wins all three.  Max Steiner receives the last of his 24 Oscar nominations.  Marty becomes the only Best Picture from 1953 to 1962 not to win Best Editing and one of only two from 1938 to 1962 to not get nominated for Best Editing (Hamlet is the other).  Marty becomes the last BP until Midnight Cowboy in 1969 to not win any of the technical Oscars.

Oh what a mess.  I think I’ve made clear my feelings on Marty.  Good film, enjoyable film, film of its time, but Best Picture?  I’m not buying it.  Not with Rebel Without a Cause, Bad Day at Black Rock, To Catch a Thief and East of Eden failing to even get nominations.  Yet, Marty at least is good.  Love is a Many-Splendored Thing doesn’t even make it that far.  Eight nominations?  Three Oscars?  I’ll grant it Best Song, though I prefer “The Tender Trap” or, of course, “Unchained Melody” if I could ever get a chance to watch Unchained.  Then there is the omission of Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray for Best Director, Henry Fonda for Best Actor and several options for Best Supporting Actress, notably Rosalind Russell in Picnic and both Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak in The Man with the Golden Arm.  And I would much rather have seen technical nominations across the board for Mister Roberts, Rebel, Bad Day and Samurai I than anything for Marty, Many-Splendored Thing or The Rose Tattoo.  And just remember that while Queen Bee, The Private War of Major Benson, A Man Called Peter and I’ll Cry Tomorrow can forever call themselves Oscar-nominated films, the same cannot be said for The Wages of Fear, The Night of the Hunter, The Trouble with Harry, Orson Welles’ Othello or The Lady and the Tramp.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Costume Design (Black and White) for I’ll Cry Tomorrow
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Motion Picture Story for The Private War of Major Benson
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Actor for Henry Fonda in Mister Roberts *
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  The Private War of Major Benson
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Motion Picture Story
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Supporting Actor
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreement:  Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography (Color)
  • * – I would have said James Dean for Rebel Without a Cause, except he was nominated for East of Eden and Academy rules do not allow for multiple nominations and that was a worthy nomination, thus making Fonda the more egregious oversight.

Golden Globes: For the only time, neither Best Picture winner at the Globes is nominated at the Academy Awards.  East of Eden takes home Drama (along with a special posthumous award for James Dean) while Guys and Dolls wins Comedy / Musical.  The other Comedy winners, Tom Ewell for The Seven Year Itch and Jean Simmons for Guys and Dolls, also fail to get Oscar nominations.  The Drama winners do better as Oscar winners Ernest Borgnine and Anna Magnani also win the Globes.  The two Supporting winners, Arthur Kennedy for Trial and Marisa Pavan for The Rose Tattoo, both earn Oscar nominations as does Best Director, Joshua Logan (Picnic).  For the final time, there are no listed nominees available, just winners.

Guilds: Delbert Mann wins the Directors Guild and the only nominees who don’t repeat at the Oscar are John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy who share a nomination for Mister Roberts (who lose out to David Lean at the Oscars).  The three Writers Guild winners are Marty (Drama), Mister Roberts (Comedy) and Love Me or Leave Me (Musical).  Mister Roberts fails to even get nominated at the Oscars while the other two both win.  This Island Earth is the winner of the MPSE award for Sound Editing.

Awards: Ordet wins the Golden Lion at Venice.  Marty becomes the only film to win the Golden Palm at Cannes and Best Picture at the Oscars.  Marty repeats its triumph at both the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics, winning Best Picture and Best Actor.  Anna Magnani also is a double winner, taking home Best Actress.  The NBR gives Best Director to William Wyler for The Desperate Hours while the NYFC go with David Lean for Summertime.  The NBR continue to give out Supporting awards that are repeated nowhere else, this time to Charles Bickford for Not as a Stranger and Marjorie Rambeau for A Man Called Peter and The View from Pompey’s Head.  The NBR choose The Prisoner as Best Foreign Film while the NYFC has a tie with Diabolique and Umberto D both winning.

At the BAFTAs, Laurence Olivier is the king, winning Best British Actor for Richard III, which also becomes the first film to win both Best Picture and Best British Picture.  Marty is a big winner, taking home Best Foreign Actor and Best Foreign Actress while getting a nomination for Best Picture.  Best British Actress goes to Katie Johnson in The Ladykillers, one of the last of the Ealing comedies, which also takes home Best British Screenplay.  The Ladykillers and Olivier will both get Oscar nominations, but not until 1956.

Four wonderful performances without any nominations: Shirley MacLaine, John Forsythe, Mildred Natwick and Edmund Gwenn in Alfred Hitchcock's black comedy, The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Under-appreciated Film of 1955:

The Trouble with Harry (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

These days, Shirley MacLaine plays the interesting grandmother of Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz.  Twenty years ago she was more thought of as being a nut who believed in past lives.  Before that she was one of the top actresses in film history, racking up Oscar nominations for 25 years before finally winning for her tour-de-force in Terms of Endearment.  But 55 years ago, when she was making her debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry, she was a little waife, a beautiful young woman, who at 21, could realistically play the mother of a six year old boy.  She is so beautiful and charming and delightful that she not only sweeps John Forsythe off his feet without effort, but makes everyone fall in love with her.  But her debut performance is only part of a film that was one of Hitchcock’s favorites.

Alfred Hitchcock clearly had a sense of humor and it underlies even his most suspenseful of films, but he made few actual comedies.  The Trouble with Harry is pure Hitchcock in that it is a comedy about death itself, with Harry the problematic corpse who seems to always be in the way.  Yet, no seems too troubled over the fact that he is dead, even though three of the four main characters believe at various points that they might have killed him.  They’re just worrying what to do about the body.  When we first see him, he has just been discovered by MacLaine’s son, who runs off to tell his mother.  In the mean-time, he is found by The Captain (Edmund Gwenn), who, out illegally hunting, believes he may have shot Harry accidentally.  While trying to hide him, up walks Miss Gravely, with the classic line “What seems to be the trouble, Captain?”  She doesn’t seem too concerned about the body and neither are we.

The Trouble with Harry came out at the peak of Hitchcock’s career.  He was coming off Rear Window and To Catch a Thief and was soon to make Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.  Yet, Trouble went almost completely unnoticed in the States.  He did earn a DGA nomination, but got nothing from the Oscars and the box office wasn’t good.  This was a sharp contrast to overseas, where it was nominated for Best Picture at the BAFTAs and played for full houses for over six months in Paris.  What makes the film, aside from the macabre sense of humor, is the wonderful performances from the four main characters.  Of course we have MacLaine.  But we also have poor Edmund Gwenn, spending so much time burying and then un-burying Harry.  We have Mildred Natwick, who seems so reserved as the lonely Miss Gravely, yet so at ease with the situation that presents itself.

But the soul of this film is John Forsythe.  Looking and sounding a bit like Humphrey Bogart (if Bogart was taller and more handsome), he goes through the film with established ease in what was one of his few film roles.  He never made it in films and this is his only great starring role, though certainly an entire generation of television viewers would instantly recognize, if not his face (as the star of “Dynasty”), then certainly his voice (as Charlie in “Charlie’s Angels”).  This film shows us what kind of charming leading man he could have been had his career only taking a slightly different turn.  And in the end, he does get his wish and that wish includes the beautiful young Shirley MacLaine.

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