Part of the brilliant opening shot of Touch of Evil.

Part of the brilliant opening shot of Touch of Evil.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 8 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Smiles of a Summer Night
  3. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  *
  4. Nights of Cabiria
  5. The Defiant Ones  **
  6. Vertigo
  7. Death of a Cyclist
  8. Mon Oncle

Analysis:  There are those who will immediately turn away from this post because I put Vertigo in sixth place.  But, while I rank Vertigo as a **** film, I have it on the lower edge of ****.  The actual vertigo scenes don’t work very well for me and I think Kim Novak’s performance isn’t all that good.  It’s just not the all-time great film to me that it is to so many others.  Touch of Evil, on the other hand, is one of the greatest films ever made.
You may notice a lot of changes from my original Year in Film post.  That’s because the Academy added their own database which lists official L.A. release dates (and thus, Oscar eligibility).  That moved The Seventh Seal out of this year (which is good, because I hate having two films that earn a 99 in the same year), but it moved in Smiles of a Summer Night and Nights of Cabiria, and that’s what bump Vertigo out of the Top 5.  There are only seven **** films – Mon Oncle is a high-level ***.5 film.

  • wellesdirectingBest Director
  1. Orson Welles  (Touch of Evil)
  2. Ingmar Bergman  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  3. Richard Brooks  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)  *
  4. Federico Fellini  (Nights of Cabiria)
  5. Stanley Kramer  (The Defiant Ones)  *
  6. Alfred Hitchcock  (Vertigo)
  7. Juan Antonio Bardem  (Death of a Cyclist)
  8. Jacques Tati  (Mon Oncle)

Analysis:  This is the fifth nomination and third win for Welles.  He now has 360 points and is tied in third place with Hitchcock and Hawks.  It’s the first nomination for the other four.  It will be the only nomination for Kramer.  Bergman, on the other hand, will be in the Top 10 within a decade.
Smiles is an interesting film in Bergman’s history.  It’s a comedy and very different from most of his work.  But it’s also a big leap up from his previous work, taking the maturity from Sawdust and Tinsel and showing what he can really do with it, and paves the way for the classics that will be hitting the States in the next few years, as he will dominate the awards.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  *
  3. Separate Tables  *
  4. The Horse’s Mouth  *
  5. Vertigo
  6. Thérèse Raquin
  7. The Last Hurrah
  8. The Bravados

Analysis:  Alec Guinness becomes that rare kind of nominee – an actor nominated for writing The Horse’s Mouth (who didn’t direct) – the same path that Emma Thompson would take to winning her Oscar in 1995.  I actually don’t think Vertigo has that strong of a script but there wasn’t another film to really push it out.  This is the third writing win for Welles (second in Adapted).  I have, at this point, only read three of the source materials – Cat, Raquin and Last Hurrah, the last of which made my Top 200 list.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Smiles of a Summer Night
  2. Nights of Cabiria
  3. The Defiant Ones  **
  4. Mon Oncle
  5. Death of a Cyclist
  6. High Street
  7. The Sheepman  *

Analysis:  I only have seven films on my whole list and five of them are foreign films.  That just shows what kind of original scripts were coming out of Hollywood at the time.  Given that the Academy had nominated Fellini two years before for La Strada and had given Best Foreign Film the year before to Nights, I’m a little surprised they nominated Houseboat and Teacher’s Pet rather than Nights.  The same for Tati – the writers nominated him in 1955 and here he won Best Foreign Film but is passed over for his writing.
This makes three straight nominations for Fellini.  It’s Bergman’s third nomination and first win, but he will go through the roof in the next two years.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Orson Welles  (Touch of Evil)
  2. Paul Newman  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)  *
  3. Alec Guinness  (The Horse’s Mouth)
  4. Sidney Poitier  (The Defiant Ones)  *
  5. James Stewart  (Vertigo)
  6. Tony Curtis  (The Defiant Ones)  *
  7. Gunnar Bjornstrand  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  8. Burt Lancaster  (Separate Tables)

Analysis:  These are the first of many nominations for Newman and Poitier.  This is the sixth nomination for Guinness, which moves him to 235 points and 11th place.  This is the fifth nomination, but second win for Welles (he’s at 240 points and 10th place).  Stewart now has six nominations (and two wins) and is tied for 5th with 280 points.
This is a very strong top 8, and it leaves out David Niven, who does give the best performance of his career in his Oscar-winning role in Separate Tables, but he still only makes it to 9th place on my list.

  • Best Actress
  1. Elizabeth Taylor  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)  *
  2. Eva Dahlbeck  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  3. Giuleta Masina  (Nights of Cabiria)
  4. Deborah Kerr  (Separate Tables)
  5. Shirley MacLaine  (Some Came Running)
  6. Simone Signoret  (Thérèse Raquin)
  7. Maria Schell  (Gervaise)
  8. Susan Strasberg  (Stage Struck)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Dahlbeck and Masina.  This is Taylor’s first win, but her only other nomination will be her second win in 1966.  This is the first nomination for MacLaine, but she will have a lot more.  It’s the fourth nomination in the decade for Kerr (and eighth overall) and moves her to 340 points, ahead of Janet Gaynor, into 4th place, and just 10 behind Ingrid Bergman.
This is not nearly as strong a group as Best Actor.  The top 4 are very solid (especially the top two), but there’s a drop after that, and yet another drop after Schell.

  • burl ives - big daddyBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Burl Ives  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  2. Lee J. Cobb  (The Brothers Karamazov)  *
  3. Theodore Bikel  (The Defiant Ones)  *
  4. Arthur Kennedy  (Some Came Running)  *
  5. Robert Ryan  (Lonelyhearts)
  6. Burl Ives  (The Big Country)  **
  7. Maurice Chevalier  (Gigi)  *
  8. Christopher Lee  (Horror of Dracula)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Ives and Bikel, the second for Ryan (who won his earlier nom) and third each for Cobb and Kennedy.  Again, not nearly a strong group as the leads.  Ives easily wins this.  In a strong year, neither Kennedy or Ryan would have been nominated.

  • harrietBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Harriet Andersson  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  2. Wendy Hiller  (Separate Tables)  **
  3. Kay Walsh  (The Horse’s Mouth)  *
  4. Marlene Dietrich  (Touch of Evil)
  5. Maria Schell  (The Brothers Karamazov)
  6. Cara Williams  (The Defiant Ones)  *
  7. Hermione Gingold  (Gigi)
  8. Ulla Jacobson  (Smiles of a Summer Night)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Schell.  It’s the third of four for Walsh.  It’s the second nomination and the first of three wins for Andersson (one more for Supporting, one for lead).  It’s the third for Hiller (she has a win for lead).  It’s the second straight nom for Dietrich after a 33 year gap and moves her to 205 points and 7th place.
Dietrich is a tricky one here, and there will be more like her in future years.  She really has a very short amount of screen time in Touch of Evil, but she is so good and her character is really quite key, with some major lines (“Your future’s all used up.”) and her great lines at the end of the film.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Smiles of a Summer Night
  3. Death of a Cyclist
  4. The Defiant Ones
  5. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  6. Nights of Cabiria
  7. Mon Oncle
  8. Vertigo

Analysis:  On the one hand, Touch of Evil is brilliantly constructed.  On the other hand, it was even more brilliantly constructed once they re-did the film according to Welles’ notes.  Like with Ambersons, you can see how brilliant Welles was even when the studio was fucking around with him.  The Defiant Ones is not only the only Oscar nominee in my Top 8, it’s the only nominee on my list at all (the Oscars gave the award to Gigi and then also nominated Auntie Mame, Cowboy and I Want to Live – a terrible group of nominees).  Even in this category, where the average score to date is 34.6, these are bad choices (they earn a 15.6 from me).

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Vertigo
  3. Death of a Cyclist
  4. Smiles of a Summer Night
  5. Nights of Cabiria
  6. The Defiant Ones
  7. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  8. Thérèse Raquin

Analysis:  Smiles is the first of three nominations that Gunnar Fischer will earn working with Bergman.  However, starting in 1960, Bergman will go with Sven Nykvist and that will be it for Fischer.  Vertigo is the fourth nomination for Robert Burks (all with Hitchcock), which gets him up to 125 points and a tie for 4th place.
Touch of Evil, of course, could deserve this award just for the first shot of the film, which goes on, unbroken for several minutes.  But there’s also the other great work in the film, especially the work at the end of the film.  And yes, Gigi won the Color Oscar while Vertigo wasn’t even nominated.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Vertigo
  2. Parash Pathar
  3. Touch of Evil
  4. Nights of Cabiria
  5. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
  6. Mon Oncle
  7. Night of the Demon
  8. Cowboy

Analysis:  Both Vertigo and Sinbad are composed by Bernard Herrmann.  These are his first nominations since 1945 and move him into a tie for 3rd place, with 225 points.  I may have some issues with the reputation of Vertigo, but the score is fantastic.  The Parash Pathar score is by Ravi Shankar, who did great work composing for Satyajit Ray.  The Old Man and the Sea, which won the Oscar, is the highest nominee on my list, coming in at #10.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. The Defiant Ones
  3. Torpedo Run
  4. Run Silent Run Deep
  5. The Sheepman
  6. The Bravados
  7. Death of a Cyclist
  8. The Tarnished Angels

Analysis:  Vertigo is my #10, the only Oscar nominee on my list.  This category, like Editing, is one in which I really don’t see eye to eye with the Academy, especially during this decade.  The Tarnished Angels is based on the Faulkner novel Pylon – it’s not great, but as an airport film it’s got some great sound.

  • SmilesSummerNight_originalBest Art Direction:
  1. Smiles of a Summer Night
  2. Touch of Evil
  3. Gigi
  4. French Cancan
  5. Horror of Dracula
  6. Nights of Cabiria
  7. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  8. Mon Oncle

Analysis:  This one isn’t even close.  Even the great sets in Touch of Evil can’t compare with Smiles.  Gigi at least would win my Color award if I split them, so the Academy didn’t screw that one up (in this year, like 1957, the Black and White and Color were combined into one category for Art Direction and Costume Design).

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
  2. Torpedo Run
  3. Tom Thumb
  4. A Night to Remember

Analysis:  The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is really a decent film, but it’s good splendid Ray Harryhausen effects and is a forerunner for the pure entertainment of Jason and the Argonauts.  The visual effects for Sinbad are better than the other three films put together.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Torpedo Run
  2. Run Silent Run Deep
  3. The Defiant Ones
  4. The Bravados
  5. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Smiles of a Summer Night
  2. Gigi
  3. French Cancan
  4. The Brothers Karamazov
  5. Horror of Dracula
  6. The Red and the Black
  7. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
  8. Tom Thumb

Analysis:  Gigi really does have great costumes, so I won’t complain, and again, if I had a Color category, it would win.  But I’m not sure how the costumes in A Certain Smile or Some Came Running made it on the Academy’s list rather than Brothers Karamazov.

  • Horror-of-DraculaBest Makeup
  1. Horror of Dracula
  2. Nights of Cabiria
  3. French Cancan

Analysis:  I just love the gory makeup of Hammer Horror in all its glorious color.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “I Remember It Well”  (Gigi)
  2. “Dixieland Rock”  (King Creole)
  3. “King Creole”  (King Creole)
  4. “Trouble”  (King Creole)
  5. “To Love and Be Loved”  (Some Came Running)
  6. “Tonka”  (Tonka)

Analysis:  “Gigi” won the Oscar, but I think it’s a terrible song.  “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” was eligible, but it is so uber-creepy.  But “I Remember It Well” is charming and funny and easily the best song in a year where the Elvis film didn’t have any great numbers.  There were 175 songs listed at and I’ve seen 80 of them, with King Creole having the most (13).

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. none

Analysis:  There’s not a single eligible Animated Film.  There is one Foreign film, Panda and the Magic Serpent, but it will be in 1961.

  • the-hidden-fortress-movie-poster-1958-1020506994Best Foreign Film:
  1. The Hidden Fortress
  2. Elevator to the Gallows
  3. The Magician
  4. Ivan the Terrible Part II
  5. Mon Oncle  **
  6. Cairo Station
  7. The Music Room
  8. Enjo

note:  Films in green were submitted to the Academy but not nominated.

Analysis:  Only 10 films were submitted, of which I’ve seen 9.  Four of them are *** films while Mon Oncle is a high-level ***.5 and easily deserved its win.  Of course, as is obvious from my list, they blew it by not nominating The Magician or Cairo Station.  So I blame Japan for not submitting The Hidden Fortress or Enjo (they submitted The Ballad of Narayama, which is mid-range *** and wasn’t nominated) and India for going with the mediocre Madhumati rather than the very good The Music Room.  France passed over my #2 film for my #5 and won the Oscar, so they can be forgiven.  The USSR was very unlikely to submit Ivan the Terrible given the long delay in its release and they didn’t submit anything.
This is a massive drop-off from the year before, of course, because 1957 is the best year in history for this category.  But this is actually the third best year to date for both Top 5 and Top 10, behind only 1957 and 1955 (the next two films don’t make my list, because they’re only high-level ***, but they’re Ashes and Diamonds and Parash Pathar).  This is Japan’s first win in four years.  It’s the first time Sweden has had back-to-back nominations and the first time the Soviets have done that since 1929-30.
Kurosawa wins and Bergman comes in third; the next three times they face off Bergman will win and Kurosawa will come in second.  Bergman is now tied with Marcel Carne for third place with 160 points.  This is Eisenstein’s fourth, and of course, final nomination, as he died in 1948 and his film was only now escaping its ban.

By Film:

note:  They’re in points order.  You get twice as many points for a win as for a nomination.  Hopefully your math skills will let you figure out the system.

  • Touch of Evil  (555)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction
  • Smiles of a Summer Night  (430)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Foreign Film (1955)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  (325)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing
  • The Defiant Ones  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing
  • Nights of Cabiria  (250)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Makeup, Foreign Film (1957)
  • Vertigo  (150)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Cinematography, Original Score
  • Death of a Cyclist  (110)
    • Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Foreign Film (1955)
  • The Horse’s Mouth  (105)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Separate Tables  (105)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad  (85)
    • Original Score, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Torpedo Run  (80)
    • Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Some Came Running  (75)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Original Song
  • The Brothers Karamazov  (75)
    • Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Costume Design
  • Mon Oncle  (60)
    • Original Screenplay, Foreign Film
  • Horror of Dracula  (55)
    • Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Gigi  (55)
    • Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Song
  • French Cancan  (45)
    • Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Run Silent Run Deep  (40)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • Lonelyhearts  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • King Creole  (30)
    • Original Song, Original Song, Original Song
  • Parash Pathar  (25)
    • Original Score
  • The Sheepman  (20)
    • Sound
  • A Night to Remember  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Tom Thumb  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • The Bravados  (20)
    • Sound Editing

Analysis:  At one point, The Seventh Seal was in this year and it was awful, because the awards were split between it and Touch of Evil.  But with Smiles being stronger in other categories (and being Original), that allows for a more natural split.  Gigi might set a points record to this date for a film that didn’t make the Top 100 on the year (it finished at #106).

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Thérèse Raquin

Analysis:  A very good Zola adaptation from Marcel Carné that’s my #11 film of the year.  It earns 6 Top 10 finishes and finishes in 6th twice (Adapted Screenplay, Actress) but just can’t get into the Top 5 anywhere.  Two other ***.5 films also don’t earn any nominations: High Street and The Last Hurrah.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • I Want to Live!

Analysis:  Nominated for 13 total awards and winner of 3, all for Best Actress (Oscar, Globe – Drama, NYFC).  I don’t understand it at all.  I think Hayward is okay (she is my #12 out of 13) but the direction and script (both of which managed Oscar nominations) are terrible.  I think the film is quite bad (the lowest level **) and it ranks as my #139 on the year.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  3. Nights of Cabiria
  4. The Defiant Ones
  5. Vertigo
  • Best Director
  1. Orson Welles  (Touch of Evil)
  2. Richard Brooks  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  3. Federico Fellini  (Nights of Cabiria)
  4. Stanley Kramer  (The Defiant Ones)
  5. Alfred Hitchcock  (Vertigo)

Analysis:  This is Fellini’s only nomination for a Drama, while he’ll end up in the Top 10 of Comedy before too long (as opposed to Bergman – see below).  It’s the third win and fifth nomination for Welles and the eighth nomination for Hitchcock, moving both of them up to 360 points and a tie for 3rd place (along with Wilder and Ford).

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  3. Separate Tables
  4. The Horse’s Mouth
  5. Vertigo
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Nights of Cabiria
  2. The Defiant Ones
  3. Death of a Cyclist
  4. High Street
  5. The Sheepman

Analysis:  High Street is another film from Juan Antonio Bardem (who directed Death of a Cyclist).  It’s hard to find, but is quite good.  And again, Fellini wins here for Drama, where he’ll never get another nomination.

  • touchofevil_orsonwellesBest Actor:
  1. Orson Welles  (Touch of Evil)
  2. Paul Newman  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  3. Alec Guinness  (The Horse’s Mouth)
  4. Sidney Poitier  (The Defiant Ones)
  5. James Stewart  (Vertigo)

Analysis:  Welles finally gets into the Top 10 in points, going up to 275 (2 wins, 6 total noms).  Stewart is tied for 5th (280 points).

  • Elizabeth-Taylor-Cat-on-a-Hot-Tin-RoofBest Actress
  1. Elizabeth Taylor  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  2. Giuleta Masina  (Nights of Cabiria)
  3. Deborah Kerr  (Separate Tables)
  4. Shirley MacLaine  (Some Came Running)
  5. Simone Signoret  (Thérèse Raquin)

Analysis:  With her nomination, Deborah Kerr passes Janet Gaynor and moves into 3rd place in Drama points, behind only Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Burl Ives  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  2. Lee J. Cobb  (The Brothers Karamazov)
  3. Theodore Bikel  (The Defiant Ones)
  4. Arthur Kennedy  (Some Came Running)
  5. Robert Ryan  (Lonelyhearts)
  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Wendy Hiller  (Separate Tables)
  2. Kay Walsh  (The Horse’s Mouth)
  3. Marlene Dietrich  (Touch of Evil)
  4. Maria Schell  (The Brothers Karamazov)
  5. Cara Williams  (The Defiant Ones)

Analysis:  After not getting a Drama nomination since 1934, Dietrich is in for a second year (she was in the year before as lead).  But that leaves her with 205 points and just out of a large tie in 10th place of 210 points.

  • Touch of Evil  (370)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  (300)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • The Defiant Ones  (230)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Nights of Cabiria  (210)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Vertigo  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Separate Tables  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Horse’s Mouth  (105)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Some Came Running  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • The Brothers Karamazov  (60)
    • Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Death of a Cyclist  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • High Street  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Sheepman  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Thérèse Raquin  (35)
    • Actress
  • Lonelyhearts  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • The Bravados

Analysis:  A very good Western from Henry King, my #9 on the year, but unable to break through the more crowded Drama field in any category.


  • Best Picture
  1. Smiles of a Summer Night
  2. Mon Oncle

Analysis:  An easy, easy winner.  One of the greatest comedies ever made up against a year with almost nothing else.  Mon Oncle is very good, but doesn’t quite break into **** for me.

  • Best Director
  1. Ingmar Bergman  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  2. Jacques Tati  (Mon Oncle)
  3. Jean Renoir  (French Cancan)

Analysis:  Of course, Bergman’s only win in Comedy.  I watched this film the first time on a weekend when I also saw Woody Allen’s Interiors for the first time.  It was like the two directors had switched places.  It’s the second of three nominations for Tati, which is impressive when you consider he only directed five films.  It’s the second nomination for Renoir, but gets him into the Top 10 in Comedy points (with 135) because of the lack of dominating Comedy directors.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Parash Pathar
  2. Me and the Colonel

Analysis:  Like with Bergman, it’s rare to have a Satyijat Ray comedy.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Smiles of a Summer Night
  2. Mon Oncle

Analysis:  On the one hand, it sucks to only have two worthy nominees.  On the other hand, it’s Bergman and Tati, so that’s about as good as you can get from only two nominees.

  • smiles-of-a-summer-night-gunnar-bjornstrand-1955Best Actor:
  1. Gunnar Bjornstrand  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  2. Horst Buchholz  (The Confessions of Felix Krull)
  3. Danny Kaye  (Me and the Colonel)

Analysis:  With a long career with Bergman, it’s nice for Bjornstrand to get in a comic performance.  Buchholz gives maybe the best performance of his career and helped make himself a star in West Germany with his performance.

  • smiles-of-a-summer-night-eva-dahlbeck-1955Best Actress
  1. Eva Dahlbeck  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  2. Rosalind Russell  (Auntie Mame)

Analysis:  At least I can give Dahlbeck the win here, while she’s up against Liz as Maggie in the main category (when this film was in 1957, she was easily my winner).  An interesting bit of trivia is that Russell never lost a Globe – in 5 nominations she had 5 wins.  This is Russell’s fourth Comedy nom, getting her to 135 points and into 10th place.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Maurice Chevalier  (Gigi)

Analysis:  Chevalier was actually nominated for Actor.  He’s a bit disturbing when he sings his big song of course, but that doesn’t make his performance any less effective, just a bit creepy.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Harriet Andersson  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  2. Hermione Gingold  (Gigi)
  3. Ulla Jacobson  (Smiles of a Summer Night)
  4. Peggy Cass  (Auntie Mame)

Points:  Like with Bjornstrand, Andersson would be a longtime Bergman stalwart and brilliant so often.  Here, she gets to be several things she is usually not – supporting, comic and blonde (because she is blonde, for a long time I had it in my head that it was Bibi Andersson in this role).

  • Smiles of a Summer Night  (500)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Mon Oncle  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • Gigi  (90)
    • Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Parash Pathar  (80)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Me and the Colonel  (75)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Auntie Mame  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • French Cancan  (45)
    • Director
  • The Confessions of Felix Krull  (35)
    • Actor

Analysis:  Two films that fail to make the Top 100 (Gigi and Auntie Mame) both earn multiple nominations.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Law and Disorder

Analysis:  Solid comedy from Charles Crichton, the director of Lavender Hill Mob.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  144

By Stars:

  • ****:  7
  • ***.5:  7
  • ***:  81
  • **.5:  30
  • **:  11
  • *.5:  3
  • *:  3
  • .5:  2
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  62.78

Analysis:  There are the same number of films as in 1957, same number of films above ***, same number below *.5.  But, there are four fewer *** films and two more ** and *.5 and that means a drop of almost a full point and the lowest overall average for a year to date.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Other Award Nominated Films I Have Not Seen (in descending order of points total):

  • That Night!  (BAFTA – Picture, Foreign Actress – 1957)
  • Harry Black and the Tiger  (BAFTA – British Actor)

note:  Another couple of BAFTA nominated films.  Both of them would get official releases in the States this year but I haven’t been able to track down either one (the former hasn’t been found by many people – it has fewer than 40 votes on the IMDb).

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This year ranks at #67.  We have two great films that can’t break into the Top 100 (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones) and two films that rank below #440 (Auntie Mame, Gigi), with Separate Tables clearly in the middle.  The average film is a 78.2, which ranks 61st, but the average rank is 298.8, which ranks 68th.  But, this is not only the rare year where the Best Director lineup is actually worse then the Best Picture lineup, but the year where the Director lineup ranks the worst in comparison with the Picture lineup.  By replacing Auntie Mame with The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, there isn’t a huge change (though it’s for the positive).  But replacing Separate Tables, a very good film, with I Want to Live, a very low ranked ** film, it just plummets.  The average film nominated for Best Director is a 69.4 and that 8.8 drop is the worst in history (and one of only five that have more than a 3 point drop).

The Winners:  I think Gigi is a relentlessly mediocre film.  Given that it swept the Oscars, that sets things up badly.  The average winner ranks at 2.79 among the nominees, the worst since 1944.  But that’s not all Gigi’s fault, since they chose badly in Actor, Actress and Supporting Actor, while Gigi’s Oscars for Art Direction and Costume Design were the best of the nominees.  The Academy chose the worst Picture (first time since 1952 and only the second time since 1931), Adapted Screenplay (first time since 1939), Actress (first time since 1950, only second time to date) and Song (first time since 1953, second time to date).  They also chose the 4th best in Director, Actor, Supporting Actor (namely because they picked the right actor but wrong film) and Musical Score.  The overall acting score among the nominees is 3.5, the second worst to date (behind 1940).

Among all films, the Oscar winners are much worse.  They average an 18.16, the worst since 1933 and the third worst to date.  But that’s thrown way out of whack by having the 106th best film of the year chosen for Best Picture.  Taking away Picture, the average winner ranks at 13.28, which is the worst to date.  Neither Director nor Adapted Screenplay make my Top 50 of the year.  Worse, for the first time since 1931 I don’t agree with a single winner.  And only two Oscar winners even rank 2nd on my list (Supporting Actress and Costume Design).  The acting is especially poor, averaging a 7.25, the third worst score to date.

The Nominees:  Even the nominees weren’t good choices (how good was it going to be when my two biggest films of the year, Touch of Evil and Smiles of a Summer Night, went completely unnominated?).  The overall score for the year is 41.1, the worst score since 1931.  The major categories (Picture, Director, writing) earns a 40.5, the second worst score since 1942.  The tech categories earn a 26.1, the worst score since 1934.  Even the acting, at a decent 71.1, is the lowest score since 1947.  The single best category in the year is Best Actor, with a 78.4, but even that is still one of the lower scores of the decade.  The only other category to beat 70 is Best Actress, at 70.6, the second lowest score of the decade.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  The Globes began a new idea this year, which would last for five years – separate categories for Best Picture – Comedy and Best Picture – Musical, though Actor and Actress would continue to be one category for both.

The Musical category couldn’t even be filled in this first year – there were only four nominees.  What’s more, because there weren’t any great Musicals this year (or even very good ones), it’s filled with expected films that aren’t really worthy: Gigi, South Pacific, Tom Thumb (the best of the lot) and Damn Yankees.  Without a single film in the Top 200, this ranks as the worst of this category, not just for Musicals, but for either, ranking 64th out of 64.

The Comedy category isn’t a drastic improvement, ranking 50th.  None of the films ranks very high (three of them – The Perfect Furlough, Inspector General and Indiscreet all rank just above 200) and Auntie Mame, the winner, is the worst of the lot.  The fifth nominee is Bell Book and Candle.

Of course, given that the only two Comedies I nominate in my own awards are both Foreign films (which wouldn’t have been eligible for the Globes), there wasn’t much the Globes could do in this year.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1 –  Touch of Evil  (reviewed here)

2  –  Smiles of a Summer Night  (reviewed here)

3  –  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  (reviewed here)

4  –  Nights of Cabiria  (reviewed here)

5  –  The Defiant Ones  (reviewed here)

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Queen of Outer Space
  2. Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
  3. Earth vs. the Spider
  4. I Bury the Living
  5. Space Children
The theme of the 50's: another terrible low-budget Sci-Fi film.

The theme of the 50’s: another terrible low-budget Sci-Fi film.

Queen of Outer Space  (dir. Edward Bernds)

“If [young writers] become enthusiastic, it’s about someone like Kurt Vonnegut, who is uncopyable.  If they try to copy him, they’re in for a disaster.”  Irwin Shaw said that, and I pull it from a wonderful little book called Fighting Words: Writers Lambast Other Writers – from Aristotle to Anne Rice.  Now, that quote is in the book because can be viewed, ostensibly, as a swipe at Vonnegut.  But I don’t think it really is.  I think Shaw realizes that Vonnegut is a singularly great writer, and I use that word singularly on purpose.  Many writers are great and you can learn to write like them, provided you have enough talent.  Faulkner’s influence can be seen in Garcia Marquez, Morrison and McCarthy.  You can see Hammett in Ellroy.  Dickens lives on, in a more comic form, in John Irving.  But Vonnegut’s style works only for him.  If you try to write like Vonnegut, it becomes almost unreadable.  I know, because I knew someone in grad school whose novel was clearly, massively influenced by Vonnegut and as a result, was an utter mess.  Now, this not just a digression – it also has a point.  In 1956, MGM released Forbidden Planet.  It is one of the all-time great Science Fiction films, taking a Shakespeare plot and applying it to the Sci-Fi genre.  The result was a great film, an adventure on another planet, with a great story and visual effects that earned an Oscar nomination (and deserved an Oscar).  Before long, we had other movies in which a ship full of men were landing on other planets and getting into all sorts of troubles.  And that’s where we get crap like Queen of Outer Space.

Now, Forbidden Planet didn’t have top-notch talent.  The director, Fred M. Wilcox didn’t have a great resume.  Star Leslie Nielson would never be a great serious actor and co-star Walter Pidgeon was long past his prime of working with Greer Garson.  Anne Francis was never much of an actress – just some eye candy for the man to fight over.  But it was made by a major studio, it had a solid budget that made for some fascinating visual effects (some of its effects would inspire both Star Trek and the Tom Baker Doctor Who serial “Planet of Evil”).  It had a great story that worked well enough for its cast.  But, most of all, it overcame its shortcomings in the acting and directing department, for all the pieces to work together and create the best Sci-Fi film to be released between Metropolis and 2001.

Queen of Outer Space has nothing that going for it.  It has what isn’t a terrible premise (a ship of humans crash-lands on Venus, where they find a planet where men have been banished and women are ruled by a cruel dictator).  It could have made for a decent episode of Star Trek.  But they don’t manage to do anything with it.  The direction, by Edward Bernds, is pretty awful (he worked a lot in low budget).  The stars of the film are Eric Fleming (soon to become a star on Rawhide), as the captain of the ship and he is just simply awful.  The female star is Zsa Zsa Gabor, and while she might have been beautiful once, she never could act and she’s particularly bad here.  She makes Anne Francis look like an Oscar nominee (don’t be deceived by the length of her outfit in the poster – the outfits are pretty skimpy, following again from Forbidden Planet where Francis didn’t have much on).  Because, unlike Forbidden Planet, this isn’t from a major studio (it’s from Allied Artists, which grew out of the low budget Monogram).  So there’s nothing worthwhile in the way of special effects and no talent in the editing or cinematography.

The lesson to be learned here is that sometimes flukes happen.  Sci-Fi suddenly became a bigger deal in the 50’s, partially because of the space race.  But most Sci-Fi films from the decade are really pretty bad.  I’ve seen 34 Sci-Fi films from the decade (as opposed to 8 made before 1950).  They average a 45.2, or a mid-range ** film.  But if you take out three films – Forbidden Planet, The Thing from Another World and The Day the Earth Stood Still, you get 31 films that average a 41.5.  It’s just a terrible decade for Sci-Fi films, so just avoid them and move, with a few exceptions (2001, The Time Machine, Fantastic Voyage) straight on to 1977.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  Touch of Evil  /  Smiles of a Summer Night  (10)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  Touch of Evil  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Touch of Evil  (555)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Gigi
  • 2nd Place Award:  Smiles of a Summer Night  (Picture, Director, Actress, Editing)
  • 6th Place Award:  The Defiant Ones  (Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  /  The Defiant Ones  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  Touch of Evil  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Touch of Evil  (370)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  The Brothers Karamazov
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  Smiles of a Summer Night  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  Smiles of a Summer Night  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  Smiles of a Summer Night  (500)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Gigi

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record

Progressive Leaders:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  The Wizard of Oz  (18)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  The Wizard of Oz  (14)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  The Wizard of Oz  (795)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards without winning Best Picture:  Frankenstein  /  The Magnificent Ambersons  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Captain Blood  /  Henry V  (10)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  My Man Godfrey (11)
  • Actor:  Humphrey Bogart  (475)
  • Actress:  Bette Davis  (555)
  • Director:   Billy Wilder  (450)
  • Writer:  Billy Wilder  (760)
  • Cinematographer:  Arthur Edeson  /  Gregg Toland  (200)
  • Composer:  Max Steiner  (450)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (320)

Breakdown by Genre  (Foreign in parenthesis, best film in genre following, avg. score is afterwards, in parenthesis):

  • Drama:  51 (16)  –  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  (66.3)
  • Foreign:  34  –  Smiles of a Summer Night  (70.7)
  • Comedy:  24 (7)  –  Smiles of a Summer Night  (64.8)
  • Horror:  16 (2)  –  The Horror of Dracula  (48.3)
  • Western:  12  –  The Bravados  (64.1)
  • War:  10 (1)  –  Run Silent Run Deep  (65.5)
  • Musical:  10 (4)  –  French Cancan  (62.9)
  • Sci-Fi:  6  –  It! The Terror From Beyond Space  (37.3)
  • Adventure:  4  –  The Buccaneer  (62.3)
  • Suspense:  3 (2)  –  Vertigo  (81.3)
  • Crime:  3 (1)  –  Rusty Knife  (63)
  • Mystery:  2 (1)  –  Touch of Evil  (82)
  • Action:  1 (1)  –  Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island  (73)
  • Kids:  1  –  Tonka  (64)
  • Fantasy:  0

Analysis:  After years of being one of the smallest genres, Horror leaps forth.  I’ve seen as many Horror films in 1958 as I did in the entire 1940’s.  That’s in part due to Hammer and in part due to the rise of cheap indies.  There is also a rise in Comedies (the most in one year to date) and a drop in Dramas (they only account for 35.6% of the films, the lowest since 1943).  But the rise of cheap indies mean a lot of terrible Horror and Sci-Fi films; outside of those two genres, the year averages a 65.9, a rise of over three points.

Touch of Evil becomes the first Mystery to win my Best Picture since 1934.  The Foreign Films take a bigger piece of the top pie – they account for half of the top 20 for the first time.

Studio Note:  For the first time since the combined year of 1912-26, United Artists has the most films, with 18 (its high for one year).  In second place, with 15, is Warner Bros, making this the first year since 1947 and only the third year overall where neither MGM nor Fox is in the top two.  With no RKO films, the overall percentage from the remaining major studios is 63.6%, the third lowest to date.  But, for the first time, I’ve seen 3 Disney films (Stage Struck, The Proud Rebel, Tonka), especially surprising since their isn’t an animated film.  I’ve only seen 11 20th Century-Fox films, the lowest number for me since 1946.

It’s a bad year for the majors.  Only Universal and Disney average over a 65, Warners has its lowest average since 1934 (60.4) and United Artists (60.3) and Paramount (56.6) have their lowest averages to date.  Warners’ best film is #40 (Indiscreet) and Vertigo is the only Paramount film in the Top 45.  Only two studios have multiple films in the Top 20 – MGM has two and United Artists has 3.  Universal wins Best Picture for the first time since 1930.

Two of the independent studios start to have a lot more films: Allied Artists and American International Pictures.  Unfortunately their films are terrible.  I’ve seen three from the former and four from the latter and those seven films average a 29.  Without these films, the average for the year goes up almost two points.

42 Films Eligible for Best Foreign Film (alphabetical, with director and country in parenthesis – red are ****, blue are ***.5 – both those colors qualify for my Best Foreign Film Award; an asterisk means it was the Official selection for the Oscar, two asterisks were nominated, three asterisks won the Oscar):

  • Ajantrik  (Ghatak, India)
  • Aren’t We Wonderful  (Hoffmann, West Germany)
  • Arms and the Man  (Wirth, West Germany)  **
  • Ashes and Diamonds  (Wajda, Poland)
  • The Ballad of Narayama  (Kinoshita, Japan)  *
  • Big Deal on Madonna Street  (Monicelli, Italy)  **
  • Brink of Life  (Bergman, Sweden)
  • Cairo Station  (Chahine, Egypt)  *
  • Chalta Ka Naam Gaadi  (Bose, India)
  • The Cheaters  (Carne, France)
  • Elevator to the Gallows  (Malle, France)
  • Enjo  (Ichikawa, Japan)
  • Equinox Flower  (Ozu, Japan)
  • Eroica  (Munk, Poland)
  • Giants & Toys  (Masumura, Japan)
  • The Good Soldier Svejk: Beg to Report, Sir  (Czechoslovakia)
  • The Great Moment  (Santoa, Brazil)
  • The H-Man  (Honda, Japan)
  • Hercules  (Francisci, Italy)
  • The Hidden Fortress  (Kurosawa, Japan)
  • The Idiot  (Pyryev, USSR)
  • Inspector Maigret  (Delannoy, France)
  • Ivan the Terrible Part II  (Eisenstein, USSR)
  • The Last Day of Summer  (Konwicki, Poland)
  • Le Beau Serge  (Chabrol, France)
  • Les Miserables  (Le Chanois, France)
  • Love is My Profession  (Autant-Lara, France)
  • The Lovers  (Malle, France)
  • Madhumati  (Roy, India)  *
  • The Magician  (Bergman, Sweden)  *
  • Mia zoi tin ehoume  (Javellas, Greece)
  • Mon Oncle  (Tati, France)  ***
  • The Music Room  (Ray, India)
  • On a Small Island  (Vulchanov, Bulgaria)
  • Panda and the Magic Serpent  (Yabushita, Japan)
  • Parash Pathar  (Ray, India)
  • The Road a Year Long  (De Santis, Yugoslavia)  **
  • Rosaura at 10 O’Clock  (Soffici, Argentina)
  • Rusty Knife  (Masuda, Japan)
  • Two Eyes, Twelve Hands  (Shantaram, India)
  • The Vampire’s Coffin  (Mendez, Mexico)
  • La Venganza  (Bardem, Spain)  **

Note:  Both France and Japan have 8 films each, a new high for any country in any single year.  There are also new highs for India (6) and Poland (3) and the first film from Bulgaria.  Hercules is the first Fantasy film since 1950 while Inspector Maigret and Rosaura at 10 O’Clock are the first Mysteries since 1939.  There are also 4 Musicals, the most since 1949.  The 42 total films are a new high for one year but it’s nothing compared to what will come in the 60’s.

Foreign Films Submitted for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars That I Haven’t Seen:

  • Denmark:  Dollars from the Sky  (dir. Axel)

note:  At this point I am making a concerted effort to see as many submitted films as I can.  Only 10 films were submitted in 1958 and this is the only one I haven’t seen.  Annoyingly, it’s from Denmark, which also provided one of the three I haven’t seen from 1957.

Films Eligible in This Year But Originally Released in a Different Calendar Year:

  • We Are All Murderers  (1952)
  • Therese Raquin  (1953)
  • Fear  (1954)
  • The Red and the Black  (1954)
  • Beautiful but Dangerous  (1955)
  • Death of a Cyclist  (1955)
  • French Cancan  (1955)
  • Miracle of Marcelino  (1955)
  • Smiles of a Summer Night  (1955)
  • The Captain of Kopenick  (1956)
  • Crazed Fruit  (1956)
  • Gervaise  (1956)
  • A Man Escaped  (1956)
  • Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island  (1956)
  • Across the Bridge  (1957)
  • All at Sea  (1957)
  • Bitter Victory  (1957)
  • Blood of Dracula  (1957)
  • The Confessions of Felix Krull  (1957)
  • Hell Drivers  (1957)
  • High Street  (1957)
  • Lafayette Escandrille  (1957)
  • Lovers of Paris  (1957)
  • Night Ambush  (1957)
  • Night of the Demon  (1957)
  • Nights of Cabiria  (1957)
  • The Smallest Show on Earth  (1957)
  • The Vampire  (1957)
  • Windom’s Way  (1957)

Note:  This list averages a 69 and includes three of the top 7 films of the year.

Films Not Listed at

  • Ajantrik
  • Le Beau Serge
  • Carve Her Name with Pride
  • Chalta Ka Naam Gaadi
  • Giants & Toys
  • The Good Soldier Svejk: Beg to Report, Sir
  • The Great Moment
  • High Street
  • The Last Day of Summer
  • Madhumati
  • Miracle of Marcelino
  • On a Small Island
  • Parash Pathar
  • The Road a Year Long
  • Rosaura at 10 O’Clock
  • Rusty Knife
  • Tarzan and the Trappers
  • Two Eyes, Twelve Hands
  • The Vampire
  • The Vampire’s Coffin

Note:  I use the list at for deciding which year films are eligible in.  For some films, however, they don’t appear in that database.  For those films, I use the IMDb.  These are the films that aren’t listed in the database but that end up in this year.
Two of these films I found confirmed U.S. release dates (Miracle of Marcelino, The Vampire).  The rest of them are 1958 films, almost all of which seem not to have had an official U.S. release (certainly not an Oscar eligible one).  All of them are Foreign language films except Carve (which is British) and Tarzan (originally made for television but apparently re-edited and released as a feature film).

Films Released This Year Originally But Eligible in a Different Year:

  • Brink of Life  (1959)
  • The H-Man  (1959)
  • Hercules  (1959)
  • Inspector Maigret  (1959)
  • Intent to Kill  (1959)
  • Les Miserables  (1959)
  • Look Back in Anger  (1959)
  • Love is My Profession  (1959)
  • The Lovers  (1959)
  • Murder by Contract  (1959)
  • The Naked Maja  (1959)
  • Orders to Kill  (1959)
  • The Perfect Furlough  (1959)
  • Pork Chop Hill  (1959)
  • Rally Round the Flag Boys  (1959)
  • La Venganza  (1959)
  • Aren’t We Wonderful  (1960)
  • The Captain’s Daughter  (1960)
  • Carlton-Browne of the F.O.  (1960)
  • Carry On Nurse  (1960)
  • Carry On Sergeant  (1960)
  • Eugene Onegin  (1960)
  • Frankenstein’s Daughter  (1960)
  • The Hidden Fortress  (1960)
  • Ice Cold in Alex  (1960)
  • The Idiot  (1960)
  • Ivan the Terrible Part II  (1960)
  • Jack the Ripper  (1960)
  • The Magician  (1960)
  • Big Deal on Madonna Street  (1961)
  • The Cheaters  (1961)
  • Elevator to the Gallows  (1961)
  • Panda and the Magic Serpent  (1961)
  • Arms and the Man  (1962)
  • Ashes and Diamonds  (1962)
  • The Ballad of Narayama  (1962)
  • Sea of Sand  (1962)
  • Corridors of Blood  (1963)
  • Mia zoi tin ehoume  (1963)
  • Eroica  (1966)
  • The Music Room  (1968)
  • Equinox Flower  (1977)
  • Enjo  (1978)
  • Cairo Station  (1998)

Note:  These films average a 67.6  But while there is only one film below ** (Frankenstein’s Daughter), there are several **** films (Hidden Fortress, Ivan the Terrible, The Magician, Elevator to the Gallows) and a few ***.5 films (The Music Room, Enjo, Cairo Station).