A Century of Film

United Artists

The Studio

It’s a famous story by now, one of the most famous in film history.  Four artists were tired of the offers they were getting from their studios and so they left their studios and formed their own.  There was a director (D.W. Griffith), a couple of stars (Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, not yet married because of her pending divorce) and the man who could do it all (Charlie Chaplin).

“There is an antique strip of silent film barely two minutes long that is perhaps unique in motion-picture and business history.  It is in two parts, two simple cuts.  The first records the ritual signing of incorporation papers, and there is an appropriate solemnity as signatures are affixed to documents dated February 5, 1919.  The scene is artlessly composed and shot and would be of no visual interest whatever were it not that the four signatories, the founding partners of the newly formed United Artists Corporation, were perhaps the four most famous people on earth.”  (Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, Steven Bach, p 28)

“There was a very large wrinkle, one unique in motion-picture history, perhaps the one that made them appear lunatics to many in the industry: Their films would be not only self-produced and self-distributed but self-financed as well.  Each partner agreed to deliver three pictures a year, giving the small distribution company a release schedule of one picture per month.  It didn’t work out that way.”  (Bach, p 36)

For a history of their logo, go here, which is where I grabbed the image above.

“The early history of United Artists was extremely troublesome.  Without automatic access to any theaters of its own, the firm needed to break the stranglehold of Paramount and First National (it was not entirely a coincidence that Paramount began its theater-buying spree the day after the incorporation of United Artists).”  (An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928, Richard Koszarski, p 78)

But the main problem was they just didn’t have enough movies to go around.  “From its beginning, United Artists had no shortage of box-office hits, only a shortage of product.”  (The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, p 9)  They had commitments still to their previous studios and Chaplin would always be slow to make new films (they were supposed to provide four each per year for one film to release a month but Chaplin would take until 1931 to finish his fourth film).  But “things began to change when Joseph Schenck joined the company in November 1924.”  (Bergan, p 9)

“The artists had never actually run the ‘asylum.’  They made (or didn’t make) their pictures and hired businessmen to run the company and sell the product.  By the mid-twenties, however, it was clear that if UA was to survive, they needed more than administrators and salesmen.  They needed an executive who could command respect on Wall Street and with the bankers, who could reorganize the company’s capital structure, and, most important, attract talent: a movieman, someone who understood not only the numbers but audiences, movies, and the people who made them.  In Joseph M. Schenck they found a movieman of the first rank.”  (Bach, p 37-38)  He would start to branch things out, bring in other independent producers that would supply the films for the studio, including Samuel Goldwyn and actress Gloria Swanson and by 1927 the studio was finally meeting its obligation to theaters.

“United Artists was created near the beginning of the decade by four of the silent cinema’s supreme artists.  At the end of the golden era, Griffith was ruined and Pickford and Fairbanks were heading for divorce and retirement.  Despite further masterpieces, Chaplin’s divorce cases and politics were to tarnish his reputation.  Thus ‘the company built by the stars’ was beginning to pass out of their hands.  It was producer-businessmen-showmen such as Schenck, Goldwyn, [Howard] Hughes, [David O.] Selznick and [Alexander] Korda who were to dominate United Artists in the 30s and keep its reputation alive.”  (Bergan, p 9)

Schenck would keep things running, staying ahead of financial failure (helped by the release of City Lights which was a massive hit) until 1933 when “Schenck decided that instead of merely giving advances to independent producers, loans secured by the rental fees of the pictures, he would now finance productions, and demand interest as well as a share of the profits.”  (Bergan, p 41)

“United Artists became a principal distributor of British pictures in the United States.  UA was solely a distributor and did not finance films; therefore, the company did not have to give top priority to its own product.  UA was always in search of quality product from anywhere to include on its roster.”  (Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930-1939, Tino Balio, p 35)

The biggest hit for the studio was when Darryl F. Zanuck quit Warner Bros and joined Schenck in a new independent company, Twentieth Century Pictures, which provided a full slate for 1933 and 1934, all of them within budget, almost all of them making a profit.  But the four founders refused to let Zanuck buy into the company itself and so he merged with Fox and they were left with a gap to fill (there was a drop of five films from 1934 to 1935 without Zanuck) and Goldwyn and Korda were looked at to fill more of the slots.

“Schenck also brought into UA Howard Hughes (Scarface and Hell’s Angels) and two men who, in very different ways, were to become household words: Walt Disney and Darryl F. Zanuck.  In one sense, then, United Artists under Schenck not only became a major power itself but spun off two other major companies: Disney’s and the merger of William Fox’s moribund studio with Zanuck’s UA unit, born there and dubbed (in 1933) Twentieth Century.  Zanuck’s departure in 1935 was a stunning blow because he took Schenck with him as chairman of the newly merged Twentieth Century-Fox.  But their leaving was symptomatic of problems at UA that could only grow.”  (Bach, p 38)

“Maybe no one could have handled Goldwyn (others had tried and failed) but certainly Mary Pickford was not executive enough to do so or to run the company as Schenck had.  She promoted herself from partner to manager and promptly lost Walt Disney to RKO over a minor negotiating point regarding television rights to the Disney cartoons (in 1935!).  The public embarrassment of having lost in short order Schenck, Zanuck, Goldwyn and Disney only worsened already strained relations with Chaplin.”  (Bach, p 40)  By the late 30’s, Fairbanks was barely involved as his marriage to Pickford had ended in 1935.  “For the first two years following the divorce, Fairbanks and Pickford rarely saw each other except at UA board meetings where they were waging a bitter campaign against Sam Goldwyn’s attempt to gain control of the company.  Doug was starting to cut himself off from his old friends, even from Chaplin, who in his autobiography remembers seeing Fairbanks only twice during the late 1930s.”  (Doug & Mary, Gary Carey, p 221)

That’s when Selznick came in, making a deal to release his pictures through UA until 1939 but when they also wouldn’t allow him control of the company, he would eventually leave as well (not helped by him needing to release Gone with the Wind through MGM in order to use Gable).  Next to come along was Goldwyn, who also left, again before he wasn’t allowed to simply run the company.  “He had supplied them with a remarkable 50 films in 14 years, the majority of which were both critical and commercial triumphs.  So the Titans of the industry – Zanuck, Selznick, Korda and Goldwyn forsook UA one by one.  Of the greats, only Chaplin remained to make a mere two films in the 40s.”  (Bergan, p 41)

In the 40s, even though the industry was booming, UA wasn’t necessarily making more films.  In no year in the decade would the studio release more than 21 films and in the decade it would only release 181, just six more than it had released in the tumultuous 30s.

The latest person to try and take things over was J. Arthur Rank, who was providing a number of British films for UA (and providing a lot of their international grosses during the war with most foreign markets cut off) but Pickford and Selznick opposed the idea.  Selznick himself, after providing films like Rebecca, Since You Went Away and Spellbound also was forced out in 1946 after giving films to RKO to distribute.

The studio was barely surviving.  “In fact, its net income dropped from $440,000 in 1939 to $409,000 in 1946.  This can be put down to bad management, inter-company disputes and, generally, undistinguished product.”  (Bergan, p 87)  More independents were springing up and they weren’t going through UA, the Blacklist was hitting and UA was having trouble competing with the majors.

“Pickford and Chaplin were no longer speaking to each other by 1950, but they could read the balance sheets and knew it was time to sell, time to get out.”  (Bach, p 43)

“Arthur Kim and Robert Benjamin [had] assumed control of the flailing United Artists in the early 1950s and, over the next ten years, built a thriving creative and commercial structure in which independent producers would retain control of their work and share profits with the studio as long as they could reach agreements on cast, cost, director and script.  Krim and Benjamin’s dramatic rethinking of the old studio system not only resulted in better movies, but caught the attention of every other studio.  From the beginning of the 1950s to the end, even as the overall number of Hollywood films declined sharply, so-called independent production at the majors quadrupled.”  (Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, Mark Harris, p 41)  This is definitely reflected at UA.  After releasing 455 films in their first 31 years, they released 404 in the 50s alone.

UA succeeded in the decade by branching out in different ways.  There was the spectacle (Bwana Devil, the first 3-D film), there was pushing the boundaries of the Code (The Moon is Blue), there were the quality productions from Stanley Kramer (High Noon, The Defiant Ones) and Hecht-Hill-Lancaster (Marty, Separate Tables) and numerous inexpensive but consistent productions from Edward Small and Aubrey Schenck.  The studio would win back-to-back Best Picture Oscars in 1955 and 56 (Marty, Around the World in 80 Days) and then would begin a run of Oscar domination, winning five time in the 60s.  From 1960 to 1963 they would become the first studio to win three Best Picture Oscars in four years and from 1975 to 1977 they would become the only studio in history to win three Best Picture Oscars in a row.

The 60s would bring not only massive Oscar success but also popular success, establishing multiple franchises (James Bond, Pink Panther) but big hits like The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and A Hard Day’s Night.

“In 1968, UA reached a new high when it generated over $20 million in profits after tax.  Its impressive record attracted the interest of the Transamerica Corporation of San Francisco, a diversified organization known largely as a major insurance company.  It purchased 98% of UA’s stock and made it a subsidiary.”  (Bergan, p 195)

Big changes were in store soon after, though.  Big losses in 1970 meant a big cutback in production (UA distributed 41 films in 1970 and after 1971 they never again distributed more than 21 films in a year).  But the bigger chance came a few years later.

“In 1973, UA acquired the domestic theatrical and syndicated distribution rights of all MGM pictures for ten years, and also purchased MGM’s music publishing companies.  MGM, which had been deteriorating progressively over the last few years, decided to get out of the distribution business.”  (Bergan, p 251)  In the 60s, UA had at least six films that grossed over $40 million.  In the first five years of the 70s, in spite of inflation, there was only one (Diamonds are Forever) and they only had two Best Picture nominees.  But then would come two smash hits, both winning Best Picture and both grossing over $100 million (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky) and things were looking up.  But success at the studio was not translating to calm times at the business.

In 1978, the UA heads were tired of being told what to do by parent company Transamerica and the head of Transamerica, Jack Beckett, said “if the people at United Artists don’t like it, they can quit and go off on their own.”  Which is what they did, leaving the next day and forming Orion Pictures, with a financing and distributing affiliation with Warner Brothers.

The 80s would see the studio become more and more irrelevant.  The franchises would keep the business going, Rocky becoming the most successful and there would be one more Best Picture win (Rain Man, in 1988) but Heaven’s Gate would wipe things out.

I won’t recap everything about the film that helped the studio crater thanks to Heaven’s Gate because you should read The Final Cut which is a fantastic film book and a great description of those times at UA.

Notable UA Films

  • Broken Blossoms (1919)  –  first United Artists release
  • Disraeli (1921)  –  first UA release not by the original four
  • Stella Dallas (1925)  –  first Goldwyn film for UA
  • Alibi (1929)  –  first UA Best Picture nominee
  • Hell’s Angels (1930)  –  first Howard Hughes film for UA
  • The Bowery (1933)  –  first 20th Century Pictures film
  • The Call of the Wild (1935)  –  last 20th Century Pictures film
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)  –  first Selznick film for UA
  • Rebecca (1940)  –  first UA Best Picture winner
  • Home of the Brave (1949)  –  first Stanley Kramer film for UA
  • Bwana Devil (1953)  –  first 3-D film
  • Around the World in 80 Days (1956)  –  Best Picture winner; highest grossing UA film to date
  • Dr. No (1963)  –  first James Bond film
  • Goldfinger (1964)  –  first UA film to gross over $50 million
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)  –  Best Picture winner; first UA film to gross over $100 million
  • Rocky (1976)  –  Best Picture winner; start of UA’s second most lucrative franchise; highest grossing UA film to-date beaten before 1988 only be two of its sequels
  • Rain Man (1988)  –  Best Picture winner; highest grossing UA film

The Directors

D.W. Griffith

  • Films:  14
  • Years:  1919 – 1931
  • Average Film:  71.2
  • Best Film:  Broken Blossoms
  • Worst Film:  Dream Street

One of the original four that founded UA, Griffith’s heyday as a director was behind him but he still did solid work for UA.  But he was productive, directing more films by 1925 for UA than Chaplin would over the whole course of his time with the studio.  What’s more, he started with the great Broken Blossoms.

Charlie Chaplin

  • Films:  8
  • Years:  1923 – 1952
  • Average Film:  88.4
  • Best Film:  Modern Times
  • Worst Film:  A Women of Paris

Any time you can take eight films from any director and average a **** film, you’ve done a magnificent job.  Chaplin’s films were few and far between but he did five masterpieces in a row for the studio (The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator), just about five films in a row as great as any director in history.  Chaplin, of course, also deserves to go down below under the Actors.

William Wyler

  • Films:  7
  • Years:  1936 – 1961
  • Average Film:  76.1
  • Best Film:  Wuthering Heights
  • Worst Film:  The Big Country

Wyler did several films working for Samuel Goldwyn when he was releasing his films through UA including three that were nominated for Best Picture (Dodsworth, Dead End, Wuthering Heights) then returned to the studio for distribution almost two decades later for two of his later, independently produced films (The Big Country, The Children’s Hour).  All seven films earned at least one Oscar nom, four of them won an Oscar and they earned 29 combined nominations.

Stanley Kramer

  • Films:  8
  • Years:  1955 – 1969
  • Average Film:  73.8
  • Best Film:  The Defiant Ones
  • Worst Film:  The Pride and the Passion

Stanley Kramer started as a film producer (on High Noon, among others) so when he turned to directing, independently producing his films and releasing them through UA was the natural move.

Billy Wilder

  • Films:  9
  • Years:  1957 – 1978
  • Average Film:  82.8
  • Best Film:  The Apartment
  • Worst Film:  The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

After leaving Paramount, Wilder moved to UA and made four fantastic films in a row (Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, One Two Three) before making several lesser ones.  Those first four alone earned 23 combined Oscar nominations.

Blake Edwards

  • Films:  9
  • Years:  1964 – 1993
  • Average Film:  54.7
  • Best Film:  A Shot in the Dark
  • Worst Film:  Curse of the Pink Panther

Edwards’ films would only earn two combined Oscar noms but, with directors moving in and out of the Bond and Rocky franchises, Edwards was the hand behind the Pink Panther franchise, the other major franchise in the studio’s history, directing eight films that helped hold UA together.

Woody Allen

  • Films:  8
  • Years:  1971  –  1980
  • Average Film:  87.8
  • Best Film:  Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  • Worst Film:  Good Girls Go to Paris

Unlike Griffith, Chaplin and Wilder who came in at their peaks, Allen rose at the studio with his last four films (Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Stardust Memories) averaging a 94.5, earning 12 Oscar noms and winning 5, including Best Picture before Allen followed the Orion people out the door.

The Stars

Mary Pickford

One of the original UA four, Pickford both starred in films and produced them.  She was the first actor of either gender to win an Oscar for UA (in 1929) and the only one until 1936.  Until 1958 (when UA won both awards), she would be the only female winner.
Essential Viewing:  Coquette, Pollyanna, Sparrows, Tess of the Storm Country

Douglas Fairbanks

Fairbanks’ time as one of the great charismatic actors on the screen was already established before the foundation of UA but he cemented while there, proving that he was the great Action star of the decade.
Essential Viewing:  The Mark of Zorro, Robin Hood, The Thief of Bagdad, The Three Musketeers

Sean Connery

Because UA wasn’t like a traditional studio, they didn’t have a group of stars under contract, so after the original stars, it would be awhile before someone solid came along at UA and what allowed that was the rise of the franchise.  UA released the James Bond films right from the start and helped make Sean Connery a star.  He did very little else for UA but since three of his six Bond films are still among the Top 10 UA films when adjusted for inflation, he had already done enough.
Essential Viewing:  Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, Dr. No

Peter Sellers

Sellers’ first two Pink Panther films were solid successes but his return to the franchise in the late 70’s was even more successful and part of the fantastic run when UA dominated things before Heaven’s Gate destroyed it all.
Essential Viewing:  A Shot in the Dark, The Pink Panther

Sylvester Stallone

Stallone did, in a sense, even more than Connery and Sellers.  First, Stallone actually wrote the first Rocky film, so it was his franchise to start and he directed later films.  Also, his first four Rocky films are all among the top seven films all-time for UA.
Essential Viewing:  Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV


UA never really branched out much into genre films.  They had several Adventure films at the start because of Fairbanks but they also focused on Drama (Pickford) and Comedy (Chaplin).  Many of their best films over the years have been their Comedies.  It’s notable as well that one of their few franchises, one that helped keep the studio afloat in the mid 70’s was the Pink Panther, a rare Comedy franchise.

The Top 100 United Artists Films

  1. West Side Story
  2. Modern Times
  3. Annie Hall
  4. Paths of Glory
  5. Raging Bull
  6. The Apartment
  7. Some Like It Hot
  8. City Lights
  9. Apocalypse Now
  10. Rebecca
  11. High Noon
  12. The Great Dictator
  13. The Gold Rush
  14. Henry V (1944)
  15. The Great Escape
  16. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  17. 12 Angry Men
  18. Scarface (1932)
  19. The Killing
  20. A Star is Born (1937)
  21. Sweet Smell of Success
  22. Manhattan
  23. A Hard Day’s Night
  24. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  25. In Which We Serve
  26. Being There
  27. In the Heat of the Night
  28. Tom Jones
  29. Wuthering Heights (1939)
  30. The African Queen
  31. Les Miserables (1935)
  32. The Manchurian Candidate
  33. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  34. Red River
  35. The Defiant Ones
  36. Last Tango in Paris
  37. Richard III (1995)
  38. Oliver Twist (1948)
  39. Interiors
  40. Stagecoach
  41. Witness for the Prosecution
  42. You Only Live Twice
  43. One, Two, Three
  44. Stardust Memories
  45. Ghost World
  46. The General (1927)
  47. Hotel Rwanda
  48. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  49. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  50. Othello (1952)
  51. Midnight Cowboy
  52. The Man with the Golden Arm
  53. Lenny
  54. The Moon is Blue
  55. Hobson’s Choice
  56. Elmer Gantry
  57. Carrie (1976)
  58. The Circus
  59. To Be or Not To Be (1942)
  60. Rain Man
  61. The Hospital
  62. Broken Blossoms
  63. The Best Man
  64. Goldfinger
  65. 24 Hour Party People
  66. Steamboat Bill Jr
  67. Spellbound
  68. Moulin Rouge (1952)
  69. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
  70. The Night of the Hunter
  71. The Magnificent Seven
  72. The Claim
  73. Queen Kelly
  74. Charge of the Light Brigade
  75. From Russia with Love
  76. All or Nothing
  77. Mississippi Mermaid
  78. Women in Love
  79. The Birdcage
  80. Dodsworth
  81. The Sound Barrier
  82. J’Accuse
  83. The Last Metro
  84. Love and Death
  85. A Fistful of Dollars
  86. The Miracle Worker
  87. A Christmas Carol (1951)
  88. Separate Tables
  89. Dead End
  90. A Shot in the Dark
  91. Sleeper
  92. Osama
  93. Hamlet (1964)
  94. The Story of G.I. Joe
  95. The Whisperers
  96. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
  97. Limelight
  98. The Southerner
  99. The Fortune Cookie
  100. Thieves Like Us

note:  The Top 67 films are all ****.  The rest are high ***.5.

Notable United Artists Films Not in the Top 100

note:  Includes all films I have either already reviewed or have current plans to review in the future as well as all films I saw in the theater.

The Bottom 10 United Artists Films, #1015-1024
(worst being #10, which is #1024 overall)

  1. Rocky V
  2. The Vampire and the Ballerina
  3. Windows
  4. The Vampire
  5. Caveman
  6. The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery
  7. Mr. Accident
  8. The Beast Within
  9. Drum
  10. Galaxy of Terror

note:  The first three are * while the other 8 are .5 films.

Notes on Films

note:  These are just tidbits on some of the films.  The films are listed in alphabetical order.  Unless I have something specific to say, I don’t mention films that have full reviews elsewhere or films that I saw in the theater from 1989 to 2005 (they are all mentioned in those Nighthawk Awards).

  • Betrayed  –  Not a great film but my friend Cody got to be an extra somewhere in the film because they were filming it in Canada when he went to visit relatives nearby and I was endlessly jealous because he got to be an extra in a Debra Winger film.
  • Black Magic  –  Clearly of interest to people because there’s a film (Fade to Black) about Orson Welles solving a mystery while filming it and there’s an issue of Superman (reprinted in Superman: From the 30’s to the 70’s) in which Welles, while filming it, gets kidnapped by Martians and no one believes him when he radios home about it because of War of the Worlds.
  • Help!  –  This is weird and I can’t explain it but the individual songs in this film are better than A Hard Day’s Night but the latter’s album is a better album.  This film is only okay where AHDN was brilliant but the songs make it worth it.
  • How I Won the War  –  Worth seeing for the fascinating combination of Michael Crawford and John Lennon in non-musical roles.
  • Inserts  –  Mediocre film but worth seeing for Richard Dreyfuss’ performance and because of an attempt to make a mainstream movie about pornography.
  • It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World  –  Way too long but it’s a family favorite so I can’t not mention it.  Lots of really good comic actors.
  • The Long Riders  –  Mediocre film about the James-Younger gang but worth watching at least once because it uses four sets of actual brothers to play historical brothers.
  • Love and Death  –  One of two films where Woody Allen makes the transition from just being funny to being funny and brilliant on film that lead to Annie Hall.
  • Saved  –  A hilarious satirical Comedy that definitely deserves to be watched.  Responsible for the somewhat surprisingly satisfying cover of “God Only Knows” by Michael Stipe and Mandy Moore (Moore is the star, Stipe a producer).
  • Sleeper  –  The other Woody Allen film that helped make that transition.
  • That Hamilton Woman  –  If you’re going to see an Olivier / Leigh film this is the one to see.

The 8 Most Under-Rated United Artists Films

These are all films that I rate at **** that have never appeared in TSPDT’s Top 1000 (now 2000) or their Top 250 21st Century Films (now 1000).  Also, I eliminated several films that were nominated for Best Picture (A Star is Born, In Which We Serve, Les Miserables, Wuthering Heights, The Defiant Ones, Lenny, Elmer Gantry, Spellbound).  I present them in their rank order.  I do think it’s remarkable that of the 16 UA films nominated for Best Picture that earn **** from me, a full half of them aren’t on the TSPDT list, which, again, seems a flaw in the way they calculate their list.

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  2. Richard III
  3. Oliver Twist
  4. The Man with the Golden Arm
  5. The Moon is Blue
  6. Hobson’s Choice
  7. The Hospital
  8. The Best Man

The Best United Artists Films by Decade

  • 1920’s:  The Gold Rush
  • 1930’s:  Modern Times
  • 1940’s:  Rebecca
  • 1950’s:  Paths of Glory
  • 1960’s:  West Side Story
  • 1970’s:  Annie Hall
  • 1980’s:  Raging Bull
  • 1990’s:  Richard III
  • 2000’s:  Ghost World

The Worst United Artists Films by Decade

  • 1920’s:  Coquette
  • 1930’s:  White Zombie
  • 1940’s:  The Outlaw
  • 1950’s:  The Vampire
  • 1960’s:  The Vampire and the Ballerina
  • 1970’s:  Drum
  • 1980’s:  Galaxy of Terror
  • 1990’s:  Rocky V
  • 2000’s:  Mr. Accident

The Best United Artists Films by Genre

  • Action:  Goldfinger
  • Adventure:  The African Queen
  • Comedy:  Modern Times
  • Crime:  Scarface
  • Drama:  Raging Bull
  • Fantasy:  A Christmas Carol
  • Horror:  Carrie
  • Kids:  n/a
  • Musical:  West Side Story
  • Mystery:  Rebecca
  • Sci-Fi:  n/a
  • Suspense:  The Manchurian Candidate
  • War:  Paths of Glory
  • Western:  High Noon

note:  It’s not that I haven’t seen any UA Kids or Sci-Fi films but that none of them are higher than *** (for the record, the best two films are The Black Stallion and The Quatermass Experiment).

The Worst United Artists Films by Genre

  • Action:  Safari 3000
  • Adventure:  The Minotaur, the Wild Beast of Crete
  • Comedy:  Mr. Accident
  • Crime:  Deuces Wild
  • Drama:  Drum
  • Fantasy:  Little Monsters
  • Horror:  The Beast Within
  • Kids:  Thunderbird 6
  • Musical:  200 Motels
  • Mystery:  The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery
  • Sci-Fi:  Galaxy of Terror
  • Suspense:  Windows
  • War:  The Passage
  • Western:  Heaven’s Gate

The Most Over-Rated UA Films

  1. Heaven’s Gate
    Originally reviled by critics and rightfully so, the egotistical monster of a film by Michael Cimino basically destroyed the studio yet somehow is now close to the Top 25 on TSPDT.
  2. The Long Goodbye
    I will never understand why some people like Elliot Gould’s version of Marlowe.  One of Altman’s most over-rated films.
  3. Fellini Satyricon
    When people say Fellini is self-indulgent, this is what they are talking about.
  4. The Lord of the Rings
    Some people think this is good.  My review explains all the ways in which this view is wrong.
  5. Cutter’s Way
    Though not on the TSPDT Top 2000, for several years before their 2013 revision of how they did the list, this was actually a Top 1000 film and I can’t figure out why.  A full review here talks about why I think it sucks.

The Statistics

Total Films 1912-2011: 1023  (5th)

Total Percentage of All Films 1912-2011:  6.19%

  • 1912-1929:  60  (14.22%)  (2nd)
  • 1930-1939:  132  (8.95%)  (6th)
  • 1940-1949:  131  (9.14%)  (3rd)
  • 1950-1959:  201  (12.31%)  (2nd)
  • 1960-1969:  189  (10.64%)  (1st)
  • 1970-1979:  171  (9.57%)  (1st)
  • 1980-1989:  90  (4.37%)  (7th)
  • 1990-1999:  20  (0.78%)  (18th)
  • 2000-2009:  29  (1.02%)  (19th)

Percentage I’ve Seen by Decade:

  • 1919-1929:  66.33%
  • 1930-1939:  73.14%
  • 1940-1949:  75.82%
  • 1950-1959:  52.58%
  • 1960-1969:  74.70%
  • 1970-1979:  80.47%
  • 1980-1989:  84.95%
  • 1990-1999:  100.00%
  • 2000-2009:  96.88%
  • TOTAL:  70.31%

note:  UA made far more films in the 50’s than in any other decade.  It accounts for 11.76% of the years in the studio’s release history but 27.59% of the films.  They made very few films after 1989 (just 52, the only one of which I haven’t seen is No Such Thing).  After 1930, I am at least 70% in every year except 1988 (6 for 9) and the 50’s.  In the 50’s, I am at least 50% in every year but never over 56% (there are an average of 40.7 films in every year).  Even up through 1930 I am at 70% in 8 of the 12 years.

note:  Because most box office information before 1980 is spotty and I have seen most of the UA films since 1980, the highest grossing UA film listed on Box Office Mojo that I haven’t seen is Penitentiary II, the #124 UA film at $3.17 million.

Biggest Years:

  • 28:  1957
  • 26:  1951, 1960
  • 25:  1956
  • 23:  1958, 1962, 1969

note:  UA has the most films in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1961-63, 1968-71, 1979 and 1981.

Biggest Years by Percentage of All Films:

  • 1961:  15.66%
  • 1926:  15.36%
  • 1957:  14.81%
  • 1954:  14.60%
  • 1956:  14.29%

Biggest Years by Percentage of UA Films I’ve Seen:

  • 100%  (21 for 21)  –  1971
  • 100%  (13 for 13)  –  1977, 1981
  • 100%  (7 for 7)  –  2004
  • 100%  (6 for 6)  –  1984, 2003
  • 100%  (5 for 5)  –  1995, 1996, 2001
  • 100%  (3 for 3)  –  1987, 1999, 2000
  • 100%  (2 for 2)  –  1990, 1997
  • 100%  (1 for 1)  –  1986, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2006

Best Year:

  • 1945, 1957:  4 films in the Top 10
  • 1937, 1964:  3 films in the Top 10, 5 in the Top 20

Average Film By Decade:

  • 1919-1929:  70.07
  • 1930-1939:  64.69
  • 1940-1949:  63.76
  • 1950-1959:  60.92
  • 1960-1969:  63.42
  • 1970-1979:  57.72
  • 1980-1989:  52.11
  • 1990-1999:  45.90
  • 2000-2006:  59.38
  • TOTAL:  61.12

note:  As always with a chart like this, it does beg the question of whether older films are better (or just fewer older films are bad) or whether the ones that are worse are simply harder to find.

Best Years for Average Film:

  • 1927-28:  74.33
  • 1964:  72.85
  • 2004:  71.33
  • 1912-26:  70.22
  • 1937:  70.12

Worst Years for Average Film (minimum 5 films):

  • 1989:  38.90
  • 1995:  48.00
  • 1982:  49.20

Star Rating:

note:  The percentage breakdown for all UA films by star rating.

  • ****:  6.55%
  • ***.5:  6.74%
  • ***:  40.37%
  • **.5:  27.66%
  • **:  13.00%
  • *.5:  1.96%
  • *:  3.03%
  • .5:  0.68%
  • 0:  0.00%


  • Top 10 Most Films every year through 1985

UA starts in 2nd place behind MGM but by 1932 has already dropped to 3rd behind Paramount.  It bounces back and forth between 3rd and 4th with Warner Bros until Fox passes them both in 1942 but by 1945 it has pulled back ahead of both Warners and Paramount and moved back into 3rd.  Right now, it stays in 3rd all the way until 2009 but by the time I do the Warners and Paramount posts, it will have dropped to 5th place much earlier.

The Top Films:

UA would be the third major to win the Nighthawk but the first to win a second as well as the first to get to three, four and five and the second to get to six.

  • Nighthawk Winner:  1931, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1961, 1980
  • 4 Films in the Top 10:  1945, 1957
  • 3 Films in the Top 10:  1937, 1964, 1970, 1979
  • 5 Films in the Top 20:  1937, 1945, 1964
  • Top 10 Films:  81
  • First Year in the Top 10:  1926
  • Latest Year in the Top 10:  1995
  • Top 20 Films:  154
  • Best Decade for Top 20 Films:  1960’s  (29)
  • Worst Decade for Top 20 Films:  1990’s / 2000’s  (4)

Nighthawk Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  172
  • Number of Films That Have Won Nighthawks:  65
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  129
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  29
  • Best Picture Nominations:  45
  • Total Number of Nominations:  672
  • Total Number of Wins:  139
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Actor  (61)
  • Director with Most Nighthawk Nominated Films:  Charlie Chaplin  (7)
  • Best Film with No Nighthawks:  Paths of Glory
  • Best Film with No Nighthawk Nominations:  The General
  • Number of Films That Have Earned Drama Nominations:  98
  • Number of Films That Have Earned Comedy Nominations:  64
  • Number of Films That Have Won Drama Awards:  29
  • Number of Films That Have Won Comedy Awards:  28
  • Drama Picture Nominations:  39
  • Comedy Picture Nominations:  33
  • Total Number of Drama Nominations:  289
  • Total Number of Comedy Nominations:  221
  • Total Number of Drama Wins:  45
  • Total Number of Comedy Wins:  89
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Actor  (52 – Drama  /  38 – Comedy)
  • Best Drama Film With No Nominations:  All or Nothing
  • Best Comedy Film With No Nominations:  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  • Most 2nd Place Finishes:  Paths of Glory  (8)
  • Most 6th Place Finishes:  Oliver Twist  /  The Moon is Blue  (4)
  • Most Top 10 Finishes:  Rebecca  /  Tom Jones  (15)
  • Most Top 20 Finishes:  Tom Jones  (16)
  • Films With at Least One Top 10 Finish:  262
  • Best Film Without a Top 10 Finish:  Saved
  • Films With at Least One Top 20 Finish:  300
  • Best Film Without a Top 20 Finish:  Blithe Spirit

Most Nighthawk Nominations:

  1. Rebecca  –  12
  2. The Great Dictator  –  11
  3. High Noon  –  11
  4. West Side Story  –  11
  5. Tom Jones  –  11
  6. City Lights  –  10
  7. Scarface  –  10
  8. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  –  10
  9. Spellbound  –  10
  10. Henry V  /  Paths of Glory  –  10

Most Nighthawks:

  1. City Lights  –  9
  2. Modern Times  –  9
  3. West Side Story  –  8
  4. Raging Bull  –  8
  5. Tom Jones  –  6
  6. Scarface  –  5
  7. A Star is Born  –  5
  8. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  –  5
  9. The Great Escape  –  4
  10. four films  –  3

Most Nighthawk Points:

  1. City Lights  –  630
  2. West Side Story  –  575
  3. Modern Times  –  570
  4. Raging Bull  –  540
  5. Scarface  –  500
  6. A Star is Born  –  485
  7. Tom Jones  –  460
  8. Rebecca  –  420
  9. The Great Dictator  –  415
  10. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  –  405

Most Drama Nominations:

  1. Rebecca  –  7
  2. The Best Man  –  7
  3. eight films  –  6

Most Comedy Nominations:

  1. Tom Jones  –  10
  2. West Side Story  –  8
  3. Manhattan  –  8
  4. The Moon is Blue –  7
  5. Some Like It Hot  /  The Apartment  /  Being There  –  7

Most Drama Wins:

  1. Raging Bull  –  5
  2. A Star is Born  –  4
  3. Scarface  –  3
  4. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  3
  5. five films  –  2

Most Comedy Wins:

  1. The Gold Rush  –  6
  2. Steamboat Bill Jr  –  6
  3. City Lights  –  6
  4. Some Like It Hot  –  6
  5. The Apartment  /  Tom Jones  /  Annie Hall  –  6

Most Drama Points:

  1. Raging Bull  –  380
  2. Scarface  –  365
  3. A Star is Born  –  365
  4. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  340
  5. Rebecca  –  330
  6. High Noon  –  275
  7. In the Heat of the Night  –  275
  8. Women in Love  –  275
  9. Wuthering Heights  –  270
  10. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  –  270

Most Comedy Points:

  1. Tom Jones  –  585
  2. Some Like It Hot  –  505
  3. The Apartment  –  500
  4. West Side Story  –  490
  5. Annie Hall  –  470
  6. Steamboat Bill Jr  –  460
  7. City Lights  –  460
  8. The Gold Rush  –  400
  9. Being There  –  395
  10. Modern Times  /  The Moon is Blue  –  375

All-Time Nighthawk Awards

  • Best Picture
  1. West Side Story
  2. Modern Times
  3. Annie Hall
  4. Paths of Glory
  5. Raging Bull

Analysis:  It’s an interesting group in my Top 5 because you have two Best Oscar winners, an Oscar nominee and then two films that failed to earn even a single Oscar nomination.
UA wins six Nighthawks with Annie Hall and Paths of Glory as painfully close second choices while City Lights, Scarface and A Star is Born win the award.  Another 40 films earn nominations with eight of them coming in second place.  Including winners and nominees, there are 79 Top 10 films and 121 Top 20 films.  At the Globes, thanks to Chaplin, UA does very well in Comedy.  Chaplin films win more Comedy picture awards (five) than all of UA’s films win Drama awards (three).  Plus, Billy Wilder and Woody Allen both have two winners with three other winners as well for a total of 12 Comedy wins plus 21 other nominees (one Chaplin, two Wilder, three Allen) while in Drama there are actually 36 nominees including all four of the nominees in 1957.
UA won the Oscar 12 times but it was in a concentrated stretch.  Before 1955 it won one award and after 1977 it won one.  But in the 23 year stretch from 55 to 77 it won 10 Oscars including three in a row from 1975 to 1977 and seven times it was a bigger sweep (Picture, Director, Screenplay).  The nominations are a bit different.  They earned 36 nominations, the last in 1980 but over half of them (20) came before 1955 and the 18 year stretch from 1960 to 1977 that earned the studio eight Oscars only earned them 9 other nominations.  What’s more, of those 36 nominated films, only 10 of them earned nominations for both Director and Screenplay.
UA was a powerhouse at the Globes for a while.  It won Best Picture six times for Drama between 1956 and 1988 and earned 23 nominations from 1950 to 1981 and then one in 2004 but in Comedy it really ruled for a short stretch, winning six awards and one in Musical (when it was a separate category) in just 13 years but never won anything before 1959 or after 1971.  It did earn another 18 nominations from 1960 to 1980 with another in 1987 and then one more in 2002.  Only one film, though, managed the trifecta of Picture, Director and Screenplay wins: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
After winning Best Picture at the BAFTAs in 1952 it would win seven more from 1960 to 1979 but not again after that.  It would also win three early British Film Awards (The Sound Barrier, Hobson’s Choice, Tom Jones).  The studio would earn 33 nominations from 1950 to 1970 and then five more from 1977 to 1981 and none after that.  Oliver Twist and Richard III have the distinction of being the only UA films to earn a British Film nomination but not a Picture nom.
Seven films would win two critics awards each with four of them (In Which We Serve, Marty, Around the World in 80 Days, Tom Jones) at a time when there were only two awards while another 12 films won one award each.

  • Best Director
  1. Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins  (West Side Story)
  2. Martin Scorsese  (Raging Bull)
  3. Francis Ford Coppola  (Apocalypse Now)
  4. Stanley Kubrick  (Paths of Glory)
  5. Charlie Chaplin  (Modern Times)

Analysis:  Six films win the Nighthawk with the oddity that the only winner for Picture that doesn’t win Director is A Star is Born which loses to You Only Live Once, the only UA film to win Director but not Picture.  In addition there are 40 other nominees.  The big three Comedy directors dominate here with Chaplin winning twice and earning three other nominations, Wilder earning four noms and Allen earning three.  At the Globes, there are 14 Comedy winners (six Chaplin, two Wilder, two Allen) and 18 nominees as well as three Drama winners and 35 other nominees.
There have been 10 Oscar winners, including the Comedy Director award in the 1st Oscars (Two Arabian Knights) then a jump to 1955, then 4 in the 60’s, three straight from 1975 to 1977 and then 1988.  Every Director winner also won Picture.  There have also been 33 nominations, most of them (25) in the 30 years from 1951 to 1980 with none since 1980.  Their wins have also been odd: 56-59, six nominations, no wins, 60-69, 4 out of 8 nominations win, 70-74, 6 nominations, no wins, 75-77, 3 wins, no other noms, 78-80, 5 nominations, no wins.  Also, from 1958 to 1979, of the 17 films that earned nominations without winning, 10 of them weren’t nominated for Best Picture.
Only four UA films have won Director at the Globes and two of them (Judgment at Nuremberg, Apocalypse Now) didn’t win Picture (the other two are Cuckoo and Yentl).  Another 30 films have earned nominations, none before 1956 and only Rain Man since 1980.  So, in the 25 year stretch from 1956 to 1980, UA earned 32 nominations but only won the award three times.
UA won Director at the BAFTA five times in eleven years from 1969 to 1979 but not since.  It also earned 6 other noms, all from 1969 to 1981.
Eight UA films have won the DGA, including three in a row from 1975 to 1977, though Rain Man is the only winner (or even nominee) since 1980.  There have also been 22 other nominees.
Tom Jones, Manhattan and Night of Shooting Stars are the only films to win two critics awards (Tom Jones did it when there were only two awards) while 14 films have won one each.  It is worth noting that with all the critical outrage of Scorsese not winning the Oscar for Raging Bull that he only won critics award that year (the NSFC).

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Some Like It Hot
  2. Paths of Glory
  3. Being There
  4. Tom Jones
  5. West Side Story

Analysis:  There are six Nighthawk winners though Some Like It Hot and Paths of Glory aren’t among them (running up against The Seventh Seal and Bridge on the River Kwai) while Scarface, The Killing and French Lieutenant’s Woman are.  There are (including Some Like It Hot and Paths) some 34 other films that earn nominations.  UA has done well at the Globes winning seven each in Drama and Comedy.
UA has won 8 Oscars but all of them in the short period of 1955 to 1975 including five in the 60’s.  There have also been another 29 nominees though only 13 of them came during the period of their winners.
Two Globe winners are adapted: In the Heat of the Night and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  There are also six adapted nominees.  There are three BAFTA winners (Tom Jones, Midnight Cowboy, Being There) and nine other nominees.  Though most of their WGA winners come before the split, there are 13 UA films that are adapted and win the WGA.  I’m not going to figure out which are which but there are another 63 films that earn WGA nominations.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Annie Hall
  2. Modern Times
  3. The Apartment
  4. City Lights
  5. A Star is Born (1937)

Analysis:  Because The Apartment runs up against Ikiru, it doesn’t win the Nighthawk though the other four do as do 11 other UA films as well with four Chaplin winners and four Allen winners (in a row!).  Including The Apartment there are 19 nominees.  There are 14 Comedy winners (6 Chaplin, 3 Allen, 2 Wilder) and 7 Drama winners.
There have been 7 Oscar winners, spread out a bit (1937, 1958, 1960, three in the 70’s, 1988) and another 24 nominees.  Though the studio didn’t win between 1937 and 1958 it earned 13 of those nominees in that time.  There were also (including two winners), six nominees just from 1976 to 1979.
The only Globe winner that’s original is The Hospital.  There have also been eight nominees that were original.  There are three BAFTA winners (The Hospital, Annie Hall, Manhattan) and five other nominees.
Seven films win the WGA that count as original.  See above for the nominee details.  Annie Hall wins three awards, Sunday Bloody Sunday wins two and The Apartment wins one.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Robert De Niro  (Raging Bull)
  2. Jack Nicholson  (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
  3. Dustin Hoffman  (Rain Man)
  4. Marlon Brando  (Last Tango in Paris)
  5. Jack Lemmon  (The Apartment)

Analysis:  There have been 13 Nighthawk winners including seven from 1967 to 1980 though Lemmon is not among them.  The first two winners (both Chaplin) are from films that also win Picture, Director and Screenplay.  After that, no film wins all four of those awards.  There are another 35 Nighthawk nominees including 17 from 1953 to 1963.  There are eight Drama winners and 17 Comedy winners (six of them being Chaplin).  There are an additional 41 Drama nominees and 19 Comedy nominees.
There have been 14 Oscar winners including three in a row (50-52).  Three films have earned two nominations, including Judgment at Nuremberg which won the award and had an additional nominee.  In 1958, 1960 and 1971, UA had three of the nominees (losing all three in 1971).
UA has done well at the Globes, winning 14 Drama awards including 8 from 1950 to 1963 and nine Comedy awards.  There have also been 20 additional Drama nominees (including two each from The Defiant Ones and Midnight Cowboy) and 19 Comedy nominees (with 12, including three winners, from 1960 to 1966).
UA did very well at the BAFTAs in the early years when it was split between British and Foreign awards.  During that stretch (1950-1967), it earned 34 total nominations including eight winners with multiple nominations for six different films.  After 1967, would be three more winners and 14 more nominees.
Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) is the only SAG nominee.
DeNiro won four critics awards for Raging Bull.  Nicholson won three as did Jon Voight (Coming Home).  Six more actors won two awards each.  Another 11 actors won one award each.

  • Best Actress
  1. Diane Keaton  (Annie Hall)
  2. Shirley MacLaine  (The Apartment)
  3. Glenda Jackson  (Women in Love)
  4. Katharine Hepburn  (The African Queen)
  5. Meryl Streep  (The French Lieutenant’s Woman)

Analysis:  Five actresses win the Nighthawk – Lilian Gish (Broken Blossoms), Janet Gaynor (A Star is Born), MacLaine, Jackson and Keaton.  There are another 24 nominees with Streep being the last.  Gish, Gaynor, Joan Fontaine (Rebecca) and Jackson win Drama with 26 other nominees.  Marilyn Monroe (Some Like It Hot), MacLaine (twice – also for Irma La Douce) and Keaton win Comedy with 18 other nominees with two of them (Thora Birch for Ghost World, Mandy Moore for Saved) coming this century.
There have been seven Oscar winners, with three of them before the 70’s (Mary Pickford (Coquette), Susan Hayward (I Want to Live) and Anne Bancroft (Miracle Worker)) and four of them in the 70’s (Jackson, Louise Fletcher (Cuckoo), Keaton and Jane Fonda (Coming Home)).  There are also 23 other nominees with Streep being the most recent.
There have been five Drama winners at the Globes (Hayward, Edith Evans (Whisperers), Fletcher, Fonda, Streep) and 12 other nominees as well as four Comedy winners (the same four who win the Nighthawk) and 13 other nominees with Birch the only one after 1987.
Nine actresses have won the BAFTA with five of those coming during the British / Foreign split and there have been 15 other nominees with only four of those coming since the split was dropped.  There have been no SAG or BFCA nominees.
Jackson won three critics awards (the only three in existence at the time) while Evans and Keaton won two each.  Another seven actresses have won one award each (actually Fonda won one in 1978 for two different UA films – Coming Home and Comes a Horseman).

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Robert Duvall  (Apocalypse Now)
  2. Steve Buscemi  (Ghost World)
  3. George Chakiris  (West Side Story)
  4. Charles Laughton  (Les Miserables)
  5. Joe Pesci  (Raging Bull)

Analysis:  There are seven Nighthawk winners though Buscemi and Chakiris aren’t among them (the others are Donald Crisp (Broken Blossoms), Harry Myers (City Lights), Robert Mitchum (Story of GI Joe) and Hugh Griffith (Tom Jones)).  There are also 25 nominees including two each from Oliver Twist and Judgment at Nuremberg.  There are six Drama winners and a whopping 14 Comedy winners including five from 1960 to 1966.  There are an additional 24 Drama nominees and 14 Comedy nominees.  UA accounts for four of the Comedy nominees in 1961.
Ten UA films have won the Oscar and in eight of those cases, it was the only Oscar the film won (the other two are Stagecoach and West Side Story).  UA won three Oscars in a row from 1964-66.  There have also been another 30 nominees including two from Rocky.  The two really strong periods were 1958 to 1966 (5 Oscars, 14 total nominations) and 1976 to 1979 (one Oscar, eight total nominations).  Three times (1940, 1961, 1979), UA won the Oscar and earned two other nominations.
UA has won 8 Globes including 1979 where there was a tie and both films (Being There, Apocalypse Now) were UA films.  There have been another 16 nominations including two more recent (for UA) ones in 1995 and 2001.  There have been 5 BAFTA winners – four in the 70’s and then Tim Roth for Rob Roy in 1995.  There have only been 4 other nominees, all in the 70’s.  The only two SAG nominees were both in 1996 – Nathan Lane and Hank Azaria in The Birdcage.
Joe Pesci and Steve Buscemi both won three critics awards while Richard Farnsworth (Comes a Horseman) and Melvyn Douglas (Being There) both won two and three other performances won one each.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Judith Anderson  (Rebecca)
  2. Edith Evans  (Tom Jones)
  3. Shirley Jones  (Elmer Gantry)
  4. Rita Moreno  (West Side Story)
  5. Angela Lansbury  (The Manchurian Candidate)

Analysis:  Aside from my Top 5 (who all win the Nighthawk) there are five other winners with Elsa Lanchester doing it twice (Private Life of Henry VIII, Witness for the Prosecution).  Tom Jones is notable for winning the award and earning two other noms.  In total, there are 44 nominees from 40 different films.  There are nine Drama winners as well as six Comedy winners with Tom Jones taking the win and three other noms.
While Tom Jones is notable for earning three Oscar noms it didn’t win the award which is kind of surprising because UA had won four of the previous five awards (Separate Tables, Elmer Gantry, West Side Story, The Miracle Worker).  Yet, after 1962 it never won the award again.  UA earns 37 nominations but after four quick ones in 1936-37 the main peak was 1957-63 (16 noms, 4 wins including all four losing noms in 1963 but no noms in 1959).  The most recent two Oscar nominated UA films (Pieces of April, Hotel Rwanda) both were nominated for Supporting Actress.
There have been six Globe winners, all between 1952 and 1966 while there have been 22 other nominations with 12 of those coming from 1958 to 1963.  From 1977 to 1979, UA won the BAFTA award three years in a row (Equus, Interiors, Manhattan) but except for another nomination for Equus the studio has never had another nomination.  Pieces of April and Hotel Rwanda are the only SAG noms.
The only two actresses with more than two critics wins (Meryl Streep with 3 in 1979, Patricia Clarkson with 4 in 2003) had those awards shared with non-UA films.  Three other actresses have won two awards each (Valerie Perrine in 1974, Talia Shire in 1976, Maureen Stapleton in 1978) while five others have won one award each.

  • Best Ensemble
  1. Tom Jones
  2. Judgment at Nuremberg
  3. Rebecca
  4. Separate Tables
  5. The Apartment

Analysis:  This is based on the total points for acting for all members of the cast.  Tom Jones with all of its supporting cast easily wins though Judgment also has a lot of supporting points as well.  In fact, Judgment has more points for acting than any other film below ***.5 (not just UA).

  • Best Editing:
  1. West Side Story
  2. Modern Times
  3. Raging Bull
  4. A Hard Day’s Night
  5. The Great Escape

Analysis:  A Hard Day’s Night doesn’t win the Nighthawk but the other four do as does City Lights, Scarface, A Star is Born and Interiors.  There are also 33 nominees including all four non-winning nominees in 1957.
It would take until 1947 for UA to win the Oscar in Editing but it won three more in the next decade and then three in the 60’s and two more later (1976, 1980).  There are also 31 additional nominees.  The strongest stretch is 1958 to 1969 (three wins, 13 more nominees).
There have been five BAFTA winners, all from 1969 to 1981 as well as 9 nominees and UA had three of the four nominees in 1977.
There have been four ACE winners (Rocky, Raging Bull, Wargames, Rain Man) and 12 other nominees, though none since 1979.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Raging Bull
  2. Apocalypse Now
  3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  4. Paths of Glory
  5. West Side Story

Analysis:  There are only six Nighthawk winners though not Good or Paths but it does include City Lights, Modern Times and You Only Live Once.  There are also 34 nominees including all four of the non-winning nominees in 1957.  The Claim (2000) is the only one after 1979.
Even with two categories, UA was never strong here, winning only nine Oscars and only six of them during the split category years.  They did better with nominations, earning 49 with 32 of them coming during the split years (1939-1966) including four each in 1960 and 1963.
There have been three BAFTA winners (From Russia with Love, The Whisperers, A Bridge Too Far) and the first two were “British” winners.  There have also been 13 nominees, the most recent in 1981.
Rain Man is the only ASC nominee.  Three films have won two critics awards each (Bound for Glory, Black Stallion, Raging Bull) while five others have won one each.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  2. The Pink Panther
  3. The Great Escape
  4. Exodus
  5. A Fistful of Dollars

Analysis:  These are the only 9’s for this category for UA and all of them came in just a space of six years.  There are 12 Nighthawk winners (including all five of these), the last being in 1968.  There are also another 30 nominees, going all the way up until 2000.  From 1946 to 1957, UA earns 12 noms but doesn’t win the award.
There are 12 Oscar winners though Limelight is the only one after 1963 but there are also six Song Score / Adapted Score winners, all from 1963 to 1983. There are 79 additional nominees in the regular category (56 of them from 1938 to 1945) and five more Song Score nominees.
Five UA films have won the Globes and none of them are scores that are nearly as memorable as my list (High Noon, On the Beach, The Alamo, Hawaii, Apocalypse Now).  Another 14 films have earned nominations.
Only two films have won the BAFTA (A Bridge Too Far, French Lieutenant’s Woman) with only 10 other nominees (none since 1979).  The Black Stallion and Long Riders each won the LAFC award.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Raging Bull
  2. Apocalypse Now
  3. West Side Story
  4. The Sound Barrier
  5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Analysis:  Ten films win the Nighthawk and another 34 films earn nominations with the strongest periods the late 60’s (two noms each in 65, 67 and 68) and the late 70’s (two noms each in 78 and 79).
There are 9 Oscar winners, fairly spread out (two in the 30’s, one in the 40’s, one in the 50’s, three in the 60’s, two in the 70’s) and another 27 nominees though none after 1983.  The studio is strongest from 1939 to 1945 (12 noms).
Three films win the BAFTA (A Bridge Too Far, French Lieutenant’s Woman, Wargames) with another 10 nominees (though none after 1979).  The Birdcage is the only CAS nominee.

  • Best Art Direction:
  1. Tom Jones
  2. West Side Story
  3. The Birdcage
  4. Moulin Rouge
  5. Richard III

Analysis:  Seven films win the Nighthawk, the last in 1970.  Another 31 films earn nominations including films all the way up through 2000.
Nine films win the Oscar, the latest being West Side Story in 1961.  There are actually 51 nominees, including one as last as 1996 but a good chunk of them are in the period when there were unlimited nominations in two categories (21 nominees from 1937 to 1942).Two films win the BAFTA (Rollerball, Richard III) while there are 14 other nominees.  The Birdcage is the only ADG nominee.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Jack the Giant Killer
  2. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
  3. Thunderball
  4. Moonraker
  5. Goldfinger

Analysis:  Surprisingly, there are 10 films that win the Nighthawk though all of them are from 1965 or earlier and seven of them are from 1926 to 1946.  There are another 10 nominees, none of them after 1979.
There are three Oscar winners (Thief of Bagdad, Blithe Spirit, Thunderball) and another 14 nominees, 11 of whom are from 1939-45 and Moonraker the only one after 1966.  Wargames is the only BAFTA nominee.  There have been no VES nominees.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Apocalypse Now
  2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  3. The Sound Barrier
  4. Raging Bull
  5. The Great Escape

Analysis:  Four films win the Nighthawk: Henry V, The Great Escape, Goldfinger and Thunderball.  Another 34 films earn nominations.
UA has had more Oscar winners (It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Goldfinger, Black Stallion) than nominees (In the Heat of the Night).  There have been six MPSE winners but no nominees aside from those.

  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Tom Jones
  2. Henry V
  3. Moulin Rouge
  4. Richard III
  5. Oliver Twist

Analysis:  Nine films win the Nighthawk, the last of them in 1970.  Henry V and Richard III are not among them, being in more competitive years and they are among 24 nominees.
Moulin Rouge won the Oscar then three more in a row from 1959-61: Some Like It Hot, Facts of Life, West Side Story.  Another 17 films have earned Oscar noms.  From 1964 to 1981, UA earned eight BAFTA nominations but never won the award.  Since then, UA won its only nomination (Richard III).  Igby Goes Down is the only CDG nominee.

  • Best Makeup
  1. The Birdcage
  2. Oliver Twist
  3. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
  4. Limelight
  5. Carrie

Analysis:  Six UA films win the Nighthawk, all of them older films when it was a less competitive category: Thief of Bagdad, Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Oliver Twist, Bwana Devil, Tom Jones and Carrie.  Another 11 films earn nominations with The Birdcage the only one after 1979.
No UA film has ever been award nominated for Makeup.

  • Best Technical Aspects
  1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  2. Henry V
  3. Oliver Twist
  4. Apocalypse Now
  5. West Side Story

Analysis:  Simply adding up all the points in the technical categories.  Apocalypse Now would be higher if it had a more prominent (and better) score while West Side Story would be higher if it had an original score at all.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Help”  (Help)
  2. “A Hard Day’s Night”  (A Hard Day’s Night)
  3. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”  (Help)
  4. “Ticket to Ride”  (Help)
  5. “Do Not Forsake Me”  (High Noon)

Analysis:  Help sweeps the Nighthawks, earning all five nominations in 1965 while “A Hard Day’s Night” runs up against Mary Poppins.  “Do Not Forsake Me” earns an Oscar nom, along with another 14 songs not already mentioned while “Follow That Dream” and “New York New York” both win Nighthawks for their title songs.
The Oscars ignored the Beatles and only three UA songs have won the Oscar: “Do Not Forsake Me”, “High Hopes” (A Hole in the Head) and “Windmills of Your Mind” (The Thomas Crown Affair) while 28 others earned nominations including three Bond songs and two from Yentl.
Two songs won the Globes: “Town Without Pity” and “Windmills” while 15 others earned noms (including four Bond songs).  Electric Dreams earned a BAFTA nom in its short-lived category.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. n/a

Analysis:  No Animated Film ranks above *** and there are only a handful of them anyway.

  • Best Foreign Film:
  1. Mississippi Mermaid
  2. The Last Metro
  3. J’Accuse
  4. Hamlet
  5. Osama

Analysis:  UA, like many of the major studios, didn’t do a whole lot of releasing of foreign films.  I’ve seen over 1000 UA films (over 2/3 of everything the studio released) and only 56 of them were foreign and only 10 of them were ***.5 (I would say or above, but none were above).
Only four films have earned Oscar noms (Live for Life, Last Metro, Man of Iron, Thief).  Partially due to their British films and the Globes English Language Foreign Film category, they have done much better at the Globes (five winners, three of them British, 8 nominees, four of them in English).  Diva (a UA Classics film) is the only BAFTA nominee.  Seven films have won a critics award though one of them (Sound Barrier) was in English.

  • Best Film (by my points system):
  1. Tom Jones
  2. West Side Story
  3. High Noon
  4. Rebecca
  5. Raging Bull

Analysis:  Adding up all of my points.  The combination of all the great acting plus the magnificent sets, costumes and makeup pushes Tom Jones one point higher than West Side Story.

  • Best Film  (weighted points system)
  1. West Side Story
  2. Tom Jones
  3. Rebecca
  4. Some Like It Hot
  5. Raging Bull

Analysis:  West Side Story pulls just ahead with more points in key categories (Picture, Director, Editing, Cinematography).  Some Like It Hot leapfrogs in because of the acting and writing.  Raging Bull finishes just a single point ahead of The Apartment and High Noon.

Best Films With No Top 5 Finishers:

  • The Great Dictator
  • Manhattan
  • Scarface
  • The Gold Rush
  • Sweet Smell of Success
  • 12 Angry Men
  • The Killing

Worst Film with a Top 5 Finish:

  • Exodus

Nighthawk Notables

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  West Side Story
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Nobody’s perfect.”  (Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”  (Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now)
  • Best Opening:  West Side Story
  • Best Ending:  Some Like It Hot
  • Best End Credits:  West Side Story
  • Best Scene:  the motorcycle jump in The Great Escape
  • Best Kiss:  Talia Shire and Sylvester Stallone  (Rocky)
  • Best Death Scene:  Donald Pleasance  (The Great Escape)
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  the execution in The Great Escape
  • Most Heart-Wrenching Scene:  the ending of West Side Story
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “The End”  (Apocalypse Now)
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “Can’t Buy Me Love”  (A Hard Day’s Night)
  • Best Soundtrack (original songs):  A Hard Day’s Night
  • Best Soundtrack (original score):  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Best Soundtrack (compilation):  24 Hour Party People
  • Best Original Song from a Bad Film:  “Mockingbird Girl”  (Tank Girl)
  • Funniest Film:  Annie Hall
  • Worst Film by a Top 100 Director:  Fellini Satyricon
  • Best Sequel:  Goldfinger
  • Worst Sequel:  Rocky V
  • Best Remake:  Les Miserables
  • Worst Remake:  The Big Sleep
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  The Return of the Pink Panther
  • Watch the Film, SKIP the Book:  Raging Bull
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The Lord of the Rings
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Natalie Wood in West Side Story
  • Sexiest Performance:  Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Daniela Bianchi in From Russia with Love
  • Coolest Performance:  Steve McQueen in The Great Escape
  • Best Tagline:  “Accentuate the negative”  (Ghost World)
  • Best Trailer:  24 Hour Party People
  • Best Cameo:  Jeff Goldblum in Annie Hall
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Lana Wood in Diamonds are Forever

note:  As usual, several categories that are normally here (Best Ensemble, Most Over-Rated) are given a fuller treatment above and so aren’t listed here.

note:  Soundtracks I Own from UA Films (chronological):  West Side Story, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, 24 Hour Party People

At the Theater:  By the end of 2011, I had probably seen over 1000 films in the theater at some point or another and had definitely been to the movies over 1000 times.  But because of timing (fewer films after 1989), UA only has Rain Man, Richard III, The Birdcage, Ghost World and Hotel Rwanda.  Also The Good the Bad and the Ugly which I saw at Cinema 21 with V who has never forgiven me for making her sit three hours in the most uncomfortable theater on the planet.


Academy Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  260
  • Number of Films That Have Won Oscars:  75
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  136
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  26
  • Best Picture Nominations:  50
  • Total Number of Nominations:  704
  • Total Number of Wins:  137
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Score  (102)
  • Number of Films with Nominations I Haven’t Seen:  9
  • Directors with Most Oscar Nominated Films:  William Wyler  /  Stanley Kramer  (7)
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Modern Times
  • Year with Most UA Nominated Films:  1944  (13)
  • Year with Most UA Nominations:  1940  (45)
  • Year with Most UA Oscars:  1961  (12)

Oscar Oddities:

  • West Side Story won 10 of 11 nominations.  The other two UA films with 11 nominations won 4 combined awards and all three of the UA films nominated for 10 awards won 12 combined awards.
  • West Side Story is the only UA film with more than 5 nominations not to lose at last 2 races and the only one with more than 7 nominations not to lose at least three.
  • Of the 26 UA films with 7 or more nominations only Hawaii won no Oscars.  But of the 12 films with 6 nominations, five of them won no Oscars.
  • The 10 Oscars for West Side Story are more than any other director won for UA films.  Billy Wilder had 6 films with 30 nominations but only 8 wins.  Stanley Kramer had 7 films with 35 nominations but only 5 wins.  William Wyler had 7 films with 29 nominations but only 4 wins.
  • The only UA film to win Best Director without a Picture win didn’t even earn a Picture nom – it was Lewis Milestone’s win in the Comedy Director category for Two Arabian Knights in the first year of the awards.
  • David Lean is the only UA director to direct a Best Picture nom without a Director nom (In Which We Serve) and to earn a Director nom without a Picture nom (Summertime).
  • From 1939 to 1988 I only list five Comedies as winning Best Picture at the Oscars and four of them were UA films (Around the World in 80 Days, The Apartment, Tom Jones, Annie Hall).
  • UA won Best Picture three years in a row (1975-77).

Most Oscar Nominations

  1. Rebecca  –  11
  2. West Side Story  –  11
  3. Judgment at Nuremberg  –  11
  4. The Apartment  –  10
  5. Tom Jones  –  10
  6. Rocky  –  10
  7. Since You Went Away  –  9
  8. The Defiant Ones  –  9
  9. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  9
  10. eight films  –  8

Most Oscar Wins:

  1. West Side Story  –  10
  2. Around the World in 80 Days  –  5
  3. The Apartment  –  5
  4. In the Heat of the Night  –  5
  5. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  5
  6. High Noon  –  4
  7. Marty  –  4
  8. Tom Jones  –  4
  9. Annie Hall  –  4
  10. Rain Man  –  4

Most Oscar Points:

  1. West Side Story  –  610
  2. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  515
  3. The Apartment  –  505
  4. Tom Jones  –  495
  5. Marty  –  445
  6. Rocky  –  440
  7. Rain Man  –  435
  8. Rebecca  –  425
  9. Judgment at Nuremberg  –  425
  10. Around the World in 80 Days  –  410

Oscar Nominated Films:

  • UA would have at least one film nominated every year from the 1st Oscars all the way until 1984.
  • UA lead with the most nominated films for four straight years (39-42) and for six out of seven from 39-45 and then five out of seven from 60-66.
  • UA has had the most (or tied for the most) nominated films 15 times.
  • UA started in 1st place for nominated films the first two Oscars.  By 1932, it dropped to third behind MGM and Paramount.  It passed Paramount back into 2nd in 1941 where it stayed until 1953.  It dropped to 4th in 1956 went back to 3rd in 1962 went back to 2nd in 1965 but in 1975 began the decline, moving down to 3rd, dropped to 4th in 1987 and to 5th in 1992 where it still sits.

By Decade:

  • 1920’s:  10  (1st)
  • 1930’s:  45  (3rd)
  • 1940’s:  70  (1st)
  • 1950’s:  28  (6th)
  • 1960’s:  54  (1st)
  • 1970’s:  35  (3rd – tie)
  • 1980’s:  9  (11th)
  • 1990’s:  4  (16th – tie)
  • 2000’s:  4  (18th)
  • 2010’s:  0
  • Total:  259  (5th)

Oscar Nominations:

  • Columbia has lead in the total number of nominations 9 times, all between 1937 and 1976 with its 45 in 1940 an all-time high for any studio.
  • It started in 3rd place, went up to 2nd place in 1939, stayed until 1953, dropped to 4th in 1955, by 1961 was back up to 2nd where it stayed until 1972 before starting to go down eventually sinking down to its current place of 6th where it has been since 2006.

Years with Most Total Oscar Nominations:

  • 45:  1940
  • 35:  1960
  • 33:  1961
  • 27:  1939, 1963

By Decade:

  • 1920’s:  13  (3rd – tie)
  • 1930’s:  107  (2nd)
  • 1940’s:  155  (4th)
  • 1950’s:  97  (6th)
  • 1960’s:  174  (1st)
  • 1970’s:  112  (3rd)
  • 1980’s:  33  (8th)
  • 1990’s:  5  (22nd)
  • 2000’s:  6  (22nd)
  • 2010’s:  0
  • Total:  702  (6th)

Oscar Wins:

  • The longest streak of years with at least one Oscar win is 1958 to 1972.
  • From 1933 to 1983, UA never went more than two straight years without winning an Oscar.
  • From 1958 to 1967 it won at least two Oscars every year.
  • UA has lead all studios in Oscar wins in seven different years.
  • Its 12 Oscars in 1961 is tied for the most and its 23 Oscars in 1960-61 is the most in back-to-back years.
  • By 1935, with only five total Oscars, UA was down in 7th place.  It would get as high as 4th but by 1958 and the start of its winning streak, it was still down in 6th place.  By the mid 60’s it was up to 3rd place where it stayed until 1985 and has slowly gone down having won only one Oscar since 1988 and it is now down in 6th place again.
  • UA’s 47 Oscars in the 60’s is the second most for any studio in any decade.

By Decade:

  • 1920’s:  3  (3rd – tie)
  • 1930’s:  10  (6th)
  • 1940’s:  13  (7th)
  • 1950’s:  27  (5th)
  • 1960’s:  47  (1st)
  • 1970’s:  28  (2nd)
  • 1980’s:  7  (6th – tie)
  • 1990’s:  0
  • 2000’s:  1  (19th – tie)
  • 2010’s:  0
  • Total:  136  (6th)

Critics Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Won Critics Awards:  65
  • Number of Films With Multiple Awards:  33
  • Best Picture Wins:  26
  • Total Number of Awards:  150
  • Category With the Most Awards:  Actor  (33)

Most Awards:

  1. Raging Bull  –  12
  2. Annie Hall  –  9
  3. Manhattan  –  6
  4. Tom Jones  –  5
  5. Coming Home  –  5
  6. Night of Shooting Stars  –  5

Most Points:

  1. Raging Bull  –  782
  2. Annie Hall  –  693
  3. Manhattan  –  413
  4. Tom Jones  –  412
  5. Night of Shooting Stars  –  378

Highest Points Percentage:

  1. Tom Jones  –  48.93%
  2. In Which We Serve  –  43.90%
  3. Marty  –  36.00%
  4. The Sound Barrier  –  34.53%
  5. Annie Hall  –  32.78%

Most Points by Critics Group:

  • NYFC:  Annie Hall  –  340
  • LAFC:  Coming Home  –  240
  • NSFC:  Annie Hall  –  250
  • BSFC:  Night of Shooting Stars  –  230
  • CFC:  Family Thing  /  Ghost World  /  Pieces of April  –  60
  • NBR:  The Sound Barrier  –  200

note:  Raging Bull finished 8th at the NYFC, 2nd at the LAFC, NSFC and BSFC and 6th at the NBR.

Golden Globes

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  122
  • Number of Films That Have Won Globes:  52
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  77
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  18
  • Best Picture Nominations:  58
  • Total Number of Nominations:  307
  • Total Number of Wins:  79
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Actor  (62 – 34 Drama, 28 Comedy)
  • Best Film with No Globe Nominations:  Paths of Glory

Globe Oddities:

  • The only UA film to win Picture, Director and Screenplay also won Actor and Actress as well (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest).
  • Four films have won Actor and Actress but only West Side Story has won both supporting awards.

Most Globe Nominations:

  1. In the Heat of the Night  –  7
  2. Tom Jones  –  6
  3. The Secret of Santo Vittoria  –  6
  4. Midnight Cowboy  –  6
  5. Avanti  –  6
  6. Rocky  –  6
  7. Coming Home  –  6
  8. Being There  –  6
  9. Raging Bull  –  6
  10. Yentl  –  6

Most Globes:

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  5
  2. High Noon  –  3
  3. Some Like It Hot  –  3
  4. The Apartment  –  3
  5. West Side Story  –  3
  6. In the Heat of the Night  –  3
  7. Apocalypse Now  –  3
  8. 11 films  –  2

Most Globe Points:

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  410
  2. In the Heat of the Night  –  390
  3. Coming Home  –  305
  4. West Side Story  –  300
  5. Being There  –  300
  6. Yentl  –  295
  7. The Apartment  –  285
  8. Tom Jones  –  280
  9. Rocky  –  280
  10. High Noon  /  Judgment at Nuremberg  /  Avanti  –  270

Guild Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  100
  • Number of Films That Have Won Guild Awards:  31
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  32
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  8
  • Best Picture Nominations:  0
  • Total Number of Nominations:  147
  • Total Number of Wins:  39
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Screenplay  (83)
  • Best Film with No Guild Nominations:  Oliver Twist

note:  Because the proliferation of guild awards didn’t happen until the late 80’s (before 1986 there were only four guilds that gave awards) and because UA petered out starting in the late 80’s, the awards here are a bit skewed which is why the number of nominations and awards per film are so small.  Of the 100 nominated films only two (Igby Goes Down, Pieces of April) weren’t nominated for at least one of those four early guilds (DGA, WGA, ACE, MPSE).

Most Guild Nominations:

  1. The Birdcage  –  6
  2. Rain Man  –  4
  3. Hotel Rwanda  –  4
  4. seven films  –  3

Most Guild Wins:

  1. eight films  –  2

Most Guild Points:

  1. The Birdcage  –  240
  2. Rain Man  –  205
  3. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  195
  4. Rocky  –  180
  5. Marty  –  170


  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  96
  • Number of Films That Have Won BAFTAs:  29
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  52
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  13
  • Best Picture Nominations:  46
  • Total Number of Nominations:  249
  • Total Number of Wins:  61
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Picture  (46)
  • Best Film with No BAFTA Nominations:  High Noon

Most BAFTA Noms:

  1. The French Lieutenant’s Woman  –  11
  2. Women in Love  –  10
  3. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  10
  4. Manhattan  –  10
  5. Apocalypse Now  –  9

Most BAFTA Wins:

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  6
  2. Midnight Cowboy  –  5
  3. Sunday Bloody Sunday  –  5
  4. Annie Hall  –  5
  5. A Bridge too Far  –  4

Most BAFTA Points:

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  540
  2. Sunday Bloody Sunday  –  465
  3. Annie Hall  –  425
  4. Manhattan  –  425
  5. The French Lieutenant’s Woman  –  415

Broadcast Film Critics Awards  (Critic’s Choice Awards)

Because the BFCA arose after UA had, for the most part, stopped making films, the only film with any nominations is Hotel Rwanda which earned Picture and Actor nominations.

All Awards

Most Nominations:

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  31
  2. Raging Bull  –  30
  3. Tom Jones  –  29
  4. Rocky  –  27
  5. Annie Hall  –  27
  6. Apocalypse Now  –  25
  7. Judgment at Nuremberg  –  24
  8. In the Heat of the Night  –  24
  9. The Defiant Ones  –  22
  10. The Apartment  /  Midnight Cowboy  –  22

Most Awards:

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  22
  2. Annie Hall  –  21
  3. Raging Bull  –  17
  4. The Apartment  –  16
  5. West Side Story  –  16
  6. Tom Jones  –  15
  7. Marty  –  13
  8. In the Heat of the Night  –  13
  9. Midnight Cowboy  –  12
  10. Coming Home  –  11

Total Awards Points

  1. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  1858
  2. Annie Hall  –  1838
  3. Tom Jones  –  1620
  4. Raging Bull  –  1485
  5. The Apartment  –  1396
  6. Midnight Cowboy  –  1259
  7. In the Heat of the Night  –  1249
  8. Rocky  –  1229
  9. West Side Story  –  1153
  10. Marty  –  1150

Highest Awards Percentage:

  1. Tom Jones  –  17.72%
  2. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  16.82%
  3. Annie Hall  –  16.60%
  4. Raging Bull  –  14.91%
  5. The Apartment  –  13.91%
  6. In the Heat of the Night  –  13.27%
  7. Marty  –  13.26%
  8. West Side Story  –  12.97%
  9. The Defiant Ones  –  12.07%
  10. Rocky  –  12.07%


Lists for studios are harder because I have to come up with them myself.  There are no books that rank the best films by studio and no way to sort through them on the IMDb or TSPDT.

The TSPDT Top 25 UA Films

  1. Apocalypse Now  (#11)
  2. Raging Bull  (#24)
  3. City Lights  (#26)
  4. Some Like It Hot  (#28)
  5. The General  (#40)
  6. The Night of the Hunter  (#43)
  7. Modern Times  (#45)
  8. The Apartment  (#54)
  9. The Gold Rush  (#71)
  10. Annie Hall  (#89)
  11. Manhattan  (#111)
  12. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  (#114)
  13. Stagecoach  (#138)
  14. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly  (#158)
  15. The Great Dictator  (#169)
  16. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  (#181)
  17. Kes  (#196)
  18. Red River  (#197)
  19. Sweet Smell of Success  (#201)
  20. Paths of Glory  (#243)
  21. Broken Blossoms  (#262)
  22. Monsieur Verdoux  (#272)
  23. West Side Story  (#318)
  24. Kiss Me Deadly  (#315)
  25. Midnight Cowboy  (#327)

note:  The numbers in parenthesis are the position on the most recent (2019) TSPDT list.  This list has had some minor re-ordering recently but none of the Top 25 themselves have changed since TSPDT completely redid their list in 2013.  It’s quite notable that not only does UA have a whopping seven films in the Top 50 but that eight of their top 11 films are Comedies with three by Chaplin, two by Wilder and two by Allen.

The IMDb Top 10 United Artists Films

  1. 12 Angry Men
  2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  3. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  4. City Lights
  5. Modern Times
  6. Apocalypse Now
  7. The Great Dictator
  8. Paths of Glory
  9. Witness for the Prosecution
  10. For a Few Dollars More

note:  You read that right.  According to the IMDb voters, For a Few Dollars More is a better film than Raging Bull, The Gold Rush, Annie Hall, Some Like It Hot or West Side Story.  To quote Homer Simpson: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Democracy just doesn’t work.”

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office

  1. Rain Man  –  $172.82 mil
  2. Rocky IV  –  $127.87 mil
  3. Rocky III  –  $124.14 mil
  4. The Birdcage  –  $124.06 mil
  5. Rocky  –  $117.23 mil
  6. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  $108.98 mil
  7. Rocky II  –  $85.18 mil
  8. WarGames  –  $79.56 mil
  9. Apocalypse Now  –  $78.78 mil
  10. Moonraker  –  $70.30 mil

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office (all-time, adjusted to 2019)

  1. Thunderball  –  $675.44 mil
  2. Goldfinger  –  $598.68 mil
  3. Around the World in 80 Days  –  $583.47 mil
  4. West Side Story  –  $505.79 mil
  5. Rocky  –  $497.01 mil
  6. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World  –  $486.49 mil
  7. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  –  $484.77 mil
  8. Rain Man  –  $390.92 mil
  9. Rocky III  –  $383.89 mil
  10. You Only Live Twice  –  $324.21 mil


United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars, Tino Balio, 1976

The in-depth studio of the history because Balio was given access to UA’s archives in Madison (they are stored at UW, whose press also published the book).  It is a bit strange in that it was published in 1976 but it really only covers up through the early 50s, mainly because, I think the goal was to talk about how it was run by the stars and so when Pickford and Chaplin finally gave up the ghost (and the studio), the story as envisioned, is kind of over.  It isn’t quoted in the History piece at the top because it is so in-depth and it’s easier to quote bits and pieces from other books but this is a must for anyone interested in the studio.

Doug & Mary: A Biography of Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford, Gary Carey, 1977

United Artists only comes into this book a bit, especially the founding of it.  It is more a biography of the marriage between the two than their individual lives (and admits as much in the Preface).  But if you want to know more about the people who formed UA and especially that tumultuous first decade, this is a good source.

Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, Steven Bach, 1985

A fantastic book from, aside from director Michael Cimino and his producer, “the only person to witness the evolution of Heaven’s Gate from beginning to end.”  Bach covers the whole sordid detail and doesn’t spare anyone or anything.  One of the best books ever written about the making of one film.  The first several chapters also do a magnificent job relating the history of United Artists up to that point and really if you want something more than my brief history above, you should read at least the first 60 pages of this book if not the entire thing.

The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, 1986

The single best book on the studio.  Not the most in-depth in terms of the history, but it sums up the history quite well in page length summations of each decade (which is where most of my history in the opening piece comes from).  This is one of a series of books published around this time that covered the whole history of the major studios, big coffee table books that are just wonderful to browse through, with details on every film ever released by the studio.  A must-have for any film buff and the place to start for looking at the films from United Artists.  Also, not as outdated as most of the books of this kind because United Artists has done so little since the mid 80’s compared to most of the majors.  I used to look at all these books at the library when I was a kid and I think this is the first one I really got into.  It was the book that made me realize how successful UA had been in the mid 70s with its three Best Picture winners in a row and was one of the first things that actually made me pay attention to film studios.

Goldwyn: A Biography, A. Scott Berg, 1989

This important biography of one of the most fascinating people in film history could have gone in a number of places as Goldwyn dealt with many studios over the year.  But, for several years he was a key player at United Artists and he almost managed to take over the studio in 1939.  Berg was already acclaimed for his biography of Max Perkins but this was just his second biography before he became much more well known with his Lindbergh biography.


The Best United Artists Film I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

The General  (1926, dir. Buster Keaton)

If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m into lists.  In the early years of the blog, that was all I did – writing various lists and coming up with other ones.  I didn’t actually write that much – I just listed with some comments.  One list I considered doing was one of problematic films – films that achieved greatness through the quality of the film but had issues that made it difficult to write about such a film.  The Birth of a Nation, of course, would be the king of that list, a film that is brilliantly made but whose racism is so disturbing and disgusting that you don’t actually want to watch it (if I did documentaries, The Triumph of the Will would actually surpass it).  Here, we have The General.

Now, on a personal level I could discuss The General in the same way that I discuss Vertigo – that it is a great film with great direction that really does some amazing things but is not one of the greatest films of all-time and that it has a reputation (which has diminished somewhat over the last couple of decades) that at one point had it on Sight & Sound’s Top 10 list and had Roger Ebert talking about how Keaton’s films have held up better than Chaplin (that’s ludicrous as is evidenced by Chaplin ranking at #15 on TSPDT and Keaton down at #49).  This is a great film, but it’s a low level **** film, not a film at the level of Chaplin’s Modern Times, City Lights, The Gold Rush or The Great Dictator.

And yet, we still haven’t reached the part that I find so bothersome.  Why do I want to sit and watch this movie about the poor railroad engineer who is in love with two things, his train, The General and the girl, Annabelle Lee.  He is rejected by the army when the war breaks out (he’s too valuable in his job) and she rejects him but due to a confluence of circumstances he will end up in the great train chase of all-time, based on real events.  It will provide a showcase for Keaton’s visual showmanship, the way he makes jokes without dialogue but with visual cues and yet never reacts.

The problematic part, of course, is that it’s the Confederate Army that he tried to enlist in.  Yes, you could point out that this is based on a real chase but since it was the Union saboteurs who were the real heart of the story (Disney would later make a film about the events as well and place them in the proper role of heroes), then why tell the story from the opposite end?

It comes down to that point.  I want to watch the film and admire what Keaton does as director and star but I am so bothered by cheering for someone on the wrong side.  The more time goes by, the more it bothers me especially as people continue to embrace the Confederate flag over 150 years after they lost the fucking war.  It was a war to keep an entire race of people enslaved.  Yes, you can do anything to make someone sympathetic but that’s the problematic part – why bother to do it?  And yet, I never seem to read anything about this.  Ebert, while lavishing praise upon the film, never once comments upon it.  Is it because the film itself isn’t overtly racist like Birth of a Nation is?

It’s tricky because this is being reviewed because it is the best United Artists film I haven’t yet reviewed (or isn’t scheduled for a future review – although as I have just gone through and done my full list and done the links and realize it actually should have been Last Tango in Paris which I thought I had reviewed for my Bertolucci post since it has a picture there but I actually reviewed Last Emperor instead).  It is a great film and it showcases Keaton’s strengths.  I just wish I wanted to watch it more than I do.

The Worst United Artists Film I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

Galaxy of Terror  (1981, dir. Bruce D. Clark)

Originally for this slot and for the worst UA film at all, I had Invaders from the Deep.  But this is the problem with information – sometimes it’s hard to get exact information.  Invaders from the Deep, also a Sci-Fi film, also from 1981, was a release of several edited episodes of a British show called Stingray and was the very first film ridiculed on MST3K.  But it doesn’t seem like it was an actual feature release so I decided to eliminate it from my spreadsheets.  Landing a couple of points higher and now the worst UA film on my entire list instead is Galaxy of Terror.

I’m going to speak a moment about Ed Wood because it is relevant here.  Ed Wood’s films had basically no budget (or as small as you could have and still have a film get a feature release) and they are often ridiculed for things like people walking into scenery of things falling over.  But that’s not why the films are so bad; they are simply a reflection of how they are bad.  The reason why Wood’s films are so incredibly bad is because Wood himself had no talent.  He couldn’t act, he couldn’t write and he couldn’t direct, yet he often insisted on doing all three (though, thankfully, less of the first as time went on).  His films were already inept at the basic conceptual level before the low budgets made them even worse.

So now I bring you to Galaxy of TerrorGalaxy of Terror is a cheap rip-off of Alien, a pathetic attempt by Roger Corman to capitalize on a film that was made with genuine talent.  Yet Alien, whether considered a Sci-Fi or Horror film, is one of the very best films of its genre.  That’s not because Alien had a much bigger budget, though it did.  It’s because Alien had a brilliant concept at its core (Horror movie set on a spaceship) and then came through with shining talent on every level.  It was brilliantly written, fantastically directed and had a magnificent cast.  Galaxy of Terror shamelessly rips off the plot from Alien (in this case, an undead crew member of a crashed spaceship kills off his crewmates, another ship comes to check the wreckage, a creature kills off the crew) but then inserts some random shit that just makes it go off the rails and sound like a really bad episode from the final season of Star Trek (this is a just a test from super powerful space creatures).

So with the story already botched, then there is the talent.  When your director (in this case Bruce D. Clark) doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, that’s a bad sign.  When your star are Edward Albert (the son, not the dad), Erin Moran (between seasons of Happy Days) and Taaffe O’Connell you know you’re doomed.  Roger Corman was involved in making this and indeed, directing part of it as I will explain in a minute and he was the master at working with a very low budget but the budget isn’t the problem here.  Given the budget, James Cameron (who was the set designer) actually did some good work and this helped get him his start.

But aside from story problems, directorial problems and a cast that couldn’t bring in five people on opening night, there is the most famous scene in the film.  That’s the “worm sex scene”.  Yes, originally the giant worm (which kills the crew) was supposed to kill O’Connell but Corman decided it would be better box office if the worm raped her instead.  At first it’s hard to even tell that’s being attempted, but then she’s naked and writhing on the floor and it’s pretty clear that this film hasn’t gone off the rails but rather used a nuclear bomb to disintegrate the rails.

And if you just want to watch the sex scene and skip the rest of the film, well, it’s easy to Google and find it on YouTube.  Enjoy.

Bonus Review

Rocky III  (1982, dir. Sylvester Stallone)

This goes against the grain of my usual Bonus Review.  I usually review a film I saw in the theaters, usually in the late 80’s or early 90’s.  The problem is that I have only seen five United Artists films in the theaters and four of them I have already or will in the future review because of the Adapted Screenplay project.  That leaves Hotel Rwanda, which honestly, is so depressing I didn’t want to watch it again.  So, instead, I am reviewing a film that I considered reviewing for my RCM project because I did see it a lot as a kid.  I’m not certain why since I’m not much of a fan of the franchise and I don’t like boxing, but I did.  In fact (ironically, since John Oliver just did a piece on WWE last night), I saw this film enough and I knew so little about wrestling that for a long time I only knew Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips.

Sadly, this film is not all that good, though.  Oh, yes, it has it moments.  If you’re into boxing, the final boxing match between Stallone’s Rocky and Mr. T’s Clubber Lang is pretty impressive and looking at Lang you wonder how on earth he didn’t just beat Rocky to a pulp.  It’s got a great Survivor song, “Eye of the Tiger” (which was thrown into the film itself in a very clunky bit of dialogue) that actually earned an Oscar nomination, helping to pave the way for the Academy to finally start nominating rock songs although they still would have a pretty pathetic track record over the next decade.

The problem isn’t that the film doesn’t do a decent job of what it’s trying to do – the montage of the training (complete with the great Rocky musing which really is one of the more uplifting scores ever written), the tragic scene where Rocky’s trainer, Mickey dies (the first actor to leave the franchise – he would be followed by many others over the years though the franchise is now at eight films and still going strong with Stallone still hanging in there after all these years), the fight scenes themselves.  The problem is that everything in the film is kind of a cliche right from the start.  We start with his win over Apollo at the end of the previous film, losing his edge by becoming rich and famous and pampered, losing the first fight against Clubber badly and then winning the rematch.  In some ways this would not only be the blueprint for Rocky IV but also Creed II.

In short, Rocky III isn’t a bad film, it’s just a relatively mediocre film that actually falls down into the upper **.5 range, a spot that the three films that would follow this would be thankful to reach for before, after a long lay-off, the franchise would finally be revitalized even if it wouldn’t be great.


When I began this post, months ago, there wasn’t a post-2011 United Artists.  But, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the studio, MGM teamed with Annapurna to bring back the label as a distributor.  As a result, UA lives again with three films so far, none of which I have as yet seen: Missing Link, The Hustler, Booksmart.  With Where’d You Go Bernadette also in the lineup (in August), it’s possible that UA could see its first awards attention since 2004 this year.