Veronica, Thomas and assorted friends gather to watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

I will start, aside from wishing Merry Christmas (or whatever your choice of holiday is) to everyone, by quoting two different things I wrote in my piece on Christmas Eve on Sesame Street five years ago.

The first is “I have no religious feelings centering around Christmas.  I love Christmas for the feeling of good cheer and happiness that tend to abound.  The two songs “True Blue Miracle” and “Keep Christmas With You” both center around those notions.”  That is the explanation for the title.

The second is “Most of all this special works because it is a reminder that what I love about Christmas is the feeling in the air (and it doesn’t think Christmas is the only holiday – there is a nice Chanukah greeting for Mr. Hooper), that we can all love each other, that we can find peace on earth.  It makes me think of my e-mail signature, a quote from RFK: “But we can perhaps remember – even if only for a time – that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek – as we do – nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.”  That is what I love about Christmas.  And Sesame Street was always like that – always a reminder that we should be nice to each other, that life is so much better that way.” (more…)

A Century of Film

Columbia Pictures

The Studio

“Three men started it and they named it after themselves: C.B.C. Film Sales Company, for Jack Cohn, Joe Brandt and Jack’s younger brother, Harry Cohn.”  (Hail Columbia, Rochelle Larkin, p 11)  “The enterprise was growing in distinction, and hence it required a new name.  C.B.C. was now universally recognized in the trade by its sobriquet, Corned Beef and Cabbage.  A company could scarcely prosper under such a handicap.  On January 10, 1924, C.B.C. became Columbia Pictures.”  (King Cohn: The Life and Times of Harry Cohn, Bob Thomas, p 36)

“The movie business was divided into two unequal parts: The best film properties went to the major studios, the rest to the novices and dreamers on Poverty Row.  Harry Cohn was going to bridge that gap.”  (Larkin, p 12)  “Harry Cohn assumed the presidency of Columbia Pictures Corporation in 1932.  He retained his position as chief of production, becoming the only film company head to hold both positions.”  (Thomas, p 79) (more…)

“We’re disturbed, we’re disturbed / We’re the most disturbed / Like we’re psychologically disturbed” (p 207)

My Top 10:

  1. West Side Story
  2. The Hustler
  3. One, Two, Three
  4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  5. The Bridge
  6. Elevator to the Gallows
  7. A Raisin in the Sun
  8. Pocketful of Miracles
  9. The Misfits
  10. Macario

Note:  There are 16 films on my list.  Three of them are listed below, as they were Consensus nominees (The Guns of Navarone – #13, Fanny – #15, Judgment at Nuremberg – #16).  The other three are all the way down at the bottom.
Note:  Unfortunately, this is a year where there were several source materials I was unable to get, so I had to do the best I could. (more…)

Karin: Hush, hush! The actor is tuning up his lute. The Grave Gentleman bids us dance. He wants us to take each other’s hands and form a chain. He himself will lead us, and the actor will bring up the rear. Away from the dawn we shall go with measured tread, away to the dark lands while the rain caresses our faces. (tr. Randolph Goodman and Leif Sjoberg)

My Top 10:

  1. The Seventh Seal
  2. Some Like It Hot
  3. The Diary of Anne Frank
  4. Anatomy of a Murder
  5. Ordet
  6. Compulsion
  7. Pather Panchali
  8. Sleeping Beauty
  9. Tiger Bay
  10. Aparajito

Note:  There are 16 films on my list.  Two of them are listed below, as they were Consensus nominees (Ben Hur – #11, Room at the Top – #14).  The other four are all the way down at the bottom. (more…)

" 'Will I Come?' he said at once. 'There's no need to ask. Of course I'll come. You've only got to say gold and I'm your man.'" (p 71)

” ‘Will I come?’ he said at once. ‘There’s no need to ask. Of course I’ll come. You’ve only got to say gold and I’m your man.'” (p 71)

My Top 10:

  1. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  2. Hamlet
  3. Force of Evil
  4. Fanny
  5. Day of Wrath
  6. Rope
  7. The Eagle Has Two Heads
  8. State of the Union
  9. Cesar
  10. The Snake Pit

Note:  I actually have a lot more than 10 on my list in this year.  There are 19 films on my complete list.  Four of the remaining films on my list are reviewed below because they were WGA nominated: my #11 (All My Sons), #14 (Key Largo), #15 (Call Northside 777) and #18 (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House).  The rest are in list order at the very bottom. (more…)

“They were clustered / At the right waist-port; the gun was there, / And Homer hung against it, crying joy. / They saw a river; they all knew it.” (p 22)

My Top 7:

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives
  2. Brief Encounter
  3. The Big Sleep
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life
  5. Henry V
  6. The Spiral Staircase
  7. The Killers

note:  This is an interesting year.  It’s one of the greatest years in film history and the Top 7 films (Children of Paradise and Notorious are original scripts) are better than than the top 7 of any other year.  However, there’s a big drop-off after those seven and thus I only have a Top 7, not a Top 10.

(more…)

"A-15.  UPPER LANDING OF STAIRCASE (FROM BELOW).  Phyllis Dietrichson stands looking down.  She is in her early thirties.  She holds a large bath-towel around her very appetizing torso, down to about two inches above her knees.  She wears no stockings, no nothing.  On her feet a pair of high-heeled bedroom slippers with pom-poms.  On her left ankle a gold anklet."

“A-15. UPPER LANDING OF STAIRCASE (FROM BELOW). Phyllis Dietrichson stands looking down. She is in her early thirties. She holds a large bath-towel around her very appetizing torso, down to about two inches above her knees. She wears no stockings, no nothing. On her feet a pair of high-heeled bedroom slippers with pom-poms. On her left ankle a gold anklet.”

My Top 5:

  1. Double Indemnity
  2. Gaslight
  3. Arsenic and Old Lace
  4. Laura
  5. Ministry of Fear

Note:  That’s it.  My whole list for the year.  But it’s also a year where only 8 films rank above *** and the other three are original.  Not a good year for film. (more…)

"Spade by means of his grip on the Levantine's lapels turned him slowly and pushed him back until he was standing close in front of the chair he had lately occupied.  A puzzled look replaced the look of pain in the lead-colored face.  Then Spade smiled."  (p 46)

“Spade by means of his grip on the Levantine’s lapels turned him slowly and pushed him back until he was standing close in front of the chair he had lately occupied. A puzzled look replaced the look of pain in the lead-colored face. Then Spade smiled.” (p 46)

My Top 10:

  1. The Maltese Falcon
  2. The Little Foxes
  3. Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  4. The Devil and Daniel Webster
  5. High Sierra
  6. How Green Was My Valley
  7. Hold Back the Dawn
  8. Meet John Doe
  9. Suspicion
  10. Pépé le Moko

Note:  I have a Top 10, but unlike 1940, my list doesn’t go any further than that. (more…)

The brilliant opening of Children of Paradise.

The brilliant opening of Children of Paradise.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.

This is the first year of the reduced number of nominees in the tech categories at the Oscars – Sound and Interior Decoration would have three nominees each with Cinematography and Special Effects only having two each.  It’s the fourth year for the Golden Globes, but there are still no nominees and no distinction between Drama and Comedy – the films marked in red in my Globes section won the Globe.

Note:  You will see seven films in most categories listed below.  Only the top 5 are my nominees for the year.  But the seven top films of this year are so incredibly good, I decided to list more than my top 5 – in fact, this year sets a new best for Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing and Cinematography.  In later years, I will probably list my Top 10 in just about all categories, but still only my top 5 will earn nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. The Big Sleep
  5. Brief Encounter
  6. Henry V
  7. Notorious

(more…)

One look at her and Walter Neff was doomed.

One look at her and Walter Neff was doomed.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated. This is the start of the 5 Best Picture nominee era at the Oscars, which will last until 2008.  It’s the second year of the Golden Globes – there were still no nominees and no distinction between Drama and Comedy, but those films in red in the Globe section won the Globes.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Double Indemnity
  2. Gaslight
  3. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  4. Hail the Conquering Hero
  5. Arsenic and Old Lace

Analysis:  This is not a great year, and yet it’s still going to be better than 1945.  These are all **** films, but this is the lowest total for the top 5 since 1937 and it’s the lowest top 10 since 1936.  That’s because this is it for **** films and there are only three ***.5 films: Ministry of Fear, Laura and The Princess and the Pirate and the last two are lower level.  The only years so far with a weaker 6 through 10 are 1931, 1934 and 1936.  Arsenic was actually ready in 1942 but Warners was contractually obligated to wait for the end of the Broadway run and so it becomes the third great comedy here. (more…)