The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#126 Post by movielocke » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:27 pm


Blossoms in the Dust – rather charming film about a northern woman transplanted to Texas who eventually becomes a campaigner for orphans and orphans rights after tragedy befalls her adopted sister and in her own life.

Citizen Kane – one of the all time greats, but it’s all cold edges and hard surfaces, technical prowess and mechanicistically artistic in its sheer bold blast of vision and modernity. Welles gives a fantastic performance both as the title role and as director.

Here Comes Mr. Jordon – I found this wonderful because of Claude Rains, without his presence I think my interest would have flagged. I think the ending is rather troubling in a somewhat subversive way, iirc.

Hold Back the Dawn – despite a host of talent, this film about a gigolo who’s trying to emigrate via Mexico and via Olivia de Havilland’s pants isn’t terribly good. It’s got a flat first half and a stronger second half, but the most fascinating aspect of the film is the self-reflexive opening.

How Green Was My Valley – one of my favorite movies, I find new things that astonish me every viewing, such as the way Ford stages and Miller shoots the scene when Mr. Gryffydd mitigates the dispute between Ianto Morgan and Mr. Parry. It’s a brilliant, subversively subtle bit of technical prowess, using the visual representations and spaces of the scene to unequivocally side with moderate and leftist sentiment while discrediting the reactionaryism of Parry. The text of the scene is very equivocal in not pissing off one side or another, but the way its executed leaves no doubt on close examination. But really the reason I’m still so attached to this film, despite my interest at one time waning, is the incredible power of a parallel shot at the end of the film, which recalls an earlier shot of father cradling son. I consider that in many ways one of the greatest shots in cinema.

The Little Foxes – a great Wyler film. A great Davis film. Such a superb script.

The Maltese Falcon – I loved it, but I liked the Big Sleep more (watched this and that back to back) and I really need to revisit this tremendous picture.

One Foot in Heaven – a very slight, but charming, pic about an itinerant preacher and his family and their struggles with their rather unchristian parishioners. Not nearly as good as the Bishops Wife, the film treads rather similar ground rather less effectively. March is solid in the main role, but there is nothing very exceptional about the film. It is mainly interesting for being part of the peculiar mini-genre of very sincere religious movies of the 1940s. The emotion and sentiment is genuine in a way that would be impossible in any other era of cinema production, but still, not a top notch representative of that rather brief genre.

Sergeant York – that brief spurt of religious genre bled into many other films, as can be seen in the spiritual reform oriented first act of this film. Here though, it is thematically essential to see roughneck York transformed into a pacifist before the breakout of WWI. There’s a rather beautiful scene where he sits on a hill looking at the landscape and prays out loud his confusion. Hawks and Coop do a great job. I really need to revisit this because the one time I’ve seen it was on film and the print broke midway through, disrupting the experience for ten or fifteen mintues.

Suspicion – like Shadow of A Doubt this is one of those ‘lesser’ Hitchcocks that are actually quite brilliant. I think the ending in the film—the censored version—is in many ways more subversive and far more interesting than the original ending. In a way I think this film suffers in modern eyes because we simply have too much knowledge that the film was ‘compromised’ and are therefore prejudiced against the ending. Cary Grant ascending the stairs with that glass of milk is an incredible scene.

My vote: How Green Was My Valley
2. Citizen Kane
3. Suspicion
4. The Little Foxes
5. The Maltese Falcon
6. Sergeant York
7. Blossoms in the Dust
8. Here Comes Mr. Jordan
9. One Foot in Heaven
10. Hold Back the Dawn

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#127 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:42 pm

Anchors Aweigh Because it wouldn't be the Oscars if they didn't nominate a terrible musical. Easily the least of the three Sinatra and Kelly musicals by the widest margin known to man, this interminable, charmless, unfocused mess found acclaim because... because... because the better Sinatra and Kelly musicals hadn't yet been made and someone wanted to make sure they were able to get funding. "It's fate, baby," indeed!

the Bells of St. Mary's God help me, I actually had high hopes for this one. After all, there was nowhere to go but up from the first one, right? But you know, I forgot about lateral movement. Another stunningly awful feel-good film that makes no one feel good. That the film opens with that seemingly endless scene with the cat says a lot about frontloading. By the time the film ends with Crosby's brave decision to be egotistical and ignore the advice of the doctor just so someone will like him more, well, it's truly proved itself to be a film worthy of its predecessor.

the Lost Weekend More contempt for the audience by Wilder. An at-times good but usually off the rails performance by Milland and the friendly barkeep move things along, but the picture rarely hits its targets. The only sequence in the film that truly works is that of Milland's embarrassed theft in the club and as such amounts to only a peek at what the picture could have been with someone else at helm.

Mildred Pierce The only good film nominated, so an easy pick. Crawford was never better in a part designed solely to win her an Oscar. The film's quality is proof that there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. Features one of the all-time great screen brats too-- I'm sure this pic did wonders for the emerging birth control movement.

Spellbound Even Marian Keane starts off her commentary by admitting no one likes this film. One of Hitchcock's (liver)worst pics, its inclusion here is a joke.

My Vote: Mildred Pierce

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#128 Post by reno dakota » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:14 pm

What a coincidence--I just finished 1945 as well . . . and came to the same conclusion.


Anchors Aweigh – A very entertaining musical, full of charming romantic moments and light comedic touches. The chemistry between Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra is excellent, and their buddy dynamic holds the sprawling and very energetic production together. The film does lose some of its focus during its many digressions (particularly the fun, but meandering fantasy interludes), and I thought Dean Stockwell was underused; but even so, I did enjoy this one a great deal.

The Bells of St. Mary’s – A wholly unappealing film from start to finish. Why anyone thought it would be a good idea to make a sequel (of sorts) to Going My Way is a mystery, but this film manages to be even more difficult to endure than the previous. The storyline is thin and bland, the songs are horrendous, and the whole production feels like it’s being dragged along unwillingly. I’ll admit that Ingrid Bergman’s performance did grow on me as the film wore on, but there is nothing else worth praising here. Luckily, there was not a third installment of the chronicles of Father O’Malley, as there are already two too many.

The Lost Weekend – A solid film about addiction that works better as a character study than it does as a message picture. Wilder does a good job presenting this story, given the limitations of the Code, but I wish he had dared a bolder approach, as a more honest and gritty adaptation of the source material would have been even more cinematically effective. That the film works as well as it does, despite its melodramatic and didactic diversions, is surely due to Ray Milland’s emotionally raw performance, which continues to impress me the more I think about it.

Mildred Pierce – A fine film, anchored by a strong performance from Joan Crawford. The screenplay weaves together elements of domestic drama and mystery without losing control of tone or pacing, while the staging and camerawork give the production a very stylish, film noir look and feel. Curtiz is firing on all cylinders here and the result is a thrilling and thoroughly satisfying character-driven film.

Spellbound – Another good, but not great, film from Hitchcock. The story is compelling in the way that it pulls you along with just enough information, but keeps you guessing all the same, and Bergman and Peck make an alluring pair. The screenplay does put too fine a point on the concluding revelations, and at least one character’s fatal slip is a bit difficult to accept, but this is accomplished filmmaking with plenty of strange and lovely passages (the dream sequence, in particular).

My vote: Mildred Pierce

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#129 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:31 pm

reno dakota wrote: Luckily, there was not a third installment of the chronicles of Father O’Malley, as there are already two too many.
There was, however, a TV series starring fellow 1945 Best Actor nominee Gene Kelly. The prospect of ever seeing even one episode would surely have been enough to sober up even Ray Milland

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#130 Post by reno dakota » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:44 pm

domino harvey wrote:
reno dakota wrote: Luckily, there was not a third installment of the chronicles of Father O’Malley, as there are already two too many.
There was, however, a TV series starring fellow 1945 Best Actor nominee Gene Kelly. The prospect of ever seeing even one episode would surely have been enough to sober up even Ray Milland
Indeed! So, can we officially blame Bing Crosby for McCarey's downfall?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#131 Post by movielocke » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:43 am

domino harvey wrote:1945By the time the film ends with Crosby's brave decision to be egotistical and ignore the advice of the doctor just so someone will like him more, well, it's truly proved itself to be a film worthy of its predecessor.
interesting, I found the doctor's patronizing decision that women are weak and thus the nun is incapable of knowing her own diagnosis and should be protected from 'terminal' news to be the most offensive thing about the picture.

I basically like the picture so much because my mom and sisters teach primary school/kindergarten/preschool and seeing the christmas play as presented in the film appealed to me more than anything in any of the five nominees. Saccarine though it may be, I don't particularly care because it has personal meaning to me.

I do think it's interesting how many of these religious films from the forties had no narrative thrust and are essentially a string of benevolent inoffensive episodes. Bishops Wife is easily the best of the lot, but I find this style of filmmaking, pre-television, to be quite an interesting vein in hollywood cinema--that there was a Father OMalley television series doesn't surprise me in the least. It seems the story sentiment behind the domestic, contemporary religious dramas of the forties migrated to television and the many family sitcoms that took over the medium, while the religious theme migrated out of the contemporary and into the historical epic (which had the interesting side effect of making them much less relevant or based on personal/internal struggles.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#132 Post by nighthawk4486 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:45 am

domino harvey wrote: Spellbound Even Marian Keane starts off her commentary by admitting no one likes this film. One of Hitchcock's (liver)worst pics, its inclusion here is a joke.

Wow. One of the worst? I've always liked it a lot, consider it one of the better Hitchcock (not 1st Tier like Strangers, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Shadow of a Doubt, Rebecca, Notorious, but 2nd Tier along with 39 Steps, Man Who Knew Too Much, Psycho, To Catch a Thief). Certainly don't think it can compare to the worst of Hitchcock like Jamaica Inn, Under Capricorn, Paradine Case, I Confess or the remake of Man Who Knew.

And I can't believe there have been so many posts in the time since I left Boston (where all my spreadsheets are) for vacation.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#133 Post by movielocke » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:51 pm

This is another year when oscar got it completely and totally wrong, selecting the weakest film of the five for the winner—a film that is strikingly at a level quite a bit below the other four nominees, 1947 all over again. Perhaps they thought CB was going to die soon? Too bad they didn’t wait for Ten Commandments (because it would at least make sense as a BP winner, which this year’s winner does not). Or they could have flip-flopped the picture and director awards.

The Greatest Show on Earth – What I love about the film is the opportunity to see the circus as it was, the lengthy interludes of circus performances are a fascinating slice of life. Jimmy Stewart is interesting in his silent role, and as a clown; the train wreck is indeed epic. But the story is complete shit, and Heston is merely adequate. Overall more ugh than ahh.

High Noon – one of my first westerns, I was introduced to this film by a teacher who knew the screenwriter personally and in describing the impact of the story and what it meant he began openly crying. It was an uncomfortable and quite remarkable classroom moment, more intimate than I like schooling to be. Gary Cooper here is very good and the editing outstanding. The handling of the film and the script are more searing and brilliant than I expected. Far more impressive an experience than Shane (though in some ways that film’s greater subtlety has more possibilities to mine, imo).

Ivanhoe – a film that is in many ways a ‘sequel’ to the Adventures of Robin Hood, and in some ways better than that film, but it lacks the magic that brought so many elements so unexpectedly and brilliantly together for Robin Hood to work so beautifully. On the other hand, the lists of jousts and the tournies seen here are fabulous to see, for all that they’re not very realistic, they are still quite exciting.

Moulin Rouge – Huston’s examination of the rise and fall of an artist to happened to luckily be a fabulously wealthy heir. The editing is the best thing in the film, and Huston establishes the dance of the Rouge to then segue into the melodrama of the artist-bio-pic that dominates the rest of the picture.

The Quiet Man – a film with the longest (in miles) fight ever fought in film. and it would have to contend for longest fight in screen time as well. Brilliant work by Ford on all levels.

My Vote The Quiet Man
2. High Noon
3. Moulin Rouge
4. Ivanhoe
5. The Greatest Show On Earth
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#134 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:14 pm

The Greatest Show on Earth was an enormously popular film. I believe it was the highest-grossing picture of the year, so the reasonings are pretty sound as far as Oscars go-- think of it as the Titanic of the fifties. Actually, audiences in the fifties flocked to circus films-- which explains how something as rote as Carol Reed's Trapeze raked in huge business!

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#135 Post by movielocke » Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:03 pm

A decent year overall for the academy.

The Caine Mutiny – one of Humphrey Bogart’s finest roles. The film was much better, though, before it suddenly became a court room drama, unexpectedly. Fred McMurray is also awesome. The subplot there just to ‘always got to have a girl’ with Van Johnson kissing a fiancée and going on a picnic was completely stupid.

The Country Girl – A fascinating film with a great screenplay and really good performances. Overly melodramatic and a bit cheesy nowadays, but I really dug the over-the-top theatre kitsch of the piece.

On the Waterfront – a masterpiece I should rewatch at some point

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – one of my favorite movies, a brilliant musical satire with some of the most hilarious lyrics I’ve ever heard in a musical. The boldness of inverting the rape of the Sabine women into a musical number called Sobbin women is the sort of balls you’d expect from Southpark, not the fifties. But it is decidedly and deliberately satirical, which is apparent from the opening lengthy shot and musical number of Bless Yore Beautiful Hide, while Adam Pottibee casually evaluates and dismisses all possible prospects of a wife. Love doesn’t enter into it...until it does, a musical is a romance and satire needs to be a good example of what it is satirizes if it is to be effective satire.

Three Coins in the Fountain – a gentle romance that expanded sex of the American cinema, but it’s in many ways about discovering romance in the manner of a teenager (just before teenagers took over these sorts of roles in films), ten years later, this could have been a Disney film with Haley Mills or Annette without changing much at all. It even has the color/tone and composition style of Disney’s live action films, so it feels more Disney than Fox.

My vote: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
2. On the Waterfront
3. The Caine Mutiny
4. The Country Girl
5. Three Coins in the Fountain
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#136 Post by movielocke » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:02 pm

Three winners, two stinkers for the year, so fairly middling.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing – ugh, but pretty photography.

Marty – a marvelous picture about an unlikely love story between atypical non-hollywood leads, one of the sweetest and most charming love stories but it’s also quite brutal about addressing realistically what these two lonely people have gone through in their relationshipless lives.

Mister Roberts – What a cast. What a script. Yet it is sometimes uneven. Still a magnificent pleasure though.

Picnic – yowzers, this movie is sex disguised as melodrama, unexpectedly intense.

The Rose Tattoo – ugh, but pretty photography, also this applies most readily to the Rose Tattoo:
10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the Deerslayer tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together. Mark Twain, "On the Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper"
My vote: Marty
2. Picnic
3. Mister Roberts
4. Love is a Many Splendored Thing
5. The Rose Tattoo

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#137 Post by movielocke » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:21 pm

Hollywood damn near got it dead wrong again, but this time they let the (quite faithful actually) travelogue win.

Around the World in 80 Days – I’ve done this film an injustice, it was the first film I watched on Netflix’s watch instantly, and like many films on that program it was a pan and scanned source. I need to rewatch it properly, but considering the scope and epic quality of the film I would prefer to watch it on the big screen. It was a very faithful adaptation, and at times it was quite good, it was also pretty damn long and at times quite tedious in a ‘get on with it already’ reaction elicited from me.

Friendly Persuasion – the hidden gem of this year’s nominees, Wyler does a fantastic job with this film, getting one of Coop’s best performances and managing the wonderful Dorothy Mcguire and a young Anthony Perkins in a superb and flawless comedy script that happens to have something of a action climax (though the film does not indulge the action much, the film is principally a comedy of manners first, and it is an especially brilliant one at that).

Giant – James Dean was excellent, with an incredibly iconic performance that overshadows the rest of the film. At times the sense of pace flags, but overall a fine Hollywood picture and fine work from Stevens.

The King and I – I normally love musicals. I normally love Yul Brynner. I hated this film, I thought the songs were stupid, I didn’t like the way the songs were done and I thought the story was utterly unearned sentimental and manipulative tripe.

The Ten Commandments – I’m hopelessly and completely biased in favor of this film. It’s one of the first films I remember watching, and rewatching and rewatching, for a five year old I watched a four hour movie a heck of a lot of times. I was mesmerized by the effects, I was mesmerized at seeing Sunday school tales come to life like that. I was blown away by an ‘adult’ film in a way that I wasn’t again for two or three years until Dances with Wolves came out and became my new favorite Grown Up movie. :-p

My vote The Ten Commandments
2. Friendly Persuasion
3. Giant
4. Around the World in 80 Days
5. The King and I

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#138 Post by reno dakota » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:22 pm


The Best Years of Our Lives – A film so good, so vital and moving, that it towers over the year’s other nominees. That Wyler and company were able to take a simple and direct story of three servicemen returning home from the war, and turn it into such an intimate and powerful portrait of postwar America, is astonishing. This is a tremendous film in every way, and my favorite of the Best Picture winners so far.

Henry V – One of the least engaging Shakespeare adaptations I’ve seen. It’s obvious that a lot of effort and care went into this production, and the look of the film is top-notch—from the lavish costumes and sets designed to give the feel of a stage play, to the slow dissolve from stage-bound sequences to realistic exteriors, to the elaborately composed battle sequences—but the whole affair is badly paced and very few of its passages feel truly alive. Given its sturdy reputation, though, I suspect that this is a film that I will grow to appreciate with more viewings and time.

It’s a Wonderful Life – One of Capra’s strongest films, loaded with tender and lovely moments, but also (and unfortunately) afflicted by his signature heavy-handed direction. Borrowing generously from his own American Madness, as well as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Capra succeeds in delivering a moving portrait of a good man in crisis. However, in doing so he continues to pound away at his nobility-triumphs-over-wickedness theme, without subtlety in his plotting or nuance in his characterizations. When Capra gets out of the way of his material and lets his story and characters do their work, without ramping up the sentimentality or putting too fine a point on his message, the result can be quite affecting. Seeing this one again after a number of years, I was thankful for the moments when Capra trusts his material enough to let it breathe, which happens more often here than it usually does in his films.

The Razor’s Edge – An occasionally effective, but overlong and shapeless film. Its greatest strength is surely its cast, particularly Clifton Webb, who gives us an extension of his effete and unnerving character from Laura, and Herbert Marshall, who is sensible and charming in his avuncular role. The trouble is that the screenplay is too ambitious—there is enough material here for two or three separate films, and the screenplay sprawls in an attempt to cover it all, resulting in a curiously shallow treatment of some rather weighty issues. I am not familiar with Maugham’s novel, so I cannot say with any authority that there must have been a better way to adapt this work, but surely there has to be a better film buried somewhere within all of this.

The Yearling – In a year with My Darling Clementine, The Big Sleep, and Notorious, the Academy instead chose to nominate . . . this? It’s not a terrible film, but there simply is nothing worth praising here, not even the performances from Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman. I’m not sure what the Academy members saw in this sentimental, hopelessly mediocre film, but I came away from it completely unimpressed.

My vote: The Best Years of Our Lives

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#139 Post by knives » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:10 am

movielocke wrote: Around the World in 80 Days
I haven't gotten around to this adaptation, but does it also have that god damned stupid balloon? Verne made something like a two page rant against that very thing.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#140 Post by movielocke » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:30 pm

reno, I agree with you on Best Years of Our Lives and Razor's Edge. But I disagree quite strongly on Henry V, to me it was one of the most vibrantly alive and excellent and cinematically rich adaptations of Shakespeare I've seen, a shame it didn't work for you.

One of Oscar’s strongest years, four exceptional films, but it's also got probably the longest combined running time of any year with five nominees.

Anatomy of a Murder – one of the best roles of Jimmy Stewart’s post-Vertigo career, he is certainly iconic, aided by a tremendous supporting cast (George C Scott in particular) and an outstanding script and story.

Ben-Hur – few film’s match its scope. Few films match the hilarity of the massage sequence in terms of obvious gay subtext. Big, gaudy, and oh-so Hollywood.

Diary of Anne Frank – having read the play, done readings of the play and seen the play I was sort of stunned to find this iteration to be the most effective and powerful I’ve encountered. Or perhaps it’s a work whose power changes as one matures and I merely appreciate it better now than when I was the age of Anne Frank.

A Nun’s Story – Audrey Hepburn’s superb performance is the primary reason to see the film, the story of the sophisticated, civilized and high-minded spiritual and psychological torture of nuns in training. No worse than many other spiritual orders around the world that demand the eradication of self and identity, but still disturbing to see that psychosis so up close and personal.

Room at the Top – A british version of A Place in the Sun/An American Tragedy that’s superior in every way to the over wrought mellerdrama from across the pond and the beginning of the decade.

My vote: Ben-Hur
2. Anatomy of a Murder
3. Room at the Top
4. Diary of Anne Frank
5. A Nun’s Story

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#141 Post by movielocke » Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:56 pm

Not a bad year at all for the academy, in that all five nominees are good movies and three are some of the greatest.

12 Angry Men – Brilliant.

Bridge on the River Kwai – one of the movies that started me on the road to becoming a cinephile, though I didn’t know it at the time. Guiness and Hayakawa are phenomenal, and like Great Escape, it's a three hour movie that feels like it's only about 100 minutes long. Brilliant editing and pacing.

Peyton Place – I thought I’d hate this melodrama and wound up really enjoying it. Nicely done, though Arthur Kennedy’s work is a bit too actory.

Sayonara – the year’s weakest link, but brought to incredible life by Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki (the leads aren’t bad either), and the scene with the eye brochure is the film’s strongest point. Has a particular poignancy for me having once thought I would marry a Japanese girl myself (and she the daughter of an American serviceman and a Japanese woman).

Witness for the Prosecution – a truly magnificent piece of work from Wilder, perhaps my second favorite mystery, after the Thin Man.

My vote: Bridge on the River Kwai
2. 12 Angry Men
3. Witness for the Prosecution
4. Peyton Place
5. Sayonara

That finishes off the fifties for me, seven more films to go in the sixties.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#142 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:04 pm

movielocke wrote:Peyton Place – I thought I’d hate this melodrama and wound up really enjoying it. Nicely done, though Arthur Kennedy’s work is a bit too actory.
Oh I know you're not badmouthing Arthur Kennedy where I can read it. That man's the best there ever was

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#143 Post by movielocke » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:37 pm

I got all excited when I saw his name in the credits and then his performance made me go 'ew, over the top drunken behavior' definitely my least favorite performance of his, though I think he was pretty awesome in quite a few scenes, the one with the teacher, and the two violent scenes with his step daughter.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#144 Post by movielocke » Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:10 pm

one of my top five films ever wins this year. :)

The Alamo - a very haphazard film, the scripting is the most to blame, imo as it swings wildly between acceptable and awful. Wayne's direction is mostly perfunctory, but he handles the battle sequences well, and the film is well cut with outstanding sound design, but by no means a great movie or great western.

The Apartment - a film so perfect it breaks my heart a new way each time I watch it.

Elmer Gantry - a fantastic story with a tremendous pair of lead performances, great work all around.

Sons and Lovers - A beautifully harsh story that is excellent on most every level

Sundowners - A great big "eh" except for Robert Mitchum's damn near perfect Australian accent. The story is vaguely interesting, but pretty slow and meandering, like the lives of the protagonists, and there is an interesting undercurrent of bittersweet and resignation to the whole film that is perhaps its strongest element.

my vote: The Apartment
2. Elmer Gantry
3. Sons and Lovers
4. The Alamo
5. The Sundowners

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#145 Post by HypnoHelioStaticStasis » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:58 pm

I had been meaning to post some more of these for awhile (seems like there's only a few people really participating in this list as of yet):


Blossoms in the Dust: Cardboard, lifeless drama. I fell asleep twice and started over, but it was such a chore to sit through.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan: Another bore, but Claude Rains is always watchable. I felt little sympathy for anybody. Its inexplicable why this remains to so popular to this day.

Hold Back the Dawn: Surprisingly lithe little drama, quick moving and acted with grace and compassion. I've never though much of Boyer, but this film makes me want to reevaluate my previous perceptions. Universal needs to make a Mitchell Leisen boxset and trumpet this film as one his many classics.

How Green Was My Valley: Prime Ford, and an excellent example of class-consciousness. Roddy McDowall is adorable, and Walter Pidgeon will always be better at being Gregory Peck than Gregory Peck ever was.

The Little Foxes: Overrated, overheated nonsense. The photography is outstanding, but everything feels so stagebound, and not in a way that emphasizes the performances or the atmosphere. Even when it gets outside, its still an artificial product. The Semitism of the characters is toned down to the point that this adaptation seems pointless.

The Maltese Falcon: Close to perfect, but Adolph Deutsch's impersonal, inappropriate score distracts from Huston's coolly played mechanics. Even Ward Bond manages to be tolerable.

One Foot in Heaven: Gentle family entertainment, with one of March's most interesting, complex performances. He always seems of two minds about everything he does. His scene in the movie theater is masterfully understated.

Sergeant York: A film I wanted to like more than I did. Its first thirty minutes are close to perfect, but Hawks lays on the archetypal comedy relief and messages real heavy in the later scenes. Still, its production values are stunning.

Suspicion: Believe it or not, one of my favorite Hitchcocks. Cary Grant was never better than he is here, and the banality of the neighborhood and its atmosphere closely resemble Shadow of a Doubt. While this film isn't as good as Shadow of a Doubt, it remains a compelling mystery, even if the ending is a bit... lame.

My pick- Citizen Kane: Still the best, after all these years.


All the King's Men: The excitement one feels when they first see the film is diminished by repeat viewings (Is Willie Stark the first man in office to abuse his position? The film seems to posit this), but it remains one of the great political documents of the time, an encapsulation of the terror felt by the rising generation of politicos about the power of the grassroots campaign, and about wolves in sheep's clothing in the world of big government.

Battleground: Count me as another William A. Wellman fan, but this is a relatively weak outing, but was one of the many cathartic post-war films that was immediate and nostalgic for its audience. It reaffirmed all that they felt was good and triumphant about the last war. The actors in this have a good rapport as well.

A Letter to Three Wives: I run hot and cold with Mankiewicz, and this left me chilly. The whole felt so contrived and the dialogue so archly clever and self-satisfied. I couldn't stand the arrogance of Douglas' character (although his performance was fine), and I felt nothing for any of the women. Paul Douglas, as usual, is wasted.

Twelve O'Clock High: Well-produced and epic filmmaking. My fondness for King really extends to his more intimate outings, but this was still well-done, and at times, quietly sorrowful. Far more tastefully done that most other celebrations of our nation's armed forces. Its jingoism is muted by the toll the war took on men's nerves and their own failings as soldiers.

My pick: The Heiress: Devastating, featuring some of the finest acting in Hollywood's history. Ralph Richardson... what more can be said? And Olivia De Havilland was one of the most natural presences in the age of studio filmmaking. The Goetz's and Wyler's adaptation of the Henry James novel skimps on nothing painful; the film is all about pain in its rawest form. The pathology of the characters are shocking.


The Greatest Show on Earth: A good, corny family film, although the ending is surprisingly violent (albeit ridiculous in its orgiastic spectacle), but its characters are phony to a fault. I can;t really criticize the film because it never seemed to have any ambitions beyond being a big, colorful show-biz melodrama. Its really harmless in its own way.

High Noon: The cast is uniformly excellent, but its a western marred by its own political pretenses. I don't buy its so-called "anti-blacklist" leanings, because it never extends the allegory beyond some simple "stand up for what is right" sentiments. Also, the song score was far too prevalent and distracting. I didn't need to hear "Do Not Forsake Me..." every two minutes.

Ivanhoe: A cheapening of Scott's novel. Richard Thorpe stages everything for eye-popping spectacle, but Robert and Elizabeth Taylor are nebulous on camera. Even the reliable George Sanders fails to make an impact.

The Quiet Man: Starts off as a nice, bucolic fairy tale, but becomes an obnoxious, unfunny farce at the end. John Ford has no flair for comedy (see The Searchers as another example). Barry Fitzgerald's readings are hilarious, though ("Truly Homeric").

My pick- Moulin Rouge: I'm an unabashed fan of John Huston, and while I'll be the first to say that many films of his are overrated, this film isn't one of them. Jose Ferrer, who can be a spectacularly bad performer when he wants to be, gives his best performance here. His marvelous, subtle expressions as Henri are impeccable, and while some deride his performance as the father, I found his character to have a far more likable, daresay, reasonable presence in regards to his son's health and well-being. The photography is so evocative of a long-lost Paris that it seems as close to a primary document of the times as Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings. See this film at once!


The Caine Mutiny: Some of the performances were inspired (Fred MacMurray, who I've never much cared for, was right on the money, and Lee Marvin's bit shames almost everyone else around him with his sheer charisma), while Bogart was appropriately hammy and Jose Ferrer's final scene is like a bad dress rehearsal. It's a film of mixed blessings and messages; it doesn't seem adequately prepared for the type of emotional ambiguity it serves up at the end. It all ends a little too neatly. And the final "message", as in any Stanley Kramer production, is basically fired at the audience like a cannonball.

The Country Girl: A likable melodrama, but I've always found Bing Crosby vastly overrated, and William Holden flails about trying to keep the audience's attention on himself. His character gets far too much screen time, and while the romance between him and Grace Kelly is one of the cruxes of the story, they have absolutely no chemistry. It manages to end rather gracefully though, without trying to put too many lumps in the audience's throat.

On the Waterfront: Used to be one of my favorites, but I was (and still really am) a sucker for any shot-on-location in New York films of the golden era; part of me will always be fascinated by the city I live in. But as I got older, I found its ultimate message too be flawed and far too on-the-nose; Unions are inherently corrupt, Kazan and Schulberg seem to say. Of course, it's easy to say that when the only unions we see in the film are mob-run; it stacks the deck unfairly, and doesn't take into account many of the socio-economic factors of the time and the way unions are corrupted by the marketplace (as opposed to just out and out violence). Of course, there was and still is illegal activity in unions. But not all of them.

That said, Brando is great (if a tad saintly), and I love Karl Malden's scene in the church, which is brilliantly stylized and edited.

Three Coins in the Fountain: Instantly forgettable but over before you know it.

My pick- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: A wonderful musical farce, full of vigorous dancing and singing and lovemaking. Everyone is terrific, but it made me realize just how underrated Howard Keel is. Donen's staging is absolutely perfect on every level. He was one of the few directors of widescreen musicals who really knew how to use the format. There is so much depth of field in his and George J. Folsey's camera work, that the usually studio-bound feel of the sets disappears after the first few minutes. Everything seems lived-in. One of the most underrated films of all time, but a favorite of mine since childhood.

Long post, but hopefully it increases your tally, Domino.

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reno dakota
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#146 Post by reno dakota » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:24 pm


The Bishop’s Wife – Quite a step up from the last Koster film that I watched for this project. This one is a real charmer, full of warmth and good humor. The performances are strong all around, but I was most fond of the supporting cast, particularly Gladys Cooper, Elsia Lanchester, and Montey Woolley (I know, I was surprised too). Some of the “miracle” sequences are a bit hokey, and I still don’t know what to make of several of the comic interludes (the chair and the ice skating), but minor issues aside, I would echo the calls that this become a Christmas standard.

Crossfire – A great looking and wonderfully acted film noir, but one that left me a bit cold. There is no shortage of talent here—Dmytryk has great instincts as a director, molding this material with great style, and the cast is excellent all around. It’s just too bad that this level of craft was brought in to service such a lightweight story, where characters and motivations are no deeper than what is right before our eyes. It’s puzzling that the Academy chose to recognize this film when they could have nominated outstanding noir films like Out of the Past and Brute Force, or even the moody and sensual Daisy Kenyon instead.

Gentleman’s Agreement – Not a good film. Kazan seems to want to deliver both a stirring social message picture and a moving domestic drama, but he fails to give us either one. As a social message picture, his approach is too glancing, too obvious and superficial to be the sort of indictment of bigotry that has the power to change hearts and minds. There is never much at stake for Peck’s character and the few brushes with anti-semitic hostilities are presented without gravitas. Meanwhile, the film never comes together as a compelling domestic drama because the characters serve as little more than mouthpieces for the philosophical aims of the screeenplay, and the developing tensions within the central relationships are too tied to the overall message to have much of a life of their own. I did find a few of the performances engaging, but they deserve to have been surrounded by a better film.

Great Expectations – A good, solid film from Lean. As Dickens adaptations go, this one is nowhere near the quality of either Wood’s A Tale of Two Cities or Cukor’s David Copperfield, but it does get the look and feel of the novel right. The moors are as dark and dreary—and Miss Havisham’s home as desicated and unsettling—as I remember them from the novel, and the screenplay expertly pares down Dickens’ vast novel without sacrificing its overall impact. I would hesitate to call this a great film, but from among the year’s weak slate of nominees, it’s a strong contender.

Miracle on 34th Street – As heartwarming holiday fluff goes, this film struck me as fairly minor. Just when I was beginning to warm to the characters and develop some interest in the story, Seaton stears his third act into a courtroom. Why do so many films lack the courage to sort out their central tensions outside of some legal proceeding? I suppose I can see why some people are so taken by this sort of story, but it did very little for me.

My vote: Great Expectations and The Bishop’s Wife are the most accomplished of the lot, and while I don’t love either one, I’ll pick The Bishop’s Wife because it’s the one I would be most eager to watch a second time.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#147 Post by movielocke » Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:06 pm

This may be tied with 1993 and 1976 as one of the finest years of nominations in the academy's history--all five films are superb. particularly ironic after 1963, one of the dullest of years with no outstanding film whatsoever nominated.

Becket - outstanding on all levels and the acting and writing are particularly fine. one I would like to revisit on blu sometime soon.

Dr. Strangelove - What can be said. Peter Sellers is brililant, matched perfectly by George C Scott, Slim Pickens and Sterling Hayden. The photography and set design is every bit as darkly hilarious as the script. As razor sharp today as it was 45 years ago.

Mary Poppins - Not the best Disney live action film, but one of the most ambitious, joyful and charming. It has better musical numbers than My Fair Lady, but it also lacks the ability to extract a bit more from its themes. There's an inherent poigancy to the growing up of the children and the loss of magic from their lives at the end of this film that is not utilized at all. It would be a match for the bittersweet ending of My Fair Lady but the film just doesn't stand up to its own full potential beyond the spectacularness of its entertainment and the satisfy qualities of its story and storytelling. We briefly get a glimpse of the greater power the film could reach for (if it tried) in the wonderful Feed the Birds number at the close of the film. Isn't it odd that in many ways the problem with the film is that it is not ambitious enough, and lacks the more sophisticated quality of films like The Yearling? In a way, this film is illustrative of the transition that took place over the fifties and sixties in the creation of the family film genre. It straddles the divide and is between both the richer all audiences thematics of the older films and the more and more neutered, modern thematics designed to not offend parents or affect the younglings emotionally.

My Fair Lady - A great musical that makes the still rather controversial choice of leaving many of the numbers stagebound. Combined with Rex Harrison's rhythmic talking this affectation gives the film a uniquely stylized take on the musical genre. In a way the reserved filmmaking reflects the propriety of perfect diction that so much of the plot centers around. What often fails to be recognized is that while its obvious that Eliza goes through immense physical changes in behavior, speech and dress, she is also molding Henry internally. He does not change in outward appearance or behavior at all (as seen in the last scene of the film), but goes through a spiritual transformation just as profound as her physical one. There are two pygmalions in this story because she changes him just as much as he changes her.

Zorba the Greek - the sexiest film of the lot. that also exposes the vicious hypocrisy of the community and church condemns them both while offering a much more sensible idea of the beautiful spiritual aspect of life's passions.

My vote: Dr. Strangelove
2. My Fair Lady
3. Mary Poppins
4. Zorba the Greek
5. Becket

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#148 Post by nighthawk4486 » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:57 pm

Finally back. If you're thinking of driving from California to Boston in three days I don't recommend it. Especially if you start the third day in Iowa and end it in Boston.


The Apartment - not quite as high on this as movielocke, but it is my #1 of the year

Elmer Gantry - #14 on the year - ***.5 - solid literary film with a great Lancaster performance and one of my all-time favorite performances from Shirley Jones

Sons and Lovers - #25 on the year - high *** - good film, but I was very disappointed when I finally got a chance to see it, given all the awards attention and how good the novel is - never quite crossed the barrier from good to very good

The Sundowners - #27 on the year - *** - I'm not as down on this as movielocke, but it's been a long time since I've seen it (think I saw it most recently in 1994 or so)

The Alamo - **.5 - #62 on the year - just reading David Thomson's The Whole Equation and he mentions "Budgeted at $7.5 million, its crosts crept up to $12 million as Wayne succombed to the urge to get everything 'right.' It earned rentals of about $15 million eventually, but because of the deals undertaken to get it shot he never made a cent of profit from it. And many people (Mexicans foremost) reckoned it had everything 'wrong'." I'm of the latter opinion. As a kid I was a big Davy Crockett enthusiast because I had a kids bio of him that had been my dad's, but when I finally saw the film in college I had already taken a dislike to Wayne and I thought the film was ridiculous Hollywood history and just poor film-making.

my top 5:
#1 - The Apartment
#2 - Ikiru (Kurosawa's classic was eligible here)
#3 - The Virgin Spring
#4 - The Cranes are Flying
#5 - Spartacus

not a great year for English language films - of my top 10, only 4 are EL (Apartment, Spartacus, Psycho, Tunes of Glory), but great for FL getting their US release (aside from the 3 above there are also in my top 10 World of Apu, Hidden Fortress and Shoot the Piano Player)

my Globes:
Drama - Ikiru / Virgin Spring / Cranes are Flying / Spartacus / Psycho
Comedy - Apartment / Our Man in Havana / Picnic on the Grass

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond
High Time
Le Verite
The Ninth Circle


like the year before, I have 10 films that are **** and 6 of them are foreign language films and I again agree with the Oscars on Best Picture

West Side Story - my #1 film of the year - a true classic of how to bring a stage play to life on film, how to make the editing and cinematography work - possibly the film of the 60's I have seen the most times

The Hustler - **** - #3 of the year - brilliant performances from Newman and Scott (he should have won) - while some films could have been in either B&W or Color, West Side Story definitely needed to be in Color and Hustler definitely needed to be B&W

The Guns of Navarone - ***.5 - #12 film of the year - great entertainment, very enjoyable, but not quite a great film

Judgment at Nuremberg - *** - #20 of the year - suffers, like nearly every Stanley Kramer film from being overlong and overly serious - but this has the best acting of any Kramer film - Schell is brilliant and while Tracy is Tracy, I am still a big fan of the supporting performances from Clift, Garland and Lancaster

Fanny - *** - #25 of the year - I need to go back and watch this again now that I have watched the original French trilogy, all of which were quite good - but I have never been and never will be a Leslie Caron fan

my top 5:
#1 - West Side Story
#2 - Throne of Blood - 1 and 2 are both unconventional Shakespeare adaptations
#3 - The Hustler
#4 - Breakfast at Tiffany's
#5 - Yojimbo (actually nominated for Costume Design)

my Globes:
Drama - Throne of Blood / Hustler / The Bridge / Elevator to the Gallows / White Nights
Comedy - West Side Story / Breakfast at Tiffany's / Yojimbo / La Dolce Vita / One Two Three

still need to watch:
Claudelle Inglish
Harry and the Butler
Immortal Love

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#149 Post by domino harvey » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:32 pm

nighthawk4486 wrote:Elmer Gantry - #14 on the year - ***.5 - solid literary film with a great Lancaster performance and one of my all-time favorite performances from Shirley Jones
I like Lancaster a lot, but to my eyes he and the entire film are overshadowed by the virtuoso sequence midway through the film of Arthur Kennedy reading that amazing newspaper monologue which then segues into Jones finishing the monologue in a feverish bluster of mocking sexual energy. I know she got the award merely because the Best Supporting Actress is always awarded to whores, drunks, or victims, and even though nothing she does in the rest of the movie even remotely matches the shock of her being able to pick up an Arthur Kennedy grandstand and running with it, I still feel her win was justified for that scene alone

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#150 Post by movielocke » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:05 pm

A solid year for the academy, three great films, one excellent, one very good.

Alfie – not as good as I was expecting, considering the film’s reputation, but it’s got great writing and a superb performance from Michael Caine

A Man for All Seasons – not many people like this anymore, but Scofield’s performance is one of the all time great performances, the script is perfect and there is a terrific feel of the era. Wendy Hiller is outstanding as More’s wife. And the supporting cast in general is amazing. I take something new away from the film every time I watch it.

The Russians are Coming… the Russians are Coming – the first screwball comedy nominated in decades is an absolutely great one of the genre. I imagine this is more rewatchable than many BP nominees, and the first BP nominee I’ve seen this year that I will absolutely and definitely buy.

The Sand Pebbles – this is hands down Steve McQueen’s best performance, the story is excellent, but the script is uneven. However the filmmaking is outstanding, and the film has stuck with me after seeing it. I’d love to see it in a theatre, and I think it will improve on a second viewing.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf - Another great script this year, and Taylor’s best performance, Burton is excellent too. The photography and editing snarl right along with the vitriol and spite being spewed and screamed by the principles. You wouldn’t expect such nastiness to be so damned exhilarating, but it is.

My vote: A Man for All Seasons
2. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
3. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
4. The Sand Pebbles
5. Alfie

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