What Should Have Won the 1955 Best Picture Oscar?

“What do you wanna do tonight?” “I don’t know. What do you wanna do?”

Well, Marty may not know, but I do! Let’s kick around what movie should have won for Best Picture in 1955!

Marty originally won, surprising everybody:

Here is part of what I had to say in v. 3 of WHO Won?!? An Irreverent Look at the Oscars, 1953-1963:

Marty is the most atypical Best Picture winner in the Fifties. A small, intimate, character-driven film smack dab in the middle of a decade of Big Dumb Flicks, Marty was also independently produced by Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster – yes, that Burt Lancaster – who made the film as a tax write-off, only to discover they had a blockbuster hit on their hands. (Do you suppose Mel Brooks was paying attention? The Producers twists this into wonderful comedy.) What’s even more absurd, the story had already been made for television, which should have made it anathema to the movie industry. And with another step into the land of the unlikely, Ernest Borgnine, who at this point had played almost nothing but vicious dumb bastards, was offered the role of a sensitive, lonely man (originally played on TV by Rod Steiger). Marty tells the story of a schlub of a bachelor who finds love, despite all the obstacles. His plain Jane romantic interest is played by Betsy Blair, who was married to Gene Kelly at the time. Marty is about accepting who you are and living for yourself rather than other people. Marty is the template for literally dozens of movies made since, usually starring teenagers under peer pressure who come to realize that being themselves is more important than being who other people want us to be. Marty was a vote against what Hollywood was doing to attract audiences, made by people who could see the product they were turning out wasn’t what they wanted. That Marty began as a TV play may also signal Hollywood recognized the need to indulge in more experimentation, as early live television had.”

The other official nominees were the hyper-romanticism of William Holden going after Jennifer Jones going Asian in Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing; Henry Fonda furious over Jimmy Cagney’s petty tyranny (and how badly John Ford mangled) Mr. Roberts; William Holden going shirtless and dancing with Kim Novak in Picnic; and Burt Lancaster going gaga over Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo.

Other pictures were overlooked, and perhaps none so criminally as Charles Laughton’s sole directorial effort, with Robert Mitchum going love and hate in the American gothic fairy tale, The Night of the Hunter, as well as Jimmy Cagney brutalizing Doris Day in Love Me or Leave Me, James Dean going biblical in East of Eden, Frank Sinatra shooting heroin in The Man with the Golden Arm,  Spencer Tracy without an arm in Bad Day at Black Rock, Katharine Hepburn going Italian in David Lean’s Summertime, James Dean getting torn apart by his parents in Rebel Without a Cause, Glenn Ford trying to set those little hoodlums straight in Blackboard Jungle, Gene Kelly getting musically morose in It’s Always Fair Weather, Gary Cooper primping for aviation in The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, Bob Hope dancing with Cagney in The Seven Little Foys, Jacques Tati vacationing on Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Rod Steiger terrorizing the state of Oklahoma!, Marlon Brando playing the role Sinatra should have played in Guys and Dolls, Fred Astaire having longings for Audrey Hepburn in Daddy Long Legs, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly seeing fireworks in To Catch a Thief, William Holden blowing up The Bridges at Toko-Ri, the British inventing The Dam Busters, Disney doing love doggy-style in The Lady and the Tramp, Marilyn Monroe getting blown by a subway in The Seven-Year Itch, a six-tentacled octopus embracing the Golden Gate bridge in It Came from Beneath the Sea, mutants trying to date earth women (again!) in This Island Earth, that old nitro in The Wages of Fear, Orson Welles getting Shakespearean (again!) in Othello, Hitchcock going for humor with The Trouble with Harry, the French getting sneaky in Diabolique, Bogart and Lorre camping out in Beat the Devil, and the Japanese getting medieval with Sansho the Bailiff.

Feel free to add other choices, but for foreign films, please use the AMERICAN release date, as that is how the Academy runs things.

As always, I have much more to say in my book:http://www.amazon.com/WHO-Irreverent-Look-Oscars-Volume/dp/069232318X

Please vote here!

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