The war is over! Hollywood won!
And glory be, they didn’t add any new categories — or at least, ones I didn’t include in my books.
Let’s start with one I’ve seen every single film for (which should read “with one for which I’ve seen every single film,” which is grammatically correct, but makes me sound too much like a pompous ass…).
Just what is it about girls and horses?!? I know, we shouldn’t go there. I had a girlfriend once who told me her favorite spot to sit when she was a certain age was on top of the washing machine when it was running. Explains why women go for guys on motorcycles too. Vroom vroom!
Elizabeth Taylor had her first major starring role in National Velvet, a movie that still holds up beautifully today. I suspect the award was for the horse race, which is quite thrilling. I have no complaints about this one, although there might have been others just as worthy.
A decent WWII flick, although the British objected to the impression that Americans had done the heroic acts. One of Flynn’s better films from his later period. The nomination is for the combat scenes.
If there is a serious contender for the Academy Award among the nominees, it would be this serious look at the effects of alcoholism. While I have some problems with the movie — see V. 2, WHO Won?!? — the editing is quite good.
As a teacher, I really object to the way in which the movie presents education, particularly in Bing Crosby’s interference, which is privileged by the director as the correct approach. I do like Ingrid Bergman here, especially in the boxing scene. But the editing isn’t particularly interesting, and the movie as a whole is constructed shamelessly to manipulate our emotions by setting up a false medical premise for a false payoff. Going My Way was much more honest schmaltz.
A Song to Remember is a complete stinker from start to finish, with Paul Muni’s worst performance of his entire career. The editing is mundane at best — and even then, it’s better than the rest of this malodorous tripe.
I did it again! I’ve seen all these! The OCD must be paying off…
The Bells of St. Mary’s won for Stephen Dunn & RKO, largely for recording Der Bingle’s timeless voice. I have no problem with that; he and Louis Armstrong taught the twentieth century how to sing.
A Song to Remember was nominated for the Chopin pieces. which are the one good thing about this completely forgettable silliness. John P. Livadary (Columbia) should have been nominated for trying to save this turkey.
You should probably ignore the movie poster completely. Nothing like that is in The Southerner, a serious look at the lives of the poor in the South, from French director Jean Renoir, nearing the end of his time in America. I have no idea why Jack Whitney (General Service) got the nomination. The sound is perhaps the weakest part of this often interesting movie.
This movie poster isn’t the best way to advertise John Ford’s return to Hollywood with They Were Expendable, a downbeat, somber examination of the failures of the early years of the war, and the necessity of sacrifice. The movie was a commercial and critical failure, because nobody wanted that kind of picture in the rush of winning WWII. Douglas Shearer (MGM) should probably keep this, if only for the difficulties of capturing sound aboard a PT-Boat in full throttle (or reproducing it effectively).
The Unseen tries to be a spooky movie, with a new governess, two small children, and a widower. Gail Russell and Joel McCrea star in a disappointing attempt, despite a script co-written by Raymond Chandler. Loren L. Ryder (Paramount) get the usual empty house, suspenseful sounds down fairly well.
Three Is a Family is a mild comedy about an overstuffed house getting more overstuffed. Charles Ruggles and Fay Bainter star as the elderly couple trying to cope with too many Navy wives and children. W. V. Wolfe (RCA) manages to capture all the noise effectively — or so I recall, since I saw this decades ago, but couldn’t locate a copy for a new viewing.
Flame of Barbary Coast has John Wayne and Ann Dvorak. He becomes a gambler to get her. Mindless fluff. Daniel J. Bloomberg (Republic) gets all the sounds of Old San Francisco down pat, except for the snoring in the audience.
Wonder Man is one of my favorite Danny Kaye movies — has been since I was a kid. Lightweight, but entertaining, with some terrific patter songs from Kaye. recorded very well by Gordon Sawyer (Samuel Goldwyn).
Leave Her to Heaven is one of the most chilling movies ever made, a color film noir with an utterly terrifying performance from Gene Tierney. and great supporting performances all around her. I don’t know that the sound is anything special, but the silence of the lake scene is probably one of the reasons Thomas T. Moulton (Fox) was nominated.
Lady on a Train is yet another Deanna Durbin vehicle, which as was so often the case, was an excuse for Durbin to sing, and not much more. Ralph Bellamy shows up. Bernard B. Brown (Universal) captures her sound as well as anyone did. Judge for yourself, as she tries on Cole Porter’s Night and Day:
The Three Caballeros is Disney’s second love letter to Latin America, and still an enjoyable musical piece. C. O. Slyfield (Walt Disney) gets Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles in a surprisingly respectful tip of the hat to our WWII allies down south.
Rhapsody in Blue isn’t quite the travesty the Cole Porter flick Night and Day is, but it isn’t far. Robert Alda (Alan’s father) plays George Gershwin. The musical numbers are alright, and why Nathan Levinson (Warner Bros.) got the nod.
Best Short Subject (One-Reel):
Stairway to Light won, in a return to the great men of history approach that often wins in these short categories (and just as often in Best Picture). This time, a doctor — Dr. Philippe Pinel — at the time of the French Revolution is lauded for his attempt to help the mentally ill. The short can be found on the DVD of The Picture of Dorian Gray, or here:
Along the Rainbow Trail gives us a trip down the San Juan River rapids in Utah. I’d like to see this one, but it has no footprint anywhere.
Screen Snapshots’ 25th Anniversary has appearances by Cecil B. DeMille, Louella Parsons, Walt Disney, and Rosalind Russell, celebrating the history of Hollywood newsreels, which include footage of Lionel Barrymore, Lon Chaney (Sr.), Marie Dressler, Douglas Fairbanks (Sr.), Jean Harlow, and Rudolph Valentino. This is another one I’d like to see, but it’s vanished from view.
Story of a Dog tells of the training of a Coast Guard dog, and his hunt for an enemy sniper. Here’s a home capture of it (not my home, not my capture!):
White Rhapsody could be just about anything: a KKK recruitment film? A short about snow? Bad jazz? Snow White’s honeymoon footage? Nobody knows — this one has fallen completely into the white noise.
Your National Gallery is presumably about the art museum in Washington, D.C., and I’d really like to see it — but art thieves have hidden this one away.
Again, this is why I never covered these originally — I just keep looking around going, “Huh?!?”
Best Short Subject (Two-Reel):
Star in the Night won; Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) made his directorial debut here. The nativity story is retold in modern-day America. J. Carrol Naish appears. Worth a look. Appropriately, it was released as a special feature on the DVD of Christmas in Connecticut. You can also find it under your Xmas tree here:
A Gun in His Hand is another of the MGM shorts on the Crime Does Not Pay DVD boxed set. This time, a criminal joins the police force so that he can more effectively pursue a life of crime. Joseph Losey directs.
The Jury Goes Round ‘N’ Round offers us Mike Mazurki in some bit part. More than that, I cannot say — or won’t. You never know what a jury might want to hear. I sure can’t tell — I couldn’t find this one.
The Little Witch is another musical version of lovers from different social and ethnic classes. More than that, I cannot say. The lovers have sworn me to secrecy. What short?
Best Documentary (Feature):
The True Glory won, telling the story of the Allied victory in Western Europe, from D-Day to V-E Day. Garson Kanin (Adam’s Rib) and Carol Reed (The Third Man) directed from a script by Paddy Chayefsky (Marty). Highly effective collective slap-on-the-back. Dwight D. Eisenhower introduces the film. Join in the celebration here:
The Last Bomb depicts the Allied bombing of Japan, ending with color footage of the nuclear bomb drop. Fascinating look behind the scenes. Another celebration of winning the war that can be seen here:
Best Documentary (Short):
Hitler Lives? won. Rather than some paranoid fantasy about Hitler surviving, the short warns that we must be vigilant against the surviving Nazis in Europe, lest another Hitler arise. Don Siegel directed. Here is the short:
Library of Congress is about the Library of Congress. Ain’t I helpful? I’d like to see this one, but apparently, a bookworm ate it before I could get to it.
To the Shores of Iwo Jima shows us, in color, the taking of the island of Iwo Jima, and shows us the flag-raising (well, as we know now, perhaps not the flag-raising). One final piece of propaganda, anybody?
Well, I’m glad the war is over. Aren’t you? See you next year for the peace!
If you’re interested in the more mainstream categories, please see my book! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PKK8MBY