The Best Picture Nominees from 1943

The Movie Morlocks Oscar blog-a-thon continues today and goes through the end of the week. Suzi kicked things off yesterday with a look at actors who were nominated for historical roles. Today I look at the Best Picture race from 1944′s Academy Award ceremony (for the films of ’43).

The big news at this year’s Oscar ceremony is the expansion of the Best Picture category from five nominees to ten. After the near shutout of THE DARK KNIGHT from major awards in 2009, it’s an effort by the Academy to shoehorn some money makers onto the show to goose ratings. And while the world-devouring AVATAR would have been nominated in a field of one, hits like DISTRICT 9 and THE BLIND SIDE certainly benefited from the change. This is no innovation however – there were ten best picture nominees from 1937 – 1944 (it varied between 3 – 12 before then). They cut it down to five nominations in ’45 for the first national radio telecast on ABC, perhaps to trim a few seconds off the program. Over the next two weeks, I’ll watch all the nominees (except for the out-of-print HUMAN COMEDY), from immortal classics to forgotten curios. It’s an attempt to take the pulse of mainstream film-making of the era with fresh eyes. The list of nominees is after the break.

CASABLANCA (1942), directed by Michael Curtiz [WINNER]

How to approach a film as ingrained in cultural memory as this one? By the time one arrives at a movie-going age, the film has been parodied, copied, and praised into oblivion. It’s impossible to watch free of the encrustations of its reputation, the “greatest” of this or that. But how did people see it upon its original release? I consulted my trusty James Agee and Manny Farber collections for some insight. Agee:

“Apparently Casablanca, which I must say I liked, is working up a rather serious reputation as a fine melodrama. Why? It is obviously an improvement on one of the world’s worst plays, but it is not such an improvement that that is not obvious.”

“Casablanca is still reverently spoken of as (1) fun, (2) a “real movie.” I still think it is the year’s clearest measure of how willingly, faute de mieux, people will deceive themselves.”

Farber:

The “Casablanca” kind of hokum was good in its original context in other movies, but, lifted into “Casablanca” for the sake of its glitter and not incorporated into it, loses its meaning. Thus, Sydney Greenstreet’s velvet gesturing and suave cruelty were vitally necessary to “The Maltese Falcon,”…whereas in this picture he’s not even needed. He’s there merely for Sydney Greenstreet.

“Casablanca” is as ineffectual as a Collier’s short story, but with one thing and another – like Bergman, Veidt, and Humphrey Bogart – it is a pleasure of sorts.

I would recommend reading both reviews in full, but both are measured in their praise and engaging in some amiable push-back against its canonization. Agee’s short blurb goes after some of the clunky dialogue he “snickered at”, while Farber has a longer, in-depth consideration of its faults, while still praising its “political intelligence” and the performances of Bergman (“noble and utterly clear”) and Bogart’s mouth (“which seems to be holding back a mouthful of blood”).

Neither review uses much space on director Michael Curtiz, with Farber slamming his “incapable scissors” and Agee questioning his tracking shots with an esoterically phrased metaphor: “the camera should move for purposes other than those of a nautch-dancer.” “Nautch” is a style of Indian popular dance, so presumably he thinks Curtiz’s camera movements are too showy. I would disagree with both. After watching Warner Bros.’ dazzling new Blu-Ray, the cutting appeared precise and well-paced, while the tracking shots effectively map the various shady nooks of Rick’s Café Américain, where the parade of stellar character actors tilt up their heads.

The devious, doomed performances of this procession often transcend the flimsiness of their roles: Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Marcel Dalio, Conrad Veidt, Claude Rains, Dooley Wilson, and S.Z. Sakall imbue their caricatures with flashes of mordant wit, frazzled humor, implicit violence, and a variety of other tones. But there are so many subplots and characters that everything feels rushed – “the picture has more acts than it knows what do with for truth and beauty”, says Farber, and I agree. It slows down for minor diversions (the young couple searching for a visa) while making short shrift of Lorre’s fastidious and fascinating black-market whiz. The political subtext chugs along (isolationist slowly convinced to fight) effectively, and the cumulative impact of so many expressive faces (Bogart and Bergman paramount among them), and Curtiz’s powerful use of close-ups, echo in the memory far longer than its overstuffed narrative.

***

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (1943), directed by Sam Wood

This film needs no such equivocation. It’s a puffed up, hollowed out bore by any estimation, drained of any hint of politics or emotion. Agee and Farber both take healthy chunks out of its hide. Agee:

If you are not careful, you may easily get the impression that Gary Cooper is simply fighting for the Republican Party in a place where the New Deal has got particularly out of hand.

Farber:

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a failure – perhaps Hollywood’s most exasperating refusal to fulfill any of its obligations.

Interestingly, both writers criticize the Technicolor photography as well, with Agee saying “it still gets fatally in the way of any serious imitation of reality”, and Farber seconding, “I myself find it difficult to take seriously a movie made in technicolor.” I would say this lack of “realism” has more to do with the exaggeratedly “arty” lighting scheme (lots of silhouettes, impossibly angled shadows) and the stodgy compositional sense Sam Wood brings to the table. Everything is group shots cut in to gigantic close-ups. It’s impossible to nail down the geography any given space, and the set-design is bloated, polished, and glaringly artificial. Farber rightly says the rebels’ cave looks more like a cafe. As with all technical innovations, the right artist had to come along to make critics get over Technicolor’s seemingly garish tones (Douglas Sirk, Vicente Minnelli, among others), as Hollywood hopes James Cameron has done with 3D.

***

HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943), directed by Ernst Lubitsch

My favorite movie of the bunch, and the one that used color “with sensitiveness and wit, I thought, for the first time.” So says Agee. He sees it as an echo of the great films of Lubitsch’s past (he idiosyncratically cites Forbidden Paradise and Three Women), but “not up to his best.” Farber writes a straight pan, attacking what he perceives as its “pictorial sterility” along with the censorship that de-fanged Don Ameche’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. These are two of Farber’s favored polemical points here, but his target is far more subtle than he’s giving credit for. In short – he’s completely wrong.

It’s true that Ameche plays a sensualist, and that none of his conquests are shown on-screen, but the film’s focus is on the uncertain adaptation of these impulses into married life, their attempted domestication into old age. Lubitsch’s short-hand of infidelities (a teenage hangover, a receipt for a bracelet), leave more room to examine the unintended consequences of his actions. The film is a warm, wise, and oft hilarious fable about the push-pull between love and lust, between aging bodies and raging libidos. It’s pulled off with a light touch under a cool palette of blues and grays (Gene Tierney’s dress, the hair at Ameche’s temples), creating a placid surface underneath which Lubitsch works his emotional magic. Ameche is effortless suavity, with a legitimate sparkle in his eye every time he spies Tierney, who exudes a world-weary charm. As they age together, spar together, and fade away together, Lubitsch has created one of the truest portraits of marriage I’ve seen on-screen. It’s a patient, funny, and inordinately wise. Add a blustery Charles Coburn and you get a masterpiece.

***

THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943), directed by Clarence Brown

Out of print, aside from $80 VHS tapes on e-bay. I haven’t seen it, so my words are from TCMDB: “A small-town telegraph boy deals with the strains of growing up during World War II.”

Agee: “The picture is mainly a mess, but as a mixture of typical with atypical failure, and in its rare successes, it interests me more than any other film I have seen for a good while.”

Farber: “If you tried to imagine the most gruesome result of a collaboration between William Saroyan and MGM, to both of whom life tends to be a chocolate soda made out of words, you couldn’t have approached the disaster of ‘The Human Comedy.’

***

IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942), directed by Noel Coward and David Lean

A stirringly effective, and surprisingly downbeat, WWII propaganda film from Noel Coward, it presents a cross-section of British society as seen through the eyes of the crew of a bombed British destroyer. The HMS Torrin is sunk at the Battle of Crete, and as the sailors hang on a lifeboat, a series of flashbacks detail their lives immediately preceding their deployment. It’s an elegant structure that packs a lot of story information in a compressed time frame, ratcheting up tension while presenting thumbnail sketches of the survivors at once. Coward plays the Captain with stone-faced dignity, and the rest of the cast underplays with equal aplomb. Celia Johnson is his long-suffering wife, eyes welling up with tears as she sends him off on yet another tanker, while his crew gets married, argues with mother, and dreams of the future.

It was one of Agee’s best films of 1942 (it opened late in ’42, not made eligible until ’43 for the awards), and Farber was also a huge fan: “There is unusual respect for the ordinariness of people’s behavior; so that they come out stronger, more admirable for being natural.”

***

THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943), directed by William Wellman

Unlike with Heaven Can Wait, in The Ox-Bow Incident Farber finds a Hollywood film untainted by censorship. It had its say “without losing a scene, a character or a line of dialogue to the Hays Office, the studio or the box office.” For him, this makes it an unqualified triumph, and a “thrilling experience.” This seems to be the critical consensus of the period, as Agee agrees that it was “remarkably controlled and intelligent”, although he felt that it contained a “stiff over-consciousness” that drained the film of “its own warmth and energy.” In any case, it is clearly one of the most important films of the year.

This morality play, about the lynching of three men at The Oxbow, Nevada, in 1885, is surprisingly dark as well as overtly “arty” in its intent. The main stage is an expressionist tinged clearing with a gnarled tree at its center and studio-artificial scrub brush surrounding it. Three men are caught and accused of murder, with a string of circumstantial evidence tying them to the crime. A group of locals band together for a lynching – led by a tyrannical Confederate soldier and a bloodthirsty Jane Darwell (otherwise known as Ma Joad). The liberal faction attempts to stall the slaughter and fails.

Shot by Wellman and cinematographer Arthur Miller in a spare, heavily shadowed, overtly symbolic style that he would push to delirious lengths in the great Track of the Cat, it’s a triumph of mood. The shadows distort the lynchers’ faces into rictuses of fear and terror, as if out of a Kirchner or Munch painting. It is a self-conscious work of art, almost stilted in its artificiality, but the quality of the craftsmanship is high, and Henry Fonda’s wounded gait has carried lesser films.

***

Next week I’ll take a look at the rest of the nominees:

MADAME CURIE (1943), directed by Mervyn LeRoy

THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943), directed by George Stevens

THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943), directed by Henry King

WATCH ON THE RHINE (1943), directed by Herman Shumlin

30 Responses The Best Picture Nominees from 1943
Posted By Jeff H. : February 16, 2010 2:45 pm

Some very good comments in here, and like you, I think HEAVEN CAN WAIT is the best of the bunch (it is one of my favorite Lubitsch films, as well). I also have a soft spot in my heart for THE HUMAN COMEDY, which I think is Clarence Brown’s best film with wonderful work from Mickey Rooney and Frank Morgan-both of whom could inhale the scenery if not reined in. The only part of the film I find a bit much (I usually do a refrigerator break during it) is the “United Nations” in the park that James Craig points out to Marsha Hunt-LB Mayer must have loved this part.

On FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, while Wood’s direction is workmanlike at best, there is much to recommend: Victor Young’s mighty score (his best, IMHO), the supporting performances (Paxinou, Tamiroff, etc.) give the film heart, and I must credit Paramount with not giving the film a happy ending, which they could have done (evidently there was an alternative happy ending to-coincidentally-Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS in 1932 [do not know if it still exists-available prints end the way the book did]). Minuses: Bergman, while beautiful just is wrong casting; the visual effects work really looks cheesy today; and Cooper, while Hemingway’s personal choice for the role, looks rather peeved through so much of the film although his final scenes do have a power that has not diminished.

I was lucky enough to view an original 35mm nitrate Technicolor print of the film at UCLA back in the late 80′s (the archive there did a restoration, and the night I went to see it Robert Gitt introduced it by saying “We’re sorry, but our restored print is not ready tonight, so we will have to show the nitrate print as a way of making it up to you.” Needless to say we all swooned at this prospect.) and it was better than I thought it would be. I often wonder what the finished product would have been like if DeMille had made it, which was the original plan.

Posted By Jeff H. : February 16, 2010 2:45 pm

Some very good comments in here, and like you, I think HEAVEN CAN WAIT is the best of the bunch (it is one of my favorite Lubitsch films, as well). I also have a soft spot in my heart for THE HUMAN COMEDY, which I think is Clarence Brown’s best film with wonderful work from Mickey Rooney and Frank Morgan-both of whom could inhale the scenery if not reined in. The only part of the film I find a bit much (I usually do a refrigerator break during it) is the “United Nations” in the park that James Craig points out to Marsha Hunt-LB Mayer must have loved this part.

On FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, while Wood’s direction is workmanlike at best, there is much to recommend: Victor Young’s mighty score (his best, IMHO), the supporting performances (Paxinou, Tamiroff, etc.) give the film heart, and I must credit Paramount with not giving the film a happy ending, which they could have done (evidently there was an alternative happy ending to-coincidentally-Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS in 1932 [do not know if it still exists-available prints end the way the book did]). Minuses: Bergman, while beautiful just is wrong casting; the visual effects work really looks cheesy today; and Cooper, while Hemingway’s personal choice for the role, looks rather peeved through so much of the film although his final scenes do have a power that has not diminished.

I was lucky enough to view an original 35mm nitrate Technicolor print of the film at UCLA back in the late 80′s (the archive there did a restoration, and the night I went to see it Robert Gitt introduced it by saying “We’re sorry, but our restored print is not ready tonight, so we will have to show the nitrate print as a way of making it up to you.” Needless to say we all swooned at this prospect.) and it was better than I thought it would be. I often wonder what the finished product would have been like if DeMille had made it, which was the original plan.

Posted By MDR : February 16, 2010 4:07 pm

Keep an eye out for The Human Comedy (1943); it was last on TCM in September, 2009 and can be found on the channel (at least) annually.

Posted By MDR : February 16, 2010 4:07 pm

Keep an eye out for The Human Comedy (1943); it was last on TCM in September, 2009 and can be found on the channel (at least) annually.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 16, 2010 11:59 pm

What pleases me of those days long gone, when I wasn’t even around is that the films nominated as in 1943 ALL deserved a nod as did almost all the films during the run of more than 5 nominated filmsper year.

There was absolutely NO FILLER. Even the Paul Lukas/Bette Davis 1943 WATCH ON THE RHINE is exceptional with an incredibly well- deserved Oscar winning performance by Paul Lukas who pretty well won every award that year.

It’s obvious in the ten best of this year, a return to the past that there certainly is a fair amount of filler. I won’t mention the films specifically, but at least three are NOT Oscar worthy BEST MOVIE NOMINATIONS. No question of that at all!

Let’s not even think that Cameron C’s AVATAR is this untouchable stellar movie. Of course, everyone knew it would be Oscar bound, but the American Film Institute, the greatest Institute picking the years 10 best movies among so much more work impressive work the body does, DID NOT PICK AVATAR as one of the top 10 films of the year. I believe I understand the reasons they left it off the 10 best and I laud their courage for doing so.

Even in a field of ten, it’s sad to say that the Oscars and the pathetic Golden Globe Awards have shown that merit in film does not lead to an Oscar nominated film……. money does. It’s so different in Europe, where, by and large, merit in any category gets you a nomination with a possible victory.

Even in the now specialized fields of Foreign Film, new rules for music, documentary ( shorts and full length ) decided by a specific panel ( not the entire Academy ) or a grading system for a nomination, there is still too much politics with very consistent lobby groups to ensure certain things get in and some get shut out as the amazingly brilliant GOMORRAH from ITALY a short-listed best foreign film, but not one of the five finalists last year when the Academy stunned everyone again with a surprise win for a country not expected to win… in this case Japan. And GOMORRAH dealing with the Sicilian Mafia was hailed on the same level, possibly more brilliant than another best pic Mafia film…… THE GODFATHER. So go figure!

In most categories there are but 5 nominations and it stands to reason that some possible/probable nominees cannot be included. It is a hard pill to swallow, however, if you are TRULY deserving
Looking at it from the Academy’s point of view, it is a democratic vote amongst over 6,000 members so personal taste and loyalties must be factored in. Not to consider this is sheer folly. There are tons of films and actors who should never have taken Oscar home! Not to believe this is again folly or a simple fact that you know very little about film.

Back to specialized categories or categories with new rules. Sorry, but it truly botheres me that the Academy often picks repeated songwriter nominees as the finalists in that category. I was truly angry that those two Bollywood songs from Slumdog Millionnaire were nominated ( Jai Hai did win ) as was its score yet Bruce Springstein’s fabulous song for THE WRESTLER was overlooked especially as there were ony 3 nominees last year.
What gives?

This year, Randy Newman, an Oscar favourite again is nominated for two songs from The Princess and the Frog.Is the Academy deaf?
There have been some mighty good songs written for the screen this year. Don’t just nominate a song or music because of a name ( e.g. John Williams, another case in point. ) Be fair and choose the best material not necessarily the person who wrote the song or full score.

I could get into so many more issues, but I do stand by the Academy overall as it is a democratic vote amongst so many members. Sure enough some members really suck big time, as the huge campaign put on by CRASH in 1995 distributing thousands upon thousands of free DVDs two weeks before the final vote convinced the Academy to choose CRASH over BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, possibly one of the biggest upsets in Academt history. Brokeback had literally won every major award for 1995. It was a given it would win…. and what happens….. CRASH which did not win a single award from any critics groups goes on to win the biggest prize of them all. When this sort of thing happens, I see red.

Yet I remain a big Oscar afficianado since I started to watch it as a kid, my first in 1983 when Terms of Endearment took best picture and Shirley Maclaine finally won a long, long overdue Oscar.

Better stop or I could write a book. I know the Academy history, major nominations and most winners in all major categories. When I have a passion for something, I can absorb material at an alrming rate. Have gone to do so in other fields like baseball and hockey, opera and ballet and theatre as well.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 16, 2010 11:59 pm

What pleases me of those days long gone, when I wasn’t even around is that the films nominated as in 1943 ALL deserved a nod as did almost all the films during the run of more than 5 nominated filmsper year.

There was absolutely NO FILLER. Even the Paul Lukas/Bette Davis 1943 WATCH ON THE RHINE is exceptional with an incredibly well- deserved Oscar winning performance by Paul Lukas who pretty well won every award that year.

It’s obvious in the ten best of this year, a return to the past that there certainly is a fair amount of filler. I won’t mention the films specifically, but at least three are NOT Oscar worthy BEST MOVIE NOMINATIONS. No question of that at all!

Let’s not even think that Cameron C’s AVATAR is this untouchable stellar movie. Of course, everyone knew it would be Oscar bound, but the American Film Institute, the greatest Institute picking the years 10 best movies among so much more work impressive work the body does, DID NOT PICK AVATAR as one of the top 10 films of the year. I believe I understand the reasons they left it off the 10 best and I laud their courage for doing so.

Even in a field of ten, it’s sad to say that the Oscars and the pathetic Golden Globe Awards have shown that merit in film does not lead to an Oscar nominated film……. money does. It’s so different in Europe, where, by and large, merit in any category gets you a nomination with a possible victory.

Even in the now specialized fields of Foreign Film, new rules for music, documentary ( shorts and full length ) decided by a specific panel ( not the entire Academy ) or a grading system for a nomination, there is still too much politics with very consistent lobby groups to ensure certain things get in and some get shut out as the amazingly brilliant GOMORRAH from ITALY a short-listed best foreign film, but not one of the five finalists last year when the Academy stunned everyone again with a surprise win for a country not expected to win… in this case Japan. And GOMORRAH dealing with the Sicilian Mafia was hailed on the same level, possibly more brilliant than another best pic Mafia film…… THE GODFATHER. So go figure!

In most categories there are but 5 nominations and it stands to reason that some possible/probable nominees cannot be included. It is a hard pill to swallow, however, if you are TRULY deserving
Looking at it from the Academy’s point of view, it is a democratic vote amongst over 6,000 members so personal taste and loyalties must be factored in. Not to consider this is sheer folly. There are tons of films and actors who should never have taken Oscar home! Not to believe this is again folly or a simple fact that you know very little about film.

Back to specialized categories or categories with new rules. Sorry, but it truly botheres me that the Academy often picks repeated songwriter nominees as the finalists in that category. I was truly angry that those two Bollywood songs from Slumdog Millionnaire were nominated ( Jai Hai did win ) as was its score yet Bruce Springstein’s fabulous song for THE WRESTLER was overlooked especially as there were ony 3 nominees last year.
What gives?

This year, Randy Newman, an Oscar favourite again is nominated for two songs from The Princess and the Frog.Is the Academy deaf?
There have been some mighty good songs written for the screen this year. Don’t just nominate a song or music because of a name ( e.g. John Williams, another case in point. ) Be fair and choose the best material not necessarily the person who wrote the song or full score.

I could get into so many more issues, but I do stand by the Academy overall as it is a democratic vote amongst so many members. Sure enough some members really suck big time, as the huge campaign put on by CRASH in 1995 distributing thousands upon thousands of free DVDs two weeks before the final vote convinced the Academy to choose CRASH over BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, possibly one of the biggest upsets in Academt history. Brokeback had literally won every major award for 1995. It was a given it would win…. and what happens….. CRASH which did not win a single award from any critics groups goes on to win the biggest prize of them all. When this sort of thing happens, I see red.

Yet I remain a big Oscar afficianado since I started to watch it as a kid, my first in 1983 when Terms of Endearment took best picture and Shirley Maclaine finally won a long, long overdue Oscar.

Better stop or I could write a book. I know the Academy history, major nominations and most winners in all major categories. When I have a passion for something, I can absorb material at an alrming rate. Have gone to do so in other fields like baseball and hockey, opera and ballet and theatre as well.

Posted By smitty1931 : February 17, 2010 1:38 pm

to Peto Antoni: I would be interested in your insights into opera and ballet. Especially as they are treated in film.

Posted By smitty1931 : February 17, 2010 1:38 pm

to Peto Antoni: I would be interested in your insights into opera and ballet. Especially as they are treated in film.

Posted By Jeff Heise : February 17, 2010 4:08 pm

Peto-you are probably correct in describing the top ten list as having “filler,” but going with the comments by Agee and Farber you quoted above, it seems that they would consider CASABLANCA, THE HUMAN COMEDY and FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS as filler, and to many, those three films (especially the first one) are now considered masterpieces. It seems that, in many cases Mediocre/Good movie + 30+ years = classic. If you want proof, I offer the following titles: CAVALCADE, THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. All of these films won Best Picture, yet I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of people on this site could easily find a bunch of films that are far more worthy of the award than what won. If you want evidence, just look at the first film on my list-CAVALCADE. Can ANYONE honestly say that this film is considered superior to 42ND STREET, KING KONG, DUCK SOUP, TROUBLE IN PARADISE, DINNER AT EIGHT or even STATE FAIR? Honestly? GREAT ZIEGFELD better than DODSWORTH, MR. DEEDS GOE TO TOWN, MODERN TIMES and MY MAN GODFREY? GREATEST SHOW better than THE QUIET MAN, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL? AROUND THE WORLD better than THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE KING AND I, FRIENDLY PERSUASION, UMBERTO D, THE SEARCHERS or LUST FOR LIFE?

What is interesting is that this reconsideration about recent films almost starts immediately upon a film winning, to the point where people are looking at films made in the last decade and shaking their heads. As you mentioned about CRASH, that was a true upset and perhaps the most negatively reviewed film to win the Best Picture statue, and films such as AMERICAN BEAUTY and even TITANIC now have even more vocal detractors than when they won. I suspect that if AVATAR wins, the hue and cry will begin even before the Governor’s Ball starts! It was a technical triumph, but Cameron really needs a co-writer to rein him in with his dialogue-really.

Posted By Jeff Heise : February 17, 2010 4:08 pm

Peto-you are probably correct in describing the top ten list as having “filler,” but going with the comments by Agee and Farber you quoted above, it seems that they would consider CASABLANCA, THE HUMAN COMEDY and FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS as filler, and to many, those three films (especially the first one) are now considered masterpieces. It seems that, in many cases Mediocre/Good movie + 30+ years = classic. If you want proof, I offer the following titles: CAVALCADE, THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. All of these films won Best Picture, yet I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of people on this site could easily find a bunch of films that are far more worthy of the award than what won. If you want evidence, just look at the first film on my list-CAVALCADE. Can ANYONE honestly say that this film is considered superior to 42ND STREET, KING KONG, DUCK SOUP, TROUBLE IN PARADISE, DINNER AT EIGHT or even STATE FAIR? Honestly? GREAT ZIEGFELD better than DODSWORTH, MR. DEEDS GOE TO TOWN, MODERN TIMES and MY MAN GODFREY? GREATEST SHOW better than THE QUIET MAN, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL? AROUND THE WORLD better than THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE KING AND I, FRIENDLY PERSUASION, UMBERTO D, THE SEARCHERS or LUST FOR LIFE?

What is interesting is that this reconsideration about recent films almost starts immediately upon a film winning, to the point where people are looking at films made in the last decade and shaking their heads. As you mentioned about CRASH, that was a true upset and perhaps the most negatively reviewed film to win the Best Picture statue, and films such as AMERICAN BEAUTY and even TITANIC now have even more vocal detractors than when they won. I suspect that if AVATAR wins, the hue and cry will begin even before the Governor’s Ball starts! It was a technical triumph, but Cameron really needs a co-writer to rein him in with his dialogue-really.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 17, 2010 4:23 pm

THE BALLET

As for ballet, quite a number of works have been filmed/taped, but usually from existing stage productions so I don’t think they stand out very well as film. However, one can see all of the standard ballet repertoire on DVD/tape and find them very satisfying. The romantic GISELLE has been filmed/taped so often with the greatest stars and is a must for any beginning ballet buff. There are so many versions of it from the forties on that it is hard to pick a favourite though Cuban Alicia Alonzo has been one of the greatest of Giselles. Ditto for the following in no particular order of preference or time frame:

Dame Margot Fonteyn
Karen Kain
Galina Ulanova
Dame Alicia Markova
Lynn Seymour ( from Canada…… huge in the U.K. )
Gelsey Kirkland
Svetlana Benosova
Alla Mikhalchenko, G. Spittestskaya ( Sp.) Karsavina and a whole host of great, great Russian Ballerinas
The amazing CARLA FRACCI from Italy
Ghislaine Thessmar
Maria Tallchief ( American Indian ) and I could go on ad infinitum.

By the way, Harlem all black dance company did a re-working of the piece in the 1980′s called CREOLE GISELLE. It is wonderful. It worked beautifully setting the piece in Louisiana with all black dancers, production values, first rate. It first aired on NBC and is now on DVD. I repeat: It’s exceptional. See it!

The same goes for Swan Lake which I have seen a million times. There is no lack of finding dozens of filmed versions of stage productions, but I will recommend the all-male ( gay????? ) SWAN LAKE that appeared on BROADWAY in the 90′s. It was a huge success and a breath of fresh air for such an old war horse of classical ballet. It struck a special nerve with both straight and gay audiences and went on to be nominated for several Tony Awards. This would have been the perfect moment to present true ballet as film, capture this version on film. I believe it could have worked, but no one would risk it! so! Voila…. as the French say!

I don’t have the time and I don’t know how many words one can get into a reply, but I would make recommendations on Prokofiev’hauntingly ROMEO and JULIETTE. romantic.

The great Nuryev conceived SLEEPING BEAUTY which started off in Europe in the 60′s and became a sensation by the time it opened in Toronto, Canada’s National Ballet with Dame Margot Fonteyn and Nuryev himself. No! I did not see these live as I was a child, but the great masterpieces inspired me to more contemporary ballet which can be thrilling: Bernstein’s West Side Story Suite is awsome as is JEWELS, a ballet with no story line, one of the finest contemporary pieces, stunning as each act displays the colours of several rare stones. The EMERALD is stunning. So much more to say!

Not everything balletic is from a stage production.There are exceptions of course, the most early significant one being THE RED SHOES that made Moira Shearer ( Sp.) a household name. I must confess I am not a big fan of the film though it is admired the world over since it came out in the late forties (ca. ’48). The problem for me is that it appears much too stagy and a bit over the top for one born 30 years after that film was made. However, the story is quite charming.

As for earlier dance/ballet even the world’s greatest dancers have expressed their debt to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for the legacy of dance they left in their many films together. Michael Barishnykov (Sp) has gone on record to say that the Fred and Ginger team was most influential, perhaps the greatest influence in the foundations of modern dance/ballet.

Check out WHITE NIGHTS a film with Geraldine Page, Baryshnykov and formidable tapper Gregory Hines who died of cancer at least a decade ago for a great inside view of the dance scene mixed with quite the tale of adventure.

Keep in mind that Gene Kelly was more prolific a ballet star than Fred Astaire, but he could also dance up a storm, as one can witness in wondrous films you well know. What made him unique was the full scale ballet pieces ( usually as dream sequences ) in film as the non-deserving best Oscar film of 1951, An American in Paris. The Academy must have been out to lunch. My choice and that of millions of others would have been A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Look at BRIGADOON with Kelly and the beautiful Cyd Charise to see national dance of Scotland, but an array of beautiful ballet sequences. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN was picked by the AFI as perhaps the greatest musical/dance film ever made.

When the great choreographer Jerome Robbins insisted he get co-directing billing with Robert Wise for WEST SIDE STORY, he knew they could not do the film without him. No way was he going to be in the credits as mere choreographer. This duo went on to win an Oscar for best direction repeated but one more time in Academy history when the C(h)oen (sp) brothers won for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. …… Back to Jerome Robbins, a very wise, wonderful choreographer/director. Let’s face it the various dance numbers in Berstein’s great opus are contemporary in parts of the film, but so balletic throughout….. as was the original intention. Robbins re-created both the bits of contemporary dance with the swell of his brand of classical ballet for the 1961 film. Without Robbins, the film would never have garned 10 Oscars. This film was not so much about people dancing and singing as it was a modern ballet treatment of Romeo and Juliette.

One of the best with a ballet theme has to be THE TURNING POINT starring Anne Bancroft and Shirley Maclaine as two former ballerinas, one who made it really big and one who chose a more domestic life style. It has so much beautiful dancing. M. Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne were both nominated as best supporting actors for that film released around 1977. I won’t waste time checking on exact dates. It is readily available. I doubt it has ever been on TURNER.

I don’t believe there is much if anything from ballet that has been filmed commercially. Opera has been filmed commercially since the 1930′s with great success, but ballet has never found that audience. As a film buff, you would understand the great expense in bringing ballet ( no spoken word ) to the big screen. No major studio ever tried it. Perhaps they felt it a regression of sorts to the silent era.

Personally, I think it has been a godsend the major or minor studios never did tamper with this art form or try using its great dancers as film stars. It would never have worked. They would have brought about so many changes ( as they do in so many bio-pics ) that the art of ballet would have been seriously compromised. Who would direct such pieces? There is no way the movie moguls would have entrusted a big budget ballet film to a Balanchine, a De Mille, Fredric Franklin, Ashton or any of the great stars ultimately to become great choreographers and directors on stage. Were the scenario a reality, Warner Bros. would probably have entrusted the direction to Michael Curtiz, a director/jack of all trades; MGM would have gone with a Minelli, which could have worked. Could you imagie Harry Kohn at Comlubia insisting Frank Capra direct a classical or contemporary ballet? It is really quite comical to even contemplate.

The reality is that ballet has a dismal record on film. If you want to see ballet on the silver screen, you will have to take in a H.D. version from one of several famous companies offering this venue. Let’s face it, no one is going to back a project looked upon as elitist….. not when so much money rides on the project. Look at the musical/dance NINE of 2009, a film by Rob Marshall. Wow! What a disaster. Everyone was expecting another masterpiece in the vein of his CHICAGO. So, I will ask! How much of today’s or yesteryear’s, for that matter, film going public would actually accept ballet as film when so many musicals of the last 30 years or so have failed so miserably at the box office. Think of HELLO DOLLY, DARLING LIL’ as 20th Century Fox was on the verge of bankrupcy filming a string of musical/dance flops. Even THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE was a so so success. The musical died, but occasionaly resurrected for a triumph as with FIDDLER on the ROOF or OLIVER. No way would audiences pay good money for an art form they knew nothing about. It would be decades before another musical/dance film ( CHICAGO ) would win an Oscar as best film.

Strangely, the same is not true with OPERA which has enjoyed wide critical and popular acclaim. I am an opera lecturer as well as a prof teaching French lit. of the 17th century at the U of T.

Please give me a few days to respond on opera as I have a performance of VERDI’s REQUIEM tonight then performances of The Canadian Opera Company’s new productions of Bizet’s CARMEN and Verdi’s majestic OTELLO, to my mind his masterpiece.

Ciao.

( Please forgive errors as this has ben done very hurriedly.)

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 17, 2010 4:23 pm

THE BALLET

As for ballet, quite a number of works have been filmed/taped, but usually from existing stage productions so I don’t think they stand out very well as film. However, one can see all of the standard ballet repertoire on DVD/tape and find them very satisfying. The romantic GISELLE has been filmed/taped so often with the greatest stars and is a must for any beginning ballet buff. There are so many versions of it from the forties on that it is hard to pick a favourite though Cuban Alicia Alonzo has been one of the greatest of Giselles. Ditto for the following in no particular order of preference or time frame:

Dame Margot Fonteyn
Karen Kain
Galina Ulanova
Dame Alicia Markova
Lynn Seymour ( from Canada…… huge in the U.K. )
Gelsey Kirkland
Svetlana Benosova
Alla Mikhalchenko, G. Spittestskaya ( Sp.) Karsavina and a whole host of great, great Russian Ballerinas
The amazing CARLA FRACCI from Italy
Ghislaine Thessmar
Maria Tallchief ( American Indian ) and I could go on ad infinitum.

By the way, Harlem all black dance company did a re-working of the piece in the 1980′s called CREOLE GISELLE. It is wonderful. It worked beautifully setting the piece in Louisiana with all black dancers, production values, first rate. It first aired on NBC and is now on DVD. I repeat: It’s exceptional. See it!

The same goes for Swan Lake which I have seen a million times. There is no lack of finding dozens of filmed versions of stage productions, but I will recommend the all-male ( gay????? ) SWAN LAKE that appeared on BROADWAY in the 90′s. It was a huge success and a breath of fresh air for such an old war horse of classical ballet. It struck a special nerve with both straight and gay audiences and went on to be nominated for several Tony Awards. This would have been the perfect moment to present true ballet as film, capture this version on film. I believe it could have worked, but no one would risk it! so! Voila…. as the French say!

I don’t have the time and I don’t know how many words one can get into a reply, but I would make recommendations on Prokofiev’hauntingly ROMEO and JULIETTE. romantic.

The great Nuryev conceived SLEEPING BEAUTY which started off in Europe in the 60′s and became a sensation by the time it opened in Toronto, Canada’s National Ballet with Dame Margot Fonteyn and Nuryev himself. No! I did not see these live as I was a child, but the great masterpieces inspired me to more contemporary ballet which can be thrilling: Bernstein’s West Side Story Suite is awsome as is JEWELS, a ballet with no story line, one of the finest contemporary pieces, stunning as each act displays the colours of several rare stones. The EMERALD is stunning. So much more to say!

Not everything balletic is from a stage production.There are exceptions of course, the most early significant one being THE RED SHOES that made Moira Shearer ( Sp.) a household name. I must confess I am not a big fan of the film though it is admired the world over since it came out in the late forties (ca. ’48). The problem for me is that it appears much too stagy and a bit over the top for one born 30 years after that film was made. However, the story is quite charming.

As for earlier dance/ballet even the world’s greatest dancers have expressed their debt to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for the legacy of dance they left in their many films together. Michael Barishnykov (Sp) has gone on record to say that the Fred and Ginger team was most influential, perhaps the greatest influence in the foundations of modern dance/ballet.

Check out WHITE NIGHTS a film with Geraldine Page, Baryshnykov and formidable tapper Gregory Hines who died of cancer at least a decade ago for a great inside view of the dance scene mixed with quite the tale of adventure.

Keep in mind that Gene Kelly was more prolific a ballet star than Fred Astaire, but he could also dance up a storm, as one can witness in wondrous films you well know. What made him unique was the full scale ballet pieces ( usually as dream sequences ) in film as the non-deserving best Oscar film of 1951, An American in Paris. The Academy must have been out to lunch. My choice and that of millions of others would have been A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Look at BRIGADOON with Kelly and the beautiful Cyd Charise to see national dance of Scotland, but an array of beautiful ballet sequences. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN was picked by the AFI as perhaps the greatest musical/dance film ever made.

When the great choreographer Jerome Robbins insisted he get co-directing billing with Robert Wise for WEST SIDE STORY, he knew they could not do the film without him. No way was he going to be in the credits as mere choreographer. This duo went on to win an Oscar for best direction repeated but one more time in Academy history when the C(h)oen (sp) brothers won for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. …… Back to Jerome Robbins, a very wise, wonderful choreographer/director. Let’s face it the various dance numbers in Berstein’s great opus are contemporary in parts of the film, but so balletic throughout….. as was the original intention. Robbins re-created both the bits of contemporary dance with the swell of his brand of classical ballet for the 1961 film. Without Robbins, the film would never have garned 10 Oscars. This film was not so much about people dancing and singing as it was a modern ballet treatment of Romeo and Juliette.

One of the best with a ballet theme has to be THE TURNING POINT starring Anne Bancroft and Shirley Maclaine as two former ballerinas, one who made it really big and one who chose a more domestic life style. It has so much beautiful dancing. M. Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne were both nominated as best supporting actors for that film released around 1977. I won’t waste time checking on exact dates. It is readily available. I doubt it has ever been on TURNER.

I don’t believe there is much if anything from ballet that has been filmed commercially. Opera has been filmed commercially since the 1930′s with great success, but ballet has never found that audience. As a film buff, you would understand the great expense in bringing ballet ( no spoken word ) to the big screen. No major studio ever tried it. Perhaps they felt it a regression of sorts to the silent era.

Personally, I think it has been a godsend the major or minor studios never did tamper with this art form or try using its great dancers as film stars. It would never have worked. They would have brought about so many changes ( as they do in so many bio-pics ) that the art of ballet would have been seriously compromised. Who would direct such pieces? There is no way the movie moguls would have entrusted a big budget ballet film to a Balanchine, a De Mille, Fredric Franklin, Ashton or any of the great stars ultimately to become great choreographers and directors on stage. Were the scenario a reality, Warner Bros. would probably have entrusted the direction to Michael Curtiz, a director/jack of all trades; MGM would have gone with a Minelli, which could have worked. Could you imagie Harry Kohn at Comlubia insisting Frank Capra direct a classical or contemporary ballet? It is really quite comical to even contemplate.

The reality is that ballet has a dismal record on film. If you want to see ballet on the silver screen, you will have to take in a H.D. version from one of several famous companies offering this venue. Let’s face it, no one is going to back a project looked upon as elitist….. not when so much money rides on the project. Look at the musical/dance NINE of 2009, a film by Rob Marshall. Wow! What a disaster. Everyone was expecting another masterpiece in the vein of his CHICAGO. So, I will ask! How much of today’s or yesteryear’s, for that matter, film going public would actually accept ballet as film when so many musicals of the last 30 years or so have failed so miserably at the box office. Think of HELLO DOLLY, DARLING LIL’ as 20th Century Fox was on the verge of bankrupcy filming a string of musical/dance flops. Even THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE was a so so success. The musical died, but occasionaly resurrected for a triumph as with FIDDLER on the ROOF or OLIVER. No way would audiences pay good money for an art form they knew nothing about. It would be decades before another musical/dance film ( CHICAGO ) would win an Oscar as best film.

Strangely, the same is not true with OPERA which has enjoyed wide critical and popular acclaim. I am an opera lecturer as well as a prof teaching French lit. of the 17th century at the U of T.

Please give me a few days to respond on opera as I have a performance of VERDI’s REQUIEM tonight then performances of The Canadian Opera Company’s new productions of Bizet’s CARMEN and Verdi’s majestic OTELLO, to my mind his masterpiece.

Ciao.

( Please forgive errors as this has ben done very hurriedly.)

Posted By kingrat : February 17, 2010 6:59 pm

One of the few ballet films that comes to mind is I AM A DANCER, which had Nureyev dancing with different partners, among them Margot Fonteyn.

Posted By kingrat : February 17, 2010 6:59 pm

One of the few ballet films that comes to mind is I AM A DANCER, which had Nureyev dancing with different partners, among them Margot Fonteyn.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 18, 2010 5:13 am

THANKS for the addition of I AM A DANCER. I appreciate it. I would ask anyone else with more ballet knowledge and film to contribute. I know enough about ballet, but enough means precious little in terms of today. I’m still under 30 and always learning though very pleased with what I have achieved in my field ( education ) and in my several avocations.

When I write my spiel on OPERA and FILM, I will be truly in my element.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 18, 2010 5:13 am

THANKS for the addition of I AM A DANCER. I appreciate it. I would ask anyone else with more ballet knowledge and film to contribute. I know enough about ballet, but enough means precious little in terms of today. I’m still under 30 and always learning though very pleased with what I have achieved in my field ( education ) and in my several avocations.

When I write my spiel on OPERA and FILM, I will be truly in my element.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 18, 2010 8:10 am

Response to Jeff Heise.

Your thesis, so to speak, is dead on and I would not dispute what you have said as I agree with your point of view heartily.
I believe that in voting procedures amongst a huge body such as the Academy, voting procedures would vary drastically from that of smaller film circles such as The N.Y. Film Critics whom I respect tremendously. It’s all done in a very democratic procedure, but in the end it’s always a subjective vote…..what an individual likes best, not necessarily what IS THE BEST. One look at American politics of the last decade will prove that enormous error can be made by so many millions, enough to change the world as we knew it.

There’s no question that CASABLANCA was not viewed as we view it today. Even as the film was shot, the set was so beset with problems, new writing occurred on a daily basis, the entire affair a seeming mess, yet somehow Hal Wallis and director Curtiz pulled off the impossible and did produce a splendid film so seamless. Yet they had a little luck along the way with perfect casting, producing a magical love story between Bogie and Bergman all set in an atmosphere of excitement and adventure with an unforgettable musical score and song. The film had further luck in that Churchill, Roosevelt and the Allied forces were meeting in CASABLANCA making decisions on war strategy just as the film was being released. How’s that for great publicity! Casablanca is but a single film, a film that magically arose from the ashes upon its release as does the proverbial phoenix.
Even Jack Warner was well aware of the mess that became a cinema masterpiece.

Cavalcade, the later The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the world in 80 days, much later The Sound of Music and even Oliver all took best picture. All are films bigger than life itself yet offering personal and intimate moments, wonderful characters that simply drew in the masses.
In the early days Cavalcade was an enormous Noel Coward epic that left everyone speechless including Fox who scooped up the movie rights and presented a pretty good film with winning direction by Frank Lloyd. The direction win means a lot.

With other films you mentioned such as The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth and Around the World the director DID NOT win the Oscar which truly proves there was division amongst the ranks, Frank Capra prevailing over Robert Z. Leonard for Ziegfeld, John Ford prevailig over De Mille for the superb Quiet Man and George Stevens winning his second best director Oscar for a very long and tedious GIANT. I truly believe Oscar should have gone to Michael Anderson for putting his heart and soul into a HUGE film that few could direct with such dedication and verve. It’s my opinion, one man’s opinion!

Who could dismiss films like Dinner at Eight, the power of Dodsworth, King Kong, Mr.Deeds, My Man Godfrey, High Noon ( when
The Greatest Show on Earth won ) or a Lust for Life, a wonderful film made with such sincerity.

Dedication and sincerity, however, don’t always produce a winning combination. No better proof of this than to look at boss
D.F. Zanuck, furious, who went on record to say how displeased he was that the patriotism and sincerity of his WILSON lost out big time to Leo McCarey’s GOING MY WAY in 1944. Both are worthy films, but in 1944, the American public wanted and needed some diversion from the mess of WW2. The Academy thought likewise. And let’s not forget that GOING MY WAY was a tremendous box-office hit while WILSON languished in purgatory. Money does talk. It did then and it certainly does today. Zanuck personally produced Wilson and was tremendously hurt by its lack of acceptance. Let’s face it! There can be no understanding or
accounting of public taste at any given time…. predicting what will or what will not work in cinema. The public either likes it or not. It’s that simple! If Wilson is a masterpiece of story telling on film, what good is it if no one cared to see it or no one remembers it today!?

Your idea of reconsideration, a second look at award winning films does indeed start the moment it is crowned King of the Hill. And so it should be. Like great lit., the theatre, the fine arts, opera etc. it comes to be re-examined through the ages and re-interperted according to current tastes and the idea of: “What the hell were they thinking of?” Film should be no different than a great novel, stage drama, poem, ballet or opera.
Some award winning films are now sore icons, but by the same token ponder some other masterworks of the past now totally forgotten or not worthy of presentation. I will limit myself to saying that the plays of Maxwell Anderson were once a glory, but no one produces or revives any of his plays in this day and age. Even Clifford Odetts has largely been forgotten. I could fill a book on such matters were I to delve into other performing arts.

A point on TITANIC. Yes, indeed! Cameron needs to find an excellent writer and not be so ego-maniacal in thinking he can do it all. Avatar has no writing nomination, but neither did the soppy TITANIC which won best film 12 years ago. What a laugh!
Thankfully, L.A. Confidential won all the important Critics Awards ranging from the National Board of Review ( now celebrating its 100th birthday ) to the N.Y. Film Critics and the prize from Critics’ Circles from almost every major city in America and Canada. Titanic typically took the ridiculous Golden Globe ( as Avatar did this year (yuk!))and the Oscar leaving Curtis’s Confidential in the dust…a brilliant type revival of film noir. Well we had the satisfaction of Kim Bassinger earning a very well deserved Supporting Actor win.

Let’s enjoy the magic on the silver screen, but let us not become complacent. I have a brain and I want film to challenge me like other art forms. The film that did this in the most meaningful way for me this year was THE HURT LOCKER, a powerhouse film of the first magnitude. Thankfully it has been scooping up award after award even THE DIRECTORS’ GUILD AWARD over Cameron and Avatar, Catherine Bigelow the first ever female to be so honored. This holds enormous weight as to Academy voting. We can only pray that, unlike the Golden Globes, the Oscar for picture and direction will go to THE HURT LOCKER. Hell! Even Cameron himself stated on receiving the Golden Globe that he thought for sure it was going to be Catherine Bigelow.

I would like to think I have good taste in viewing film. I’m sure each of us thinks in like manner. We are, however,we can be individuals from different backgrounds with different tastes and this will all color our view on particular films. I do respect a person’s position about a film, but I also retain the right to disagree with that decision. I might have an entirly different set of ideas and ideals and when I do I express myself loudly and clearly.

We are human. We are not infallible, but please don’t insult me by saying or trying to prove that THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH was worthy of an Oscar. This is a general statement, Mr.Heise, and
certainly not directed at you. It’s my way of wrapping up and stating that the Academy has blundered very badly on more than a few occasions and will do so again. I don’t like certain choices, but as stated, an individual has the right to vote as he pleases or for what pleases him/her. VOILA!!!!!

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 18, 2010 8:10 am

Response to Jeff Heise.

Your thesis, so to speak, is dead on and I would not dispute what you have said as I agree with your point of view heartily.
I believe that in voting procedures amongst a huge body such as the Academy, voting procedures would vary drastically from that of smaller film circles such as The N.Y. Film Critics whom I respect tremendously. It’s all done in a very democratic procedure, but in the end it’s always a subjective vote…..what an individual likes best, not necessarily what IS THE BEST. One look at American politics of the last decade will prove that enormous error can be made by so many millions, enough to change the world as we knew it.

There’s no question that CASABLANCA was not viewed as we view it today. Even as the film was shot, the set was so beset with problems, new writing occurred on a daily basis, the entire affair a seeming mess, yet somehow Hal Wallis and director Curtiz pulled off the impossible and did produce a splendid film so seamless. Yet they had a little luck along the way with perfect casting, producing a magical love story between Bogie and Bergman all set in an atmosphere of excitement and adventure with an unforgettable musical score and song. The film had further luck in that Churchill, Roosevelt and the Allied forces were meeting in CASABLANCA making decisions on war strategy just as the film was being released. How’s that for great publicity! Casablanca is but a single film, a film that magically arose from the ashes upon its release as does the proverbial phoenix.
Even Jack Warner was well aware of the mess that became a cinema masterpiece.

Cavalcade, the later The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the world in 80 days, much later The Sound of Music and even Oliver all took best picture. All are films bigger than life itself yet offering personal and intimate moments, wonderful characters that simply drew in the masses.
In the early days Cavalcade was an enormous Noel Coward epic that left everyone speechless including Fox who scooped up the movie rights and presented a pretty good film with winning direction by Frank Lloyd. The direction win means a lot.

With other films you mentioned such as The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth and Around the World the director DID NOT win the Oscar which truly proves there was division amongst the ranks, Frank Capra prevailing over Robert Z. Leonard for Ziegfeld, John Ford prevailig over De Mille for the superb Quiet Man and George Stevens winning his second best director Oscar for a very long and tedious GIANT. I truly believe Oscar should have gone to Michael Anderson for putting his heart and soul into a HUGE film that few could direct with such dedication and verve. It’s my opinion, one man’s opinion!

Who could dismiss films like Dinner at Eight, the power of Dodsworth, King Kong, Mr.Deeds, My Man Godfrey, High Noon ( when
The Greatest Show on Earth won ) or a Lust for Life, a wonderful film made with such sincerity.

Dedication and sincerity, however, don’t always produce a winning combination. No better proof of this than to look at boss
D.F. Zanuck, furious, who went on record to say how displeased he was that the patriotism and sincerity of his WILSON lost out big time to Leo McCarey’s GOING MY WAY in 1944. Both are worthy films, but in 1944, the American public wanted and needed some diversion from the mess of WW2. The Academy thought likewise. And let’s not forget that GOING MY WAY was a tremendous box-office hit while WILSON languished in purgatory. Money does talk. It did then and it certainly does today. Zanuck personally produced Wilson and was tremendously hurt by its lack of acceptance. Let’s face it! There can be no understanding or
accounting of public taste at any given time…. predicting what will or what will not work in cinema. The public either likes it or not. It’s that simple! If Wilson is a masterpiece of story telling on film, what good is it if no one cared to see it or no one remembers it today!?

Your idea of reconsideration, a second look at award winning films does indeed start the moment it is crowned King of the Hill. And so it should be. Like great lit., the theatre, the fine arts, opera etc. it comes to be re-examined through the ages and re-interperted according to current tastes and the idea of: “What the hell were they thinking of?” Film should be no different than a great novel, stage drama, poem, ballet or opera.
Some award winning films are now sore icons, but by the same token ponder some other masterworks of the past now totally forgotten or not worthy of presentation. I will limit myself to saying that the plays of Maxwell Anderson were once a glory, but no one produces or revives any of his plays in this day and age. Even Clifford Odetts has largely been forgotten. I could fill a book on such matters were I to delve into other performing arts.

A point on TITANIC. Yes, indeed! Cameron needs to find an excellent writer and not be so ego-maniacal in thinking he can do it all. Avatar has no writing nomination, but neither did the soppy TITANIC which won best film 12 years ago. What a laugh!
Thankfully, L.A. Confidential won all the important Critics Awards ranging from the National Board of Review ( now celebrating its 100th birthday ) to the N.Y. Film Critics and the prize from Critics’ Circles from almost every major city in America and Canada. Titanic typically took the ridiculous Golden Globe ( as Avatar did this year (yuk!))and the Oscar leaving Curtis’s Confidential in the dust…a brilliant type revival of film noir. Well we had the satisfaction of Kim Bassinger earning a very well deserved Supporting Actor win.

Let’s enjoy the magic on the silver screen, but let us not become complacent. I have a brain and I want film to challenge me like other art forms. The film that did this in the most meaningful way for me this year was THE HURT LOCKER, a powerhouse film of the first magnitude. Thankfully it has been scooping up award after award even THE DIRECTORS’ GUILD AWARD over Cameron and Avatar, Catherine Bigelow the first ever female to be so honored. This holds enormous weight as to Academy voting. We can only pray that, unlike the Golden Globes, the Oscar for picture and direction will go to THE HURT LOCKER. Hell! Even Cameron himself stated on receiving the Golden Globe that he thought for sure it was going to be Catherine Bigelow.

I would like to think I have good taste in viewing film. I’m sure each of us thinks in like manner. We are, however,we can be individuals from different backgrounds with different tastes and this will all color our view on particular films. I do respect a person’s position about a film, but I also retain the right to disagree with that decision. I might have an entirly different set of ideas and ideals and when I do I express myself loudly and clearly.

We are human. We are not infallible, but please don’t insult me by saying or trying to prove that THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH was worthy of an Oscar. This is a general statement, Mr.Heise, and
certainly not directed at you. It’s my way of wrapping up and stating that the Academy has blundered very badly on more than a few occasions and will do so again. I don’t like certain choices, but as stated, an individual has the right to vote as he pleases or for what pleases him/her. VOILA!!!!!

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 19, 2010 12:35 am

OPERA and FILM

Though the H.D. series of operas live from the MET don’t qualify as film, it is the best way to view opera if one has no access to it.

Of course there exists anything your heart desires on DVD, from Italian, French and German works the most popular, to Russian, Czech, Hungarian ,Polish, American… you name it, all from live performances.

I’m not a big fan of DVD and certainly not of television except for TURNER.

Operas began to be filmed in Italy in the early 30′s just a few years after the introduction of sound to movies. The best of Opera singers were used in these early films such as Gino Bechi, Beniamino Gigli and a bit later the great baritone Tito Gobbi. The repertoire was almost always Verdi with some Puccini. These are more or less curiosity pieces for me, but to see one of the world’s greatest baritones, Tito Gobbi, who sang well into the 1960′s as RIGOLETTO does count for something. They paved the way for the acceptance of opera on film and again that counts for a good deal.

I repeat that the best experience is live opera in an opera house , but making it accessible to millions is very much to my liking.

What really put filmed opera on the map was the 1954 film AIDA by Verdi with a gloriously young Sofia Loren, the part of Aida sung by the miraculous voice of soprano RENATA TEBALDI. I don’t think the film is that good, but seeing characters who looked like the composer/librettist intended was a big positive for many, the high caliber singing done by the best artists available. What mattered to that generation was that they were getting opera on film. It was a big deal much as HD opera from the MET is a big deal today.

Through the 60′s right into the 21st century, filmed opera was a pretty regular occurrence. I certainly am not implying opera films came out every year, but there was enough to satisfy the opera public…… and the films, on the whole did very well at the box office.

To be sure the regular repertoire was the main focus, quite a few Bohemes,) my fav being the film with Barbara Hendricks and Jose Carreras who got very ill during production, but the score had been already recorded ( as it is always ) before so we got the beauty of the young Carreras voice as Rodolfo, a tremendous bonus. He was in his prime. The purity of that lyric tenor voice came right into your heart.

Of special note was Zefirelli’s stupendous TRAVIATA with Placido Domingo and Canadian soprano, the stratospheric TERASA STRATAS. It was such a huge hit and was nominated for a few Academy Awards.

Stratas also filmed LA RONDINE by Puccini, one of his lesser known works. It worked so well on film, to my mind one of the very best, possibly because it was rarely done on the stage and one saw it as a great musical adventure. Puccini’s lush score with a plot quite similar to Traviata is to die for.

When CARMEN came along in the early 80′s, the role was taken by a soprano, Julia Mighines though the part calls for a mezzo. Domingo was again the love sick Don Jose and was note perfect as usual. Julia M. had the looks and the temperament for a great Carmen and she didn’t disappoint in the voice department. This was such a tremendous hit, but then who can resist all the jewels of this French work by Bizet?

OTELLO by Verdi, also in the 80′s was a tour de force, again by Zeffirelli. This is one difficult opera to sing but Domingo as Otello, Katia Ricciarelli, gorgeous as Desdemona and American baritone Justino Diaz as Iago outdid themselves. The production values were impossibly good, the acting so polished under Zeffirelli’s hand that the film received more Oscar nominations than any other opera ever filmed. It almost became Italy’s entry into the foreign film category, but, sadly that did not come to pass. There was even talk of supporting actor nominations. It’s a must see opera film.

Puccini’s TOSCA a few years later had the distinction of being filmed in the exact locales in Rome specified by Puccini from the church of Act one to Castel Sant’Angelo in Act three. Catherine Malfitano was a moving Tosca and guess who was Cavaradossi….. none other than Domingo who, today, at 69 is singing his 127th new role besides conducting and being General Doirector of D.C. Opera and L.A. Opera. The man is an indefatigable genius.

Operas that have worked very well on film though the familiarity of these works is not like the Italian and French repertoire.

High on my list:

A modern re-telling of ELEKTRA by Strauss.

The 4 and 1/2 hour Parsifal by Wagner.

I. Bergman’s amazing production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflote or The Magic Flute is a pure joy to watch and hear. Bergman went a bit beyond Mozart, but with his genius, that was more than acceptable for all who saw it, the opera public, and film buffs in general. After all, who would want to miss a Bergman masterpiece?

Unfortunately, Luciano Pavarotti’s foray into a film about an opera singer in YES, GIORGIO was a colossal failure at the box office. I rather enjoyed the film for the fluff it was, but the general public simply could not look at Pavarotti as a romantic lead. The notion is quite absurd especially that he weighed close to 300 pounds when the film was shot in the 80′s by Franklin Schaffner (sp) who made the academy award winning film PATTON.

No fear if you know nothing about opera as English subtitles are provided as with any foreign film.

I could dwell on many other works, but I won’t. This is a topic that only a few would be willing to read.

I must conclude that filmed opera in general has been much a great success. The films were made with enormous budgets and looked fabulous, in a way they can never look on stage. Though I did not supply all the directors’ names, great men were always behind each project. Having a great film director who has musical knowledge, who loves the art of the voice is an unbeatable combination.

I should mention LA TRAVIATA a PARIS with Jose Cura as the most handsome ALFREDO one could ever hope for. The film dates to the mid to late 90′s. It was opulent….. decadent as was that demi-monde of Parisian society of the 1840′s.

Peter Hoffmann who was a great Wagnerian in the 80′s and early ninties was also a rock singer if you can believe it. He was tall, blonde, enormously handsome with women screaming for him when he was on his rock kicks. I mention him because he was the ideal heldentenor as described by Wagner, a beautiful man who looked like a Parsifal, a Siegmund or Siegfried. The Wagnerian films he made were stunning in their own right, but as I just stated to see the hero as envisioned by Wagner was a huge treat.

Must run…..sorry for the choppy ideas presented. This will at least give some an idea how well opera and film work.

But do try and see a live production. I could never live without this art form, opera, which all started in Florence in 1599.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 19, 2010 12:35 am

OPERA and FILM

Though the H.D. series of operas live from the MET don’t qualify as film, it is the best way to view opera if one has no access to it.

Of course there exists anything your heart desires on DVD, from Italian, French and German works the most popular, to Russian, Czech, Hungarian ,Polish, American… you name it, all from live performances.

I’m not a big fan of DVD and certainly not of television except for TURNER.

Operas began to be filmed in Italy in the early 30′s just a few years after the introduction of sound to movies. The best of Opera singers were used in these early films such as Gino Bechi, Beniamino Gigli and a bit later the great baritone Tito Gobbi. The repertoire was almost always Verdi with some Puccini. These are more or less curiosity pieces for me, but to see one of the world’s greatest baritones, Tito Gobbi, who sang well into the 1960′s as RIGOLETTO does count for something. They paved the way for the acceptance of opera on film and again that counts for a good deal.

I repeat that the best experience is live opera in an opera house , but making it accessible to millions is very much to my liking.

What really put filmed opera on the map was the 1954 film AIDA by Verdi with a gloriously young Sofia Loren, the part of Aida sung by the miraculous voice of soprano RENATA TEBALDI. I don’t think the film is that good, but seeing characters who looked like the composer/librettist intended was a big positive for many, the high caliber singing done by the best artists available. What mattered to that generation was that they were getting opera on film. It was a big deal much as HD opera from the MET is a big deal today.

Through the 60′s right into the 21st century, filmed opera was a pretty regular occurrence. I certainly am not implying opera films came out every year, but there was enough to satisfy the opera public…… and the films, on the whole did very well at the box office.

To be sure the regular repertoire was the main focus, quite a few Bohemes,) my fav being the film with Barbara Hendricks and Jose Carreras who got very ill during production, but the score had been already recorded ( as it is always ) before so we got the beauty of the young Carreras voice as Rodolfo, a tremendous bonus. He was in his prime. The purity of that lyric tenor voice came right into your heart.

Of special note was Zefirelli’s stupendous TRAVIATA with Placido Domingo and Canadian soprano, the stratospheric TERASA STRATAS. It was such a huge hit and was nominated for a few Academy Awards.

Stratas also filmed LA RONDINE by Puccini, one of his lesser known works. It worked so well on film, to my mind one of the very best, possibly because it was rarely done on the stage and one saw it as a great musical adventure. Puccini’s lush score with a plot quite similar to Traviata is to die for.

When CARMEN came along in the early 80′s, the role was taken by a soprano, Julia Mighines though the part calls for a mezzo. Domingo was again the love sick Don Jose and was note perfect as usual. Julia M. had the looks and the temperament for a great Carmen and she didn’t disappoint in the voice department. This was such a tremendous hit, but then who can resist all the jewels of this French work by Bizet?

OTELLO by Verdi, also in the 80′s was a tour de force, again by Zeffirelli. This is one difficult opera to sing but Domingo as Otello, Katia Ricciarelli, gorgeous as Desdemona and American baritone Justino Diaz as Iago outdid themselves. The production values were impossibly good, the acting so polished under Zeffirelli’s hand that the film received more Oscar nominations than any other opera ever filmed. It almost became Italy’s entry into the foreign film category, but, sadly that did not come to pass. There was even talk of supporting actor nominations. It’s a must see opera film.

Puccini’s TOSCA a few years later had the distinction of being filmed in the exact locales in Rome specified by Puccini from the church of Act one to Castel Sant’Angelo in Act three. Catherine Malfitano was a moving Tosca and guess who was Cavaradossi….. none other than Domingo who, today, at 69 is singing his 127th new role besides conducting and being General Doirector of D.C. Opera and L.A. Opera. The man is an indefatigable genius.

Operas that have worked very well on film though the familiarity of these works is not like the Italian and French repertoire.

High on my list:

A modern re-telling of ELEKTRA by Strauss.

The 4 and 1/2 hour Parsifal by Wagner.

I. Bergman’s amazing production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflote or The Magic Flute is a pure joy to watch and hear. Bergman went a bit beyond Mozart, but with his genius, that was more than acceptable for all who saw it, the opera public, and film buffs in general. After all, who would want to miss a Bergman masterpiece?

Unfortunately, Luciano Pavarotti’s foray into a film about an opera singer in YES, GIORGIO was a colossal failure at the box office. I rather enjoyed the film for the fluff it was, but the general public simply could not look at Pavarotti as a romantic lead. The notion is quite absurd especially that he weighed close to 300 pounds when the film was shot in the 80′s by Franklin Schaffner (sp) who made the academy award winning film PATTON.

No fear if you know nothing about opera as English subtitles are provided as with any foreign film.

I could dwell on many other works, but I won’t. This is a topic that only a few would be willing to read.

I must conclude that filmed opera in general has been much a great success. The films were made with enormous budgets and looked fabulous, in a way they can never look on stage. Though I did not supply all the directors’ names, great men were always behind each project. Having a great film director who has musical knowledge, who loves the art of the voice is an unbeatable combination.

I should mention LA TRAVIATA a PARIS with Jose Cura as the most handsome ALFREDO one could ever hope for. The film dates to the mid to late 90′s. It was opulent….. decadent as was that demi-monde of Parisian society of the 1840′s.

Peter Hoffmann who was a great Wagnerian in the 80′s and early ninties was also a rock singer if you can believe it. He was tall, blonde, enormously handsome with women screaming for him when he was on his rock kicks. I mention him because he was the ideal heldentenor as described by Wagner, a beautiful man who looked like a Parsifal, a Siegmund or Siegfried. The Wagnerian films he made were stunning in their own right, but as I just stated to see the hero as envisioned by Wagner was a huge treat.

Must run…..sorry for the choppy ideas presented. This will at least give some an idea how well opera and film work.

But do try and see a live production. I could never live without this art form, opera, which all started in Florence in 1599.

Posted By Jeff H. : February 19, 2010 1:50 am

Peto, believe me, I am the LAST person who would say GREATEST SHOW is Oscar worthy. If my statement was in the least bit vague on that, let me say this: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. . .AIN’T! I would not even rank it among DeMille’s best (those go to KING OF KINGS, the ’56 TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, CLEOPATRA, his Swanson films and I even have a soft spot in my heart for FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE. I would put GSOE with NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE, THE CRUSADES, MADAM SATAN and MANSLAUGHTER as movies that just do not do it for me.

Posted By Jeff H. : February 19, 2010 1:50 am

Peto, believe me, I am the LAST person who would say GREATEST SHOW is Oscar worthy. If my statement was in the least bit vague on that, let me say this: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. . .AIN’T! I would not even rank it among DeMille’s best (those go to KING OF KINGS, the ’56 TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, CLEOPATRA, his Swanson films and I even have a soft spot in my heart for FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE. I would put GSOE with NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE, THE CRUSADES, MADAM SATAN and MANSLAUGHTER as movies that just do not do it for me.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 22, 2010 2:20 pm

Hi Jeff,

Was out of town from Friday morning till Monday afternoon. Got home just in time. We’ve had literally no snow in Toronto all winter, but I think today will be the first significant snowfall.

As said, that remark was a very general statement. I need not tell you he WAS one hell of a showman and slightly kinky at that with certain quirks and quarks well documented. One would have to admit his films were (are) truly entertaining if not masterpieces. Crowds from the silent days, into the talkies to his last films were devoted to the man’s track record for spinning a good yarn, so to speak. D.W. Griffith, on the other hand, created no stir at all with his few talkies, a fact that has always saddened me…… such a formidable director unable to find his voice with the coming of sound.

I seem to recall that some ten years ago, when 18, I saw a film called PACIFIC UNION ( not on TURNER ) or a title similar to that. Positive it was a De Mille pic with three great stars ( Preston, Stanwyk, Donleavy, I believe, a very enjoyable film.

I’ll never forget my first viweing of the 56 TEN COM. in all it’s original glory at one of our repertory cinemas in Toronto just a few years ago. The dialogue made me snicker at times, but wow!!!!!! that was one enormous theatrical event. I can only imagine the awe of those viewing it when first released. It won a number of technical awards and special effects, I know, but more importantly deserved an Oscar nod as best film for the splendor of it all.

Keep enjoying the wonder that is cineama.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 22, 2010 2:20 pm

Hi Jeff,

Was out of town from Friday morning till Monday afternoon. Got home just in time. We’ve had literally no snow in Toronto all winter, but I think today will be the first significant snowfall.

As said, that remark was a very general statement. I need not tell you he WAS one hell of a showman and slightly kinky at that with certain quirks and quarks well documented. One would have to admit his films were (are) truly entertaining if not masterpieces. Crowds from the silent days, into the talkies to his last films were devoted to the man’s track record for spinning a good yarn, so to speak. D.W. Griffith, on the other hand, created no stir at all with his few talkies, a fact that has always saddened me…… such a formidable director unable to find his voice with the coming of sound.

I seem to recall that some ten years ago, when 18, I saw a film called PACIFIC UNION ( not on TURNER ) or a title similar to that. Positive it was a De Mille pic with three great stars ( Preston, Stanwyk, Donleavy, I believe, a very enjoyable film.

I’ll never forget my first viweing of the 56 TEN COM. in all it’s original glory at one of our repertory cinemas in Toronto just a few years ago. The dialogue made me snicker at times, but wow!!!!!! that was one enormous theatrical event. I can only imagine the awe of those viewing it when first released. It won a number of technical awards and special effects, I know, but more importantly deserved an Oscar nod as best film for the splendor of it all.

Keep enjoying the wonder that is cineama.

Posted By Jeff H. : February 22, 2010 4:30 pm

I’ve been fortunate to have been to a number of screenings of TEN COMMANDMENTS over the years, with the most recent being at the Arclight in Hollywood that-surprisingly-a print provided by Martin Scorsese (IB Tech-yay!) because evidently Paramount did not have a complete usable 35mm print to show (?!).

I also was present the opening night of the “SuperVistaVision” 70mm print at the Cinerama Dome (now the Arclight) back in the 80′s with Charlton Heston in attendance-got his signature on a copy of the soundtrack. It was a packed house, and when the overture played you could hear a buzz throughout the theater.

Then the curtains opened, and we saw a picture that had the top and bottom cut off! As an example, during the opening credits, Fraser Heston’s credit: “Fraser Heston-as the infant Moses,” just consisted of “-as the infant Moses.” I kid you not. The best was at the very end when it says “So let it be written-so let it be done,” was just “So let it be written-” and the projectionist tried to reframe the image and could not because the frameline cut off the rest of the quote! The audience laughed at the attempt, and I heard a lot of grumbling from people as they were leaving.

Not too long afterward, I happened upon a film maven like me who worked at Paramount in their repertory department and I asked him about that print. He said that DeMille had used a CinemaScope camera alongside the VistaVision one for theaters that were not equipped for the Paramount system. My internal reaction was-whaaaaa? I pointed out that not one production still showed anything but a VistaVision camera and that I could not believe that DeMille would allow a version with credits and shots so badly cropped to EVER be shown anywhere. He quickly changed the subject and I dropped it. A few months later I was at a laserdisc store while they were having a studio day, and I went to the Paramount rep and asked him about TC and that print. He winced and said that they had junked both prints and the negative for them, and that the person I had talked to was no longer there (he now works for another media giant in the same capacity).

BTW, the film you refer to is UNION PACIFIC, which I believe was part of the box set Universal brought out on DVD a few years back. I like that film as well, and I rather enjoy REAP THE WILD WIND and THE BUCCANEER, even if March really hams it up in that one.

Posted By Jeff H. : February 22, 2010 4:30 pm

I’ve been fortunate to have been to a number of screenings of TEN COMMANDMENTS over the years, with the most recent being at the Arclight in Hollywood that-surprisingly-a print provided by Martin Scorsese (IB Tech-yay!) because evidently Paramount did not have a complete usable 35mm print to show (?!).

I also was present the opening night of the “SuperVistaVision” 70mm print at the Cinerama Dome (now the Arclight) back in the 80′s with Charlton Heston in attendance-got his signature on a copy of the soundtrack. It was a packed house, and when the overture played you could hear a buzz throughout the theater.

Then the curtains opened, and we saw a picture that had the top and bottom cut off! As an example, during the opening credits, Fraser Heston’s credit: “Fraser Heston-as the infant Moses,” just consisted of “-as the infant Moses.” I kid you not. The best was at the very end when it says “So let it be written-so let it be done,” was just “So let it be written-” and the projectionist tried to reframe the image and could not because the frameline cut off the rest of the quote! The audience laughed at the attempt, and I heard a lot of grumbling from people as they were leaving.

Not too long afterward, I happened upon a film maven like me who worked at Paramount in their repertory department and I asked him about that print. He said that DeMille had used a CinemaScope camera alongside the VistaVision one for theaters that were not equipped for the Paramount system. My internal reaction was-whaaaaa? I pointed out that not one production still showed anything but a VistaVision camera and that I could not believe that DeMille would allow a version with credits and shots so badly cropped to EVER be shown anywhere. He quickly changed the subject and I dropped it. A few months later I was at a laserdisc store while they were having a studio day, and I went to the Paramount rep and asked him about TC and that print. He winced and said that they had junked both prints and the negative for them, and that the person I had talked to was no longer there (he now works for another media giant in the same capacity).

BTW, the film you refer to is UNION PACIFIC, which I believe was part of the box set Universal brought out on DVD a few years back. I like that film as well, and I rather enjoy REAP THE WILD WIND and THE BUCCANEER, even if March really hams it up in that one.

Posted By TCM's Classic Movie Blog : February 23, 2010 1:36 pm

[...] week I looked at six of the Best Picture nominees from 1943, the last year the Academy nominated ten films for Best Picture, until they expanded the category [...]

Posted By TCM's Classic Movie Blog : February 23, 2010 1:36 pm

[...] week I looked at six of the Best Picture nominees from 1943, the last year the Academy nominated ten films for Best Picture, until they expanded the category [...]

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 23, 2010 4:20 pm

Thanks for sharing. Never knew about the ‘TEN C’ CinemaScope version though it does make some sense as Paramount NEVER used it and CinemaScope was the big deal after 20th Century Fox brought out the process in 1953 with THE ROBE.

It’s hard to believe Paramount would be so negligent or careless with the T C, a film so HUGE in more ways than one. And your ‘anecdote’ regarding the venerable film with Heston present is beyond belief. I don’t think I would have been able to sit through such a ‘hacked up’ monstrosity. Well you got to meet Mr. Heston, in any case.

I truly don’t understand how they could have shown such a horrendous print! Imagine how many great films have been lost or destroyed through the years! It’s unthinkable as film is one of the art forms so very dear to me. When my mom and dad started taking me to the movies on a regular basis as a ‘kiddo’, I recall it as something beyond magical. Here in Toronto we have had a chain of Repertory Cinemas which started showing only classic film from before I was born in ’82. It’s been grand to see so many decades of film in one of several great theatres always equiped with the latest in technology. So the cinema of the past has been a veritable passion with me…… and along the way I became, perhaps, the biggest fan of my beloved Bette Davis.

Posted By Peto Antoni : February 23, 2010 4:20 pm

Thanks for sharing. Never knew about the ‘TEN C’ CinemaScope version though it does make some sense as Paramount NEVER used it and CinemaScope was the big deal after 20th Century Fox brought out the process in 1953 with THE ROBE.

It’s hard to believe Paramount would be so negligent or careless with the T C, a film so HUGE in more ways than one. And your ‘anecdote’ regarding the venerable film with Heston present is beyond belief. I don’t think I would have been able to sit through such a ‘hacked up’ monstrosity. Well you got to meet Mr. Heston, in any case.

I truly don’t understand how they could have shown such a horrendous print! Imagine how many great films have been lost or destroyed through the years! It’s unthinkable as film is one of the art forms so very dear to me. When my mom and dad started taking me to the movies on a regular basis as a ‘kiddo’, I recall it as something beyond magical. Here in Toronto we have had a chain of Repertory Cinemas which started showing only classic film from before I was born in ’82. It’s been grand to see so many decades of film in one of several great theatres always equiped with the latest in technology. So the cinema of the past has been a veritable passion with me…… and along the way I became, perhaps, the biggest fan of my beloved Bette Davis.

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