Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Also-Rans Project – Separate Tables (Best Picture Also-Ran 1958)

Separate tables.jpgDirected By Delbert Mann

Written by Terrence Rattigan and John Gay, from the stage-plays by Rattigan

Starring David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster, Wendy Hiller, Rod Taylor and Gladys Cooper

Delbert Mann was a lucky sonofabitch.  He cut his teeth directing live television in the 1950s, including a 1953 episode of The Philco Television Playhouse series, about a lonely butcher, named “Marty”.  By all accounts the episode was a success, such that when the hour-long TV drama was expanded and remade as a feature film, Mann was called up to the big leagues.  Marty the film was still the unpretentious, unostentatious story of a sweet, lonely butcher looking for love, only this version won the top prize at Cannes, and the 1955 Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Zorba, The Greek (Best Picture Also-Ran 1964)

Zorba the Greek poster.jpgDirected by Michael Cacoyannis

Screenplay by Cocayannis, from the Nikos Kazantzakis novel

Starring Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Irene Papas and Lila Kedrova

There’s something about man-children – those irrepressible, horn-dogs – that make for popular cinema.  Sometimes they are profane and debauched, to the point of ludicrousness – The Hangover.  Other times, they are more restrained, even as they play with a free-spirit sensibility – Beginners.  And sometimes they are made by acclaimed filmmakers, with acclaimed actors, sure to be Oscar-bait – Zorba the Greek.  But also, Beginners.

There’s also something about manic-pixie-dream-girls[1] and their ability to fix brooding heroes that tends to bring people out to the theaters – think Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown or Kate Hudson in Almost Famous.  Well, in a sense, Zorba the Greek involves a proto-manic-pixie-dream-girl, only in this instance he’s also a man-child, which is probably the first time either of those two appeared onscreen together, in the form of the same character.

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The Also-Rans — Julia (Best Picture Also-Ran 1977)

Julia (1977 film).jpgDirected by Fred Zinnemann

Written by Alvin Sargent, Based upon the book ‘Pentimento’ by Lillian Hellman

Starring Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook and Maximillian Schell

Julia is two movies, masquerading as one.  No, it’s not an anthology film, in the vein of Grindhouse, with two completely distinct films shoved together to hit some artificially imposed amount of content/running time.  Nor is it an explicitly episodic film, capturing a series of events in the life of the same characters.  Rather, it’s a film of two distinct halves, telling different stories, about the same basic characters.  Which makes it sound episodic, though it’s not.  Call it an ‘Athosodic’ film.  Or an ‘Epithology’.  Either one is fine. Continue reading

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