Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Also-Rans Project – Our Town (Best Picture Also-Ran 1940)

Original movie poster for the film Our Town (1940 film).jpgDirected by Sam Wood

Screenplay by Thornton Wilder, Frank Craven and Harry Chandlee, based on the play by Thornton Wilder

Starring William Holden, Martha Scott, Fay Bainter, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Stewart Erwin and Frank Craven

The notion seeming to underlie the “Make America Great Again” slogan is a desire to return to a different, simpler time in our history, when the grass was always greener and everybody was prosperous and people knew their place.  In other words, it years for a fictional time in our history where life was never tough for anybody, especially for white people.

In other words, it desires the world of Our Town, minus the tragedy. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Darling (Best Picture Also-Ran 1965)

Darling322.jpgDirected by John Schlesinger

Screenplay by Frederic Raphael

Starring Julie Christie, Laurence Harvey and Dirk Bogarde

When it came up as a Best Picture Project subject, I might’ve made some statement to the effect that 1969’s Midnight Cowboy was the first Best Picture winner of the 1970s.[1]  No, the statement doesn’t make the logically-inept conclusion that because 1969’s Best Picture Oscar was awarded to it in 1970 it is somehow a 70’s film, because all Oscars are awarded in the actual calendar year following their release.  Rather, the statement was all about sensibility. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Crossfire (Best Picture Also-Ran 1947)

Crossfire213.jpgDirected by Edward Dmytryk

Screenplay by John Paxton, based on the novel “The Brick Foxhole” by Richard Brooks

Starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame

Chances are you’ve never heard of William Phipps.  Until I saw Crossfire, I’d never heard of him either.  Of course, given he had a largely undistinguished screen career it makes sense to not hear of him.  Probably his most-widely seen role was as Prince Charming in Disney’s original Cinderella, but given that was voice work and you never actually saw his face, does that even count?  That said, his IMDB page does list some 229 acting credits, stretching from 1947-2000, none of which were what you’d call memorable roles.[1]  Still, that’s a pretty robust career for a guy whose name you do not know.

It’s sad he’s not more well-known, given he was easily the standout of Crossfire, his feature-film debut.  Cast as the dumb, scared and cowed Leroy, who seems to exist only as a punching bag for Robert Ryan’s Montgomery, he brings a level of reality to the role the others in the film fall short of.  Sure, they do credible work, but Phipps truly has something extra and even if he’s in the film for maybe 10 minutes at most, those 10 minutes make a mark. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project — Lion (Best Picture Also-Ran 2016)

Lion (2016 film).pngDirected by Garth Davis

Screenplay by Luke Davies, based upon the book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierly

Starring Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman

Fact: Authenticity matters.  If there is nothing else we value more in this world than authenticity, I don’t know what it is.  After all, we live in a world where posers are shamed, “fake news” is openly scorned (even when the news itself is not fake and the idiot screaming “fake news” just doesn’t have any substantive response to the reporting), and ‘Trolls” are called “Trolls” for a reason.

And why do we value authenticity?  Because when somebody is not authentic they are, in essence, lying to the world.  And nobody likes a liar. Continue reading

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The Also-Ran’s Project – The Love Parade (Best Picture Also-Ran 1929/1930)

S1662062.jpgDirected by Ernst Lubitsch

Written by Guy Bolton and Ernest Vajda, based upon the novel “Le Prince Consort” by Leon Xanrof and Jules Chancel

Starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Lillian Roth and Lupino Lane

First, a confession[1] – I have no history with Ernst Lubitsch.  Yes, I know Billy Wilder wrote for him and revered the so-called “Lubitsch Touch.”  And I know William Wyler[2] also held the man in high-esteem.  But as I’m neither Billy Wilder, nor William Wyler,[3] I have no background with him.  At this point the most I’ve seen from the Lubitsch filmography is about 30 minutes of To Be Or Not To Be, which I recently tried but gave up for failing to engage me. Continue reading

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