Monthly Archives: July 2017

For Whom The Bell Tolls (Best Picture Also-Ran 1943)

For whom movieposter.jpgDirected by Sam Wood

Written by Dudley Nichols, based upon the book of the same name by Ernest Hemingway

Starring Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Akim Tamiroff and Katina Paxinou

Hollywood has a long, distasteful history of white actors playing ethnic characters.  Rock Hudson played a Native American in Winchester 73, Luise Rainer won an Oscar playing Asian in The Good Earth, and in perhaps the most odious example, Mickey Rooney donned bucked-teeth to play the Japanese photographer, Mr. Yunioshi in the otherwise-charming Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  In some instances, the portrayal is largely benign – H.B. Warner plays a beatific Tibetan in Lost Horizon – while others are far more rotten, see Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.[1] Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project — Picnic (Best Picture Also-Ran 1955)

Original movie poster for the film Picnic.jpgDirected by Joshua Logan

Screenplay by Daniel Taradash, based on the play by William Inge

Starring William Holden, Kim Novak, Betty Field, Susan Strasberg and Rosalind Russell

The method by which I choose the films to cover in this series is pretty low-tech.  I simply look up the streaming availability for films for a given set of years – lately it’s been the 40’s and 50’s – and if they’re not streaming, then I check to see if they’re on DVD/Blu-Ray at my local library.  In this way, I can usually find something to write about, because – no surprise – Best Picture nominees are generally available in some way.

In some sense, the movies chosen are random, in that I pick the ones most interesting from the most readily available.  But in another, given I tend to look for a bunch of years all at once, then watch those films, then move on to others, the randomness is confined to small slivers of time.  So, even while it’s somewhat random what I choose, it’s also not.  The point I make here?  There’s no real serendipity to me managing to go back-to-back in this series with Best Picture losers starring William Holden.  The first, Our Town, was from early in his career, back before cigarettes and booze did a number of his voice.  This one, Picnic, came later, from his peak years of 1950-1957.  I’d really love to take on one from his later years, to maybe get a Three Stages of William Holden thing going on, to see how he was as a young man, an old man, and somewhere in between.  Unfortunately, he only had two late-career Best Picture Also-Rans – Network and The Towering Inferno – and since I’ve already seen them, you’re out of luck if reading my takes on them, and his career, appealed to you.  But even if you don’t get a long piece on that, I will sum up what I think my assessment would have been: Continue reading

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