Tag Archives: saul zaentz

The Best Picture Project – Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

Gentleman's Agreement (1947 movie poster).jpgDirected by Elia Kazan

Screenplay by Moss Hart, from the novel by Laura Z. Hobson

Starring Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield, Anne Revere and Celeste Holm

Throughout the long and winding road I’ve traveled for the Best Picture Project, I’ve learned more than a few things.  Most prominent amongst those lessons, oh my brothers and only friends, is there is no predictability about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  At least not in the traditional sense of predictability. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – The English Patient (1996)

The English Patient Poster.jpgDirected by Anthony Minghella

Screenplay by Anthony Minghella, Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje

Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Willem Dafoe.  Also featured were Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth and Jürgen Prochnow

To my mind it’s always been a hallmark of weak writing to reference the work of others, at least when it’s done for the explicit purpose of latching onto the credibility of the work of the other without actually having to create it organically yourself.  In other words, rather than actually create something on your own, you simply reach out, grab something by somebody else, shine it up a little bit and then say, “Ta da, look at what I did.” Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Screenplay by Budd Schulberg

Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Rod Steiger

Some movies can be taken on their own terms and are never more than what they are.  There is no subtext, there is no commentary, there is no hidden agenda and absolutely no meanings can be read into them from the context in which they appeared or from whom they were born.  On the whole, I’d say most movies are this way.

Some movies, though, can never be merely a movie because they are nothing but subtext, are rife with commentary, teem with hidden agendas and are overloaded with meaning. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Gone With The Wind (1939)

Directed by Victor Fleming

Screenplay by Sidney Howard, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell

Starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland, Leslie Howard and Hattie McDaniel

In the grand history of the Oscars, 1939 might be the most stellar year of them all, what with a Best Picture race that include Of Mice and Men, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Goodbye Mr. Chips, and the eventual winner, Gone With The Wind.  In another year it’s conceivable any of those films might’ve taken the top prize – of the losers, I’m especially fond of Mr. Chips – but this wasn’t any other year, this was 1939, and this was the year of Gone With The Wind. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Amadeus (1984)

Directed by Milos Foreman

Written by Peter Schaffer, adapted from his play

Starring F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce

Amadeus is one of those films honored by the Academy that, because of the perfect storm of subject, lack of recognizable stars, and what-have-you, is for the most part, generally unknown by the modern public – at least that’s the way it seems to me. After all, whenever I discuss any movies, especially Best Picture winners, nobody mentions Amadeus. The action-nerds talk about Platoon, the sci-fi guys talk about 2001 and Star Wars getting shafted, the costume drama buffs talk about Gone With the Wind, and the musical buffs have a million to choose from. Even thriller guy gets to talk about Silence of the Lambs. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next (1975)

Produced by Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas

Directed by Milos Foreman

Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman

From the Novel by Ken Kesey

Cinematography by Haskell Wexler

Starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif, Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd

 Of the fourteen films I’ve watched for this project so far, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest might be the first truly great film I’ve seen.  Annie Hall is no slouch, but of the rest – Dances With Wolves, Patton, From Here To Eternity, included – none really have the depth or subtext of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest . Perhaps that’s a personal bias of mine – I can’t imagine what people will say when they realize that, after I watched fourteen films, Platoon could hardly find it’s way into the top ten so far.  Still, that doesn’t change the fact that One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is simply a marvelous film. Continue reading

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