Posts tagged “1949

Mike’s Top Ten of 1949

1949 is a year that has some great films. The best thing about them is that they all feel like hidden gems, even though they’re probably all classics.

Of course we need to start with the obvious film — one of the absolute greatest films ever made, a benchmark in its genre, one of the most gorgeously photographed films of all time and a film that remains one of my five favorite films of all time. So that’s of course gonna lead the pack. But the rest of them are all great films that I feel most people don’t see often enough. It’ll increase as the list goes on.

I’ve always had a real affinity for this year. This is the year that’s rife with stuff that I’d jump to recommend to people. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1949

1949 is a strange year. All the films are strong, yet there’s no clear winner amongst them. It does make sense, though, that the films aren’t particularly standout, since this was the year after the Paramount Decision was decided. So this year was the first set of films affected by it (sort of. It wouldn’t go into affect until 1950, but still, they had to be cognizant of it).

For brief recap — the Paramount Decision was basically a mandate that the studios could not own a monopoly on production, distribution and exhibition. The way things worked was — the studios were originally founded by producers, distributers and exhibitors joining together. For example: Marcus Loew (who owned Loew’s Theatres) bought Metro and Samuel Goldwyn and merged them, and then went into business with Louis B. Mayer to create MGM. As such, MGM was able to produce and distribute films and then put them into Loew’s theaters, which they owned. And by 1945, all the studios basically combined to own the majority of the major theaters in the U.S. And what they did was essentially let each other exhibit films in their theaters for nominal fees and worked together to keep out the independents. If you weren’t affiliated with a studio, it was nearly impossible to get your film shown in any significant theaters. And eventually a lawsuit was filed against this obvious monopoly, and in 1948, it was decreed that the studios had to divest of all their theaters. They could still produce and distribute their films, but the theaters had to be open market. Because what they used to do with the theaters (if they didn’t own them) was — they’d block book their films, which was essentially them saying, “So you want Mrs. Miniver? Well, if you want that, then you have to take all these other films as well.” And there would be all these B movies and minor films that the theaters would then have to rent as well. And all of that was declared illegal. This was the first major blow against the studio system and would eventually lead to its collapse in the 60s.

So now the studios no longer owned the theaters, which completely changed their production strategy. When they owned the theaters, they could pump them full of B movies and shorts and newsreels. Now, since they didn’t own the theaters, exhibitors weren’t forced into those films. So B movies started going by the wayside. At least, studio B movies. This led to the rise of the independents, which led to the rise of the drive-in feature, low budgets (like Roger Corman’s films and such), exploitation films. And then there was also the rise of television during this time as well. So all of this really started threatening the supremacy of the studios, which led to them consolidating all their power and money into those blockbusters in the 50s and 60s, which helped bring about the fall of “Old” Hollywood and the rise of New Hollywood (along with the breaking down of social taboos with films like Bonnie and Clyde). So the Paramount Decision was a huge deal for film history. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1949

Still not sure what I think about 1949. All the King’s Men wins Best Picture, which I think was probably the strongest choice among the nominees. It’s a really great movie. It’s just on the weaker side of all-time Best Picture choices, and that tends to make me feel like the year is on the weak side.

Broderick Crawford won Best Actor for the film (talked about here) and Mercedes McCambridge won Best Supporting Actress for it (talked about here), both of which were terrific decisions. Best Actress was Olivia de Havilland for The Heiress (talked about here), which is one of the best decisions of all time in the Best Actress category (though that specific category was so weak it’s beyond words). And Best Director was Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter to Three Wives (talked about here), which made absolutely no fucking sense to me at all. I cannot even begin to understand how they came to that decision.

And then there’s this category. This is another one of those decisions that I just don’t understand. Sure, the category was weak as hell, but — not Ralph Richardson? After the year he had?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1949

And the nominees were…

John Ireland, All the King’s Men

Dean Jagger, Twelve O’Clock High

Arthur Kennedy, Champion

Ralph Richardson, The Heiress

James Whitmore, Battleground (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1949

I like 1949. I have some problems, but, when you look directly at it, based on the nominated films and performances, I think they made the right decisions most of the way. All the King’s Men wins Best Picture. And while it is a great film, it doesn’t really feel like a Best Picture winner. But, among the nominees, it’s between that and Battleground, which I like a lot. So, since those were my two choices, I think it’s a fine decision. Broderick Crawford also won Best Actor for the film (talked about here), which was a fantastic decision. He was incredible.

The Best Actress was Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress (talked about here). Her second. And an absolute terrific decision. The performance alone is one of the top ten Best Actress decisions of all time, but, given the absolute weakness of the category (there’s no one else to vote for), this is a no-brainer all the way. Best Supporting Actor this year was Dean Jagger for Twelve O’Clock High, which I don’t like at all, since I think Ralph Richardson should have been a runaway winner in the category for his performances in The Heiress and The Fallen Idol. Oh, and Best Director — oh boy. This is the one I have big problems with. Joseph L. Mankiewicz wins for A Letter to Three Wives (talked about here). It’s just completely baffling that he wins here because — almost every other option in the category (specifically Carol Reed, Robert Rossen and William Wellman) was a better decision. A terrible, terrible choice, and one of the worst of all time in the category.

Which leaves us with this category. Which I love. Because — just looking at it, you go, “There’s only one choice.” And, she was clearly the best performance in the category. But, it’s like doing a polynomial fraction. Cross off everything on the top and on the bottom, and then you’re left with the one number. I love it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1949

And the nominees were…

Ethel Barrymore, Pinky

Celeste Holm, Come to the Stable

Elsa Lanchester, Come to the Stable

Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

Ethel Waters, Pinky (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1949

1949 is a pretty solid year. Good, not great. I think I’ve covered that in the categories I’ve done before. All the King’s Men wins Best Picture (probably the Best Choice of the bunch, but, for me, it was four of five 4-star films and no real 5-star film. There were three legit choices here), Best Actor for Broderick Crawford (which I talked about here) and Best Supporting Actress for Mercedes McCambridge. I understand the Best Picture, and completely agree with both of the acting decisions. Those were great decisions.

Then Best Director was Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter to Three Wives, a decision that just baffles the shit out of me, which I talked about here. Then Best Supporting Actor was Dean Jagger for Twelve O’Clock High, which I just don’t get. At all. Ralph Richardson was clearly the vote there. So, in all, the year is pretty average. I agree with three of the six decisions, and can be swayed to liking a fourth. The other two make no sense to me, but, three of six leaning to four makes for a solid year. So that’s good.

Then there’s this category. What a weak category this is. I need to look for — actually, I kind of don’t. It’s really only two terrible nominees. And I’d gladly take one of the other two off if it meant a stronger set of nominees. Sacrifice one for the good of the many. But, just glancing at this year, I can see there weren’t any other performances, so it’s just the product of a weak year. I should feel lucky they managed three decent nominees. Regardless though — this one’s just a runaway. It’s not even close as to who deserved to win this.

BEST ACTRESS – 1949

And the nominees were…

Jeanne Crain, Pinky

Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress

Susan Hayward, My Foolish Heart

Deborah Kerr, Edward, My Son

Loretta Young, Come to the Stable (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1949

1949. Good year, but not a great one. I like it, but don’t love it. All the King’s Men. A good film, but not really a great one. In another year, it probably wouldn’t win Best Picture. But this isn’t another year. Broderick Crawford wins Best Actor for the film, which I think is a great decision (as I’ve talked about here), and Mercedes McCambridge wins Best Supporting Actress for it as well. She was really the only choice. After that, Best Actress was Olivia de Havilland for The Heiress, which, even though it was her second one, was richly deserved. She was by far the best in the category. And Best Supporting Actor was Dean Jagger for Twelve O’Clock High, a decision I haven’t fully formulated an opinion on yet.

That’s it, really. Good decisions, but nothing outstanding. This category, however — introduces a real catch-22 in the history of the Best Director category. I’ll tell you what it is right now. Joseph L. Mankiewicz wins this. I don’t think he should have. I didn’t think his effort was that great. However, he also wins Best Director the year after this, for All About Eve. Which, is a good effort. Problem is, that year, he beat two films generally considered to be two of the the best directorial efforts of all time, Billy Wilder for Sunset Bouelvard and Carol Reed for The Third Man. And therein lies the catch-22. If Mankiewicz doesn’t win here, he definitely wins there, where he really shouldn’t have won. But he wins here, and he shouldn’t have. So what do you do? He should probably have a statue, but, I can’t (or won’t) vote for him in either of these years. So what do you do? See what I mean? How do you win? (You don’t. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the Academy Awards.)

BEST DIRECTOR – 1949

And the nominees were…

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives

Carol Reed, The Fallen Idol

Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men

William A. Wellman, Battleground

William Wyler, The Heiress (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1949

1949. I’m excited for this one. I like being able to talk about years like this, because I know people aren’t necessarily well-versed in anything before 1950. Or, hell, 1970.

The year itself wasn’t particularly interesting. All the King’s Men, a good film, beat a pretty weak set of nominees. It was probably the best of the bunch, so it’s not like it was a bad decision. Mercedes McCambridge won Best Supporting Actress for the film as well. Best Actress this year went to Olivia de Havilland for The Heiress, and all I can say about that is — yes. The performance is astoundingly good, and she was by far the best choice in the category. Best Supporting Actor went to Dean Jagger for Twelve O’Clock High. I didn’t understand why he won when I watched the film, so I need to rewatch it before I decide whether or not it was a good decision. Though it was a pretty weak set of nominees. And also, Best Director was Joseph Mankiewicz for A Letter to Three Wives, which, I don’t understand. But Best Director is murky this year and the year after this, so I’ll save it until I talk about it. In all though, 1949 is a solid year. A few solid choices, a few bad ones. Above average.

BEST ACTOR – 1949

And the nominees were…

Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men

Kirk Douglas, Champion

Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High

Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart

John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima (more…)