Oscar, Oscar! Oh...I wish I had an Oscar Meyer Wiener... sorry..that just popped into my head. We are back to Oscars and this time it is about Best Actor and Best Actress which is full of delights from ones who deserved the Oscar to others that you just shake your head at. I am not going to talk about controversy or if she/she should have or shouldn't have won but just about the actor/actress that won in a film that I like and I also like the performance. Wandering Through The Shelves created this great theme fest and every year, she knocks it out of the park. OK, here are my choices and I am choosing 3 Best Actor and 3 Best Actress...
1. JAMES CAGNEY IN YANKEE DOODLE DANDY-1942
Mikhail Baryshnikov was a huge fan of James Cagney and his dancing style. When the AFI(American Film Institute) awarded Cagney with a tribute, Baryshnikov was one of the stars who showed his admiration and stated that Cagney was one of the reasons for Mikhail going into dance(he is a premier ballet dancer). Cagney portrayed the famous George M. Cohan who is known as the man who owned Broadway and is credited for originating the American Musical Comedy. Cohan was a dancer, actor, composer, etc... Cagney knew how to create the bigger than life character including the style of dancing which stuck with Cagney as well. We know Cagney mainly as a gangster or a cop who is rough around and inside all the edges. This is a full on, patriotic, dancing filibuster of a movie that came out when the U.S. was entering WW2. I do groan when I see Cohan's parents come out as Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty but it was the sign of these times and Cagney gives it his all.
2. WILLIAM HOLDEN IN STALAG 17-1953
I love this film which is a dark comedy. William Holden plays it straight and he is not well liked by most of the men in the camp. He can squire anything, is sarcastic, doesn't play nice and dislikes most of them men as well, so that makes them even. When information keeps getting linked to the German guards, Holden is the first one they look at and quickly beat up believing he is the fink. You also learn about many of the men who live on the barracks which includes the 2 biggest oafs who always do something funny or stupid...or both. They are played so well by Robert Strauss and Harvey Lembeck that they almost steal the show. This is a great war film that inspired Hogan's Heroes.
3. SIDNEY POITIER IN LILIES OF THE FIELD-1963
This is the first time that an African American won best actor and the 2nd time an African American won the Oscar(the first was Hattie McDaniel). I really liked Poitier's performance in this film where he matches wits with a German nun and, despite living a nomadic lifestyle, ends up helping a bunch of German nuns set up shop, sort of speak, in a small, desert-like community. It is quite a good film and the leading reason is Poitier and his relationship with the nun, played by Lilia Skala. He stumbles upon their abode and before he knows it, he is helping them build a church and both become enriched by their friendship. I would love to see this film again.
Now on to Best Actress...
1. BETTE DAVIS IN JEZEBEL-1938
Apparently, Bette Davis landed this part when she lost the role of Scarlett O'Hara(Thank goodness) and, boy, does she know how to make a performance Oscar worthy. This is the Deep South when we are supposed to respect this high society and their, um, genteel ways(how they got to be known as genteel when they had slaves, I will never understand). Now, remember this was a film from a different time so we must watch it in this way. We have spoiled snot Bette Davis who is engaged to the handsome banker, Henry Fonda. She is always up for a fight(just like Davis) and speaks her own mind(oh my!). She wants to prove that she has her own mind and flips the bird at genteel convention by actually wearing a red dress at a ball, instead of white, even though she is single(I would be wearing red too...bring on the jezebel). Things don't go as planned and she feels mortified especially when Fonda leaves after dancing with her. When he finally returns, he comes with a wife but Davis has no idea. This is quite a good film with wonderful performances by all but Davis shines as the snotty little bitch.
2. OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND IN THE HEIRESS-1949
Talk about a juicy part in an excellent film that truly shows what a great actress Olivia was. This legendary actress passed away last year at the age of 104 and, with her, one of the last of the great film stars of yesteryear. She lives with her cold, unloving father and her aunt and is considered an old maid where her father berates her for not being pretty enough. In comes the beautiful Montgomery Clift who has eyes only for her and possibly her inheritance. Despite her father's nasty attempts to show her the truth about the man, she refuses to believe him and waits for her handsome betrothed to take her away from her miserable father. Will he take her away? What happens to her? The change in the young woman, all shy and sensitive to someone bold and all knowing could only have been played by an accomplished actress like De Havilland.
3. JUDY HOLLIDAY IN BORN YESTERDAY-1950
I just re-watched this film about a week ago and Judy Holliday is pure magic. It is such a shame she died too young from cancer (43) but, at least, we have a few gems like this classic comedy, with dramatic overtones. We have this brutish, stupid bully(no, he is not orange in the face with truly horrible hair) who comes to Washington DC to buy a few senators to get his own way but he feels his girlfriend needs some "classing up and to not make her so dumb looking". Enter William Holden who was to interview the bully but decides to take on the prospect of teaching Ms. Holiday some pointers about what makes their Country so great. From his teaching, she begins to learn that there is more to life than jewels and fur and she realizes she has a lot more brains and understanding of human nature than the oaf she has spent most of her life with. She creates a character that you fall in love with because she is eager to learn and, watching her outwit the numbnut she is with, is just very funny. The Gin Rummy game is justifiably famous.
Which actors and actresses, who have won a best Oscar would you choose?
Six great pics and I've seen them all. The Heiress is one of my favorites.ReplyDelete
The heiress is greatDelete
It's probably no surprise I didn't recognize any of these films, and I didn't even realize the Oscars were on until the morning after when people were talking about a few things that happened. I have no idea which actors and actresses even deserve the awards, much less who actually won them. But I always enjoy your synopses, because they always make me laugh. And learn.ReplyDelete
The Golden Globes were on this past weekend and the Oscars will be on in AprilDelete
For actor I can think of Anthony Hopkins for Silence of the Lambs and Michael Douglas for Wall Street. (And would you believe Nicolas Cage has won Best Actor?) Best actress I'll say Frances McDormand for Fargo. (I'd pick Kate Winslet but I've never seen The Reader.)ReplyDelete
Great choices and I saw Leaving Las Vegas with Nicholas Cage. It’s excellent but very depressing. Footnote..Robin Williams makes a cameo in that film.Delete
Except for Yankee Doodle Dandy, I don't know any of these. Man, I am really NOT up on my movies. Hugs-ErikaReplyDelete
Hahahaaa...no worries but glad you know Yankee DoodleDelete
Yessum, an Oscar Meyer Wiener is the only Oscar I'll ever win.
When it comes to musicals, I'm a dummy, I didn't realize Jimmy Cagney was a dancer. His freewheeling style as he executed that Yankee Doodle dance reminded me of the dance Ray Bolger performed as Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
My favorite character in Stalag 17 is Sgt. Frank Price, the mole played by the great and versatile character actor Peter Graves. I watched Peter every week as the dad on the Western-themed children's TV series Fury, and we all remember him as the pervy pilot in the movie Airplane.
Sidney Poitier is still with us at age 94. He was a brilliant actor who elevated every project he took part in. Do you remember A Patch of Blue, the 1965 film in which Sidney co-starred with Elizabeth Hartman who played a white blind girl enamored with Poitier's character, a black man? That movie, which explored race relations, stuck with me through the years, and I was saddened to learn that Elizabeth jumped to her death from a 5th floor apartment window following years of struggling with depression and a sharp decline in her acting career. She was only in her 40s.
I admired Olivia de Havilland much more than Bette Davis. As you mentioned, Olivia was blessed with greater longevity than most of her contemporaries, leaving us last summer at the age of 104.
Yessum, in stark contrast to the long life enjoyed by Olivia D.H. is the story of Judy Holliday who died so young. I watched Born yesterday decades ago and enjoyed the transformation as a "dumb blonde" showgirl receives an education and ultimately "outwits, outplays and outlasts" her uncouth boyfriend.
Thanks for the memories, dear friend BB, and have a happy and Thankful Thursday!
You are right! Cagney and Bolger look like their legs are made of rubber. “Ever see a Turkish Prison, Billy”. Peter Graves is very versatile and this film is so good. I still have to see A Patch of Blue. What a shame about that actress...too young. Olivia was so good in this role. She is so beautiful but could make herself look plain and this works so well into her character here. Judy was so good in this role and died too young.Delete
I remember watching a Making Of doc of Gone With the Wind where they went through the actresses who auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara and I remember Bette Davis being one of them. She's fantastic but that would have been terrible. I also love Sidney Poitier! He has such a commanding presence on screen.ReplyDelete
There were tons and Paulette Goddard was leading the pack and she looked good in the role. Bette Davis is not one I would say is extremely beautiful plus she is too strong and could not show vulnerability in the way it is needed. Sidney is great!!Delete
I really need to watch older Oscar movies because I've never heard of any of these before.ReplyDelete
I hope you see these.Delete
I need to see Jezebel and Lilies of the Field. I'm so bad with these older Oscar movies.ReplyDelete
I hope you do. These are great.Delete
LOVE that you went all in but it's going to cause me to split my comment Birgit!ReplyDelete
Fantastic choices all!
Of the sextet Olivia is my favorite by a mile. Perhaps my favorite Best Actress winner ever. She is so incredibly skillful in every scene, it helps that she’s surrounded by world class talent (Richardson, Clift & Miriam Hopkins are all aces) but she owns the film with a portrait of amazing depth.
Next would be the other two ladies. I agree that Bette wouldn’t have quite right as Scarlett, though better than Kate Hepburn who Selznick had in reserve had he not found Vivien Leigh, but she makes the often foolish, headstrong and clever Julie vivid.
I don’t love Born Yesterday that much but Judy is wonderful in it. She wouldn’t have been my choice to win this year (however in ’52 she would have been for her even deeper work in “The Marrying Kind”) but she’s the best thing about the film. Heartbreaking that her time on earth was so short.
As for the men, I’m a huge fan of both Holden and Cagney and I like Poitier and all give accomplished performances in these roles, but none are films that I number among my favorites.
I understand why Jimmy won for Yankee Doodle since it was so outside his established persona, though if you watch his early films there are several occasions where he hoofs, but he really should have been rewarded for more intricate performances like the ones in “White Heat” or “The Roaring Twenties”.
With Bill Holden if he couldn’t win for “Sunset Boulevard” than this was the right role, but I think he was better in the former. Same goes for Poitier for “Lilies” vs. “In the Heat of the Night”.
I was going with Oscar winners I like not that they should have won that year otherwise I would have given the Oscar to Gloria Swanson, just edging out Bette Davis before giving it to Judy Holiday, Judy is just so good in the role without comparing and I do enjoy that movie. I do think Olivia deserved the win because she owned this role, Bette was just good a Jezebel and chewed up every scene she was in. Cagney deserved the win more for White Heat, I agree but I just liked his role as Cohan and they finally recognized the fact he could sing and dance even though he did this more than once before. Holden was brilliant in Sunset Blvd...I agree and same with Poitier in In the Heat of the Night but I just loved their roles in the other 2 films. Let’s now check what you chose.Delete
I at first planned to use Gone With the Wind and its trio of Oscar winners-Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland especially since both ladies won twice. But GWTW is so discussed and while I love all three, I decided to go with others that are lesser known. So, I lit upon Greer Garson as my through line with two of her costars who also won Oscars in close proximity to her.ReplyDelete
Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson-Best Actress) (1942)-Kay Miniver (Greer), her architect husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon-also Oscar nominated) and their three children are living a comfortable life in a small village outside of London until war is declared. Eldest son Vin (Richard Ney-who shortly after the film’s completion married Greer!) leaves college to join the Royal Air Force while also falling for and marrying local girl Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright-winner for Best Supporting Actress). As the war arrives on their doorstep they must endure bombing raids and many other hardships and tragedies meeting them with perseverance and fortitude.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Robert Donat-Best Actor) (1939)-1n 1870 schoolteacher Charles Chipping “Mr. Chips” (Donat) fresh from university is a strict disciplinarian to his young students at his new public-school post making him unpopular. However, on holiday he meets and impulsively marries the feisty suffragette Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson-Oscar nominated) whose love softens and humanizes Chips until he becomes a beloved institution on campus and a source of inspiration through the tough years of World War I onward into the 20th Century.
A Double Life (Ronald Colman-Best Actor) (1947)-Legendary stage star Anthony John’s (Colman) method is to totally immerse himself in the parts he plays. This is fine when he appears in comedic roles but with more serious roles, he becomes unpredictably volatile as his real-life self slowly ebbs away leading to the end of his marriage to Brita (Signe Hasso) his frequent costar. Now despite all warning signs he has undertaken Othello partnered again with Brita, though having a young mistress, Pat Kroll (an incredibly young, very thin Shelley Winters in her first important role), and as the part overtakes him, he descends into madness. Though Greer isn’t in this film she and Colman costarred (the year she won for Mrs. Miniver) in another big success for both “Random Harvest” where Colman was again nominated for Best Actor.
Ahh, Mrs. Miniver and the Desire Under The Elms back plot😁. I am not as enamoured with this film and would have given it to Katherine Hepburn in Woman of the Year who shone as the pre Barbara Walters type newsperson who falls for sluggo Spence, on and off screen. She nails it in my humble opinion. Robert Donat pulled off a huge surprise that year taking it from Clark Gable as Rhett. I probably would have voted for Gable but I am still happy that Donat won as the beloved teacher in a boy’s school. His is not as showy as Gable’s role but it does have so much depth and he can convey so much just with his face. I have to admit, I still need to see Ronald Colman in the film and I love Ronald Colman. Maybe this is one I need to see this year finally,Delete
Of your picks I think I've only seen Yankee Doodle Dandy and what a great film that is.ReplyDelete
I had to go and look up the lists of past awards because I couldn't recall any. I don't really keep up with the bests in those categories especially since I haven't usually seen all the films come awards time.
For actor I'll submit a favorite which is Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And for actress I'll go with just about anyone other than Meryl Streep of whom I'm not a fan. Charlize Theron blew me away with her performance in Monster and I thought it was a bold acting role for her to take--give her my award for Best Actress.
Tossing It Out
You know, I almost went with Jack Nicholson in Cuckoo’s Nest. He was brilliant in that role. Charlize as that serial killer was also just amazing and deserved it. Streep could cough up a hair ball and they would vote for her. I don’t get why she is nominated so many times.Delete
Well apart from the final actress, whom I've never heard of, the others well deserved their awards. Bette Davis I just love , Kate xReplyDelete
Judy became big on the theatre and then film. Her career was from the end 40s until the very early 60s when she died of breast cancer. She was not as hugely known as Monroe, Hepburn and Kelly but she deserves to be more recognized. I hope you get to see this film as she shines in it and it is funny.Delete
I love watching Jimmy Cagney dance. He was so loosey-goosey. So that's what Jezebel is about. I'm putting it in my Netflix queue. Cheers, Birgit!ReplyDelete
He is loosely Goosey for sure. O hope you see Jezebel.Delete
I haven't seen a single one of these old films. Thanks for sharing!
Maybe one day...in your new home.Delete
James Cagney really was one of a kind wasn't he? And had buckets of talent.ReplyDelete
Hope today is a pain free day.
Sorry I've been scarce. We were having internet issues.
Hope your internet is better now. James Cagney is one of the bestDelete
I do love The Heiress. And what is it about musical theater that lends itself to its stars going on to cop shows? Cagney is probably the first in a long line of actors who can dance and sing who are known for roles as cops or gangsters.ReplyDelete
You are right because so many play cops or gangsters but can dance like Christopher Walken.Delete
You picked a handful of classic treasures, Birgit. I'm smiling now, after watching James Cagney do his Doodling. Delightful.ReplyDelete
I wonder how many me. Today would like being called a doodle dandyDelete
Never mind Oscars, Judy Holliday's performance in Born Yesterday is one of the best I've ever seen, period. One of those numerous cases where she'd dazzled in the part on Broadway but the studio execs wanted a bigger name for the film. She had some powerful advocates, though: Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn among them.ReplyDelete
Worth noting: Jean Hagen got the Lina Lamont part in Singin' in the Rain by doing a dead-on Judy Holliday impression. The two had been in Adam's Rib together.
Nice post, Birgit - you've shined a light on films that are completely new to me. I know some of the actors/actresses already but will need to watch these works.ReplyDelete