Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards (1941)

I won a major award last November for my thoughts on Citizen Kane which you can read here. I won't rehash any of that now except to say that despite its revered status as the classic to end all classics, Citizen Kane is a terrifically entertaining and satisfying movie.

Or to put it another way, just because your 10th grade English teacher made you read Silas Marner and called it a "classic"—because that's what this is all about, isn't it—that's no reason to avoid Citizen Kane.

My other thought (SPOILERS AHEAD) is about Mary Astor, whose performance in The Maltese Falcon is surprisingly divisive among classic movie fans. Many think she is not nearly enough of a "knockout" to justify Sam Spade's interest in her.

Me, I think the thirty-five year old Astor was perfectly cast.

We've grown inured to the notion that in movies, forty-two year old actors should hook up with twenty-four year old actresses, but the fact is, if Bogart's Sam Spade had flipped for a young hottie, we the audience would have concluded that he was thinking with his libido and she was playing him for a sap.

Very noirish, but rendering the twist ending emotionally hollow, in my opinion.

As it stands, they come to each other as equals: he's found his soul mate, someone as smart, amoral and reptilian as he is; and she, after a decade of knocking around places like Istanbul and Hong Kong with a collection of tough, dim pretty boys, has at last met a man with whom she feels truly safe.

Ironic how it works out.

That they are both also rapidly approaching their sell-by date makes the ending all the more poignant.

But maybe that's just the romantic in me.

winner: Citizen Kane (prod. Orson Welles)
nominees: High Sierra (prod. Hal B. Wallis); How Green Was My Valley (prod. Darryl F. Zanuck); The Little Foxes (prod. Samuel Goldwyn); The Maltese Falcon (prod. Hal B. Wallis)

PICTURE (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Sullivan's Travels (prod. Preston Sturges)
nominees: The Devil And Miss Jones (prod. Frank Ross); Fantasia (prod. Walt Disney); Here Comes Mr. Jordan (prod. Everett Riskin); The Lady Eve (prod. Paul Jones)

PICTURE (Foreign Language)
winner: Genroku Chûshingura (The 47 Ronin) (prod. Shintarô Shirai)
nominees: Todake no kyodai (The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family) (prod. Shôchiku Film)

ACTOR (Drama)
winner: Orson Welles (Citizen Kane)
nominees: Humphrey Bogart (High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon); Walter Huston (The Devil and Daniel Webster); Herbert Marshall (The Little Foxes); Tyrone Power (Blood and Sand)

ACTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Gary Cooper (Meet John Doe and Ball Of Fire)
nominees: Charles Coburn (The Devil And Miss Jones); W.C. Fields (Never Give A Sucker An Even Break); Henry Fonda (The Lady Eve); Joel McCrea (Sullivan's Travels); Robert Montgomery (Here Comes Mr. Jordan); William Powell (Love Crazy and Shadow of the Thin Man)

winner: Bette Davis (The Little Foxes)
nominees: Joan Crawford (A Woman's Face); Olivia de Havilland (Hold Back The Dawn); Irene Dunne (Penny Serenade); Joan Fontaine (Suspicion); Vivien Leigh (That Hamilton Woman)

ACTRESS (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Barbara Stanwyck (Ball Of Fire and The Lady Eve)
nominees: Jean Arthur (The Devil And Miss Jones); Deanna Durbin (It Started With Eve); Wendy Hiller (Major Barbara); Dorothy Lamour (Road to Zanzibar); Myrna Loy (Love Crazy and Shadow of the Thin Man)

winner: Orson Welles (Citizen Kane)
nominees: John Ford (How Green Was My Valley); John Huston (The Maltese Falcon); Raoul Walsh (High Sierra); William Wyler (The Little Foxes)

DIRECTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Preston Sturges (The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels)
nominees: Frank Capra (Meet John Doe); Alexander Hall (Here Comes Mr. Jordan); Howard Hawks (Ball of Fire); Sam Wood (The Devil and Miss Jones)

winner: Sidney Greenstreet (The Maltese Falcon)
nominees: Donald Crisp (How Green Was My Valley); William Demarest (The Lady Eve); James Gleason (Here Comes Mr. Jordan); Peter Lorre (The Maltese Falcon); Claude Rains (Here Comes Mr. Jordan)

winner: Mary Astor (The Great Lie and The Maltese Falcon)
nominees: Sara Allgood (How Green Was My Valley); Spring Byington (The Devil And Miss Jones); Patricia Collinge (The Little Foxes); Veronica Lake (Sullivan's Travels); Teresa Wright (The Little Foxes)

winner: Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane)
nominees: John Huston (The Maltese Falcon); Preston Sturges (The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels)

Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane) (Cinematography); Perry Ferguson and Van Nest Polglase; Al Fields and Darrell Silvera (Citizen Kane) (Art Direction-Set Decoration); Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane) (Score); Robert Wise (Citizen Kane) (Film Editing)

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