Something is wrong with me. I miss the Oscars already even though I've just barely recovered from the March 2nd related exhaustion. (Nathaniel the Masochist) So the other day I got a little Oscar happy and was looking back at various years, so let's talk the 36th Academy Awards briefly. You in?
They were held exactly 50 years ago today. Tom Jones, just discussed by Andrew, won 1963's Best Picture and three other trophies but the evening is best remembered today for Sidney Poitier's historic win for Lilies of the Field.
Sidney was the first black actor to win in either leading category but it was 38 years before it happened again (with Halle & Denzel on the same night). Now of course it's a fairly regular occurrence in both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress... the other two categories not so much.
Trivia Side Note: 1963 is the earliest year now with a surviving Best Actor winner. Poitier is now 87 and he's one of only 9 Best Actor nominees from the 60s who are still with us.
Anne Bancroft is so happy for him. Look at her fangirl jubilation after the speech. It was surely easy to get excited about him at the time both for the breakthrough game-changing and for his spirited performance in the endearing religious drama.
As you know if you've been reading for a couple of years my favorite picture from 1963, and one of my favorite films of all time is Martin Ritt's Hud, which was not nominated for Best Picture. Weirdly it was one of the big winners of the night; Tom Jones & Hud split up the marquee categories with 4 and 3 wins respectively and Cleopatra & How the West Was Won warred over the technicals with 4 and 3 wins respectively. Hud was one of those lone director near misses that don't happen anymore in the days of the expanded best picture field. You know the type; they're just a bit too cool for the room. (Other stupendous Nathaniel-favorites that suffered that fate: They Shoot Horses Don't They and Thelma & Louise). I had forgotten that Patricia Neal wasn't there to accept Best Actress that night so when I was looking up acceptance speeches I was laughing about Annabella running too the stage to accept for her. That's practically a full sprint.
Imagine the face plant if JLaw attempted that today!
I wish it were easy to find photos of gowns to do fashion roundup from ancient Oscar years. Wouldn't that be fun? Since those things are hard to come by here are a few photos I found of Hollywood's High Holy Night 50 years ago today...
Here's Patricia Neal later with her Oscar... that baby there was just about to be born which is what kept her home on her big night.
Paul & Joanne - I'm not 100% sure this is from the Oscars (it might have been a different event (but it's the right time frame). The internet and photo archives only seem to have a lot of photos of Paul & Joanne in her winning year.
Brandon de Wilde from Hud with the previous year's Best Supporting Actress winner Patty Duke
Best Actress nominee Natalie Wood (Love With the Proper Stranger)
Best Actress nominee Shirley Maclaine (Irma La Douce)
I think this was a magazine advertisement but i'm unclear on the source. It's delightfully cheesy
and more Anne Bancroft because she seemed so giddy that night...
And just for fun, my top ten (in progress) though really I'm only sure about the first three since the rest are vague memories from rentals in the 80s and Cleopatra is only really there because I just recently watched it given the 50th anniversary BluRay. It's dull for some stretches but Elizabeth Taylor gives gargantuan star mojo as ever. The film wouldn't have worked without a star of that magnitude so it's somewhat strange that of the 9 Oscar nominations (with 4 wins) there was no room for Taylor herself. Not that she didn't win gold; the historical epic made her the highest paid actress of all time... at the time.
NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN OF '63
highly subject to change
- Hud (Martin Ritt)
- 8½ (Federico Fellini)
- The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock)
- Lilies of the Field (Ralph Nelson)
- Charade (Stanley Donen)
- Love With the Proper Stranger (Robert Mulligan)
- Tom Jones (Tony Richardson)
- From Russia With Love (Terence Young)
- Cleopatra (Joseph Mankiewicz)
- Move Over Darling (Michael Gordon)
Key 1963 titles I need to see: Billy Liar, The L Shaped Room, America America, The Haunting, Irma La Douce, Knife in the Water, The V.I.P.s. (I have seen Irma La Douce but can remember nothing about it so when I see it it will surely be like the first time) and three foreign classics: The Leopard and Yesterday Today and Tomorrow (from Italy) and Contempt (France)
What are you favorites from 1963?
Exit Music: Here's the best song winner that year, sung by Andy Williams on the broadcast when Debbie Reynolds couldn't make it