Oscar History

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Entries in Natalie Wood (32)


Meet the Panelists - Smackdown '63

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '63 is just 3 days away. So it's time to get your votes in on the nominees that year. Readers, collectively, are the final panelist, so grade the nominees (only the ones you've seen) from 1 to 5 hearts. Your votes count toward the smackdown win! 

Diane Cilento Tom Jones
Edith Evans Tom Jones
Joyce Redman Tom Jones
Margaret Rutherford The VIPs 
Lilia Skala Lilies of the Field 


Now that we're finally getting to this long delayed Smackdown. It's time to meet this month's talking heads...


Seán McGovern and Brian Mullin
An Irishman and an American based in London, Seán McGovern and Brian Mullin are the hosts of Broad Appeal, the podcast that looks back at female-driven films from the not-so-distant past. Seán is a film festival programmer with Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest and has also worked for the BFI and the National Film and Television School. His mustache was once complimented by Wallace Shawn. Brian is a playwright, dramaturg and community activist; he's wedded to the theatre but still fools around with the movies. Their latest podcast series dissected 12 book-to-film adaptations (everything from Yentl to Jackie Brown) and they once saw Isabelle Huppert twice in two days! [Follow them @broadappealpod@bamullinspeaks@seanmcgovernx]

What does 1963 mean to you, guys?

To us, 1963 seems like the year things fell apart. The summer started with hope: JFK retraced his roots in Ireland and Martin Luther King led the March on Washington (with activists and many film stars in tow). By the end of the year, though, fatal shots had been fired in Dealey Plaza, and the the studio system was on life support following the bloated release of Liz & Dick's Cleopatra. The upheaval of the 60s was only just beginning; no wonder The Birds started attacking Tippi Hedren.

Teo Bugbee
Longtime Film Experience reader, Teo Bugbee is a culture writer, bylines found at The Daily Beast, MTV News, and The New York Times. In her time off from watching movies, she union agitates, gay organizes…and watches more movies. [Follow her @tmibugbee]

What does 1963 mean to you, Teo?

1963 was the year my mom was born, a classic Pisces in the year of the Rabbit. 1963 was the year of the Taylor-Burton affair, a formative obsession of my youth. 1963 was the year of my favorite Natalie Wood performance, in Love With A Proper Stranger. It's the year of The Feminine Mystique and the year Ann-Margret declared it lovely to be a woman, two statements of equal weight as far as I can tell. In my mind, 1963 is the year when the '60s stopped being an extension of the decade prior, and started to take on its own character as the decade for all things uncouth, dissatisfied, and misunderstood.

Kieran Scarlett
Kieran is a Canadian expat whose love affair with movies began with Judy Garland and Julie Andrews.  He thanks his older brother for his film fanaticism and apologizes profusely for dragging him to see Cold Mountain on opening weekend because "people in it might get nominated for stuff."  He received his MFA in writing from the American Film institute. He spends a lot of time thinking about the 1974 Best Actress race, admiring Dorothy Malone's mambo skills and longing for the return of Holly Hunter.  Kieran can be found in Los
Angeles, writing, working on movies and searching for the perfect arthouse theater with good parking. [Follow him @danblackroyd]

What does 1963 mean to you, Kieran?

Being that I was not alive in 1963 and don't have any immediate personal cinematic narrative connection to '63 (part of why I'm eager to dig into this year and find out what it means to others), the year for me means "Letters From a Birmingham Jail," the very pivotal, if somewhat under-discussed piece of writing from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thinking about the fact King wrote that while imprisoned a little over a week after the Oscar ceremony (not that the two are related, just a piece of trivia) makes me consider the hypothesis that the political climate of the country does influence Oscar's choices. One wonders how that tracks (or doesn't) in
terms of Tom Jones' Best PIcture victory.

And as ever your host...

Nathaniel R
Nathaniel is the creator and owner of The Film Experience and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. He recently became an O'Neill Fellow at the National Critics Institute. He is the film columnist for Towleroad, a longtime Oscar pundit (Gurus of Gold), and his writing has appeared in both online publications (Vanity Fair, Slate, Tribeca Film, Show-Score) and print magazines (Esquire and Winq). Nathaniel has served on international festival juries and appeared as an on-air Oscar pundit for CNNi. Follow him @nathanielr 

What does 1963 mean to you?

Liz Taylor as Cleopatra mostly. I am who I am. I sometimes try to imagine how frighteningly colossal the world's obsession with her in that time period of her life would be were it transposed into our era of social media and 24/7 celebrity coverage. I'm guessing it would be something like Beyoncé 2016 times Brangelina 2005 filtered through a media hype lens that was akin to Marvel Studios Phase Whatever breathlessness. One can only imagine the op-eds and memes and cosplay. Other things I occasionally think about from 1963 include my parents being newlyweds (how were they ever that young?) just starting a family, everything about Hud, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier and other celebrities rallying for Civil Rights, Natalie Wood receiving her last Oscar nomination (sniffle), and The Judy Garland Show's debut -- love watching clips of that on YouTube. How did that show get cancelled so quickly. Didn't people back in 1963 know how good they had it with The World's Greatest Entertainer?

What does 1963 mean to you, dear readers?


Vintage '63

The Supporting Actress Smackdown 1963 Edition arrives on Monday so let's talk context since we haven't revisited as much of 1963 as we'd hoped to...

Great Big Box Office Hits: 1) Cleopatra 2) How the West Was Won 3) It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World 4) Tom Jones 4) Irma La Douce 6) Son of Flubber 7) The Birds 8) Dr No 9) The VIPs 10) McClintock!

Oscar's Best Pictures: Tom Jones (10 noms / 4 wins), Cleopatra (9 noms / 4 wins), How the West Was Won (8 noms / 3 wins), Lilies of the Field (5 noms / 1 win), America America (4 noms / 1 win) Our theory as to what was just outside the Best Picture shortlist plus more '63 goodies follow...

Click to read more ...


Beauty Break: Dog-Loving Natalie Wood

by Nathaniel R

You can find a few photos of the legendary Natalie Wood as a pint-sized actress with cats, but once the child star came into her own in Hollywood as a regular-aged movie star she was inarguably a dog person.

Her most common photo accessories for a time were her white poodle Fifi and her silver poodle Morningstar. Curiously I've never seen them in a photo together (by all accounts she had multiple pets but perhaps these two only overlapped in the late 1950s with Morningstar hogging the camera by the early 60s?).But they were hardly her only four legged Best Friends in her 43 years on earth. 

After the jump more furry beauty shots...

Click to read more ...


Beauty Break: Happy 90th Birthday to the Grauman's Chinese!

One of my favorite places in Hollywood turned 90 years old today. The Grauman's Chinese Theater, which often houses premieres and events, opened on this day in 1927, so its centennial is just ten years away. It's currently known as the TCL Theater and was called the Mann Theater before that but it's still popularly known as Grauman's. You can rename something as perks for modern corporations but sometimes the original name hangs around (as well as it should). Don't even get me started on beautiful Broadway theaters chucking their iconic stage giant names for "American Airlines Theater" or whatnot. DO NOT GET ME STARTED. 

The Grauman's most familiar pop culture aspect is its large collection of cement tiles out front bearing the handprints of movie stars from all eras. So it's time for a Beauty Break. Which of these ceremonies after the jump do you most wish you had been at? 

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Instagram Goodies: Marlon, Natalie, Faye, Dancer in the Dark

Just some yummies spotted on Instagram we thought you might enjoy...

Marlon Brando wardrobe reference for "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1962).

A photo posted by The Academy (@theacademy) on Nov 25, 2016 at 12:48pm PST

Click to read more ...



...you surround yourself with art but you're the masterpiece.


Beauty Break: Natalie Wood Forever

My first true actress love as a wee boy watching her movies on TV whenever they'd pop up. She would have been 78 today. Happy Birthday in the Cosmic Cinema Pantheon, Natalie. Here are 12 glorious photos of her and a few listicles...

Click to read more ...


Broken Lance's "Half Breed"

Robert Wagner keeps invading our Smackdown celebrations. In our 1952 revisit he appeared briefly as a shell shocked soldier for Susan Hayward to comfort with her crooning in With a Song in My Heart. He was almost impossible to look at from the pretty. And here he is again, distracting another Smackdown with his smolder in the western Broken Lance.

Perhaps we'd better go inside."

[Translation]: Jean Peters, you're about to tear your clothes off under the moonlight and devour me but I will chivalrously save your reputation... now that I've already won you with my lips. 

The rising 24 year-old actor was rumored to be carrying on behind the scenes with the then 47 year-old Barbara Stanwyck (who happens to co-star in Executive Suite, another of this month's Smackdown movies) but his most enduring romance was yet to begin. How many times do you think a then 16 year-old Natalie Wood, just one year away from her key transition film from child star to teen icon (Rebel Without a Cause) demanded to watch Broken Lance? Do you think her friends & handlers were all "enough with the Broken Lance, Nat!" According to Natalie herself, by 1954 her love would have already been six years strong though the actors had yet to meet.

"I was 10 and he was 18 when I first saw him walking down a hall at 20th Century Fox," she recalls. "I turned to my mother and said, 'I'm going to marry him.' "

She did.

Natalie married RJ (for the first time) in December 1957. She was just 19.

In Broken Lance, the then 24 year old actor (of German and Norwegian descent) plays our protagonist, the "half breed" son of Native American princess "Señora Devereaux" (played by Mexican actress Katy Jurado) and an Irish cattle rancher (played by Spencer Tracy of Irish descent) who is at odds with his half-brothers. R.J. is heavily bronzed for the role. For all the typical Old Hollywood clumsiness with racial identity and casting -- something that hasn't changed much in the subsequent 61 years (note: Rooney Mara as "Tiger Lily" in the forthcoming Pan) --  Broken Lance actually really sells the racial identity angst with something like humane progressive verve. Jean Peters, playing RJ's love interest Barbara, jokes that her man is more upset about being half Irish than half Indian in a clumsy date scene which results in both of them doing those cheery Old Holllywood fake chuckles as we dissolve out. Elsewhere, though, there's rich drama. Tracy's three sons from an earlier marriage, who serve as the plot's antagonists aren't always comfortable with their bi-racial home but neither are they painted as explicitly racist. Their "evil," if you will, arrives from a more complex mix of agendas and grudges against their father and you can see that the eldest actually respects his stepmom and youngest brother, even as he speaks out against them. In the films most sympathetically acted moment of strife, Tracy squares off with the Governor (E.G. Marshall), over their children's unexpected romance (pictured up top). The governor's discomfort with his daughter falling for his closest friend's bi-racial son-- a young man he otherwise likes quite a lot and has seen grow up, mind you -- clearly scars both men, tearing their decades long friendship apart. Prejudices hurt everyone, not just the target of the prejudice.

All in all Broken Lance is an engaging western with more ambitions than gunfights for a change of pace. And this is why we should always love the Oscars, people. Let others reflexively gripe about it and miss out. Awards history directs us to movies we might otherwise never see from before our time. And Oscar history, for all its imperfections and blindspots, can illuminate pop culture throughlines, introduce you to rich now underappreciated talents, and provide wonderful anecdotal bits and bobs from mainstream history, cinematic and otherwise.

I love doing the Smackdowns and I hope you do, too. If you wanted to vote on this round, I need your votes by this evening at the absolute latest. The 1954 Supporting Actress Smackdown arrives Sunday morning at 10:00 AM.