Oscar History

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

"Still amazes me every time That it's a real film. It always feels too good to be true, but it is!" -Roger

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Entries in Oscars (60s) (117)


Oscar Horrors: Japan's Ghost Story "Kwaidan"

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we'll look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's Dancin' Dan on a spooky Japanese beauty...

Have any of you ever seen Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan? I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't. Even among Japanese films, it's not much talked about today, though it deserves to be. Kwaidan is a rarity in so many ways - an omnibus film made by one director, a truly artful horror film, a groundbreaking work of art. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1965 (losing to the heartrending The Shop on Main Street from Czechoslovakia), and it's a bit hard to imagine it getting that far today, even with its arthouse bona fides like a Special Jury Prize at Cannes...

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Oscar Horrors: "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening 'til Halloween we look back on a horror-connected Oscar nomination. Here's David on the cinematography of a camp classic...

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is hardly remembered as a horror classic; its camp reputation precedes it, as its recent appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars attests. (Only the finest for that crop of drag queens!) While the film is not what we might traditionally think of as a horror film, it has the same elements of lost souls, grotesque faces and physical cruelty that you might expect from any product of the genre. Just one year after Alfred Hitchcock changed the genre forever with Psycho, Baby Jane features a close-up of Joan Crawford’s face mushed against the floor - an eerie recall of Janet Leigh’s glassy-eyed demise.

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And The Winner Is... Julie. No, the Other Julie.

137 days until the Oscars. Random Trivia Attack!

Did you know that Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music) losing to Julie Christie (Darling) for the 1965 Best Actress Oscar is one of only two times that the Best Actress winner has beaten a fellow nominee with the same first name?! Now you do!

The Only Other Time It Happened
1989 Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) beating Jessica Lange (Music Box)

P.S. Though if you aren't terrible strict about it you could say three times given the case of Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets) and Helena Bonham Carter (Wings of Dove) but that one hurts to bring up so never mind!


Shock Corridor (1963)

1963 is our "year of the month". Here's Sean Donovan on Shock Corridor

In Robert Polito’s Criterion Collection essay on Samuel Fuller’s 1963 film Shock Corridor, the firebrand filmmaker Fuller is quoted saying “it is not the headline that counts, but how hard you shout it.” This spirit of loud, unabashed aggression perfectly epitomizes Shock Corridor, a singular, strange entry in the cinema of 1963. The film follows an ambitious journalist Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) who gets himself committed to a mental hospital (after faking incestuous urges in a meeting with psychiatrists) to crack a mysterious murder case from the inside-out, hoping to get the secrets from the inmates on their own level. If it sounds like the makings of a sleazy pulp fiction novel, that’s exactly what is.

Shock Corridor is pure b-movie Hollywood gutter trash, but with Samuel Fuller at the helm, it becomes something fascinatingly independent and bizarre... 

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The Furniture: Comedy by Design in Come Blow Your Horn

1963 is our "Year of the Month" for September. So we'll be celebrating its films randomly throughout the month. Here's Daniel Walber...

Once upon a time, there were two production design categories at the Oscars. From 1945 through 1956, and again from 1959 through 1966, color films and black and white films competed separately. The Academy nominated ten films every year after 1950, creating a whole lot more room for variety.

This especially benefited comedy, a genre that has since fallen out of favor with Oscar. And while Come Blow Your Horn might not be the funniest of the 1960s, it is certainly one of the most deserving nominees of the era. Adapted by Norman Lear from a Neil Simon play, this Frank Sinatra vehicle stages most of its antics in one of cinema’s most luxurious apartments, the work of art directors Roland Anderson (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Hal Pereira (Vertigo) and set decorators Sam Comer (Rear Window) and James W. Payne (The Sting).

Sinatra plays Alan Baker, a salesman for his family’s plastic fruit business. His boss and father, Harry (Lee J. Cobb), is perpetually enraged by his son’s libertine Manhattan lifestyle. Harry and his wife Sophie, played by Yiddish theater legend Molly Picon, live a quiet life in Yonkers with their much younger son, Buddy (Tony Bill). But when Buddy runs away from home to live large with Alan, all hell breaks loose.

Alan's apartment in question is a spotless and opulent apotheosis of mid-century design. The open living room makes the place seem enormous...

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One Week Left to Watch ___________ 

It's a massacre of available older streaming titles this month although there aren't very many major titles among them. [Disclaimer: Netflix hasn't announced yet so all of these titles are Amazon Prime but bear in mind that the Amazon Prime titles are not "official". They don't ever publish that list much to the frustration of their customers! So this info gathered from users about expiration notices they've seen on their personal watch lists. Sometimes it changes abruptly.

Let's play our game where we freeze frame them at very random places and see what pops up. Okay? Okay.

Mrs Doyle: I'd like to see that file.
Police Inspector: I'd be very happy to show it to you. 

Crime of Passion (1957)
My god Barbara Stanwyck's voice. It gets me every time. Everything sounds so subliminally erotic. In this one she's married to a detective but bored into ambitious dangerous action.

Five more after the jump...

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The Furniture: Fantastic Voyage's Absurd Anatomy

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber... 

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage, as absurd and beautiful a film as Hollywood has ever made. It’s also a testament to what live action science fiction used to be like, before digital technology gave directors the tools to make every fantasy look realistic.

Inspired by the arms races of the Cold War, it chronicles a submarine trip into the tumorous brain of a brilliant scientist. The mission is to eliminate his cancer with a tiny laser, save his life, and preserve his miniaturization knowledge for the USA. It’s utterly ridiculous. Isaac Asimov, alarmed by the script’s plot holes, demanded the right to fix all of its problems for his novelization.

Of course, that might classify him as a bit of a fuddy-duddy. Trips into the body wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if they were realistic. If anything, they’d probably gross out the audience. 

Pixar understood this, creating an entirely new organ system for Inside Out. Fleischer’s team for Fantastic Voyage also prioritized the striking over the reasonable.

Much of this success is, of course, due to the production design...

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