Winner: All About Eve
– Father of the Bride
– Born Yesterday
– Sunset Blvd.
– King Solomon’s Mines
King Solomon’s Mines *** out of ****
Director: Compton Bennett & Andrew Marton
Starring: Deborah Kerr,
Wins (2): Cinematography (Color), Film Edit
Nominations (3): Picture
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
King Solomon’s Mines is easily the weakest film in the bunch and quite unlike the others in both quality and genre. It’s also the only film in color. Deborah Kerr is Elizabeth, a woman on a quest with her brother to find her missing husband who disappeared in Africa in his search for King Solomon’s mines. They find themselves getting in and out of danger along the way and by the time they actually enter what they find out is King Solomon’s Mines (they were captured by an African tribe and locked into a cave), we see that it’s really only a small area with jewels here and there as well as the skeleton of Elizabeth’s husband. It’s not small to them, but the set is small. There is also a tiny flow of water leading through the small cavern and out of it and they use this to make their escape. What’s odd is that it is so obvious a way out, yet so many other unfortunate souls died before they found it.
Father of the Bride ***1/2 out of ****
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor
Nominations (3): Picture, Actor (Tracy), Screenplay,
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Naturally, my Father of the Bride experience comes from the 1991 film, starring Steve Martin as the father and Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride. I was rather humored to find out how similar it is to the original version, where Spencer Tracy is the father and Elizabeth Taylor the bride. Though coupled with the legendary actor, Taylor steals every scene she’s in. Tracy plays the father whose daughter has just told him the news of her engagement. The film is the story of his dealing with the news, handling of the planning, reaction to the expenses of a wedding and the letting go of his little girl who has blossomed into a beautiful woman ready to embark on her own. Spencer Tracy, like Jack Lemon, was a great actor, but one who relied too much on the same mannerisms that are prevalent from film to film. The difference being that Spencer Tracy wasn’t a comedic actor. However, Tracy seems almost obligated to undergo torturous situations all in the name of allowing his daughter to have a decent wedding. For instance, I don’t really see anyone ever having to undergo such absurd scenarios like spending an entire party as a bartender and using one’s own liquor stash just because the guests don’t understand that they should drink the premade beverages. A simple, “this is all we have” would’ve sufficed. Father of the Bride is very emotional and heartwarming and I imagine a film that was quite enjoyable to audiences at the time. Indeed, it was rather enjoyed by me 63 years later. As a side note, I realize as I’m writing this, the future father that I am, how watching either version of this film in the future is going to totally suck.
Born Yesterday ***1/2 out of ****
Director: George Cukor
Starring: Judy Holliday
Wins (1): Actress (Holliday)
Nominations (5): Picture, Director, Screenplay, Costume (B&W)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Billie (Judy Holliday) is the girlfriend of an unethical and crooked business man, Harry, who is visiting Washington DC to bribe politicians for the further profit of his own endeavors. It is recommended to Harry by his lawyer that he and Billie marry, since a wife cannot testify against her husband in court. The plan is to sign over all of his shady businesses over to Billie. Billie’s accent is borderline unintelligible and, as far as Harry is concerned, she’s not intelligent, either. So, he hires a journalist, Paul (William Holden), to tutor her. Paul discovers that Billie, when taught how to think for herself, is actually quite intelligent, indeed. What’s more, she loves to learn and surrounds herself with books. She catches on to Harry’s plan and refuses to sign over his property to her name and instead, she and Paul blackmail Harry into leaving them alone so that they can get married. Judy Holliday’s performance as the ignorant and oblivious blonde wins her the Oscar for Best Actress, which would have been an interesting race considering Gloria Swanson’s haunting performance in Sunset Boulevard, I’m sure.
All About Eve **** out of ****
Director: Joseph L. Makiewicz
Starring: Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, George Sandesr, Cleste Holm, Thelma Ritter
Wins (6): Picture, Director, S. Actor, Screenplay, Sound, Costume (B&W)
Nominations (14): Actress (Baxter), Actress (Davis), S. Actress (Holm), S. Actress (Ritter), Drama/Comedy Score, Art Direction (B&W), Cinematography (B&W), Film Edit
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
This is a great story of one not being what they seem and, by sheer manipulation, claws one’s way to the top of the theatre elite. All About Eve is a classic that doesn’t necessarily stand as high on my list as others’, but it’s definitely a stand-out film. All About Eve is not the only film in this group to begin with the voiced-over ending and then go back and spend the rest of the film telling the story up to that point. The film starts with Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) receiving an award rather graciously and thanking her “friends” as the camera pans across the deadpan faces of these “friends” at a table. We go back in time to find the young Eve as a plain, homely, star-struck girl who has followed actress, Margo Channing (Bette Davis) around on tour. Margo takes very kindly to Eve’s fawning and makes Eve her assistant, clearing a path into her inner circle. From there, Eve manipulates and double-crosses her way into the good graces of Margo and it’s not long before her niceties and presumed innocence inspire nausea among Margo’s close friends, Karen, Lloyd and Bill, who begin to see Eve for who she truly is. Eve’s manipulations earn her a spot as Margo’s understudy and eventually takes Margo’s spot in the play. Eve is eventually found out by all and her past is uncovered, revealing a completely different person than what she at first seemed. All About Eve is strong in the acting department with 5 nominations & 1 win) and the writing isn’t so bad, either, winning Best Screenplay , which was the equivalent of today’s Adapted Screenplay category. I really like Marilyn Monroe’s bit part in the film, as well.
Should Have Won
Sunset Boulevard **** out of ****
Director: Billy Wilder
Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson
Wins (3): Story/Screenplay, Drama/Comedy Score, Art Direction (B&W)
Nominations (11): Picture, Director, Actor (Holden), Actress (Swanson), S. Actor (von Stroheim), S. Actress (Olson), Cinematography (B&W), Film Edit
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Sunset Boulevard opens with Joe’s (William Holden) dead body floating in the pool of an old, gaunt mansion and it’s his voice that narrates the story of the events leading up to his death. Joe was a Hollywood writer in debt and in trouble and, turning off of Sunset Boulevard and into a dark and dank driveway to escape his collectors, he stumbles upon the rundown estate of former silver screen Hollywood star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). She’s disillusioned to the point that she is attempting to restart her career by writing a script for a film in which she will star. She hires Joe to edit her script and though the young writer sees immediately that the script is garbage, he takes advantage of the income and free place to stay. On the verge of mental collapse, Desmond is oblivious to her dying fame and suffers from depression. Joe does little to rebuff Desmond’s advances with any real gusto and she quickly falls in love with him; a feeling that turns into a dangerous obsession. Joe develops a professional and personal relationship with another woman writer, Schaefer, and finds the love triangle unbearable. Joe brings Betty to Desmond’s house and ends both relationships, causing Desmond to shoot Joe in the back where he lands face down in the pool. Desmond has officially let go of any grasp on reality she once had. She thinks the police are the film crew and the former silver screen star descends the stairs as if arriving on the set; ending the film with one of the greatest lines in movie history. Sunset Boulevard received acting nominations in each category and won Best Story and Screenplay, which is the equivalent of today’s Original Screenplay. Sunset Boulevard is easily the most original and unique film in the group, showing elements of noir with its tone and mood.