Friday, March 13, 2015

The 1957 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1957.  This is one of the first 'classic years' that I thoroughly indulged in, and yet I'm sure, just like with every one of these Fisti Awards posts, I'm going to get recommendations from fellow bloggers that I never even heard of.  Despite it's small showing here, I'm actually a fan of Oscars big winner; The Bridge on the River Kwai.  It's a very well made spectacle of a film, and it's truly an engaging and entertaining's just not my favorite of the year.  As I'm sure you're beginning to notice, I love foreign films, and I seek them out with pure abandon as I try to fill in the gaps of my personal viewing lists, and so names like Fellini, Godard and Bergman are going to be names you read a lot while scanning through my personal awards.  This year we have a Best Picture ballot that covers a wide range of genres and themes, from romance to drama to musical to comedy, from infidelity, love lost, spiritual conundrums, war and moral ethics.  I'm proud of it!  This is also one of those rare years where the bulk of the awards go to two films, each taking five and no other film winning more than one.  So, without any further ado, here are the Fisti Awards for 1957!

Awards Tally

[5 Wins]
The Cranes are Flying
Les Girls

[1 Win]
An Affair to Remember
The Bridge on the River Kwai
A Farewell to Arms
Man of a Thousand Faces
The Seventh Seal
Sweet Smell of Success
Wild Strawberries


  1. Although I have yet to catch up with The Cranes are Flying, my biggest blind spot for this year it would seem, truly outstanding films weren't that difficult to pick, I think that shows in the fact that our best picture lineups are completely different!

    A Face in the Crowd-Winner
    Paths of Glory
    12 Angry Men
    Wild Strawberries
    Witness for the Prosecution
    I hadn't seen Wild Strawberries when I had compiled this before and found it extraordinarily moving and bumped Bridge Over the River Kwai to six position, Strawberries would be my number 3 choice now after my winner and Witness. Paths looks at different aspects of war expertly and Angry Men could be a textbook illustration of how to translate a stage work/teleplay to film but then so could Witness. I went with Face in the Crowd though because like Ace in the Hole it has stayed pertinent as the years have passed, considering their subject matter not such a great thing.

    Ingmar Bergman-Wild Strawberries
    Delmer Daves-12 Angry Men-Winner
    Elia Kazan-A Face in the Crowd
    Stanley Kubrick-Paths of Glory
    Billy Wilder-Witness for the Prosecution
    What a year Bergman had with Seventh Seal, which I liked but didn't love, and Wild Strawberries. My choice is still Daves economical filming of nothing but the necessary shots that makes 12 Angry Men such riveting viewing.

    James Cagney-Man of a 1,000 Faces
    Tony Curtis-Sweet Smell of Success
    Andy Griffith-A Face in the Crowd
    Charles Laughton-Witness for the Prosecution-Winner
    Victor Sjostrom-Wild Strawberries
    What an amazing year for male lead performances! To get the five on my ballot I had to eliminate: Marlon Brando-Sayonara, Henry Fonda-12 Angry Men, Tony Franciosa-A Hatful of Rain, Kirk Douglas-Paths of Glory, Ben Gazzara-The Strange One, Alec Guinness-The Bridge on the River Kwai, Glenn Ford & Van Heflin-3:10 to Yuma, William Holden-Bridge on the River Kwai, Robert Mitchum-Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, Anthony Perkins-Fear Strikes Out and Frank Sinatra-The Joker is Wild. Out of them all though Laughton's has to be the most bemused and comfortably lived in. He's just great.

    Dorothy Malone-The Tarnished Angels
    Guilietta Masina-The Nights of Cabiria
    Patricia Neal-A Face in the Crowd-Winner
    Ruth Roman-5 Steps to Danger
    Joanne Woodward-The Three Faces of Eve
    5 Steps to Danger is a decent enough spy flick but would be nothing special without Roman's excellent portrait of a woman pursued. Malone's beaten down Laverne shows that she was able to do more subdued work than the flashy Marylee. I liked Nights of Cabiria, certainly more than the absolutely awful remake Sweet Charity, but didn't love it however Masina was customarily excellent in it. It's easy to see why Joanne Woodward won for her powerful, varied work in Eve but I found Patricia Neal's betrayed Marcia more compelling.

    1. This really was such an exceptional year. I have seen all of your BP nominees and I do like them, at least most of them. I really don't like 12 Angry Men, like at all, and find it awfully overrated, and A Face in the Crowd rubs me the wrong way at times, but there are aspects of both that I do like. Witness for the Prosecution is a great courtroom drama, and Wild Strawberries, while one of my lesser Bergman favorites, is a really moving film. Paths of Glory is a film that I appreciate more than I like, if that makes sense.

      I'm so glad that you loved Masina and Neal...such incredible performances. Woodward is one of favorite classic actresses, but I hated The Three Faces of Eve and found little depth in her performance, mostly due to the horrid script. Still, she makes my Top Twelve for her technical achievement.

      LOVE that you nominate Cagney!

    2. Um, didn't Sidney Lumet direct 12 Angry Men?

    3. Ah, I meant to correct that too...Daves directed 3:10 to Yuma (and I'd much prefer he land on your ballot than Lumet, to be honest) ;-)

    4. Three Faces of Eve is very dated as most films about mental illness from this period are now but I do think Woodward found as much in the role as she could. She was hardly first choice, some of the other proposed actresses make sense: Judy Garland who was the director's first choice but the studio turned down because they were worried about her reliability. The studio's first choice Susan Hayward turned it down because she was enmeshed in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband and had also recently married a second time. Eva Marie Saint turned it down to do Hatful of Rain then Carroll Baker was cast but had to drop out due to pregnancy. There were also some more questionable candidates: June Allyson who wanted to do it but was convinced by her husband, Dick Powell, that she wasn't right for it. Though I like her I'd have to agree with him. Also Ann Blyth who was considered but judged temperamentally wrong for the part. Probably all for the best since this is the film that made of star of Joanne.

    5. Woodward was an extraordinary talent, and so I'm glad that she became a star after this, but I just wish she had won the Oscar for one of her many other more accomplished works.

      Eva Marie Saint, who I always feel deserves to be regarded better than she is, would have been an interesting fit here, as would have Judy Garland. It always pains me that Garland actually doesn't have an Oscar.

    6. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH Judy in Three Faces of Eve... now THAT would have been interesting (even though it probably would have pushed her off the deep end).

      ...and this is why you need to have your own blog, Joel, so you can post these wonderful tidbits and share them with the younger generation, who do not know from Old Hollywood! ;-)

    7. Once again, I'm right there with you Daniel! Joel NEEDS to blog all of this stuff...but then again, I'm more than happy to have him leave it all here in comments!

    8. "I really don't like 12 Angry Men, like at all, and find it awfully overrated"


    9. LOL, I'm very aware that I'm a minority when it comes to my feelings on the film :-P

  2. Supporting Actor:
    Jack Carson-The Tarnished Angels
    Burt Lancaster-The Sweet Smell of Success-Winner
    Walter Matthau-A Face in the Crowd
    Adolphe Menjou-Paths of Glory
    George Peppard-The Strange One
    Wow we have almost completely different line-ups again. Any one of the actors in 12 Angry Men could have competed here, except for Fonda who was clearly the lead, but it was such an ensemble it was impossible to single any particular performer out. I particularly liked the always underappreciated Carson as the hapless sidekick in Angels but I would have still gone with the venomous J.J. Hunsecker created by Lancaster over any other actor.

    Supporting Actress:
    Joan Blondell-Desk Set
    Marlene Dietrich-Witness for the Prosecution-Winner
    Kay Kendall-Les Girls
    Elsa Lanchester-Witness for the Prosecution
    Hope Lange-Peyton Place
    Joan is the perfect sassy partner to Kate's efficient Bunny and anyone who can stand out in a Tracy/Hepburn picture besides them deserves recognition. Hope Lange gives a superior reading of fragile, broken Selena Cross amongst the posturing of Peyton Place and Kay Kendall is hysterical as the flighty Sybil in Les Girls. As much as I loved Elsa Lanchester as the blustery Miss Plimsoll no one could compete with Marlene Dietrich's work as Christine Vole. She's sensational, I think this is her best ever performance.

    Hovering just outside of my top is Beverly Garland in The Joker is Wild. A very fine interpretation of a role that could have been a nothing. That's why she didn't make the top five, the role just didn't give her enough to do. I also really liked Mitzi Gaynor's performance in Les Girls but the brilliant Kay engaged me slightly more. Also Ingrid Thulin in Strawberries, again another category with a wealth of choices!

    A small side note that's Taina Elg's picture over Mitzi Gaynor's entry in supporting actress.

    1. First, I will eventually stop embarrassing myself with posting the wrong pictures. These older films are hard because I'm limited to a Google image search to find the pics, and a lot of them have very few images available, and apparently they are also labeled wrong!

      It's been fixed.

      For me, while Kay was the feisty one and had that flashier performance, there was something about the way that Gaynor really lingered in every scene. She was just out of reach until she needed to step up, but she was always there...and I felt her the strongest.

      I really need to see The Tarnished Angels.

    2. Mitzi would be in my sixth slot, I do think she's very skillful in the film for the reasons you mentioned. I just love Kay Kendall so much and find her a delight in whatever she's in. Her star period was so brief, she had come to prominence a few years earlier in England in the film Genevieve, this was her first really big Hollywood picture and she only made two more films, one of which was released posthumously, before her death from leukemia at 33 in 1959.

    3. Oh my, I didn't realize her flame burned for such a short time. That's terrible. I've heard of Genevieve...I'll need to check that one out ASAP.

    4. Genevieve is a cute little comedy whose humor is VERY British.

      The story of Kay's illness has some odd twists and turns. She had fallen in love with Rex Harrison when they appeared in The Constant Husband in 1955 despite the fact that he was married to actress Lilli Palmer. Shortly after he was told by her doctors that she was incurably ill and they together decided not to tell her fearing the news would crush her spirit. She was told she was anemic and suffering from an iron deficiency which would periodically leave her feeling depleted and needing hospitalization.

      He also revealed the news to Palmer asking her to divorce him so that he could marry Kay, care for her until the inevitable came to pass at which point they would remarry. Lilli, who had stood by him after actress Carole Landis had committed suicide partly over his refusal to leave Lilli for her, agreed to the plan and granted the divorce though in the intervening time she fell in love and married someone else whom she remained with the rest of her life.

      During this time both were enjoying career highs, Harrison had just opened in the original production of My Fair Lady and Kay was moving up the ladder with a major success in Simon & Laura in England and then the three Hollywood films, one with Harrison, until her collapse shortly after completion of her last film and her sudden death almost immediately afterwards. She never learned the truth about her illness.

      Such an enormous talent gone so soon. Don't know if you've seen The Reluctant Debutante, that was her last film with Harrison, but she is dazzling in it.

    5. This is all so tragic and extremely interesting! I will seen out The Reluctant Debutante ASAP!

  3. I remember not liking Les Girls when I first saw it years ago, but I guess I should try it again, given your love for it!

    The second I saw The Cranes Are Flying (deservedly) get your Best Picture, I just knew Tatyana would take what was rightfully Giulietta's. The two of them, along with Patricia, Joanna, and Audrey (for Funny Face) would be my Best Actress nominees. And I would have a hard time choosing between Neal and Masina, especially since I would have just given Masina the award for La Strada.

    I'm kind of surprised you don't like Twelve Angry Men - what is it you don't care for? I think it's a marvel of film economy: each shot and cut matters and is perfectly placed for maximum impact. Very effective at putting you in the shoes of these characters. And the performances are SO good. Also, it's an Adapted Screenplay - Reginald Rose originally wrote it for TV and it was produced in 1954.

    1. Masina is great, so great, but Tatyana is just the beating heart of a truly incredible film. I couldn't NOT give her the win, and Masina did just win the year prior for her superior work (in my eyes), so I'm ok with letting her play also-ran here.

      12 Angry Men just never rested well with me. It felt so stagy and stagnant despite the obvious energy coming from the cast. I also am not a fan of Fonda for the most part and found his performance so dull. I never really connected to the story, mostly because I couldn't really care about any of the characters much...they all felt like people I'd want to punch in the face, and not in a way that made me engaged.

      But, I'm really in the minority, and I'm aware of that.

    2. I love Masina in everything I've seen her in, but to me Cabiria is her best work (as much as I ADORE Gelsomina).

      I can see that about 12 Angry Men - the further we get from the time in which it's set, the more the characters feel like broad stereotypes, and if you don't like Fonda then you're SOL because he's the most "likable". But I think what Lumet does actually takes it out of the stagebound realm into which it should be locked. It's one of the most dynamic one-set films ever made. And the subject matter is, shockingly, still relevant (and I can say this because I recently saw a stage production of it and couldn't believe that some of those conversations don't sound all that far removed from the ones people still have today).

    3. I do agree with you that it is extremely relevant. I'll give it that. In many ways, it's a timeless story, which is a shame because time should have changed the way people think about certain things.

  4. Oh such a great year and The Seventh Seal gets my seal of approval (nyuck, Nyuck). I fell in love with this film when I first saw it years ago. I love Kay Kendall in Les Girls and she left us way too soon. I have to give the Oscar to Marlene Dietrich and best actor to Charles Laughton. I also feel 12 Angry Men is a great film and deserves an Oscar for best screenplay (not sure if it is original or adapted). Love these write ups (Fisti's)!

    1. Dietrich was exceptional!

      I'm glad that you enjoy my personal awards :-D

  5. Great post! I confess that I haven't seen most of these films. I did see The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries though, and I loved both of them, especially Wild Strawberries. I'll add The Cranes Are Flying to my list.

    1. I hope you get to see The Cranes are Flying soon! It's one of my all time favorites. Such a tragic and painfully honest look at war and the effects it has on everyone left behind. The final scene crushes me.

  6. Oh SO many films to watch!! I'm glad you had An Affair to Remember in the Best Picture lineup, LOVE that film, I gave it a 5/5 which I rarely do. I'd have put Deborah Kerr in Best Actress before I put Grant in Best Actor though, but that's just me. Great job on these award posts, Drew!

    1. I loved them both SO MUCH, but this may be my favorite Grant performance. That final scene, in the apartment, was just so incredible and showed the range that Grant had that so many seem to forget.

      Sadly, for Kerr, Lead Actress is just so strong. She's my #6, honestly. I debated putting her in over Marie Saint, since I don't really care for A Hatful of Rain as a film, but Marie Saint's performance is just so rich.

  7. Awesome job! I've actually seen all but 5 of the nominees. :)

    The Cranes Are Flying, Les Girls, Sweet Smell of Success, and The Bridge on the River Kwai are brilliant, and you know I LOVE those Bergman acting wins. Now that I have Wild Strawberries in this year, I'm not sure if Andersson (for The Seventh Seal) is still my winner. I might switch to Thulin, which would give her 3 wins!

    1. Which five haven't you seen yet?

      Thulin is just SO GOOD in Wild Strawberries, and I didn't love that film as much as so many do...but she was undeniable for me...such a beautifully layered and balanced performance that had such a memorable arc.

    2. I haven't seen A Hatful of Rain, A Farewell to Arms, Band of Angels, Designing Women, and Jailhouse Rock.

      Thulin and Bergman made sweet music together. Then again, he got so much great work from his actresses.

    3. Bergman really was such an incredible 'actors' director. Like, there are so many acting noms/wins that I dole out to his films.