Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The 1961 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1961.  My GOD do I love this year.  This is one of those years where every category for me was so rich and so full of viable contenders that narrowing my fields down was really, really hard.  I'm kicking myself for missing the opportunity to see The Mark when it aired on TCM.  I didn't realize that it was impossible to find on DVD.  I'm not sure how the film would have worked into my already really tight ballots, but I love me some Rod Steiger (seriously, one of the greatest actors of any generation) and so I really want to see the film.


Anyways, this year, for Oscar anyways, was all about West Side Story, and it's easy to see why!  The movie won TEN Oscars, which is, like, incredible.  It doesn't win ten Fistis, but I love the movie.  I do have a film that does kind of sweep for me this year though, winning seven awards.  But, that doesn't mean that they rest of the year is that much lower than it.  This is one of my favorite collective ballots, with my Best Picture and Lead Actress ballots especially being two of my favorite collective ballots of all time, and my Lead Actor winner is my all time favorite performance, period.  I also have one person who was nominated three times in the same category (I'll let you find that one) and just a whole bunch of awesomeness going on.

Also, the Italians were strong this year; like REALLY strong.

Alright, here we go; the Fisti Awards for 1961!

Awards Tally

[7 Wins]
Rocco and His Brothers

[4 Wins]
The Innocents

[1 Win]
The Absent-Minded Professor
The Misfits
Pocketful of Miracles
A Raisin in the Sun
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
West Side Story


  1. I'm so terribly behind in my foreign film viewing for this year. I haven't seen any of your three foreign nominees! I consider La Dolce Vita a real blind spot miss and keep meaning to catch it, now I'll add Rocco and His Brothers and La Notte to that list.

    Breakfast at Tiffany's
    The Hustler-Winner
    Judgement at Nuremberg
    The Misfits
    West Side Story
    I really love Tiffany's best but Mickey Rooney's horrid work in it nudges it out. Instead I went with the spare Hustler for it's wonderful economy in telling it's story.

    Jack Clayton-The Innocents
    Blake Edwards-Breakfast at Tiffany's
    John Huston-The Misfits
    Stanley Kramer-Judgement at Nuremberg
    Robert Rossen-The Hustler
    Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins-West Side Story-Winners
    With its infamously hellish production it's a wonder Huston ended up with any sort of cohesive film at all, that he managed something so strange yet compelling deserves recognition. Capote hated that Blake Edwards changed his tale of two grabbers into a bittersweet romance but cinematically he improved on the original. Clayton nails the eerie tone of foreboding perfectly in the Innocents and Rossen exposes the seamy, smoky underside of the world of pool hustlers while still managing to make them fascinating to watch. WSS missed being my best picture by the terrible miscasting of the leads but aside from that is an awesome achievement of blending storytelling and dance and Wise & Robbins's ability to combine all the elements so well deserves the prize.

    Dirk Bogarde-Victim-Winner
    James Cagney-One Two Three
    Clark Gable-The Misfits
    Paul Newman-The Hustler
    Spencer Tracy-Judgement at Nuremberg
    Two giants, Gable and Cagney, bowed out this year with some of their finest work and Tracy's solid imperturbability keeps the long, grueling Nuremberg, which is full of nomination worthy work, on track while Newman's Fast Eddie is one of his finest creations. All are superb but I still thought Bogarde's richly textured Victim best.

    Ingrid Bergman-Goodbye Again
    Audrey Hepburn-Breakfast at Tiffany's
    Hayley Mills-Whistle Down the Wind
    Marilyn Monroe-The Misfits
    Natalie Wood-Splendor in the Grass-Winner
    Runner-ups: Deborah Kerr-The Innocents, Sophia Loren-Two Women
    We're pretty far apart, I haven't seen two of your choices including your winner, but there were so many great performances. I love Kerr and Loren's work, just the first five somewhat more. I was really delighted to find such a beautiful Bergman portrait in the otherwise neglible Goodbye Again but making a selection wasn't tough at all. I know you're not a fan of her work here but Natalie Wood truly understood the troubled Deanie. I think this is the best she ever was, it's almost painful to watch her suffering at times but always riveting.

    1. La Dolce Vita is such a MUST SEE for cinephiles. It's my favorite Fellini, but that isn't saying much since, like, all his films are favorites. Still, it's such a beautiful, brilliant film. If Rocco and His Brothers had come out a different year, La Dolce Vita would be my winner in every category they share, since it's my runner-up in Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay (my Score runner-up is La Notte).

      You are so right about Rooney's atrocious performance in Tiffany's. He's the reason that I don't love that film as much as I think I should.

      Bogarde and Bergman are both my #6 in their respective categories. This year is just so rich. I'm sad that you don't nominate Beatty, considering that you love the film so much. I didn't care much for the film, and you know how I feel about Wood, but I thought it was Beatty's most natural performance to, for real.

      Once more, you mention films I have yet to see and really should. I love Cagney (like, top 5 actors of all time LOVE) and so I really need to see One Two Three. I also need to see Whistle Down the Wind!

  2. Supporting Actor:
    Alan Bates-Whistle Down the Wind
    Montgomery Clift-The Misfits-Winner
    Peter Falk-Pocketful of Miracles
    Jackie Gleason-The Hustler
    George C. Scott-The Hustler
    Wallach just missed my line-up, he wonderful in Misfits. The Hustler men and Bates's presumed Jesus are stunning but my choice was between two wildly different characters. Falk's Joy Boy is an exuberant comic delight but Clift IS the broken Perce. It's sad to see the brilliant actor in such a sorry state but he channels his dissipation into making his character compelling as he did in Nuremberg which I see was your choice of his two stellar pieces of work from this year.

    Supporting Actress:
    Judy Garland-Judgement at Nuremberg
    Piper Laurie-The Hustler
    Lotte Lenya-The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
    Vera Miles-Back Street
    Rita Moreno-West Side Story-Winner
    We share some nominees! Ruby Dee was excellent, even though I didn't care for Raisin, but she'd be my seventh choice behind Katy Jurado in One-Eyed Jacks who I hated to leave off.

    Back Street is an overheated soaper that buries its story under plush trappings but cutting through the suds is Vera Miles in a delightful, vicious performance as a harridan of gigantic proprotions. Lotte Lenya does the near impossible and steals scenes from Vivien Leigh as the rapacious Contessa in Mrs. Stone. Nuremberg allows Judy to show what a skillful dramatic actress she could be, a talent more or less wasted by Hollywood. Piper's intricate work as Sarah in The Hustler is sensational, but since she will be my winner in '95 for The Grass Harp and I love Rita's zesty Anita in WSS, surely the showpiece performance in the film, equally she earns the golden man as she did from the academy.

    I did catch The Mark on that TCM showing, had never heard of it before. The acting was good, unsurprisingly but it was heavy going.

    1. UGH, now I really wish I'd seen The Mark.

      I liked Falk, but he's like #12 for me. It was a nice comedic performance, but it was also kind of light, but I didn't love the film either. This year was just so strong all around. I love that Clift is your winner, and I also love that you note him for The Misfits, which I probably should have included in my Top 12. For me though, Wallach is it. His whole character development is just astonishing to me.

      I really want to see Back Street and One-Eyed Jacks!

      Moreno is my runner-up and I was very tempted to give her the win, but Dee just breaks my heart, and it was the one place where I could reward a film I really loved and an actress I really love.

  3. Aw, no love for Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass? I think she's so much better there than in West Side Story (although her performance in the musical is unfairly denigrated - just because she didn't do her own singing doesn't mean it's a bad performance).

    I also think Judy Garland is terribly underrated in Nuremberg. The only reason she wouldn't win for me is that Rita Moreno is giving only one of the greatest screen performances of ALL TIME in West Side Story.

    I also have a bit of a weakness for Pocketful of Miracles in general and Bette Davis in it specifically, so she'd probably break into that category.

    Your Best Actor category is perfect - except for Mastroianni. I'd put Bogarde in his spot. Or Schell (I have a weakness for speechifying when it's done well).

    The only film you mention repeatedly here that I don't like is La Notte. But I haven't seen an Antonioni film I really like yet.

    1. I LOVE Pocketful of Miracles too. Such a charmer of a fairy tale, Bette's terrific as is Thomas Mitchell but my absolute favorite in it is Peter Falk's Joy Boy, he's my best supporting actor runner up.

    2. I was also looking for Schell. He's awesome in Judgment at Nuremberg.

    3. I just didn't like Wood much at all in Splendor in the Grass. It's such a scattered and melodramatic performance, and I know that the film is melodramatic (and I also didn't care for it a whole lot), but there was something about the second half of her performance (that final scene aside) that didn't connect with me.

      Garland is everything! I had a real hard time with my Supporting Actress ballot. I mean, I could have nominated 6 (Vitti KILLED ME to leave off) and I could have had a three way tie for winner because Moreno, Dee and Garland are all just BEYOND exceptional.

      I have this same problem in 2005.

      No love for Mastroianni? This makes me sad. He's so naturally 'on it' with every performance that I guess it's easy to dismiss him as being 'the best', but it's that natural suave delivery that makes him such an incredible talent. He's my runner-up, and if La Dolce Vita weren't in contention this year, he'd be my runner-up for La Notte.

      Bogarde was #6 for me.

      I didn't like Schell at all, actually.

      I like Pocketful of Miracles, but I don't love it and even though I like it, I don't like it a lot. Like, it's pretty and sweet and has charm, but it's also kind of forgettable and doesn't make any real impact on me, other than visually.

    4. If I'm being honest, La Dolce Vita only strikes me on a purely visual level. I don't think the acting is all that special, unlike in, say, 8 1/2. I LOVE Mastroianni, don't get me wrong, but I don't think he's GREAT in La Dolce Vita.

      You don't like Schell AT ALL? Explain.

      Yeah, I know Pocketful of Miracles isn't great, but Bette Davis just gets me every damn time. It's a sentimental favorite. And Joel, I agree - Falk is a lot of fun as Joy Boy.

    5. I just felt like Schell was trying too hard. He didn't fit the film for me. I also have this thing against performances that solely rely on long speeches to make their impact. Spencer Tracy made a deeper more soulful and honest impact by hanging back and using such restraint in his delivery.

    6. I can accept that, I guess. He does maybe overdo it a little, but I just think he's so riveting. Nuremberg is a LOOOOOOOOOOONG slog of a movie, and those long-ass speeches have the potential to die right there, but he really brings them alive. I couldn't look away. I remember thinking Tracy was also very good, although I haven't seen the film in a while and his performance didn't stay in my mind as much as Schell, Garland, and Clift.

    7. I think the Supporting performances in the film benefit from the condensed screentime. In a film that is very long, they come in and slam you with this incredible moment, and then they leave. You remember them the most because they didn't have time to overdo anything or ware out their welcome. They came, threw down the gauntlet and walked off stage.

  4. I still need to see sooo many films here. Oooh, another film of Alain Delon to watch ;-) Rocco and His Brothers sounds intriguing, and really I'd watch it just for Delon, he's such a beautiful man. Thankfully he's a good actor too!

    1. Delon is good, and he plays Rocco, but he's more of an observer, watching the swirl of emotion that surrounds his brother and his mistress. SEE IT! It's one of my all time favorite films!

  5. Sooooo...I'm adding Rocco and His Brothers to my to-watch list. Glad to see the love for A Raisin in the Sun. Torn about the win for Ruby Dee, though. It's a great performance, no doubt, but Moreno was such a force of nature in WSS it's hard for me not to give it to her. Gleason was incredible in The Hustler. Great post!

    1. Gleason was really good, and his performance gets better for me the more I think about it. In fact, The Hustler really is so rich with performances. I love all four (obviously). I do wish that I liked the film more.

      Watch Rocco and His Brothers ASAP!

      Like I've said a couple times now, Supporting Actress was VERY hard to pin down, from nominees to winner, because there were so many incredible performances. Moreno and Garland especially were right there on the cuff of winning, but this was a place for me to reward a film I really loved but couldn't reward elsewhere.

  6. These are amazing! Like, I LOVE all of these. Have you seen A Woman Is a Woman?

    Lover Come Back was *this* close to making my O. Screenplay lineup. I actually have quite a soft spot for the Doris Day-Rock Hudson rom-coms.

    Rocco and His Brothers is loosely based on an episode from a novel. Did you throw that out for the Original classification?

    Love that we both give The Innocents Best Sound, and that Song win for "O Willow Waly" (my #2) is brilliant!

    1. I haven't seen A Woman is a Woman! I had it on my list and it was queued up and then I got sidetracked and I forgot to double check before I went ahead and made images and it wasn't until you DM'd me the other day you actress lineup that I remembered I hadn't actually watched it yet.

      And you know how much I love Godard!!!

      I'll see it eventually, and there may be some adjustments made to this post :-D

      Lover Come Back is so good, right? I mean, it's so sexist, but like it's the perfect rom-com. I loved it, and the dialog was so sharp, so witty, so modern and quotable and suggestive and just awesome. I actually watched that one with my daughter, not expecting that it was going to be I'm glad it was late and she fell asleep :-P

      I saw that Rocco was a loose base on a novella, but those are always a tad tricky. I mean, the Coen brothers have done that a few times, and yet I believe they're always considered Original works.

      Maybe I should put it in Adapted, so that I can give La Dolce Vita a win! I mean, it's my #2 of the year and it wins NOTHING!

      The Innocents is kind of a horror masterpiece!

    2. A Woman Is a Woman is a great precursor to Pierrot le Fou. Fingers crossed for a Godard update!

      Haha, I love Tony Randall in those rom-coms. I even own all 3 of them! Stanley Shapiro does get a CinSpec nod for Pillow Talk, incidentally.

      Yeah, that screenplay classification can be iffy. I didn't realize La Dolce Vita went home empty-handed. Maybe you should move Rocco. ;)

      The Innocents is great. I didn't love it as much as you did, but it's still brilliant.

    3. Ah, now I really want to see A Woman is a Woman ASAP!

      I might move it once I get the rest of the awards re-posted.

      The Innocents is just the perfect example of atmosphere carrying a film so far. Like, all the pieces fit so well. That cinematography is absolutely everything!

  7. glad you love ROCCO & HIS BROTHERS. that was an awesome episode of Best Shot back in the day

    1. Rocco!! LOVED that movie when we did it for "Hit Me..."

    2. I'm sad I missed that one! I'm going to try and keep up with them this year :-D

  8. Shutting out La Dolce Vita??? BOOOO!!!! And I was surprised to see it not even nominated in the cinematography category. SNUB!!! SNUB!!! SNUB!!! Stipud Fisti Academy. Conspiracy!!!!!! I'm done with this!!!!


    1. Cinematography was SO's so rich this FOR REAL. La Dolce Vita was my #6, but on many days it could have been my #2, that's how strongly I consider all of my nominees and some of my also-rans. It's that rich a year.

      And like I mention in one of the comments above, La Dolce Vita is my #2 of the year and it is my runner-up in almost every category it loses in (the only exception being Score).


    2. The question is, have you seen Rocco and His Brothers?

  9. I have not even heard (I know aghast!) of Rocco and His Brothers. I will have to look them up. La Dolce Vita is a film I need to see again as I truly enjoyed it in all its over the top ways. I would give Judy Garland the Oscar for Best Supporting and I can understand why Schell won best supporting because he made a character who is defending these horrible men, reasonable in defending them. That is a tricky feat. This film is important in so many ways that your generation may not truly understand because it is already part of history books for you that your grandfather fought in. Time makes things less emotional. My dad fought in the war and my mom lived through it so Judgement of Nuremburg hits home in so many ways.

    1. Yeah, I can easily see why it made such an impact when it did, that's for sure, and I do like the film, especially those Supporting turns (Schell actually won the Lead Acting Oscar).

      Rocco and His Brothers is a complete gem of a film, seriously. It's tragic, harsh, brutal and really edgy for the time (there is even a very brutal rape scene), but it is so honest and so earnest.

  10. Fisti:

    You really ought to check out Peter Glenville's Summer and Smoke sometime if you haven't already. Geraldine Page and Laurence Harvey are terrific and their characters have such a unique and complex relationship. Also the production values and music are first class. I would really like to see where you would put this film on the 1961 list.

    1. I tried really hard to get my hands on a copy before posting these, but was unable. When I do finally get my hands on one, I'll be sure to update!

  11. It's up for rent on as of now.