Sunday, August 30, 2015

1955 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1955.  Guess what...I kind of LOVE Marty.  I was baffled when I first saw it that it was a film that has accumulated so much backlash over the years.  I mean, what did you want to win?  That lineup is absolute crap outside of Marty, if we're going to be honest.  Mister Roberts was one of the dullest times I've ever spent in front of my television, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing is so trashy-dull (yes, DULL) and Picnic is, once again, DULL.  Like, what was AMPAS smoking?  There is nothing worth adoring about these films at all.  The Rose Tattoo is pretty good, and contains a GREAT performance from Magnani (who won the Oscar), but the whole Lancaster perf is so silly and the character is so ridiculous that I can't say the film is great or anything and certainly not Best Picture worthy.

Marty, amidst these contenders, stands out as something special.  It's intimate and heartfelt and leaves a lasting impression, and Borgnine's performance is just so richly complex.

And yet, it's not on my ballot.

Yes, the year as a whole is rather incredible.  So many brilliant films with such range of genre, style, substance and impression.  From rich melodrama, horror, suspense, romance, comedy and the recreation of the film noir, 1955 is everything I ever wanted it to be, and more.  So, with that said, I now present to you the Fisti Awards of 1955!

Award's Tally

[5 Wins]

The Night of the Hunter

[3 Wins]

All That Heaven Allows

[2 Wins]

Kiss Me Deadly
Lola Montes

[1 Win]

This Island Earth
The Man with the Golden Arm
Smiles of a Summer Night
The Virgin Queen


  1. Night of the Hunter and Les diabolique would be my favorites from this year, but again, I'm not all that familiar. Marty was really unremarkable and I don't think it deserved to win BP.

    1. Poor Marty. It gets such a bad rap, but it really is so tender and sweet-natured and I love the way that it taps into romance from a different angle (i.e. non-pretty people).

  2. I’ve been looking forward to these! We’re pretty close on several categories but our winners for the most part are completely different. Love that! I’m mad at myself, I had every intention of watching Lola Montes in prep for this and it slipped my mind...damn, damn, damn!

    All That Heaven Allows is a great winner, so full of perceptions wrapped in richly saturated Technicolor and a skewed take of 50’s values, a masterpiece of working within the Hollywood system to make trenchant observations about society's mores while seemingly telling a simple soapy story.

    All That Heaven Allows
    Bad Day at Black Rock
    East of Eden-Winner
    Night of the Hunter
    Runner-up-We’re No Angels

    Aside from Heaven Bad Day pares it story to the bone to keep its story taut, something it shares with Diabolique and Hunter is a fascinating character study but for me the scope of East of Eden is just breathtaking.

    Love your line-up and we match! Aldrich does fantastic things with a picture that in less talented hands would have been a run of the mill genre picture.

    Henri-Georges Clozot-Diabolique
    Elia Kazan-East of Eden
    Charles Laughton-Night of the Hunter-Winner
    Douglas Sirk-All That Heaven Allows
    John Sturges-Bad Day at Black Rock

    Kazan keeps a tight rein on the intense emotions of Eden making sure his focus maximizes the impact of each scene and Sturges works similarly to take advantage of the vastness of the landscape to emphasis Tracy’s sense of isolation in the nest of vipers he finds in Black Rock. Laughton does such extraordinary things with his material and draws great performances from his cast in his only time behind the camera that in retrospect it seems unbelievable he wasn’t nominated but the film tanked on release and wasn’t critically admired, and as you pointed out the academy was having an off year.

    Again love your line-up and your winner. Borgnine was wonderful in Marty but I thought there were others who were stronger. Neither The Man with the Golden Arm nor Sinatra impressed me that much though.

    James Cagney-Love Me or Leave Me
    James Dean-East of Eden-Winner
    Ralph Meeker-Kiss Me Deadly
    Robert Mitchum-Night of the Hunter
    Spencer Tracy-Black Day at Black Rock
    Runner-up-Richard Burton-Prince of Players

    All my nominees made at least your long list except Cagney who I thought did a great job humanizing the feral Gimp while never trying to soften his many contemptible qualities. This was between your choice Mitchum and Dean for me. Mitchum was incredible but so was Dean. Mitchum is a silky devil but Cal Trask required more levels than Harry Powell. Dean's venerated for Rebel Without a Cause but to me this is a much deeper performance.

    1. I'm LIVING for all the All That Heaven Allows love on your ballots. LIVING FOR IT!!!

      East of Eden is growing on me. It's settled better than my initial viewing and so I may come to really like it over time (right now I just 'like' it). Bad Day at Black Rock is very good, but I feel for that similar to East of Eden. I like it, but there is just something there that doesn't grab me, unfortunately.

      Diabolique was my #6 and We're No Angels is in my Top 10 for sure.

      Love that we match on our Director winner! Such a deserved win.

      I really like your Best Actor ballot. Cagney didn't make my top twelve, but he's very's just something I've seen him do many times before, and better. And I love of my all time favorite actors! Meeker and Tracy were next in line for me, honestly. The more I rest on Meeker in particular the more I really wanted to nominate him, but I rewatched Rebel, and Dean anchors the film with such a sharp perception of his character, and upon reflection, there is something so ultimately poignant about Rebel, even today.

    2. I can see what you're saying about Cagney. There are elements of many of his previous characters but the way he illuminates both Snyder's bullying domination of Etting and yet at the same time his emotional enslavement by her in an almost pained way I thought was extraordinarily skillful.

      It helped that he and Doris were so well matched, both firing on all cylinders in making that sick twisted relationship very real. In reading Doris's bio she said that what was filmed showed the emotional and physical brutality even more then what made it into the release print. Apparently rather than fading to black during the fight after the Gimp pulled her out of the Follies it continued on with him beating her severely almost up to the point of the rape that broke her spirit at which point she consented to their marriage adding an extra layer to the following scene where he was obviously trying to make a conciliatory gesture and her shutting him down by saying "You don't have to sell me, I'm sold." They had to pair similar things from the story to meet Hayes office standards which took some of the shadings off of Cagney's work. Being aware of that perhaps adds an extra nuance to his performance for me.

    3. Yeah, I've read that the brutality shot didn't make it, and I'm not trying to discredit his performance (which was very good) at all, but maybe I was also just too enamored with how incredible Day was to really relish in his work. She was just brilliant and her Oscar snub was just ridiculous.

  3. Actress:
    Wyman is a wonderful choice, she gives a deep, thoughtful performance in Heaven making Cary’s dilemma very real for the viewer so you understand why in the time she was living her choice was so difficult.

    Vera Clouzot-Diabolique
    Doris Day-Love Me or Leave Me
    Susan Hayward-I'll Cry Tomorrow-Winner
    Simone Signoret-Diabolique
    Jane Wyman-All That Heaven Allows
    Runners-up-Vivien Leigh-The Deep Blue Sea, Anna Magnani-The Rose Tattoo

    The Diabolique women are great but they are a duo, I couldn’t pick one over the other. I was close to choosing Doris Day for the best performance of her career but I had to go with Susan Hayward. I know you find her a bit much but she really pours her guts into playing Roth. Not just doing her own singing and dancing but hitting all the emotional notes of a woman flailing in despair and self-loathing as she descends ever closer to the bottom, finally hitting it and clawing painfully back.

    Supporting Actor:
    Along with Ustinov’s work in Lola Montes I haven’t seen Malberg work in Ordet so I can’t comment on it. I’ll have to catch up with it since I found Dreyer’s Day of Wrath very interesting.

    Raymond Massey-East of Eden-Winner
    Sal Mineo-Rebel Without a Cause
    Robert Ryan-Bad Day at Black Rock
    Peter Ustinov-We're No Angels
    Orson Welles-Mr. Arkadin

    Ryan is great per usual, how is it possible he was only nominated once in his career? Mineo is so lost and anguished as the doomed Plato and Welles pops into the bumpy Arkadin and infuses it with life. I adore Ustinov as the grimly witty Jules in the unconventional Christmas tale We're No Angels but both Bogart and Aldo Ray are equally worthy there. Massey, who had a great year in ’55, is outstanding in the tricky role of Adam Trask. He’s a rigid autocrat at times but is deeply tortured by his war duty and at a loss to communicate with the son he loves but doesn’t understand.

    Supporting Actress:
    I’m somewhat shocked by your winner. I thought Winters was fine in Hunter but my main memory of her is the ghostly image of her at the bottom of the river, Gish to me is half the heart of that film. I liked Smiles of a Summer Night and the performances it contained but I think less than most, I found it was pleasant but little else. That leaves Betsy Blair, an actress I just don’t like, she fit the role in Marty well but her performance is nothing that Barbara Bel Geddes or Jean Hagen couldn’t have done better.

    Julie Adams-One Desire
    Lillian Gish-Night of the Hunter
    Julie Harris-East of Eden
    Rosalind Russell-Picnic-Winner
    Jo Van Fleet-I'll Cry Tomorrow
    Runner-up-Mildred Natwick-The Court Jester, Natalie Wood-Rebel Without a Cause

    Julie Adams was almost always stuck playing the nice girl, and she did it well but In One Desire she gets a chance to sink her teeth into a vicious devious bitch and does so brilliantly. Van Fleet won for her role in East of Eden but since they cut so much out of the part of Kate I think she's better in Tomorrow. Abra is the most insubstantial character in the book of East of Eden but Julie Harris makes her an integral part of the film-she makes it clear that she cares for both brothers and because of her special light you understand why both brothers care for her. Gish harkening back to her silent training relies on her stillness to impart a great deal of the strength of her character, of course her fearlessness with a shotgun doesn’t hurt. But Russell's interpretation of the desperate to marry Rosemary is shockingly raw when she has her near breakdown. Without question the best element of that turgid movie, although it’s pretty to look at. She famously refused to allow herself to be entered in supporting, understandable considering that to do so at that time would have ended her career in the star spot, but had she it’s almost a given that she would have won the statue.

    Great to see that cinematography win for All That Heaven Allows, it is an absolute visual treat. Also glad to see This Island Earth wasn’t a total viewing wash since it scored that visual win beyond that it’s a hokey mess.

    1. I can't believe how much we match up this year! I was not expecting to see us 4/5 on Best Actress!!!!

      I really wanted to see The Deep Blue Sea, especially since I was a fan of Davies version, but it was unavailable.

      Ustinov is quickly becoming one of my favorite character actors, and if I allowed double nominees then he'd be on my ballot for both performances. The only reason I went with Lola Montes was because part of me couldn't decide if he was Lead for We're No Angels. They are vastly different performances, and his sleazy circus master in Lola Montes is more of an actual presence, to be honest, but I LOVED the subtle details in his quiet work in Angels as well.

      Van Fleet was my #6 and I really wanted to nominate her but I couldn't decide who to drop. I really loved Blair's performance, to be honest. I am not familiar with her as an actress overall, but she really struck me in Marty. Russell was decent, but I just couldn't with that movie. I haven't seen One Desire.

      Julie Harris was really, really good as well!

      Now, with regards to Winters...she haunted me. For me, she colors in her short amount of screen time with such sharp details and the way she interprets her character's growing imprisonment and fear completely unraveled me. I love the way Gish commands the conclusion of the film, but there is something about Winter's contained internalized madness that has never left me.

    2. Hi Drew,

      Thought I'd drop back in and say I caught up with Lola Montes...a little late but oh well. I didn't love the film though I though Ophuls's direction was very assured but that didn't surprise me since I loved his work on Letter from an Unknown Woman and especially The Reckless Moment.

      Even though the movie didn't knock me out the art direction and costumes certainly did. They were just WOW! A very beautiful film.

      As far as Ustinov's performance he was excellent unsurprisingly but I still favor his work in We're No Angels. He was very fine in this but irresistible in Angels and just interacted with the other actors so effortlessly.

    3. I'm so glad you got to see it! While you didn't love it like I did, so glad that you adored the techs. It was such a ravishingly draped film. Just dripping from scene to scene with sheer beauty.

  4. Sorry to hear that you didn't like Mister Roberts. :( Love that one. Picnic is certainly dull, though I'm a big fan of Rosalind Russell's performance.

    YES!!! Laughton! Bergman! Surprise and delighted to see the Rebel Without a Cause acting noms, too. And your Best Actress lineup (Wyman unseen) is awesome!! And Bernstein winning Score! SO GOOD!!

    Can't wait to catch up with films like All That Heaven Allows, Kiss Me Deadly, Lola Montes, Mr. Arcadian, Ordet, and Prince of Players! Only have a dozen noms to see. ;)

    1. Yeah...I kind of hated Mister much.

      Bernstein's score is probably in my Top 10 of all time. It's so vibrant and rich and memorable!

      You need to see those 6 films ASAP!!!

  5. This was a very good year, and I totally agree with you on Marty. It's one of my favorite films and I think Borgnine is just tremendous in it. That said, I'm so glad you go with All That Heaven Allows as your winner. What a great film, and what a great performance from Wyman.

    Your leading acting nominations are (very nearly) all PERFECTION. I would try to squeeze in Hepburn in Summertime (neck and neck with Wyman for me) and Danny Kaye in The Court Jester (the best performance he ever gave).

    I wish I loved Lola Montes as much as you. It's undeniably gorgeous, but ultimately kind of empty for me (which is basically my assessment of Martine Carol, who is just too much of a blank to carry the film). Ustinov is GREAT in it though.

    The Siamese Cat song in Lady & The Tramp is the best song in that film, which is not one of my favorite Disney animated classcs.

    1. YAY!!! So glad you love both Marty and All That Heaven Allows.

      I saw Summertime right before closing these out, and I loved Hepburn...but didn't really care much for the film, to be honest. I also really loved my lineup and couldn't see losing anyone (and losing Kerr really upset me enough).

      I haven't seen The Court Jester :-(

      Lola Montes was just so epic for me. I felt completely pulled into every frame, ever segment...and the whole concept really blew me away. Ustinov is so commanding, he really sells the story for me (like any good ringmaster would). Carol was slightly blank, but she was a canvas for her story to be painted and I felt like it was an intentional choice to have her play it that way.

    2. Daniel I agree that Court Jester is the best Kaye ever was on film, the part was a perfect vehicle for his antics and gifts. He also was supported by probably the best cast he had in any film, with the exception of White Christmas. Angela Lansbury is a stitch as the demanding princess and Mildred Natwick is great as the seer Griselda stealing every scene she's in. This is where I fell hard for Glynis Johns years before she was Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, she's totally bewitching. Basil Rathbone and Cecil Parker are equally wonderful. Such a fun film. I think it shows what a strong year it was that it was hard to fit them or the film in anywhere.

    3. UGH! Why did I not hear of this movie before today? Like, that cast sounds glorious!!!

    4. It had a weird release schedule and is sometimes considered a '55 release and sometimes a '56. It was made in '55 but came out in January '56 so it could go either way. Looking back at your '56 Fistis I realized I included Mildred Natwick there in support so oops to putting her in as a runner up here. She's just so brilliant.

    5. Yeah I noticed that when I looked it up on IMDB. Kaye was nominated for a Globe in 56.

  6. I always love when you highlight a movie year I'm not familiar with Drew! Man I can't believe I still haven't seen anything by Rock Hudson, I mean he's a beautiful man!! So I put All That Heaven Allows on my must-see list. I also need to see more of Richard Burton, I've only seen a spy film of his, so curious to see him in a drama, esp w/ Liz Taylor.

    1. UGH, I can't recommend Burton enough. He's one of my favorite actors of all time. Such a brilliant thespian he was. See Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Night of the Iguana ASAP!!!

  7. You hit me in the heart that you dislike Mr. Roberts which I love. We are now even since you love boringhood so much:) I have not seen All That Heaven Allows since I was a kid so I should see it again. I love Diabolique, Love Me or Leave Me, The Man From Laramie, To Catch a Thief, The 7 Year Itch and the Great Night of the Hunter. I am so glad you chose Charles Laughton who deserved to win. I would have chosen Lillian Gish to win best supporting. I have seen East of Eden many times but you know what? (Now you must say What?!) I really like the miniseries much better with Jane Seymour. She was great as the wretched woman. Peter Ustinov is one of my favs and he was great in almost anything he tackled like being an author and journalist (he was waiting to interview Indira Ghandi when she was killed).I also feel Daddy Long Legs needs some loving

    1. I didn't catch Daddy Long Legs. It was in my queue and I was going to wait for it, but it was at a 'long wait' and so I skipped it and posted, but I'll see it eventually.

      Mister Roberts is awful.

      And I love Ustinov. One of the greats, for sure!

    2. Birgit I LOVE the East of Eden mini-series with Jane Seymour! Her performance as Catherine/Cathy/Kate is a marvel but the weakness of the mini is the bland performances by the Bottoms brothers as Adam and Cal respectively. It's a shame because they really are a blemish on a masterwork that otherwise is surrounded by other strong work by Lloyd Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Howard Duff, Anne Baxter and a host of others.

      In the movie version Dean shows all that was possible in Cal. For only being half the novel I think its a great film.

      Daddy Long Legs doesn't do much for me. Of course its got Astaire, Leslie Caron and Thelma Ritter which is a tremendous amount of value but I thought the story was absurd and borderline creepy.

    3. I'm curious about this mini-series mainly for Seymour. My wife adores her.

    4. Yes Jane Seymour was THE best in that mini series and you are right, Joel, I don't recall the others but recall wishing James Dean was in the Mini Series. I love Daddy Long Legs even though Fred Astaire himself was creeped out since he was so much older than Leslie Caron. There are better musicals for sure, but I love the dancing especially "Something's Gotta Give" and the great Thelma Ritter.

    5. I love me some Thelma Ritter (am less enthused about Caron and Astaire) maybe I should check this out regardless.

  8. If only the Academy could do do-overs with the benefit of hindsight.

    Great picks, and I totally agree about Marty.

    1. LOL, for real!

      Thanks. Glad to see fellow Marty love.

  9. Ugh...this whole year is a blind spot for me. Haven't even seen enough to form a valid opinion.

    1. Let this serve as a jump off point my friend! I can't recommend these films enough :-D

  10. Marty is such a heartwarming movie, with sweet performances, I love it too, even though it's not what I would call an innovative film. What it does, it does well!
    You included most of my favorites from '55 in your nominations, except The Man from Laramie (Anthony Mann), who is one of the most criminally overlooked directors from the 50s. His westerns with James Stewart are so good, especially Lamarie (1955) ,The Naked Spur (1953) Winchester '73 (1950).

    1. The Man from Laramie was very high on my ballots for a long time. It's a great film. I was initially in Screenplay, Art Direction and Film Editing, but got etched out as I saw more films. I still love it though.

  11. Like really... how wasn't Mitchum nominated for an Oscar? Love that he's your winner. And certainly no complaints about Bergman taking screenplay!

    1. It's very odd to me how The Night of the Hunter was completely ignored by Oscar. This year was so...weak in Oscar's hands and yet it had the potential to be something special.

  12. Loving these Awards! Rebel Without A Cause has always been one of my favs. Good to see Sal Minneo get a nom too. I also love Diabolique. I still haven't seen Mitchum's Night of the Hunter. Thanks for the reminder. I only recently discovered this brooding presence when I reviewed Cape Fear. I need to see more Mitchum ;) Thanks for another super nerdy article.

    1. I can't recommend The Night of the Hunter enough. It's a brilliant, iconic film, and Mitchum was never better. Prepare to be spellbound!