Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The 1958 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1958.  This is such a weird year for me, because as much as I love musicals...I kind of hate Gigi, this years Best Picture Oscar winner.  You wouldn't know that by all the nominations/wins that it racked up here at the Fisti Awards, but the fact remains that the film is gorgeously mounted and a technical's just vapid and stupid and offensive and boring.  You know what isn't vapid, offensive, stupid or boring?  Hitchcock's masterpiece...Malle's debut...Le Chanois's opus...Brook's sultry take on Tennessee Williams...Wajda's political message film...the list goes on and on.

This was a year that I had some issues with exploring.  Certain Oscar films were not readily available for me, so films like The Defiant Ones, The Old Man and the Sea and The Brothers Karamazov went unseen by me.  To be honest, I'm not really sure they would have had any impact on these ballots.

I did see a lot, so with that thought in mind, I present to you the Fisti Awards of 1958!

[NOTE:  For the first time in the history of the Fisti Awards, I did not have a Top Twelve in this category.  I normally hold off and try and see enough films to fill a complete dozen, but it feels like every film was an adaptation of sorts this year and so I decided to do a Top Six and call it a day]

Award's Tally

[5 Wins]


[3 Wins]


[2 Wins]

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

[1 Win]

Ashes and Diamonds
Bonjour Tristesse
Elevator to the Gallows
Le Beau Serge
Les Miserables
A Night to Remember
Some Came Running


  1. I can tell you from experience that The Old Man and the Sea wouldn't have impacted your ballot at all. However, The Defiant Ones is a film you should seek out, because I have a feeling it very much would have been included in a few spots.

    Love the nods to Elevator to the Gallows and Ashes and Diamonds, both of which should be better known.

    For the record, Gigi resides one slot above the bottom in my personal ranking of Best Picture winners, so we'll disagree there.

    1. Yeah...The Old Man and the Sea was actually available on VOD and I almost watched it a few night ago...and then I just decided that I was done with this year and didn't want to put myself through it.

      I read the book...that was enough.

      It's a shame, because I really love Spencer Tracy.

      Ashes and Diamonds was the last film I saw before compiling these awards. I had never heard of it, but I stumbled upon it on Netflix and added it to my queue on a hunch...and it is my runner-up in BP and just narrowly missed dethroning Vertigo. It's such an incredible, incredible film.

      I'm not sure I understand your last comment, about Gigi. It sounds like you are saying that of ALL the Best Picture winners, you place Gigi is second to last place, which would indicate that you agree with me (that it's an awful winner) and yet you say you disagree with I'm confused.

    2. Ah, Gigi is an awful winner, but it's a movie I hate on so many principles that even if it deserves three awards, I wouldn't give them to it. I grant it's well made but it's so morally bankrupt that I try to blot out every thought of it.

      Ashes and Diamonds, though...a truly great film.

    3. I LOVE Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea. But then, I love the book, too.

    4. Yeah, Gigi is...questionable, but I try and be un-bias when coloring in my ballots, so I nominated/awarded it where I felt it was due, regardless of my distaste for the film itself.

    5. I should have watched Old Man in the Sea, Daniel...I know I should have...f*ck!

  2. Some REALLY great choices and I would have a hard time arguing with them. I do love Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Vertigo, and The Defiant Ones. Really love seeing Le Beau Serge grab a win. The one that would definitely be on my personal choices would be Tati's Mon Oncle. LOVE that film.

    1. Thanks, Keith!

      Glad to see someone else has seen and is a fan of Le Beau Serge. It was close to a BP nom from me. Such a powerful little film!

  3. SIGH. Gigi. The movie musical lover's bane of existence. You're right, it is deadly dull outside of Chevalier and Gingold. I even like the score, but.... DEAR LORD. Also, I kinda don't like Leslie Caron.

    Midge is the best part of Vertigo, and that's saying a LOT, since everything in Vertigo could easily be the best part of Vertigo. Barbara Bel Geddes FTW.

    Your apathy towards Auntie Mame is hurting my soul. Your love for The Magician ALMOST outweighs it, but not quite.

    As much as I love Vertigo and Jimmy Stewart in it, I'd give Paul Newman the win. The way he's able to get so much out of Brick with so much of that character relegated to subtext is INSANE. I'd totally give Novak the win over Taylor, though. It's a trickier part AND she's better in it.

    ...have you not seen Mon Oncle? Because you should, and then nominate it for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Sound Design. At LEAST. If you have... WHY is it not here?!?

    1. Chevalier and Gingold are comedic gold, and so full of vibrancy and life...something that Leslie Caron has no capability of conveying. Most of Gigi's failures come from her awful representation of the character, but that story is messy and the only real highlights are the supporting players raporte and, of course, the visuals.

      Vertigo is a blessing, for real...but NO to Novak being better than Taylor. Taylor's performance in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one for the ages. Like, it's her finest performance ever and easily in my Top 5 of all time. She coaxes every single ounce of emotion and guilt and frustration and sadness and anger and passion out of that woman. It's a tremendous feat for an actress, namely because as loud as it can be, it never once feels hammy or over the top. It never feels like 'ACTING' but always feels wholly lived in.

      Auntie Mame wore on my wanted to love it but I could never get into it. It was a slog...and I found myself checking out about halfway through.

      And I saw Mon Oncle (it's in my Top 12 for Sound)...but I have a weird relationship with Tati. I need to rest on his work before I feel like embracing it. I just saw it about a week ago...and I'm not yet at that point. I like his stuff, everything I've seen from him, but I'm not 'in love' with any of it.

      That said, much like with Playtime, I'm probably going to regret not nominating it for at least the Production Design in about a week or two.

    2. I suppose Tati is an "acquired taste" but it's one I have a hunger for. Mon Oncle is maybe my least favorite of his films because it drags the most, but individual scenes are SO brilliant that I just can't. The production design is GENIUS (that fountain!!), as is the sound. But the ideas are the real star, which is why it would certainly rate for me in the Original Screenplay category.

      Taylor is certainly very good in Cat, but I don't think she modulates very well, going from zero to ninety in no time at all. It's probably her biggest weakness as an actress... for me. I know some people love that about her but it has always bothered me. But calling this her best performance is just wrong, because Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which is one of the greatest on-screen performances by anyone in anything ever.

      That Novak is able to make that bundle of ideas cobbled into a "character" feel like a real person at all is a testament to how strong of a performance it is. NOTHING about Judy/Madeline should work, but somehow Novak brings all the disparate elements together while never striking one false note. It's stunning.

    3. LOVE Novak, obviously, and I love Taylor in Woolf...but I stand my ground on this one...her work in Cat is just...breathtaking.

  4. I guess I am one who likes Gigi despite the idea that all women are supposed to be dumb clucks who are to look good and check a man's cigar... um for smoking...let's move on. Glad you have the love for Vertigo as i always loved this film. I have not seen the foreign films which is a shame and hopefully I can rectify this. I should try to give Touch of Evil a second chance since the opening sequence is great but I always snicker at Charlton Heston playing a Mexican. I also giggle at the gang run by McCambridge. My favourite line is when Dietrich sees Welles and say "You're fat." I would have given best effects to Harryhausen even though I LOVE A Night to Remember. This could be that I have a soft spot for Harryhausen because i know they have used the special effects from Remember and many documentaries about Titanic. As for best song...if I pick Gigi I love the song between Gingold and Chevalier.."I remember it Well."

    1. Touch of Evil is one of those films that is technically brilliant and yet...Heston's performance is such a mess and I can never love the film. That's why the film doesn't make my Top's a good movie that suffers from a really poor casting choice.

      And it isn't just because he's playing a Mexican. Heston was just an awful actor, period.

    2. Not Huston, Heston. John and Walter were great...Charlton was awful.

  5. I LOVE this year in film but I concur with your assessment of Gigi. Beautifully designed and executed but a movie about the training of a prostitute no matter what name you put to it is just icky. Every category is so packed with quality work I had to eliminate performances or direction that in another year would make an easy in. It killed me. Of the ones that you mentioned that you missed, Old Man & Brothers Karamazov…you didn’t miss a thing but The Defiant Ones is one that I think might have had an impact, at least in lead actor.

    Elevator to the Gallows
    King Creole
    A Night to Remember
    Touch of Evil
    Worthies: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones, The Long, Hot Summer and Separate Tables

    We match right out of the gate! Vertigo isn’t one of my favorite Hitchcocks in that it isn’t one I re-watch often but it is a brooding, complex piece of work. We’re pretty close actually looking at the long lists, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof would take the sixth slot for me. Ashes and Diamonds is one I’ve heard of but haven’t seen, I will but just haven’t gotten there yet. I thought this version of Les Miz was good but perhaps it’s my overfamiliarity with the tale it just didn’t do all that much for me. I’m surprised not to see Touch of Evil anywhere on your list it’s my runner up. Like Vertigo it has a twisted vision but the former wins because of its use of color and imagery. I am however delighted to see A Night to Remember there, to me it’s the absolute best version of the Titanic saga, for its time an impressive technical achievement as well. Love the noms it scores in the tech categories too.

    Roy Baker-A Night to Remember
    Michael Curtiz-King Creole
    Alfred Hitchcock-Vertigo
    Louis Malle-Elevator to the Gallows
    Orson Welles-Touch of Evil-Winner
    Worthies: Richard Brooks-Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Delbert Mann-Separate Tables, Martin Ritt-The Long, Hot Summer and Robert Wise-I Want to Live!

    Looks like this is a year that we’ll be in agreement a good deal! I love the way both Curtiz and Malle take advantage of place and space to add flavor to their films and Baker's near documentary take on Night to Remember makes the film far more gripping than had he imposed a more personal style on the film. But the real choice was between Hitchcock and Welles and a tough one it was. I chose Welles because he takes what seems a rather straightforward story and makes it an eerie portrait of twisted souls and corruption with the POW of that opening shot that can't be beat.

    We’re farther apart but still ended up agreeing on the winner. Of the ones we share Newman does a great deal to suggest what the censors cut out of Brick but this is one of Stewart’s very best performances exploring the dark recesses of his one-time aw shucks persona. I haven’t seen Blain and I can’t believe I’ve missed Guinness! Must correct!!

    My choices:
    Rex Harrison-The Reluctant Debutante
    Paul Newman-Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    Frank Sinatra-Some Came Running
    James Stewart-Vertigo-Winner
    Spencer Tracy-The Last Hurrah
    Worthies: Montgomery Clift-Lonelyhearts, Tony Curtis-The Defiant Ones, Jack Lemmon-Cowboy, Sidney Poitier-The Defiant Ones and Orson Welles-Touch of Evil

    Harrison, along with wife Kay Kendall, proves an expert farceur in Debutante. Sinatra suggests many layers to the disaffected troubled Dave and Tracy's work as a corrupt career politician is quite involving, he felt it was some of his best work, I’d agree…so much better than Old Man and the Sea. Good as all of them are Stewart is matchless this year.

    1. I'm loving how much we're matching up while still being so different. Vertigo is such a brilliant film and such a technical marvel.

      I'm interested in seeing The Last Hurrah. I hadn't heard of it, but I love Spencer...a lot.

      Newman's performance was my runner-up and it hurt to deny him the win, but Newman gets his fare share of Fisti love, believe me (he's probably my collective favorite actor of all time).

      I really like Touch of Evil and MANY aspects of it, but Heston's terrible performance takes me out of it enough to keep it from my Top Twelve.

      And A Night to Remember is remarkable. It pained me to keep it out of my BP ballot. I also really responded to Les Mis and, of all the versions that are not the 2012 musical, I think it's the finest. It's just so well composed and beautifully expansive. It feels like it tells the strongest 'story' of all the versions I've seen.

      And I've seen MANY of them.

  6. Actress:
    I haven’t seen The Lovers, though Moreau made my list for Gallows, but your other four choices are terrific. Liz is brilliant in Cat and a worthy winner but she’d be in sixth position for me. Joanne Woodward is excellent in Long, Hot Summer, so good in fact it seems crazy that she didn’t even make my top ten. Man this category is packed!

    On a little side note in regards to Woodward. I just saw the last of her theatrical features, I’d been searching and searching! A florid 50’s drama called “No Down Payment” directed by Martin Ritt about a block in a newly created suburb and the troubled lives of its couples. It started out all sunshine and lollipops before exposing the dark (some very dark) underpinnings. Joanne was good but the standout was Sheree North who was saddled with a lush of a husband played by Tony Randall.

    My choices:
    Kay Kendall-The Reluctant Debutante-Winner
    Virginia McKenna-Carve Her Name with Pride
    Jeanne Moreau-Elevator to the Gallows
    Kim Novak-Vertigo
    Rosalind Russell-Auntie Mame
    Worthies: Ingrid Bergman-Indiscreet, Ingrid Bergman-Inn of the 6th Happiness, Shirley Booth-The Matchmaker, Susan Hayward-I Want to Live! and Elizabeth Taylor-Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    McKenna is extraordinary as a young English woman recruited to be a spy in WWII in Pride as is the significantly less virtuous Moreau in Gallows. Novak handles her dual role amazingly well for an actress who has always been considered a spotty talent, she really connected with both. Her Madeleine and Judy are distinctly different people. Then there's Roz Russell who powers her movie with enough centrifugal force to move five films, she amazing and would have been my winner if not for Kay Kendall. Kay sparkles, giving the kind of performance that could easily slip over into caricature or archness. Her innate grace and skill bring her totally alive onscreen, remarkable since she was dying of leukemia at the time and would be gone within the year-you'd never know it, she's magnificent.

    Supporting Actor:
    I haven’t seen your winner sadly. Looks like the supporting categories are where we are farthest apart. David Niven (btw you have it misspelled as Nevin) is fine in Separate Tables but I didn’t think he was nomination worthy. I am glad to see him in his proper placement here, his winning for lead in the actual ceremony is one of the craziest Oscar flukes-the complete inverse of what happens now with lead performances stuffed into supporting. Chevalier IS debonair and continental in Gigi even though I have an overall disdain for the film’s message and as I mentioned Les Miz didn’t thrill me in any particular including Bourvil.

    My choices:
    Jack Carson-Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    Errol Flynn-Too Much, Too Soon
    Burl Ives-Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    Dean Martin-Some Came Running-Winner
    Walter Matthau-King Creole
    Worthies: Maurice Chevalier-Gigi, Robert Donat-The Inn of the 6th Happiness, Curd Jurgens-The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Cecil Parker-Indiscreet and Robert Ryan-Lonelyhearts

    Too Much, Too Soon is really rather a mess as a movie but Flynn's contribution as his old drinking buddy John Barrymore is the one thing it gets right. Matthau gets to flex his acting muscles a bit in Creole in one of his last chances at villainy before he became the lovable schlub. Ives is a fearsome Big Daddy, I think it’s a stronger performance than the one he won for in The Big Country and the underappreciated Carson manages to bring out the humanity in the oily, bluff but desperately sad Gooper. My vote goes to Martin however who at first glance seems to amble through his film but on reflection really fleshes out Bama making him a fully formed character, sometimes likable and sometimes not but very human.

    1. I've never heard of Carve Your Name with Pride...I should check that one out. UGH, I hate myself for missing The Reluctant Debutante. It was airing on TCM before I moved and I almost DVR'd it because I was working through this year, but the average rating on my DVR thing was like 2 stars and I was running out of space so I assumed I'd hate it and I just skipped it.

      Obviously a mistake!

      Can't believe I mispelled Niven's I need to make edits.

      I'm intrigued by Too Much, Too Soon because I find Flynn to be a somewhat fascinating actor. He's so good when he's not in his 'wheelhouse', which is such an odd statement to make, but I think he was typecast in a way that limited him, because he better in roles that aren't 'typical Flynn' roles.

      Am I making sense.

      I LOVE Ives in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof so much and he would have been my winner if I hadn't seen Ashes and Diamonds. I can't recommend that movie enough. Waclaw's performance is so organic and heartbreaking, and it was only his sophomore film and his last (he made two films in his career and died a year after this was made).

      I hate Gigi as a film, but Chevalier is just remarkably charismatic. It's a star turn in a trash film.

    2. I think Flynn is great in his typical roles but swashbuckling doesn't leave much room for acting of any sort of depth, Burt Lancaster suffered from the same problem before he broke free of the studio and went into independent production, so I'd agree that he was able to show more of what he was capable of in atypical parts.

      He was a facile comic actor in Four's a Crowd and Never Say Goodbye and later when the booze and dissipation started to take their toll gave fine dramatic performances in That Forsyte Woman, The Sun Also Rises and Too Much, Too Soon.

      If you've never seen it he also makes a delightful appearance as himself in one of those celebrity cavalcades for the war effort "Thank Your Lucky Stars" where he sings and dances! a Cockney drinking song with a handlebar moustache and all.

    3. Loved him in Never Say Goodbye, and that's really what I mean...he was effective in his typecast roles, but he had so many other layers that were better suited to more fuller roles/films.

  7. Oops, don't know what happened but I forgot Supporting Actress!

    Supporting Actress:
    We match again even though out choices otherwise are quite dissimilar! Wendy Hiller’s work is very fine indeed and of the nominees for that year she was the correct choice to win but as they did with Niven MacLaine was put in the wrong category. She receives a considerable amount of screen time but only emerges into the spotlight towards the end, the film is so much Sinatra’s story everyone else supports him. Shirley’s work is just beautiful, heartbreaking in her naked need to feel that she belongs wherever Dave is. The unique Gingold made my long list but as with most things Gigi the surrounding vehicle kept me from fully embracing her work. Bel Geddes is good in Vertigo as far as her part takes her but I always forget she’s in the film. I love Deborah Kerr but neither Bonjour Tristesse nor her work in it made much of an impression on me.

    My choices:
    Coral Browne-Auntie Mame
    Wendy Hiller-Separate Tables
    Carolyn Jones-King Creole
    Shirley MacLaine-Some Came Running-Winner
    Estelle Winwood-This Happy Feeling
    Worthies: Phyllis Calvert-Indiscreet, Peggy Cass-Auntie Mame, Marlene Dietrich-Touch of Evil, Connie Gilchrist-Auntie Mame, Hermione Gingold-Gigi, Rita Hayworth-Separate Tables, Mercedes McCambridge-Touch of Evil and Maureen Stapleton-Lonelyhearts

    One of the reasons King Creole is Elvis’s best movie is that he is surrounded by the best cast of any of his pictures and Carolyn Jones as the abused Ronnie delivers a lovely portrait of that wounded wary soul. This Happy Feeling is a slight, enjoyable comedy well performed by all but whenever Winwood pops into a scene as the tippling Mrs. Early all you can look at is her, you anticipate her return and when the film is over it is she who leaves the strongest impression. The same goes for Coral Browne’s Vera Charles in the splendid Auntie Mame. That she can compete against the Roz Russell juggernaut and create such a distinctive woman in her brief scenes would have tipped me in her favor if Shirley hadn’t been so damn compelling.

    1. THANK YOU!

      MacLaine's placement was so terrible because she probably could have achieved the right amount of momentum to win. It's such a killer role, and possibly her best performance to date. It's one of my favorite Supporting performances of all time.

      I haven't seen Jones or Winwood. I liked Brown enough, but there was something about Auntie Mame that just didn't grab me as I wanted it to.

    2. Joel-Do you have a blog? Wish you did:) I love that you think A Night To Remember is the best titanic film since I agree 150% Love reading all of this and all the comments between the both of you. Did you know that Flynn was friends with Barrymore and when Barrymore died, Flynn, Raoul Walsh and one other(I can't think up the name right now) actually took Barrymore's corpse and brought it to a friend of his and propped him up (somehow) with a drink in his hand. I thought this was just legend and fake but, apparently, it actually happened). I don't mind Gigi even though the whole basis is for a woman to become pretty, stupid and not think for herself.

    3. I, too, wish Joel had a blog.

  8. Yay, Vertigo! Brilliant film. So, too, is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, from what I recall anyway. Been a long time since I've seen it. Need to revisit that. Really, I could stand to binge on the entire year. Hell, the entire decade. For some reason, I think I've seen more movies from the 30s than I have the 40s or 50s. Sorry for thinking out loud. Yay Vertigo!

    1. The 40's are the largest blind spot for me, collectively. I've seen a crap ton of films from the 60's...and I'm making my way through the 50's well enough. It's an incredible decade!

  9. I agree Shirley Maclaine was excellent in Some Came Running, and we have the same #1 in Vertigo.
    Maybe it's just me, but I thought it was a strong year for French cinema: Mon Oncle, Elevator to The Galllows, Le Beau Serge, Les Misérables, and Gigi is set in Paris so it's kind of French

    1. Every year is a great year in French cinema, since they make the best films! LOL, whenever anyone asks me what my favorite film genre is, I respond with 'French'.

  10. YAASSSS!!! Vertigo wins the night! :D And love for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Touch of Evil, and Separate Tables!

    LOL, of course I haven't seen 3 of your BP nominees, nor Bonjour Tristesse, A Night to Remember, The Matchmaker, or Le Beau Serge. More research to do. :)