Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1945 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1945.  I'm all in for Oscar rewarding The Lost Weekend this year.  Sure, it's not my pick, but it's an astonishing film that really feels just as strong now as it most likely did upon it's release.  What a powerful film, indeed.

That being said, I like a few films even more.

1945 had so much variety to offer that I can't help but feel overjoyed with how these awards came together.  I was in a place where I just wanted to discover something new, and since 1945 was a year I had seen very little (before starting to dig into the year, I had only seen around five films) it was ripe for discovery.  It was also a year that had no clear frontrunner for me, since the two masterpieces from the year that everyone seems to point to (Brief Encounter and Children of Paradise) were both ineligible since they competed in the 1946 Fisti Awards due to the Oscar rule (when a foreign film competes in a specific Oscar year, that is the year it competes for the Fistis).

Well, I had no frontrunner until I saw a certain film that completely ruined me and felt as though it was pretty much made for me and then it was over.

Oh my bleeding heart.

Another weird little stat regarding this year is that my Best Picture winner does not snag a directing nom, and while this has happened before (here in 2011) what makes this extra weird is that my directing winner does not snag a Best Picture nom.  My winner created something that is so technically profound and yet the film itself, while I truly am astounded by it, is not a film I'd say I...love.  Still, rewarding him for what he accomplished was necessary.

With that said, I present to you the Fisti Awards of 1945!

Award's Tally

[4 Wins]

Ivan the Terrible, Part I
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

[2 Wins]

Anchors Aweigh

[1 Win]

Back to Bataan
Hangover Square
'I Know Where I'm Going!'
Leave Her to Heaven
The Lost Weekend
Mildred Pierce


  1. Hi Drew,

    I sense we’ll be close in at least our categories this year if not ultimately our winners. Right from the top we only have one difference and it’s a film I haven’t seen. I was sure A Tree Grows would be your winner, it is a beautifully observed study of the struggles of not just Francie's life but her whole family but it never slayed me the way it does you.

    My choices:
    Fallen Angel
    The Lost Weekend
    Mildred Pierce-Winner
    Scarlet Street
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    I can’t fault Lost Weekend’s win either, such a bleak experience made compelling by Wilder. It’s a dark film in the year of dark movies it’s just too relentlessly grim. But it was the year of the noir with three of the best going head to head. Both Fallen Angel and Scarlet Street look at the weakness and seediness of human nature expertly but Mildred Pierce has the strongest story and a definite look which tipped me in its favor for the win.

    Your winner for director is the only other film I think in all your noms I haven’t seen. I’m intrigued now by the fact that the film didn’t score but he did. Russian cinema is something I usually avoid but I may have to give this a look. But were close again with our others.

    My choices:
    John Brahm-Hangover Square
    Michael Curtiz-Mildred Pierce-Winner
    Fritz Lang-Scarlet Street
    Edgar Ulmer-Detour
    Billy Wilder-The Lost Weekend

    I included Ulmer because with apparently 46 cents for a budget and on the spot improvisation he managed to make a classic, a rough around the edges one but a classic nonetheless. He would never have been considered at the time but his work is deserving. Hangover Square is a little too jagged for a BP nom but Brahm creates a great mood picture assisted by Linda Darnell and especially the ill-fated Cregar, and the two things you pointed out editing and cinematography. But master of all genres Curtiz takes the conventions of women’s films and noir and melds them together seamlessly, with a huge assist from his cast, to make Mildred Pierce so much more than a simple story of ambition and betrayal.

    Though we have some variance in our final fives mine matches in your long list. Of the actual nominees for this year Milland was the right choice and if Robinson hadn’t been an option he’d would have been my winner too. This was such an amazing year for performances in all categories I’m following your example and listing my runner-ups.

    My choices:
    Laird Cregar-Hangover Square
    Ray Milland-The Lost Weekend
    Edward G. Robinson-Scarlet Street-Winner
    George Sanders-The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
    Zachary Scott-The Southerner
    Runner-ups-Jack Carson-Roughly Speaking, John Garfield-Pride of the Marines, Tom Neal-Detour

    I love all eight of these performances but this was between Milland and Robinson. Since Ray had a part with built in fireworks and E. G.'s demanded a quieter torment I felt his was the stronger portrayal. It kills me that year after year Edward G. turned in exemplary work and never received a single nomination.

    1. I love how close we are this year!!!

      Fallen Angel was in my Top 12 (Top 10, even) and Mildred Pierce was my runner-up!

      Curtiz was ALSO my runner-up!!! Ivan the Terrible is a pretty incredible technical feat, so I really recommend seeing it. It is also very swiftly composed, so it isn't hard to watch at all.

      Robinson was also my runner-up! Such a brilliant turn, and I almost gave him the award myself. Love that you nominate Sanders and Scott. I really liked them both, even if they would have rested closer to the bottom of my Top 12.

  2. Actress:
    We are so close and I love the nod for Margaret Lockwood’s amoral highwaywoman. Crawford is a great winner and so deserving this year for not just the performance but the tenacity of her career. However I’m snatching that sucker right out of her hand.

    My choices:
    Joan Bennett-Scarlet Street-Winner
    Joan Crawford-Mildred Pierce
    Wendy Hiller-I Know Where I’m Going
    Dorothy McGuire-The Spiral Staircase
    Gene Tierney-Leave Her to Heaven
    Runner-ups-Nina Foch-My Name is Julia Ross, Paulette Goddard-Kitty, Margaret Lockwood-The Wicked Lady, Dorothy McGuire-The Enchanted Cottage, Rosalind Russell-Roughly Speaking and Ann Todd-The Seventh Veil

    I hate to take away Joan's Oscar because it is a masterful performance but I think Joan Bennett's silkily amoral Kitty March is amazing and the peak of her collaboration with Lang. She was an excellent actress who doesn't get her due and yet another quality artist who never received a nomination despite several worthy performances.

    Supporting Actor:
    Funnily enough I think this is where we’re farthest apart and yet the only place where our winner matches. There just wasn’t anybody better than Dunn this year.

    My choices:
    Charles Bickford-Fallen Angel
    Jack Carson-Mildred Pierce
    James Dunn-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Winner
    Dan Duryea-Scarlet Street
    Keenan Wynn-Without Love
    Runner-ups- Sydney Greenstreet-Christmas in Connecticut, Robert Mitchum-The Story of G.I. Joe

    I so wanted to go with Jack Carson as my winner, with a photo finish between Dan Duryea and Charles Bickford for second and I would have if Dunn wasn't in the race. But his is the only performance that actually won that I don't think could be beat. He was a variable performer but in this instance he just shreds your heart to pieces.

    Supporting Actress:
    Except for the Elina Labourdette whose work I haven’t seen, I really must find that film, all these are brilliant performances and I’m glad to see Dorothy McGuire, who had a sensational year, as your winner.

    My choices:
    Eve Arden-Mildred Pierce
    Ann Blyth-Mildred Pierce-Winner
    Linda Darnell-Fallen Angel
    Geraldine Fitzgerald-The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
    Margaret Rutherford-Blithe Spirit
    Runner-ups-Lucille Ball-Without Love, Joan Blondell-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Linda Darnell-Hangover Square, Angela Lansbury-The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorothy McGuire-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    Ten great performances. It killed me not to award Linda Darnell-who like Dorothy McGuire had a very strong year, even so I was inclined to go with Fitzgerald's deeply nuts Lettie but Blyth's performance of that soulless pit viper Veda is inimitable and for me unbeatable.

    A word or two about some of the other categories. Glad to see the nod for Mildred Pierce, they did a great job of scrubbing the material for a 40’s audience without diluting the essence of the piece, a much better take on it than the Kate Winslet redo from a few years ago.

    I agree with your winner for Original Screenplay but I love, love, love the inclusion of the delightful Lady on a Train in your long list. It’s not a great film but one of the better Deanna Durbin vehicles, terrific the ways they find to have her sing and rather than break out of the plot integrate them in to move it forward. Also Christmas in Connecticut, light as the air and fun with an unbelievable cast.

    Ivan the Terrible must be something to see to beat Ziegfeld Follies in Art Direction and Costume Design. Follies is clunky, uneven and often lumbering but it’s also a real eyeful of sumptuous colors and top of the line production.

    Love your choice for best song but I’m more partial to “It Might as Well be Spring”, actually the songs are by far my favorite part of State Fair.

    1. JOEL! Joan Bennett, huh? I guess I need to see Scarlet Street again. If anyone would beat Crawford this year, for me it would be Hiller or Tierney (Leave Her To Heaven is just so wonderfully, gorgeously weird for the time and Gene really digs into the role).

      And here's where I come out and say that I would award Eve Arden in Mildred Pierce over Ann Blyth in a heartbeat. Now granted, it takes a formidable actress to go toe-to-toe with Crawford in the way Blyth does, but the character is SO one-note! She's just a bitch and neither the script nor Blyth really ever offer up any good motivation for it. Whereas Eve Arden creates a fully formed, totally believable character out of practically nothing. She so ably conjures up this woman's history, wants, and needs with everything she does. It's my favorite type of supporting performance - one that turns a truly minor character into someone whose life beyond what we see is all too easy to imagine. And I'm also SHOCKED that your girl Linda Darnell didn't get the win from you!

    2. Dan, Best Actress is a tight, tough race with all the women doing some of their career best work. Crawford would be my second choice but Bennett's ability to make the rather stupid, common as dirt Kitty seem to Robinson to be someone he can't do without no matter how badly she treats him is for me an incredible balancing act.

      Supporting Actress is a similar situation, none of the nine women would be a bad choice. I LOVE Eve's work and agree she does absolute wonders with Ida.

      Veda is a craven sociopath but a cunning one and once she loses the one moral compass she had, Kay (a really wonderful performance by Jo Ann Marlowe) who is the only person who can call her on her behavior and who Veda feels anything for, she realizes her advantage of Mildred's fear at losing her and takes shameless advantage of it. Blyth relates all that and her at times blank-eyed stare is so disturbing.

      Yes it was AGONY to bypass my beloved Miss Darnell which I will also have to do in the '44 & '49 awards but she will get her due when Drew gets to the 1950 Fistis and No Way Out comes into play. Here she'd actually she'd be in a tie for third with Eve with Geraldine Fitzgerald a very close second.

    3. Joel:

      4/5 in Actress is awesome, and I love your winner (although not my runner-up). I didn't get to see The Spiral Staircase, but it would have been a '46 contender for me due to the Oscar noms.

      My #5 was between Bickford and Wynn and Wynn edged him out for that hilarious intro scene. Like, I would have nom'd him for that scene alone. I was watching it thinking "am I going to have to nominate this guy for a cameo as 'drunk guy in cab' because I will, he's that hilarious" and then he had more scenes and they were just as good!

      McGuire and Dunn made such a perfect pair that I had to reward them both. They ruined me then put me back together then ruined me again. PERFECTION! Love your win though, and she would have been (you guessed it) my runner-up!

      Arden is great, Dan, but she finished 6th for me (shame to cut her out, actually). I don't find Blyth to be one-note at all. Her portrayal of Veda as so many nuanced layers. She's a fascinating villain who is utterly vile and yet so hard not to become entranced by.

      I can't wait to get into 1950 now!!!

      But that's for...another month ;-)

  3. I haven't seen a lot films from that year as I do love The Lost Weekend, Mildred Pierce, Ivan the Terrible I and I Know Where I'm Going! while I also have a fondness for Anchors Aweigh which I haven't seen in a long time. Where's Children of Paradise? That would be my pick for best film of 1945 as it was released in March of 1945 in France.

    1. I have Children of Paradise in 1946:


    2. Oh, I see. You're going by U.S. theatrical release. OK.

    3. My foreign film eligibility is ALWAYS messy. I try and nominate a foreign film in the year in which it was nominated for an Oscar...so some times that is US release and sometimes it is actual release year (like when it is nominated for Foreign Film at the Oscars) and then with pretty much every other film I take it on a film by film basis and place it in the year it fits best with my awards.

      Mess, I know, but I'm ok with it.

  4. The only films I ever really think about from 1945 are Mildred Pierce and The Lost Weekend. Anchors Aweigh is just okay but with some stellar dancing; Picture of Dorian Gray has one huge moment of brilliance in an otherwise just fine film; Spellbound trips over its own ambitions too much; and I've never seen A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (SHUT UP IT'S ON MY LIST OKAY?!?).

    So Best Picture would be Mildred Pierce, Lost Weekend, Leave Her To Heaven, National Velvet (sentimental pick over Detour, which I saw recently and just blew me away), and I Know Where I'm Going. No one can touch Milland and Crawford in the Leading categories (although Gene Tierney comes really close), and I'd go for Carson and Arden for Supporting, probably (Lansbury! Revere!).

    1. Tierney is SO GOOD...she was my runner-up. Like...ice queen personified.

      Carson was my winner for a VERY long time...and then I saw A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (SEE IT!!!) and the race was no longer a race because Dunn is unbeatable.

  5. I have not seen Ivan but it has been on my list for years and seeing just some of the pics you show here, I understand why you chose it for some of the awards. I have to try to give Lost Weekend another try because I thought Ray Milland was way over the top. When he was walking on the street with his bottle and looking suspiciously at everyone I actually snickered....sorry. I am glad to see Anchors Aweigh here and that you gave the Deanna Durbin film some love. Mildred Fierce...I mean Mildred Pierce does deserve the love but I have to give best actress to the beautiful Gene Tierney. She portrayed such a horrible person that ensnares a man and is an abusive nut job. I would have to give some love to The Spiral Staircase probably in the writing dept and cinematography. Margaret Rutherford would win Beat Supporting actress and Edward G Robinson would also get an acting award for sure. I love the costumes from The Ziegfeld Folies. Love Spellbound and it deserves the award for best score but I would give best special effects to Anchors Aweigh for the wonderful fantasy sequence where Kelly dances with Gerry the Mouse( Gerry right??).

    1. I loved what Millan did. He was indeed a touch over the top, but it was written to be, and I think he played it in a very earnest and honest way, so that the antics felt appropriate for the film/era.

      Tierney was a b*tch and perfectly so...she was my runner-up.

      I haven't seen The Spiral Staircase. It would have competed in 1946 due to the Oscar noms, but even at that, I couldn't find it available anywhere when I was working on that year.

  6. Great stuff!

    I REALLY need to watch the Ivan the Terrible films, and I’ll definitely revisit A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Thrilled to see films like Mildred Pierce, Scarlet Street, Leave Her to Heaven, and The Lost Weekend on here so much. Love those. And the Powell/Pressburger win is probably my favorite of this year. :)

    Oh, Lloyd Nolan! Awesome nom for an undervalued performance. Lockwood unseen, your Lead Actress lineup is SO good. (If it weren’t for Celia Johnson, I’d easily give Crawford the win as well.)

    Surprisingly, I think I only have 12 nominated films to see from this year.

    1. LOVED Nolan so much. I knew that he was a CinSpec nominee and I'll admit, for the majority of the film I was thinking, 'he's good...but there isn't much to this role'...and then that final scene with the family and the baby happened and I was a puddle on the floor. He played it perfectly!

    2. YES! That final scene is exactly what propelled him to a nomination!

  7. Oh, the year of my country's independence :) Sadly I haven't seen many films from this year, so can't really comment on any of these. You got me intrigued about Mildred Pierce however, as I believe there's a remake of it (TV movie?) w/ Kate Winslet.

    1. Mildred Pierce was remade by Todd Haynes for TV and starred Kate Winslet. I haven't seen it yet (what is wrong with me?!?!) but I hear from the majority that it pales in comparison to the 1945 masterpiece.

    2. The Haynes/Winslet remake is interesting as a stand alone work but compared to the iconic '45 film it's a sad sister.

      It's more faithful to the book but somehow that dilutes its power. It's just missing an indefinable something that the Crawford film had, a consistent mood for one thing.

      As much as I love Winslet and there is no question that she's a more accomplished actress than Crawford she doesn't inhabit the role quite as thoroughly as Joan. She's a scrappy go-getter but Crawford WAS Mildred Pierce.

      The real failing of the project though was that they had two actresses playing Veda, one as a child and then Evan Rachel Wood as an adult, and it weakens the power of the role almost fatally. Neither ever approaches the poisonous odiousness of Ann Blyth in the first and without that the power of the piece is gone.

    3. Yeah, it's hard when any actor or actress steps into an iconic role that defined a career quite like how Mildred Pierce did that for Crawford. This is the role she's most remembered for, and rightfully so. Winslet, who I adore, is just bound to be 'compared' and that's not anything you really want.

      Hell, she won the Emmy though, so what do I know.

  8. I know nothing of 1945. But excellent post as always, bro!

    1. Thanks, Kev. Hopefully you'll check some of these out one day!

    2. I'm sure that I will, man. Definitely some familiar titles here. Come by the blog sometime, man. I've made some pretty big design changes and would love your input.

    3. I will! I feel like a loser of late...I need to swing by everyone's sites and read up. Sorry. SOON!

  9. I didn't realize you were back in the saddle!

    1. Hey guys!

      I'm not...really. I'm here but I don't post much at all. I am still watching movies, though, and so when I finish digging into a year and have my personal awards figured out, I post them here.

  10. Haven't seen very many movies of this entire decade, to be honest. That said, I have seen Scarlet Street. It's fantastic and EGR is just great. Then again, I love him in everything I see him in so maybe I'm biased.

    1. No bias needed, EGR is great in everything I've seen him in, too! I'm with you on the 40's. I haven't seen much (like I said in my opening statements, I had only seen like 5 films from this year when I started working on it) but I'm loving all that I see as I dig in. What a GREAT decade!

  11. I have not seen enough films from this year to make a full awards list but I do agree that the academy got it right: The Lost Weekend is a brave, fearless picture about alcoholism. Here are the other four films I would have included as Best Picture nominees: Brief Encounter, Children of Paradise, I Know Where I'm Going! and Leave Her to Heaven (of course I know that CoP and BE were ineligible to compete since they were in the '46 Fistis)

    1. Even with the two films I've considered for 1946, your BP lineup is incredible!

  12. I think that romance was popular in 50's. Now we watchis films for example on http://putlockers.video/ of ection, drama and comedy. Our time is each other than in 1945.

    1. I love when spam comes over in the guise of a comment that is somewhat related to the subject of the post but then completely loses itself in the end and becomes...hilariously fake.

      "Our time is each other than in 1945" may be my new favorite spam comment.


  13. I've anly seen Mildred Pierce and and the first 20 min of Leave Her To Heaven lol. Honestly, Anchors Aweigh looks like the most interesting film in this list to me haha.