The 18th Academy Awards Ceremony in 1946
Academy Awards and 1946
I'm hooked. Each time I write about the Academy Awards I tell myself this is the last one and then I find myself writing yet another. Each time I start a new one I am amazed at the movies of that year. Talent and care with the craft are exhibited in each and every one.
Before looking at the Awards let's take a look at 1946. There were housing shortages following the war but that didn't stop the beginning of the baby boom. Houses, when available, were selling for $5,600. The average wage was $2,500.
The dark film noir really came into it's own and took on the horrors of war and the difficulties so many faced after the war, from hard-boiled detective novels and monotone narrative to its dark visual style. Consumers were willing to spend hard earned money to go the movies making 1946 a peak year for attendance at the movies. Remember there was no television or computers to turn to. This year was still part of "the Golden Age of Hollywood".
The War is over! It ended in August of 1945. Finally Hollywood is free to return to glamour at the Awards Ceremony. The Oscar statuette was no longer made of plaster, now they were gilded bronze. The ceremony was again held at Grauman's Chinese and Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope were co-hosts. To celebrate there were searchlights in the sky welcoming the guests. Broadcast on local radio and worldwide by WABC, a night to hear who won!
So without further ado let us see who won the Oscars in 1946 for movies that played in 1945 and rest assured there are some great movies here.
Ray Milland in Lost Weekend
During the forties film noir was popular with both producers and audiences as proven by this film. "Lost Weekend" won not only Best Picture but Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Based on a novel this movie was nominated for seven awards and won four.
The story of an alcoholic writer and his machinations to keep drinking. The movie begins with his brother and girlfriend who think he's been on the wagon for ten days so leave him alone to go see a concert. The writer's name is Don and he is played expertly by Ray Milland. After his brother and girlfriend leave, Don looks for hidden booze. Not finding any he cons the cleaning lady out of money and goes to a bar and gets drunk. Through cancelled appointments and trying to hide his alcoholism he believes he is two different people; "Don the writer" and "Don the drunk". Things get so bad he tries to pawn his typewriter, steals a woman's purse and winds up in a hospital detox.
Through all of this his girlfriend, Helen, played by Jane Wymann, believes in him. Ray Milland plays a very convincing alcoholic; he is cunning, deceitful, remorseful, and desperate. We follow him as he sinks deeper and deeper into his "lost weekend". Dark and foreboding but certainly as an Academy Award winner a film worth watching.
The Lost Weekend
Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce
"Mildred Pierce" was nominated for six Academy Awards and though it only won one, Best Actress for Joan Crawford's performance, this film has become one of the true classics. Yet another film noir, with the narrative by Mildred Pierce herself. A tortured mother with a spoiled and ungrateful daughter.
The film opens with Mildred's second husband being shot and saying her name. Her first husband confesses to the crime and then Mildred tells her story. Mildred had two daughters and when she divorced her first husband for cheating, she had custody of them. Right from the beginning the youngest daughter, Vida, is spoiled and demanding and Mildred is determined to give her what she wants. Vida is embarrassed by her mother's job as a waitress. As the film proceeds, Mildred's older daughter gets pneumonia and dies. Mildred then buys a restaurant to help her deal with her grief.
Her restaurant business is so successful it turns into several restaurants in a chain. Still not satisfied with her mother's demeaning position in life, Vida continues to want more and more. Mildred marries a Monte Beragon who was formerly wealthy but still has position, she doesn't love him but thinks it will help Vida think better of her. Monte, meanwhile, doesn't work and has no ambitions. If anything Monte drags the successful Mildred down.
As the movie progresses we find that Vida wants Mildred's husband. She doesn't think Mildred is good enough for him and she can give him more. Who killed Monte? Was it really Mildred's first husband? Was it Mildred? You really don't think I'm going to tell you do you?
It is said this film is responsible for Joan Crawford's stardom. Though she didn't attend the Academy Awards, claiming she had pneumonia, others claimed she was afraid she wouldn't win. Either way, she did win and now you have to watch this great film to see who really murdered Monte!
Best Supporting Actor
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Best Supporting Actress
Best Original Screenplay
Charles G. Booth
The House on 92nd Street
Best Dramatic or Comedy Score
Best Musical Score
Dunn and RKO
Best Sound Recording
The Bells of St. Mary's
Best Cinematography, Black and White
The Picture of Dorian Grey
Best Cinematography, Color
Leave Her to Heaven
Robert J. Kern
Best Film Editing
A Young Mickey Rooney
This film won two Academy Awards as noted in the table above. I just had to write about! Who doesn't love a movie with Elizabeth Taylor, especially a young Elizabeth Taylor? Her very first starring role though her fifth film at eleven years old, oh yes, she played a twelve year old! Of course Taylor plays Velvet and Mickey Rooney plays a jockey named Mi Taylor.
Velvet wins her horse Pirate, calls him Pie and decides to enter him in what else? The Grand National. The story of the young girl's determination as well as the mysterious Mi's background and true parentage. There is actually more accent on Mi than Velvet, but Elizabeth steals every scene she's in.
A feel good film you'll have to watch to find out the results of the race which are very surprising.
Ingrid Bergman as Sister Mary Benjamin
Other 1946 Nominees
The Bells of St. Mary - After the previous year's success with "Going My Way" this film was an attempt to cash in on success, and a very successful attempt. Bing Crosby again plays Father O'Malley, but this time his rivalry is with a lovely nun played by Ingrid Bergman. They're both trying to keep the local Catholic school from being closed down. Drama is added when Sr. Benjamin becomes ill. The inclusion of a touching Christmas scene has made this a Christmas Classic.
Of course there are problems trying to secure a new building, problems with students, and disagreements between Father O'Malley and Sister Benjamin. Religious or no, this is a heartwarming story.
Spellbound - What's an Academy Award Ceremony without a thriller? Especially a psychological mystery thriller directed by Alfred Hitchock. Need I say more? With Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Peterson and Gregory Peck as Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne, you know you're in for a treat. What is strange about Dr. Edwardes? Is the real Dr. Edwardes dead or alive? Who keeps turning the wheel that turns out to be a revolver? You won't want to miss this one.
Anchors Aweigh - Time for a musical comedy? This one's a classic for sure, starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, you know this one's going to be good. Two sailors with a four day leave in Hollywood, watch it and see what you think.
The Picture of Dorian Grey - From film noir, to mystery thriller, to musical comedy, what's next? How about a horror thriller? Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Grey and George Sanders as Sir Henry Wotton. A good looking young man's decline as he wishes his picture could age instead of him.
So many more, like "The Story of G.I. Joe", "The Keys to the Kingdom", "Dillinger", "Objective, Burma", "A Song to Remember", and more still. Can you pick a favorite? How many have you seen? More importantly how many do you want to see?
I hope you've enjoyed yet another journey to the Academy Awards and the wonderful pictures they've helped to make classics. Please leave your comments or share your stories.
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