The 20th Academy Awards Ceremony in 1948
Academy Awards Background
I have been writing about the Academy Awards; the 9th, 12th, 14th and 15th, and now I've settled on the 20th Academy Awards Ceremony. The Awards in 1948 were unique in that they spread the Awards around (according to Wikipedia) with no film winning more than three Academy Awards. This was not to happen again until 2005!
The Awards were held in March at the Shrine Civic Auditorium and like all the Awards before them, the films were from the previous year, 1947. While some have said there was no host for this Academy Awards Ceremony others say Agnes Morehead and Dick Powell co-hosted the Awards, the first time a women was ever host. The stage of the auditorium was decorated like a large birthday cake with Oscar statuettes set up as candles.
Two of the five movies nominated for Best Picture were British films that earned six Oscars between them. A new category was introduced this year, an award for Best Costume Design Award for color and B/W feature films.
Predictions for Oscar winners were horribly wrong this year so it was decided to no longer predict winners but to wait until they were announced.
Two years after the end of the War people were going to the movies and paying forty cents admission! Now that we've learned how the prices have changed in the last sixty-five years, lets take a look at the Awards of 1948.
Sticking to the three Oscars per picture I mentioned earlier, "Gentleman's Agreement" won Best Motion Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor. Covering a story on antisemitism, a reporter played by Gregory Peck, goes under cover as a Jew. It was a very controversial film at the time, causing several Hollywood Executives to ask Zanuck not to make the film as it might stir up trouble. Strangely enough, this movie went on to be the highest grossing film for 20th Century Fox in 1947. According to Wikipedia, "In recognition for producing Gentleman's Agreement, the Hollywood chapter of B'nai B'rith International honored Darryl Zanuck as its "Man of the Year" for 1948."
The "Gentleman's Agreement" is an unspoken agreement whereby anti-Jewish sentiments are taken for granted. A very dramatic film with the entanglement of a divorced woman and a Jewish friend. Certainly one to look into.
Other Films of 1947
- The Fugitive
- Buck Privates Come Home
- Angel and the Badman
- The Egg and I
- Song of Scheherazade
- Out of the Past
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
- Dark Passage
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Farmer's Daughter
This movie won Loretta Young an Oscar for Best Actress. Loretta Young was my mother's favorite actress so I saw a lot of Loretta Young movies growing up. "The Farmer's Daughter" tells about a simple, Swedish-American, farmer's daughter who decides to leave home to become a nurse. Little does she expect the life she falls into. Washington is certainly not Wisconsin and our farmer's daughter finds politics and of course, romance in her new life.
After having her money stolen, Katrin takes a temporary job as a maid to build up her money again. Amidst a budding romance with her boss, the Congressman, and her affinity for his mother, Katrin takes some night classes. As a result of her honest and outspoken personality she winds up running for Congress. Of course the twists and turns of dishonest politics effect Katrin and you know about the romance bewteen her and her Congressman. As with all happy films, there is a happy ending.
If you haven't seen this one, it is certainly entertaining and Loretta Young, Joseph Cotton, and Ethel Barrymore seem to be very at home with their characters. Just a little side note, actor James Arness made his debut in this film. Four hundred and fifty extras were used in the political rally scene and in 1963 a television show called The Farmer's Daughter, based on this film and starring Inger Stevens ran for three years.
Other 1948 Academy Awards
Best Original Screenplay
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
Best Musical Score
Mother Wore Tights
Bryon & Shingleton
Best Art Direction, Black & White
Lyon & Parrish
Best Film Editing
Body and Soul
Miracle on 34th Street
Ronald Colman won the Oscar for Best Actor and Miracle on 34th Street's Edmund Gwenn won Best Supporting Actor. While I have nothing against Ronald Colman or the film he was in, "A Double Life", I was much more enchanted with "Miracle on 34th Street" as millions of viewers have been too. As a matter of fact, "Miracle on 34th Street" also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Story so why wouldn't I want to write about it? Every year at Christmas time millions of new fans are added to the followers of this delightful film.
Along with the wonderful performance by Mr. Gwenn, who makes you really believe he is Santa, you have John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, and a very young Natalie Wood.
The movie centers around the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It seems Kris Kringle is upset that drunks are playing Santa Claus and gets himself hired as the Macy's Santa Claus. Things begin to heat up when Kris's honesty is out of line with Macy's policy. He sends buyers to other stores when he thinks they can do better elsewhere.
The secondary or maybe primary story is Maureen O'Hara's character and her relationship with her daughter and would be suitor. Seems Doris has taught her daughter Susan not to believe in fairy tales and is upset when Susan begins to believe in Kris and Santa Claus.
There is so much more to this whimsical film. Kris is tried for insanity and the courtroom scenes are not to be missed. Doris breaks up with her boyfriend, Susan wants a house of her own and so on. If you've somehow missed this Christmas staple, now might be a good time to catch up.
Miracle on 34th Street
More 1947 Oscar Winners
Okay, so I said I wasn't going to write about "Double Life" but after all, it did win Best Actor and Best Dramatic or Comedy Score. This is a true 'film noir' (stylish Hollywood crime drama). A stage actor drives his wife away with his unpredictable temper. Though they continue to act together on stage, portraying a murder further undermines his sanity. He winds up killing his mistress.
This movie won Best Art Direction, Color and Best Cinematography, Color. This is a dark film about a convent in the Himalayas where, apparently, all of the nuns are crazy. Scenes from the original movie were edited out here in the States at the request of the Catholic Legion of Decency. I have to admit I haven't seen this one but may look into it though I'm not sure about a movie that involves nuns, sexuality, and seduction.
The Bishop's Wife
This one puts me back on safer ground. Another Christmas classic and with a trio like David Niven, Cary Grant and Loretta Young how can it be anything but entertaining and pleasing to watch even though it only won an Oscar for Best Sound Recording.
Wikipedia states, "a story about an angel who helps a bishop with his problems." The bishop is trying to raise funds to build a new chapel and has somehow lost sight of the important things in his life, like his wife. Cary Grant's angel is charming and devilish. You won't be sorry you watched this light-hearted film.
I could go on writing more about these movies or the others from 1947, but I think there is enough food for thought here. I hope you've enjoyed this journey back to the year 1947 and the 1948 Oscars. Thank you for visiting.
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