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The 31st Academy Awards - 1959

Updated on March 10, 2015
tillsontitan profile image

Mary has been a movie fan since she was a little girl. She watched movies every night of the week on Million Dollar Theater..

31st Academy Awards Ceremony

Crowd in front of the theater for the 31st Academy Awards.
Crowd in front of the theater for the 31st Academy Awards. | Source

31st Academy Award Trivia

  • The producer tried to cut the show to keep it short, unfortunately it was cut too short, twenty minutes to be exact. A rerun of a sports show was used to fill the void.
  • Susan Hayward was born Edythe Marrenner in Brooklyn, New York.
  • The studio re-wrote and re-shot some scenes in "Gigi" before releasing it.
  • Two notable omissions from the Best Picture nominees included Orson Welles' film noir Touch of Evil and Alfred Hitchcock's romantic mystery Vertigo.
  • Honorary Academy Award was given to Maurice Chevalier.
  • Joan Collins, Angela Lansbury, and Dana Wynter sang "It's Great Not to Be Nominated" at the Ceremony.


The 31st Academy Awards Ceremony is the awards ceremony that took place in 1959. It is the ceremony honoring movies released in 1958. The ceremony was held at the Pantages Theater on April 6, 1959. Hosts for the 31st Academy Awards were; Jerry Lewis , Mort Sahl, Tony Randall , Bob Hope , David Niven , Laurence Olivier - I don't see any actresses here, just saying.

Russ Tamblin starred in the movie "tom thumb", deliberately not capitalized. The amazing thing about this film? Besides me remembering it, the film won an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects. I wonder how many of you remember, or even heard about, this movie?

So many movies are made in a year, many of which we never hear of. Some movies stick in our minds even though the Academy has not chosen to honor them. Either way, let's take a look at a few Oscar Winners for the 31st Academy Awards.

Leslie Caron

Leslie Caron played Gigi
Leslie Caron played Gigi | Source


While I found this a good movie it was hard to believe it won nine awards! It broke the record of "Gone With the Wind" which won eight. Amazingly enough none of them were for acting! It received no acting nominations. The draw for this film was the combined talent and musical numbers. Directed by Vincent Minnelli with songs and lyrics by Lerner and music by Lowe!

A love story that shows love conquers all, well at least cynicism, even in the Parisian society at the turn of the Century when it was more accepted to have a mistress. Actually one mistress after another. But Gigi, played by Leslie Caron, did not want to be a mistress. She wanted more even though she was trained as a courtesan. Gigi tricks Gaston, played by Louis Jourdan, into taking her on vacation where they become closer. But Gaston is a well known bachelor who has had many mistresses and Gigi is a courtesan. Watch the movie to see what happens.

Though it was compared to "My Fair Lady", the New York Times said it could stand on it's own legs. A delightful little love story.


Susan Hayward

Shot of Susan Hayward from the movie "I Want to Live".
Shot of Susan Hayward from the movie "I Want to Live". | Source

I Want to Live

Story of real life murderer Barbara Graham. Played so well by Susan Hayward she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Researching for this movie I found the real Barbara Graham or "Bloody Babs" as she was known was probably guilty of the murder she was executed for. The movie, however makes her look innocent making the movie more dramatic and a tear jerker...who doesn't love a tear jerker?

The movie was adapted from letters written by Ms. Graham as well as newspaper articles of the time. It shows Barbara Graham as a product of a broken home, a prostitute who lures men to card games. She tries to go straight but the man she marries is a drug addict. She does have a child. After their marriage ends she goes back to her old profession and becomes involved with a man who murdered a woman. As a result (in the film) she is framed for the murder of a woman.

Susan Hayward is definitely the star of this movie. If you don't think she's innocent and feel sorry for her in this movie, you'll never feel sorry for an actress in any movie. Her performance is powerful and her last minutes will stay with you long after you've seen this movie!

I Want to Live - Official Trailer

Nominees in Three Categories for 1959 Awards

Best Motion Picture Nominees
Best Actor
Best Actress
David Niven - Separate Tables
Susan Hayward - I Want to Live
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Tony Curtis - The Defiant Ones
Deborah Kerr - Separate Tables
Aunti Mame
Paul Newman - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Shirley MacLaine - Some Came Running
Separate Tables
Sidney Poitier - The Defiant Ones
Rosalind Russell - Auntie Mame
The Defiant Ones
Spencer Tracy - The Old Man and the Sea
Elizabeth Taylor - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Spencer Tracy


The Old Man and the Sea

This movie won the Academy Award for the Best Original Score. Nice award but not one that tells us much about the movie. However, Spencer Tracy was nominated for the Best Actor Award.

I decided to write about it here because it is different than most Academy selections. First, it is said to be "most literal, word-for-word rendition of a written story ever filmed" by Turner Classic Movies. Second, it is not the most cinematically beautiful movie ever made.

Hemingway's novella of the same name was almost a fable about a man who is made fun of by other fisherman because he has not caught a fish in eight-four days. The story of an aging fisherman who must still face the elements and lands the biggest fish of all time but returns with just its skeleton after dealing with the elements has a lot of lessons in one short movie. A New York Times review stated, "It is an affecting demonstration of primal fortitude, and one's heart may well bleed for this old fellow, as do his line-lacerated hands." Just as an aside, the fish he did catch, the black marlin, is known as the "bull" of the sea and is one of the largest bony fish.

Many criticized the films lack of authentic feel, having been shot in a studio tank, but others say the musical score made up for that shortcoming, both forgetting there were scenes shot with Tracy in a real boat on a real ocean. Oh, another bit of trivia, Hemingway is seen briefly in a bar scene at the end of the movie.

Variety said of this film, "It is Tracy’s picture from beginning to end. One could quarrel with his interpretation of the old man. There are moments when he is magnificent and moving, and others when he seems to move in a stupor. It is, on the whole, a distinguished and impressive performance, ranging from the old man’s pursuit of the fish, to hooking him, to the long chase and the final slashing battle."

Definitely a movie to be seen. At times I felt sorry for the old man but most of the time I admired his calm fortitude and pursuit of his dream and livelihood. The young boy that is his friend is also a bright spot showing his loyalty to the old man even against his father's wishes.

The Old Man and The Sea

How many of these movies have you seen?

See results

Other Notable Pictures of 1958

"The Defiant Ones" starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier was nominated for six Academy Awards but only won two. It is the story of two escaped criminals, one black and one white, who are shackled together and must learn to trust each other and depend on each other to survive.

Who hasn't head of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" starring Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives? According to Wikipedia it was one of the top ten box office hits in 1958. Nominated for four Academy Awards it surprisingly did not win any.

What about the romantic comedy, "Houseboat". Starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. Cary Grant arranged for Sophia Loren to star with him after having an affair with her on another film. It was nominated for two Academy Awards but won none, and what about these five films:

  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • The Big Country
  • Bell Book and Candle
  • Separate Tables
  • South Pacific

There are still more notable films from this year, too many to list. If you haven't seen them, check them out!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

"Bringing you movies that are part of your memories."


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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Thank you Anna. so glad you enjoyed!

    • AnnaStevens1552 profile image

      Anna Stevens 

      5 years ago from USA

      I think that it is a beautiful and informative share from the 31st Academy Awards Ceremony. I feel really happy to see that the “Separate Tables” is also nominated in the list because it is one of my favorite movies.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      What are friends for? Hmm, to make you make you think you are boost you encourage make you laugh your @#$ off....all of those things you do my friend Effer!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Of course "original" can be collected from a multitude of sources.....shouldn't be a negative issue....right? And just because you "can't imagine it.".......I mean, the vast majority of FAMOUS individuals didn't "imagine.", what's your point, Ms. Writer? Look at the heights you have reached in a short time, just HERE on HP!!....We have witnessed a precious blossom......BLOOM & display her natural virtues & talents, before our eyes. You have worked and you have earned this. Don't be so damned humble.

      Oh...sorry.....I gave my bill collectors, your phone number....aHEM, GF!!!!.............What are friends for?

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Oh thank you Faith. I am so thrilled that you actually follow this series with so much interest as to write down titles! How nice that made me feel on this Friday morning.

      I just love sharing my love of movies and getting comments like yours makes my hubs worthwhile. Hugs back to you dear Faith.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Mary (till),

      Thank you for all of the hard work you put into this wonderful series you have going on here. That truly is a shocker about "Gigi" winning more than "Gone With The Wind" ... my goodness! I love Gigi but...

      I always have my pen and paper handy to make a list of all of the great movies to watch once again, or for the first time, after reading your wonderful series.

      Your added insight into each movie and cast truly adds so much extra interest.

      Hugs, Faith Reaper

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      TT2 you made my day! You made me think I'm smart, well when it comes to movies anyway ;) Yes, they certainly were movies, and good ones too!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      5 years ago from USA

      Where in the world do you get all of this info? It's amazing what you come up with. I just wish today's movies were as great as the old ones. Now THOSE were movies!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      I loved tom thumb. I was young and thought he was a cute little guy. So many things we don't is full of surprises.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      I watched and enjoyed every one of the nominated movies you cited, Mary, except one. You mentioned the film, 'tom thumb'??? Who knew? Never heard of it, m'dear.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Effer you crack me up, I can't imagine anyone beating a path to my door...well maybe a bill collector or two. Seriously what a lovely idea but I don't have any original pictures and pictures make the book. In the meantime though, thanks for the vote and all the shares! Hope your visit is going well.

      Ah Frank, how nice I could fill your bag! I've got lots of years to go but I'm not too sure about the ones that are more current. Blessing back to you.

      Suzie I think everyone misses a few each year, why, even I do believe it or not. Glad you liked the tagline, guess Bill has more influence than he realizes. Thank you for the lovely compliment and of course the wonderful votes and share.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Mary,

      Another excellent run down of the movies that won academy awards, I do love your series! I agree with Paula an best seller would be the business!! I remember seeing tom thumb, Gigi and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof but not the others but from your reviews, I have missed some greats so will have to give them a watch now. I loved Russ Tamblin in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, on of my favorite musicals and he was perfect for little Tom! I did love Houseboat and agree it should have been up there in the awards!

      Keep up the series Mary, as always you write so well and love the style you bring to these. Your tagline by the way is EXCELLENT!! So appropriate !

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, shared!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      Til, I just love when you do these types of hub I get my entertainment feed bag filled.. keep it up :) Bless you

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til... you do the BEST damned job on your Academy Awards Hubs. Put them altogether, they would spell: New York Times Best Seller! Ever think of that? I think you should. Every movie buff, Celebrity fanatic, Big Screen Historian would beat a path to your BOOK-signing!!! UP+++ shared, pinned, tweeted.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Pamela, the one good thing for me, about writing these hubs is it refreshes my memory ;) So glad you enjoyed.

      Thanks Aviannovice. It makes you wonder how the Academy chooses the pictures.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I saw Tom Thumb and the Old Man and the Sea. Amazing how some other really wonderful movies got no awards. As always, great work!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a very good hub for the 31st year. I remember seeing The Old Man and the Sea. It was different and I liked it. I also liked The Defiant Ones. I actually don't remember much about Gigi, but I do remember I Want to Live as it was hardcore as you described. I didn't know many of the details and enjoyed your hub very much.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Genna, have I told you I love your comments? You put so much thought into them. Hemingway made that comment after seeing "Farewell to Arms". I have to agree Curtis and Poitier were great in "The Defiant Ones". So very glad you enjoy this series Genna.

      My dearest Joe. This year's movies certainly weren't "The Donna Reed Show"! "I Want to Live" was fairly hardcore though they say the real Graham was not only guilty but tough and hardcore. Gigi was much more lighthearted but then there is The Defiant Ones....uh oh, I'm going off on a tangent here!

      Having my efforts acknowledge and appreciated make it all worthwhile my friend. Na'u ka hau'oli or should I say No Wuccas ??

      Martin you're just a young whipper snapper! Thank you for jumping on the band wagon with the old bunch ;)

      Thank you Eddy. Hope your days great as well!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      Another great addition Mary ; voted up and have a great day.


    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      I enjoyed this a lot. thank you. It would be another 2 years before I see any of these.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      These are all such great movies. I've never seen Gigi, although I've heard of it and--until now--thought it was a usual romance. Your terrific research enlightens me, and now I know it is a much more complex film, character-wise. Seems like this particular year focused on strong female characters from seedy backgrounds. I suppose this was indeed an empowering theme for women. I can see why I never saw these movies as a child...and by the time I was aware that life was more dynamic than Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best or The Donna Reed Show, why, I was watching The Graduate and Summer of '42. : )

      As usual, my dear Mary, your expertise on the movies, actors, and supporting features that were nominated and/or selected for Oscars shines through in stellar hub fashion.

      Thanks for doing the hard work, Mary! Your energy and efforts are well received and appreciated, my friend! Aloha and mahalo!


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      As soon as I received the e-mail about a new installment, I thought, “Oh good!” I truly love these.

      Laurence Olivier was one of the hosts for the award ceremonies? Now that’s a surprise. As well as the fact that “Gigi” won more awards than “Gone With the Wind,” which starred Olivier’s love, Vivien Leigh (Lady Olivier).

      “The Old Man and the Sea.” I read somewhere that Hemingway once said that making a film from someone’s book was “like piddling in your father’s beer.” Except "piddling" is not the word he used. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I thought it was rather funny. Tracy was magnificent in that film.

      I thought “The Defiant Ones” was one of Poitier’s finest roles – as well as Tony Curtis.

      I always learn something new with your hubs, Mary. They continue to be fun and interesting. Thank you. :-)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Thanks so much Bill. I so appreciate your following this series and always commenting. Have a great week.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. Another great addition to your Academy Awards Series. I also have not seen all of these but I did enjoy Gigi, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Defiant Ones. Keep this series going, we really enjoy the look back at the movies of yesteryear. Voted up, shared, etc....

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Oh no Bill, a year off from the movies? Unheard of ;) Hope you get to catch up! Glad you enjoyed.

      DDE I'm so glad you enjoy this series and so happy to see you here.

      Brianlokker, I have to watch The Old Mand and the Sea too, I didn't realize Hemingway was in it either!

      WND I agree. I love Jimmy Stewart in anything he does. Glad you enjoyed.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      5 years ago from Alabama

      Oh, Vertigo should have made it. Anything with Jimmy Stewart is terrific.

      Thanks for the entertaining and informative hub.

    • brianlokker profile image

      Brian Lokker 

      5 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      Informative and enjoyable, as always. I didn't know that Hemingway had a cameo in The Old Man and the Sea. If I watch it again I'll pay attention to that. I agree that Touch of Evil and Vertigo were unfortunate and surprising omissions from the Best Picture nominations. Both are excellent.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great hub on The 31st Academy Awards - 1959 I learned something n here and is always a good one from you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oddly, Mary, I have only seen about half of these. Maybe I took that year off from movies??? Inconceivable! LOL Thanks for the list and synopsis...I think I need to rent a few of these.

      Well done as always, and always interesting.


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