The 33rd Academy Awards - 1961
John F. Kennedy
The Sixties - New Cultures
- The decade of "counterculture"
- Pop music
- Women's rights
- The Youth Culture
- Baby Boomers became teenagers and young adults
- The Space Age
We're in the Sixties Now!
If you''ve been following my hubs or if you've been following the Academy Awards, you know that the Awards are given to movies released in the prior year.
The 1961 Awards finally bring us to the nineteen-sixties. Said to be the decade when "we lost our innocence". The nineteen sixties were all about social change. John F. Kennedy and Camelot were in the public forefront. Martin Luther King, the Beatles, Viet Nam War protests, the civil rights movement, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, cultural changes in China, a man walking on the moon! What a decade.
Those of us who were teenagers in the Sixties will carry that decade with us always, whether we were hippies or protesters or part of the folk movement. It was a time not to be forgotten. Books have been written about the Sixties and numerous documentaries. There's even an official sixties website!
The Academy Awards
The thirty-three years of Academy Awards led to this year's Awards. Hosted by Bob Hope in Santa Monica, California, Hollywood faced the end of an era. Gary Cooper was given an honorary award but was too ill to attend the ceremony. The next day the world learned he had cancer. A month later, according to Wikipedia, he died.
The award winner for this year was the last time a black and white film won the Best Picture in a black and white film world. Schindler's List won in 1993 but was a specialty film done in black and white for impact while all other films were in color.
A publicity battle raged between John Wayne, for "The Swiss Family Robinson" and Chill Wills for "The Alamo". Neither film won Best Picture, in fact neither film won any awards.
Starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, The Apartment was nominated for ten awards and won five including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Black and White.
Centered around 'the apartment' Jack Lemmon loans to his unappreciative bosses the movie follows Lemmon and his own love life. The apartment is his way of keeping his job and hoping to climb the corporate ladder. All the while his neighbors think he is the ladies man in his apartment. The romantic interest, Shirley MacLaine, is involved with the married Personnel Director who has convinced Lemmon to let him use his apartment, bumping the other executives. In return he gives Lemmon tickets to the Broadway Show, "The Music Man". Lemmon gets up the courage to ask the elevator girl, Shirley MacLaine to go see the show with him but is stood up. She she meets the Personnel Director, Fred MacMurray, instead.
The New York Times called it "a gleeful, tender, and even sentimental film". If you haven't seen it, check it out to see what you think.
Any film with Burt Lancaster is a powerful one. He is such a presence on screen and certainly the movie Elmer Gantry is no exception. An alcoholic, salesman, exceptional con men turned preacher. How's that for a part for Burt Lancaster? Well, that is exactly what Elmer Gantry is. Though the movie only covers a small part of the original 1927 novel "Elmer Gantry", it is certainly not lacking in story line or characters.
Enter, Sister Sharon Falconer, played by Jean Simmons, a revivalist preacher who Elmer is attracted to. He manages to become an intricate part of her roadshow. But life is not simple in this movie. Arthur Kennedy plays a newspaper man who feuds with Gantry and then there is a past love played by Shirley Jones, who is now a prostitute. Conflicts and blackmail arise with Lulu (the prostitute) but Sister Shriley's love prevails. What happens to Elmer when he loses Sister Sharon?
A film worth watching for Lancaster's performance and all the twists and turns.
Academy Award Nominations for 1961
Burt Lancaster - Elmer Gantry
Elizabeth Taylor - Butterfield 8
Trevor Howard - Sons and Lovers
Greer Garson - Sunrise at Campobello
Sons and Lovers
Jack Lemmon - The Apartment
Deborah Kerr - The Sundowners
Laurence Olivier - The Entertainer
Shirley MacLaine - The Apartment
Spencer Tracy - Inherit the Wind
Melina Mercouri - Never on Sunday
Inherit the Wind
Quotes From Inherit the Wind
- Henry Drummond: Hornbeck, I'm getting tired of you. You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow up something.
- E. K. Hornbeck: We're growing a strange crop of agnostics this year.
- Matthew Harrison Brady: Remember the wisdom of Solomon in the book of Proverbs. "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."
- Henry Drummond: Ever been in love Hornbeck?
E. K. Hornbeck: Only with the sound of my own words, thank God.
- E. K. Hornbeck: [Cates rises as his girlfriend is called to testify] Sit down, Samson, you're about to get a haircut.
- Matthew Harrison Brady: I am more interested in the 'Rock of Ages' than I am in the age of rocks.
Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind
Another movie based on a play but oh what a subject. The controversial "Scopes Monkey Trial" is the basis for this movie. The horror of teaching evolution mixed with McCarthyism. While critical of creationism the point is it is not an historically correct account. One of the writer's of the movie adaptation said, "we used the teaching of evolution as a parable, a metaphor for any kind of mind control [...] It's not about science versus religion. It's about the right to think." In researching this hub I also found on imdb.com that the movie is based on an actual case in 1925. I'll leave it up to you truth or fiction. Whichever you decide there is no doubt that Darwin's theory of evolution has been a controversial one from the very start.
So, in spite of it all, the film seems to be about evolution versus creationism. A small town teacher in the south is brought to trial for teaching evolution in violation of a state law. The teacher, Betram Cates is played by Dick York. Spencer Tracy plays the defense attorney Henry Drummond patterned after Clarence Darrow. Frederick March plays the prosecuting attorney Matthew Harrison Brady patterned after William Jennings Bryant.
America was interested in this case and sent a reputed reporter, also a cynical one, from Baltimore. Gene Kelly plays that reporter, E.K. Hornbeck. The Rev. Brown who protests the godlessness of Cates is played by Claude Akins.
Watching the movie brings you into that overcrowded, overheated court room. Emotions run high throughout the entire movie and you can almost feel the heat. Adding to that heat is Cates "friend" and supporter, Rachel Brown. Yes, she's the daughter of the Rev. Brown. Conservative versus liberal, evolution versus creationism, small city versus the country, man versus society...they're all there!
I could go on but at this point I think it would be best to say, see the movie!
How do you feel about this year's Academy choices?
A Great Year for Movies
Looking over the titles in the Academy Awards, this was a year of great movies. Have you seen "Sons and Lovers"? The great film adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's epic novel of the same name? Did you see Elizabeth Taylor drive her Sunbeam Alpine off a cliff on the New York State Thruway in "Butterfield 8"? There's a lot of good movies in this Academy Awards batch. I know you'll like many of them.
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