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The 17th Academy Awards in 1945
Every year people buzz about the upcoming Academy Awards and people all over the world watch the ceremony on television. What about the old Academy Awards that showcase the classic films of eras gone by? Over the years there have been changes to the ceremonies and the way they were conducted. For example, 1945 was the first year the category of Best Motion Picture was limited to only five movies. In keeping with the war effort this was the last year the Oscar statuette was made of plaster.
Held in March, this year's ceremony was again held at Grauman's Chinese. Bob Hope was a co-host with John Cromwell. Many may not be familiar with Mr. Cromwell. Mr. Cromwell was an actor, director and producer. In 1930 he directed "Tom Sawyer" which starred Jackie Coogan. I know this is stretching even film history buff's imaginations. Maybe you remember him from playing a role in "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" in 1940? He played John Brown.
How about a bit of trivia before we go on to the Oscars? Did you know the Oscar statuette was actually modeled after a real person? That person was Emilio Fernandez. It seems Mr. Fernandez was an actor who was friends with Delores Del Rio, a famous silent film star. When her husband was looking for a model for the statuette she suggested Fernandez. The rest is history.
Now, let's go to the Oscars.
Going My Way
Going My Way
Who doesn't love this heart-touching, musical, comedy, drama, really what more could you ask for? Well, apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way. "Going My Way" was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven! Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Original Motion Picture Story, Best Music, Song, Best Cinematography, Black and White, and finally Best Film Editing, all awarded to "Going My Way". While we're at it, who doesn't love Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald? When I was younger I thought he was just so cute, Barry Fitzgerald that is. Actually, I still do.
A lovely story about young Father Chuck O'Malley who has come to take over St. Dominic's Church from old Father Fitzgibbon. I don't have to tell you there are many differences of opinion between the young priest and the old priest, but Father O'Malley is a shrewd operator and treads very carefully with Father Fitzgibbon. There is their difference over the boys in the parish. The boys keep getting in trouble and Father Fitzgibbon doesn't fret about it since they attend Mass every Sunday. Father O'Malley on the other hand wants to do something about it. He winds up forming a choir where the boys sing more than Church songs. Father Fitzgibbon doesn't like the noise and decides to ask the Bishop to move Father O'Malley. There he finds out O'Mally is supposed to be in charge.
Like a child, Father Fitzgibbon runs away but he returns. Father O'Malley puts him to bed with an Irish lullaby. Of course there's a female interest, she's the love Father O'Malley had before he became a priest. She still has feelings for him so she is only too willing to help him and his boys choir out, not to mention Father Fitzgibbon.
You thought I was going to tell you what happened? Then you don't know me. I love to have my readers do their own research and watch the movies for themselves. You will see familiar faces like William Frawley and Frank McHugh and Risë Stevens who in real life was a Contralto of the Metropolitan Opera Society. She played Father O'Malley's past love interest. I will say, in addition to the beautiful song, "Going My Way" Father O'Malley and his boys sing "Would You Like to Swing on a Star". Now you know I'm not going to tell you the ending or the gift Father O'Malley gives Father Fitzgibbon, but if you've seen the movie, don't tell the others, let them find out for themselves.
Bing Crosby sings "TOO-RA-LOO-RA-LOO-RA" from Going My Way
Photo from Gaslight
Moving to a totally different film we have "Gaslight", winner of Best Actress for Ingrid Bergman and Best Art Direction. If you like suspense thriller's this one's for you. A true psychological suspense thriller. Oh, and here we have another box-stander. Charles Boyer was shorter than Ingrid Bergman so he stood on a box in scenes with her. I wonder how many other actors stood on boxes in those days? Well, in this film, Angela Lansbury, the maid of questionable character had to wear high platform shoes to give her the illusion of being taller than Ingrid Bergman it also made her more intimidating to Ms. Bergman's character Paula. This was Angela Lansbury's first movie role.
Called a 'noirish' film, it follows Paula (Ingrid Bergman) as she marries a shall we say French, gentleman piano player who tells her he's always wanted to live in a London mansion. As luck would have it Paula owns a London mansion, 9 Thornton Square. The one her aunt was killed in nine years ago. She says she's not afraid to go back there now that she has Gregory. She's been away "recuperating" in Italy and that is where she met the dashing piano player. This, my friends, is where it starts.
Is Gregory (played by Charles Boyer) trying to drive Paula insane or is Paula really insane? Are the footsteps in the attic real? What about the flickering gaslights? We watch as Paul gradually begins to become unhinged. And then along comes Cameron, who happens to be Joseph Cotton, and who thinks Paula bears an uncanny resemblance to her aunt, the late opera singer. In the meantime Gregory has accused his wife of losing a brooch he gave her, of losing a picture that was hanging on the wall, and then there's the footsteps. Of course Gregory telling Paula that her mother was admitted to an insane asylum doesn't hurt his case any.
Did I mention Cameron just happens to be a detective who is very taken with Paula? He begins trying to see her alone which Gregory cunning avoids, and also posts a policeman to watch the goings on at 9 Thornton Square.
This is that kind of film. You need to pay attention from beginning to end so that you don't miss any of the clues that are right there for you to see. At first you're not sure of Paula's mental status either, but then you begin to suspect Gregory. I highly recommend watching this one.
Other 1945 Academy Award Winners
Best Supporting Actress
None But the Lonely Heart
Best Dramatic or Comedy Score
Since You Went Away
Stoloff & Dragon
Best Musical Score
Best Cinematography, Color
Best Cinematograpy, Blck an Wht
Best Film Editing
- Since You Went Away
- Mrs. Parkington
- The Seventh Cross
- Dragon Seed
- Meet Me in St. Louis
- A Guy Named Joe
- Two Girls and a Sailor
Other 1945 Nominees
While "Going My Way" and "Gaslight" predominated the Academy Awards, they were certainly not the only classic film nominees in 1945.
In the "film noir" category we have quite the twister in "Double Indemnity". Though it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, it didn't win any. An insurance salesman is sucked in by a beautiful woman who wants to get rid of her husband. "Double Indemnity" is an insurance term whereby an accidental death brings double the insurance policy amount. Starring Fred McMacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson who has the job of checking on insurance claims and weeding out the fake ones. He and MacMurray work together which gives this movie that "wonder what's going to happen next" appeal. Great performances by all three and certainly one to watch to find out what happens.
Then there's "Mr. Skeffington" starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains. This is a typical Bette Davis film. She is taken with her own beauty as is everyone else. She marries Mr. Skeffington because her brother Tippy stole money from him. A noted part of this movie is that Mr. Skeffington is a Jew in high society in 1914. Their marriage is not ideal as she continues to flirt with other men. Over the years he has ignored Davis' behavior with other men but finally sought comfort with his secretaries. Davis uses this as an excuse to divorce him. When their baby daughter grows up she wants to live with her father. Of course there is so much more to this movie but you'll have to watch it to find out.
As you can see from the list I've provided there were a lot of good movies and even trying to just write a synopsis is difficult without making this long and tedious to read. The last film I will mention though is "The Fighting Sullivans" which was originally released as "The Sullivans". Perhaps you've heard of them? They were five brothers killed during WWII. They requested that they all serve on the same ship and so all went down with the ship, the USS Juneau. A Naval snafu is most likely responsible for the death of the fifth Sullivan. According to allmovie.com this movie was originally banned in many places because of how it might affect others who had lost sons in the War.
This movie introduces the Sullivan boys through their baptisms. Then follows their lives growing up. Normal boys fighting each other and getting into trouble but with close family ties and bonds to each other. The "war" aspect of this film is minimal. It is more about the family and their love of home, family, and country.
The remaining Sullivan family members actually acted as consultants on the movie. Definitely a move worth watching. I have read that this movie was the inspiration for "Saving Private Ryan".
I hope you have enjoyed this visit to the Academy Awards and will leave a comment sharing your feelings on these movies.
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