The 34th Academy Awards - 1962
Bob Hope in 1986
34th Academy Awards
Thirty four years of Awards. This was a glorious year for me. Not only did I love the Oscar winner for Best Picture but I was fifteen. Can you remember a better time in your life than when you were fifteen? I knew everything and my love for movies hadn't changed a bit. You did know everything at fifteen didn't you? I mean no one is smarter than a fifteen year old.
Now imagine being fifteen in the early sixties! John F. Kennedy was President, Johnny Carson took over the Tonight Show, Shirley Booth was playing Hazel on television, and A Man for All Seasons was playing on Broadway. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, "The Twist" was declared impure and banned in Catholic Schools, and filming began on "Dr. No". This was quite a year (1962).
The Academy Awards were held on April 9 in Santa Monica, California and Bob Hope was the host for the seventh time. A man named Stan Berman snuck into the Awards, up on stage and presented Bob Hope with his 1938 trophy and for the first time a musical swept the Awards....what a year. And the movies, this was a year of truly great and memorable movies and performances by some favorite stars.
Natalie Wood in West Side Story
West Side Story
A musical adapted from the Broadway play based on the story of Romeo and Juliet with a modern twist. This musical won ten Awards. Natalie Wood starred as Maria, a perfect choice. Her innocent beauty had been seen in Hollywood since she was a child. Her "Romeo" whose name was Tony, was played by a lesser known actor, Richard Beymer. Of course everyone knows Rita Moreno and her acting in this film was outstanding. She plays the love interest of Maria's brother Bernardo and Maria's friend. Bernardo was played by George Chakiris.
Remember I was fifteen so I hadn't heard of all of these actors but by the time I had seen the movie I loved all of them. My girlfriend's father was a prop man so he was on the set of this movie. You can see his truck in one of the scenes on the street in the opening scene. If you watch the video you'll see a blue van, that's his!
Back to the movie. Not only was the story a good one and the actors great, but the musical score and songs were outstanding. Even if you've never seen the movie you've probably heard some of the songs like "Somewhere", "Maria", or "The Jets" because when you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way! That would be one of the warring gangs, the one Tony belonged to. No one can forget the performance by Russ Tamblyn as Riff, the leader of the Jets. Bernardo belonged to the Sharks. (The Montagues and Capulets if you will.)
While the story and actors are familiar, if you haven't seen this movie you are missing a true classical, both as a musical and as a love story. There is no way to do it justice in this short space so I would highly recommend you see it.
West Side Story - Opening
Maximilian Schell in Judgement at Nuremberb
Judgement at Nuremberg
A very moving film about war crimes committed by the leadership of Nazi Germany. Four judges preside over the hearing of four Nazi judges who are accused of crimes against humanity. The trial is based on the actual Judges' Trial before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal in 1947. What made the film most outstanding for its time was the use of actual footage taken by soldiers in concentration camps during the war. Huge piles of dead bodies are shown together with other atrocities the soldiers witnessed.
The cast is superlative and includes Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer,Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner, and Montgomery Clift. The courtroom drama is at times palpable. The introduction of the defendants gives you a glimpse into their personalities as the trial begins.
Testimony by a frightened German woman, Judy Garland, is sad and moving. She tells how her elderly Jewish friend was falsely accused of having sex with her and being accused of polluting the Arian race. As a result he was put to death.
How does one go along with genocide? What makes a man kill innocent people "for the good of the country"? Burt Lancaster as Ernst Janning finally admits he was wrong to follow orders. All of the men are sentenced to prison but their attorney, Hans Rolf played by Maxmillian Schnell defiantly says that all of them will be free in five years.
This is certainly a film worth watching but be warned it is very emotional and hard to watch the actual footage.
Judgement at Nuremberg Trial Begins
Academy Award Nominations 1962
West Side Story
Maximillian Schnell - Judgement at Nuremberg
Sophia Loren - Two Women
Charles Boyer - Fanny
Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's
Judgement at Nuremberg
Paul Newman - The Hustler
Piper Laurie - The Hustler
Spencer Tracy - Judgement at Nuremberg
Geraldine Page - Summer and Smoke
Guns of Navarone
Stuart Whitman - The Mark
Natalie Wood - Splendor in the Grass
Did you see AND understand Splendor in the Grass?
Splendor in the Grass
Trying to pick only three movies to write about here was very difficult as this year was chuck full of good movies. I chose Splendor in the Grass for a number of reasons. First, I like Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, well what can I say, who doesn't like him? By the way this was Warren Beatty's movie debut. Second, it was a movie about teenage angst and parents who weren't quite getting their teenagers - one suggesting abstinence from sex while the other was suggesting a prostitute to relieve sexual tension, and lastly, parts of the movie were filmed here in Rosendale, in the hamlet of High Falls. Yes, the scenes of falls were filmed here. It is said the Director/Producer Elia Kazan had a summer home in High Falls and when a drought occured where he originally planned to film the water scene, he ultimately chose High Falls, NY. Though I lived in Queens at the time my friends here spoke very highly of the actors in this movie saying they were all friendly and treated everyone in the town like old friends.
The story of Deanie played by Natalie Wood and Bud played by Warren Beatty. High school sweethearts in the throes of their sexuality.
Turner Classic Movie describes this film in one sentence, Sexual repression drives a small-town Kansas girl mad during the roaring twenties." That my friends is actually the basis of this movie. Wanting to "go further" and explore their sexuality yet afraid to take that step.
I found the ending sad but many may not. Certainly a movie to watch as an adult and see what you think.
Splendor in the Grass - With Scenes at High Falls, NY
1962 Academy Awards and Movies
What a year for films and Academy Awards. Who could forget The Hustler or Guns of Navarone? Certainly you remember Breakfast at Tiffany's. What about The Children's Hour, El Cid or Flower Drum Song? Yes, 1961 was a great year for movies and the Academy Awards as always, nominated the best.
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