So, if I actually bothered to plan out my hiatus I should have taken it here, since this would have been my 50th review and that meant I could have finished the fifth decade, worked on my rankings of my favorite Oscar nominated films from 1962-1971, taken a nice two month break, and then started fresh on the final three decades. Alas, my excessive travels led to my queue running out and with juggling interviews and the History of Animation course I just didn't have time to work on the last three reviews before embarking of the nightmare that is the PE exam retake. So now here we are, finally finishing off the fifth decade of reviews five months after we started.
Anyways the last Oscar review introduction worked well so we'll continue to do it here.
So 1962 was dominated really by one film in particular: David Lean's 3 and a half hour epic Lawrence of Arabia. The stirring tale of the adventures of Thomas Edward Lawrence is recognized as one of the defining masterpieces in cinema today, as it was 50 years ago. Despite its massive running time, Lawrence of Arabia more than doubled the box office receipts of the second highest grossing film of 1962, the three hour WWII epic The Longest Day. Both films eventually received nominations for Best Picture, with Lawrence of Arabia once again besting its competitor, getting 10 nominations to The Longest Day's 5. The other Best Picture nominations went to The Music Man (6 nominations), the remake of Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando (7 nominations), and To Kill a Mockingbird (8 nominations). Of those five only Lawrence of Arabia and To Kill a Mockingbird secured corresponding Best Director nominations.
When Oscar night rolled around, it was obvious that Lawrence of Arabia was going to dominate as well. It took home all of the technical awards it was nominated for: Best Color Cinematography and Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Substantially Original Score, and Best Sound. It was not nominated for Best Color Costume Design, allowing George Pal's part live action/part stop motion film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm to take the award. George Pal would be somebody we'll be seeing a lot in the next several reviews. The Black and White technicals went to The Longest Day for Cinematography, To Kill a Mockingbird for Art Direction, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane for Costume Design. The Longest Day also won for Best Special Visual Effects and The Music Man won for Best Adapted Score. The titular song from Days of Wine and Roses won Best Original Song.
Things went smoothly for Lawrence of Arabia until the screenplay and acting Oscars. For all of its success, Lawrence of Arabia lost Best Adapted Screenplay to its main competitor To Kill a Mockingbird. The Italian comedy Divorce Italian Style won Best Original Screenplay in a lineup that included zero Best Picture nominees. Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, making his English language film debut, was nominated Best Supporting Actor in Lawrence of Arabia. However, he lost the Oscar to veteran actor Ed Begley for Sweet Bird of Youth. Another young actor, Peter O'Toole, played the title role in Lawrence of Arabia, getting a Best Actor nomination for his work, but he lost the Oscar to veteran actor Gregory Peck, who finally won in his fifth try. I'm sure it was felt that O'Toole would have many future opportunities to win an Oscar. And indeed he has, getting nominated 8 times, all in the Best Actor category, and all eight times resulting in watching somebody else claim the Oscar, from Rex Harrison to Cliff Robertson to John Wayne to Sacheen Littlefeather to Robert DeNiro to Ben Kingsley to Forest Whitaker. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke took home Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively for The Miracle Worker, with the latter defeating 9-year-ol Mary Badham for To Kill a Mockingbird.
Still, despite these losses, there really were no doubt as to the final outcome once the last two categories came around. Lawrence of Arabia had five Oscars, and only To Kill a Mockingbird had won as many as three. And to nobody's surprise, David Lean captured his second Best Director Oscar, and then Lawrence of Arabia was named Best Picture.
However, there was one category whose result seemed in doubt. And that is what we'll be focusing on: Best Animated Short.
Voyage to Next) and having them improve a dialogue on the subject while assuming the role of construction workers. The final conversation was edited together and put to animation. It was an ambitious endeavor, but in this case I feel that the improvised dialogue may have been detrimental to the film. Sure, Mathews and Gillespie had a good rapport between each other, but at the same time their conversation seems random and disjointed. One minute they're talking about accidents and they next they're talking about dancing. Furthermore, the two can get so long-winded that I didn't really care about what they were saying anymore. There is probably some deep message in what they're saying regarding the fallacy of fail safe procedures, but it was obscured by the fact that it plays out like two construction workers talking about something they know nothing about. And on extension, the ending that was supposed to be powerful in some way winds up feeling rather anti-climactic. The animation seems typical of most Hubley movies. It's fairly simple and crude, but with a lot more stylistic flair than one might expect. They also included a lot of quiet visual humor. Maybe I'm completely off base of what the Hubleys were trying to achieve with The Hole, but whatever I think it is, it doesn't really work.
Where Can I Watch It?
Icarus Montgolfier Wright
Where Can I Watch It?
For the longest time, Icarus Montgolfier Wright was one of the hardest films to watch. It was pretty common in the 1960s, but then eventually went out of print. It was rarely seen for decades until animator Mike Kazaleh restored a 16mm print he had received as a gift from Herbert Klynn, the film's executive producer, and then posting it on YouTube in 2011.
Now Hear This
Tup Tup, which came a decade later. The animation has also progressed to reflect the style of the times. The characters are fairly well designed, but the backgrounds are minimal and usually used for effect. Sound effects are prominent in the film, but I found most of them to be grating. Now Hear This was an interesting foray into the surrealistic realm, but I personally found it too annoying. I'd take the controlled chaos of Chuck Jones's masterpiece Duck Amuck over the utter randomness of Now Hear This any day.
Where Can I Watch It?
It's not available in its entirety on YouTube or any other video site that allows for embedding, but it is available for free on the Turner Classic Movies website, so head over there and watch it.
Self Defense...for Cowards
Where Can I Watch It?
This is also not available on YouTube or any other site that allows for embedding, but it is available to watch and to buy on the Rembrandt Films website.
A Symposium on Popular Songs
Where Can I Watch It?
Well, that's another review done with. Of these five nominees, two of them stand out for me. Icarus Montgolfier Wright was a gripping celebration of human achievement and a great combination of art and literature, while A Symposium on Popular Songs was a wildly entertaining romp through musical history of the 20th century and an early showcase of the genius of Richard and Robert Sherman. It's a tough choice, and in the end while I liked A Symposium on Popular Songs more, I might have to give this one to Icarus Montgolfier Wright. It was a filmmaking tour-de-force, with its vibrant camera work giving the illusion of movement and the Ray Bradbury script. But both films are terrific
And then the Academy went and gave the Oscar to The Hole. Oh well, shows what I know.
My rankings (by quality)
Icarus Montgolfier Wright > A Symposium on Popular Songs > The Hole > Now Hear This > Self Defense...for Cowards
My rankings (by preference)
A Symposium on Popular Songs > Icarus Montgolfier Wright > The Hole > Now Hear This > Self Defense...for Cowards
Also, this finally marks the end of the ten-year period from 1962-1971. I'm going to do what I normally do after these ten-year periods and rank them by preference. Now in the past I've been posting them on Saturday and going back to the regularly scheduled review the Wednesday afterward, but I've only just got off my hiatus and I'm trying to rebuild my queue, so I'm afraid the rankings won't be coming until next week, and the 1961 review will be coming two weeks from now.