Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Best Animated Short - 1955
We have now gotten to the year 1955, which is the year that my dad was born. When I was young I idolized my dad and thought everything in the world about him.* I even thought that he was really old, and that anything or anybody that was older than him would be really, really old. Of course he was only in his 30s back then, but it's been over 20 years since those days and my dad is closing in on his 60th birthday. So I guess the films from this year and the ones I'll be reviewing later would be really, really old.
*I still think everything of my dad. He is the mot selfless and hard working person I've ever known. I know that we have clashed from my laid back nature and his more serious nature, but I understand that he wants me to be the best that I can be because he is always demanding his best. I don't think I've ever told him that I appreciate everything he's done for me and that I love him, but I might as well do it here. 爸爸，我愛你.
So we're now in 1955, and the biggest film news from this year was the sudden and unexpected death of actor James Dean in a car accident at the tender age of 24. It was a month before the release of his second and possibly his most endearing film, the teen angst film Rebel Without a Cause. That film went on to become the fifth highest grossing film of the year, and is now recognized as an American classic. When the Oscars were announced, the film did decent, picking up nominations for Best Story and Best Supporting Actor/Actress nominations for co-stars Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood. Dean was also nominated, not for Rebel, but for his first film, East of Eden. It was the first posthumous acting nomination for an actor. (Jeanne Eagles was nominated posthumously in 1929 for The Letter.)
Neither East of Eden nor Rebel Without a Cause were nominate for Best Picture (although the former was nominated for Best Director.) The Best Picture nominations were given to the Eurasian love film Love is a Many Splendored Thing (eight nominations), the romantic dramedy Marty (eight nominations), the naval dramedy Mister Roberts (three nominations), the film adaptation of the stage play Picnic (six nominations), and the romantic drama The Rose Tattoo (eight nominations). Of those only Marty and Picnic received corresponding Best Director nominations, with the rest going to Elia Kazan for East of Eden, David Lean for Summertime, and John Sturges for Bad Day at Black Rock.
With three films tied for most nominations, it was a mighty tight competition. The sound categories were dominated by Love is a Many Splendored Thing and the Rogers and Hammerstein adaptation Oklahoma! The former won Best Original Song and Best Score (Dramatic/Comedy), while the latter won Best Score (Musical) and Best Sound. The split visual categories were also evenly matched. The Rose Tattoo is the only film to win two, winning for B/W Art Direction and Cinematography (for Chinese cinematographer James Wong Howe in his first Oscar). B/W Costume Design went to I'll Cry Tomorrow. Picnic won Color Art Direction. Love is a Many Splendored Thing won Color Costume Design. And Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief won Color Cinematography. Picnic won the crucial Best Editing award, while The Bridges at Toko-Ri won Best Special Effects. Marty won its first Oscar of the night when it took home Best (now Adapted) Screenplay. The Eleanor Parker biopic Interrupted Melody won Best (now Original) Story and Screenplay. And the Doris Day biopic Love Me or Leave Me won the now-defunct Best Story.
The acting categories did little to break the deadlock. Best Supporting Actor went to a relatively young actor who had previously starred mostly in television named Jack Lemmon for his role in Mister Roberts. Meanwhile the older Jo Van Fleet won Best Supporting Actress for her role as James Dean's mother in East of Eden. Best Actress went to Italian actress Anna Magnani for her role in The Rose Tattoo. But all eyes were on Best Actor where people were eager to see if James Dean could ride his tragic death to a victory. Alas, it was not to be, as Ernest Borgnine won for his portrayal of the lovable but socially awkward title character in Marty.
With the final two awards of the night rolling around, Love is a Many Splendored Thing and The Rose Tattoo were in the lead with three wins, but with no Best Director nominations their chances seemed slim. Picnic and Marty were among the films with two, and they both had Best Director nominations so it seemed like the race was down to those two. Marty pulled off a huge victory when television director Delbert Mann took home Best Director in his first foray into the film world. And then it went on to win Best Picture, which just goes to show how important Best Director is and how unusual it is for Argo to dominate this past year.
Another rather evenly matched race, at least in terms of nomination, was going down in the Best Animated Short category. Who are the competitors? We shall see.
Good Will to Men
WhereCan I Watch It?
The Legend of Rockabye Point
Where Can I Watch It?
This has an annoying opening and is of lower quality, but the higher quality version has been uploaded for less than a year, and has a website watermark the entire time. You can watch it here if you so choose.
Icarus Montgolfier Wright. It's a very well made segment that was tragically too short. Clarence Nash as Donald is always great while Bill Thompson does a decent job as Donald's grandpappy. Still, it doesn't make up for the gags that don't really work for me.
Where Can I Watch It?
*Speedy made his debut in the film Cat-Tails for Two, although he looks completely different.
Where Can I Watch It?
It's not readily available in embeddable form due to Warner Bros. cracking down on their copyrighted films, but it is available on the Warner Bros. Academy Award Animation Collection, and in non-embeddable form on Supercartoons.net.
Well, here we have the four nominees from 1955. Of those two of them were older than my dad, so they become the first two films with the really, really old designation. They certainly won't be the last. Of these films I might have to say the best is The Legend of Rockabye Point. It's got the best humor and that great ending. Good Will to Men was good, but it kind of loses points for being a blatant remake. Speedy Gonzales was funny, but it spent too much time with the bland first half. Unfortunately (for Walter Lantz), the Academy hates Tex Avery and loves Speedy Gonzales, so that walked away with the Oscar. Too bad.
My rankings (by quality and preference)
The Legend of Rockabye Point > Speedy Gonzales > Good Will to Men > No Hunting