Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Best Animated Short - 1950
And we are now ready to bid good-bye to the 1950s. It was a good decade, with tons of classic films and several years with only three Best Animated Short nominees and the golden age of baseball when the Yankees ruled the sport. But most of all it was the decade where almost but one of my aunts and uncle was born*. My oldest aunt was born in the year 1950, and so she is now closing in on her 63rd birthday in August, which makes her approximately the same age my grandma when I was born. Which means I'm now the same age that my grandmother was when she had my oldest aunt. My reaction to that is the same as Ludwig von Drake after his horrible pun in A Symposium on Popular Songs. But such is the effects of time. We're all getting older, and some day in the distant future we'll be as relevant as the people from the 1860s that went about their daily life.
*My mom's youngest brother was born in 1961.
Well, that's enough depressing stuff. Let's move onto the Oscars.
The box office hit of the year was Walt Disney's animated adaptation of the fairy tale Cinderella, which not only marked a return to full-length animated spectacles after years of making package films, but was a classic that remained Disney's favorite of his films, and my favorite Disney film not named Wreck-It Ralph. Alas, as an animated film it was mostly ignored in the Oscars, picking up only three nominations. To be fair two of the Best Picture nominees only had three nominations: Father of the Bride and King Solomon's Mines. The others were Born Yesterday (5 nominations), Sunset Blvd (11 nominations), and All About Eve (a record-smashing 14 nominations.) Those were the only films with corresponding Best Director awards, with the others going to John Huston for The Asphalt Jungle and Sir Carol Reed for The Third Man.
One of Cinderella's nominations was in the Best Music (Musical) category, but it lost that to Annie Get Your Gun. Another was in the Best Original Song category (for Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo instead of A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes), but it lost that to Captain Carey, USA for the Nat King Cole song "Mona Lisa." Its final nomination was in the Best Sound category, but it lost that to All About Eve. So much for Cinderella. Best Music (Dramatic/Comedy) went to Sunset Blvd. King Solomon's Mines won Best Color Cinematography while Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah won the other two Color categories. The film where DeMille actually made an appearance, Sunset Blvd., won Best Black/White Art Direction, while All About Eve won for Costume Design and The Third Man won for Cinematography. King Solomon's Mines won Best Editing, while Destination Moon, one of the first live action films George Pal produced after leaving animated shorts, won Best Special Effects.
It became clear that the year's race was down to Sunset Blvd. and All About Eve, since those were the only films with double digit nominations. Sunset Blvd. came out on top in the two technical categories where they competed. Unfortunately they competed in different writing categories, with the former winning Best Story and Screenplay and the latter winning Best Screenplay. The wonderfully titled Panic in the Streets won Best Story. It seems that it would be in the acting categories that the two films would have at it. Sunset Blvd. had nominations in every acting category, while five of All About Eve's 14 nominations came in those categories. All About Eve had an early victory when George Sanders won Best Supporting Actor for his role as a dastardly theater critic over the haunting Erich von Stroheim for Sunset Blvd. And to the surprise of all the two films took a backseat in the other three categories. Josephine Hull won Best Supporting Actress for Harvey. Jose Ferror won Best Actor for Cyrano de Bergerac. And the most compelling category of the night, the one that featured the dueling stars of All About Eve and the wasted silent film star of Sunset Blvd., actually went to Judy Holliday for her humerous role in Born Yesterday.
So when the last two awards of the night came about, All About Eve held a narrow 4-3 lead over Sunset Blvd., respectable numbers but not exactly what people expected with 14 and 11 nominations. There was a chance for Sunset Blvd to come back, especially since All About Eve director Joseph L. Mankiewicz won the Best Director Oscar the year before. Alas, that did not matter to Oscar voters, as he won again, becoming the last person to win back to back Best Director awards. (Then again not many have even won back to back nominations.) And after that All About Eve easily waltzed to a Best Picture win. Margo Channing was right. It really was a bumpy night.
And one of those bumpy categories was Best Animated Short.
Gerald McBoing Boing
Gerald can end up with a happy life is a big question mark, but he got a happy ending in this film, and that's all that's important. Although its success would eventually lead to the prevalence of limited animation without the artistic vision of those at UPA, Gerald McBoing Boing was still a landmark film.
Where Can I Watch It?
*I do think it's weird that Tom would destroy his own property when he had the upper hand.
Where Can I Watch It?
Ragtime Bear directed by John Hubley. He became a hit with viewers for his crazy antics, and he soon became their premiere recurring character. The task of directing Magoo films soon fell to former MGM and Warner Bros. animator Pete Burness. Trouble Indemnity was Burness's first Magoo film, and it had many of the gags that made Magoo such a popular character. It begins with mostly commentary style gags where Magoo does things like mistake a coat rack for the person at the door. Those jokes were pretty well done and funny. It lead to the second half that is full of slapstick gags. Jokes at a construction site are quite old, having been present in films such as Building a Building and Rhapsody in Rivets, but the one in Trouble Indemnity are pretty funny even if they lack originality. The most impressive thing, however, is how Burness was able to turn seedy businessmen into rather sympathetic characters. You want Magoo to survive not because you like Magoo, but because you don't want to see those men go down. Maybe that's just me. Anyway, Trouble Indemnity is a good Mr. Magoo film that goes far to show how Mr. Magoo became such a popular character.
Where Can I Watch It?
Unfortunately the only ones floating around online are dubbed in Portuguese. I've no idea why that is, but with the Mr. Magoo DVD set delayed and VHS copies hard to come by, they're all you're going to get. I'm sure Chris Sobieniak would come around with copies of the original English version, but until then this is all you'll be getting.
Well, here it is. The three nominees from 1950. Yeah, it's not quite All About Eve and Sunset Blvd., but they are still fine and entertaining films. While I really like Jerry's Cousin I don't think it hold a candle up to Gerald McBoing Boing. That film was so groundbreaking and so successful that there's no way the other two nominees can measure up. Apparently the Academy was also charmed by it, as it took home the well deserved Oscar.
My rankings (by quality)
Gerald McBoing Boing > Jerry's Cousin > Trouble Indemnity
My rankings (by preference)
Jerry's Cousin > Gerald McBoing Boing > Trouble Indemnity