I first saw this film in the weeee hours of the morning a few days into January of 2011. It was about six months into my new-found obsession with Lew Ayres and it was one of the films that really solidified my undying love for him. It’s a pretty racy film for 1948 and holds up quite wonderfully nearly seventy years later. It’s also one of the most nominated films in Academy history. Johnny Belinda was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, winning one: Best Sound, Best Score, Best Film Editing, Best B&W Cinematography, Best B&W Art Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Charles Bickford, Best Supporting Actress Agnes Moorehead, Best Actor Lew Ayres, Best Actress Jane Wyman (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and winner Hamlet.
Movie Quote of the Day – How The West Was Won, 1962 (dir. John Ford, Henry Hathaway & George Marshall)
Parson Alec Harvey: The laddie’s health the reason you’re heading west?
Zebulon Prescott: Partly, only partly. Mostly our trouble east was rocks. I had me a farm where some years I’d raise a hundred bushels of rocks to the acre.
Rebecca Prescott: Now, Zebulon, you hadn’t oughta lie to the man like that.
Zebulon Prescott: Wife, I’m a god fearin soul and I tell the truth as I see it. Now I never used a plow, I’d blast out the furrows with gunpowder. And then one morning, I hauled the bucket up from out of the well and so help me the bucket was full of rocks. Rocks! I just stood there, right still, tryin’ not to blaspheme, and I said to myself, “You’ve got a son that’s ailin, you’ve got a twenty year old daughter what won’t take to herself a husband, there she sits over there, moonin as usual, and you’ve got another daughter who just don’t seem quite right in the head”. Lilith! Now, I remind you sir, I’m still standin’ there, holding a bucket full of rocks, and starin into a bleak old age. So I made me a vow right then and there, I said, “If I can find a man with five hundred dollars, who likes rocks, then there’s going to be another fool ownin this farm. Well sir, the Lord provided such a man, and here I am.
Rebecca Prescott: He ain’t told you one word of truth, Mr.Harvey. We had the best farm in the township.
Zebulon Prescott: Yeah, Rockville Township it was. Stone County.
It took A LOT of searching to find this movie. It is not available on DVD in the United States (click here if you want to try to do something about that). While probably not as well-known as Citizen Kane, I think this film is just as much a masterpiece Welles’ more famous film, though probably less universally approachable. I’m going to talk a little later about some of the production (and the headaches it caused). The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, though it went home empty-handed: Best B&W Art Direction, Best B&W Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress Agnes Moorehead and Best Picture. The other nominees for Best Picture that year were 49th Parallel, Kings Row, The Pied Piper, The Pride of the Yankees, Random Harvest, The Talk of the Town, Wake Island, Yankee Doodle Dandy and winner Mrs. Miniver.
Love it or hate it, Citizen Kane made an indelible mark in cinematic history and will forever be lauded as one of the great films ever made. The American Film Institute listed it as the #1 American film on both their 1998 list of the 100 Greatest American Films and their Ten Year Anniversary list from 2007. Everybody knows that quote “rosebud….” whether they know what it refers to or no. It did not, however, win the Academy Award for the Best Picture of 1941. No, indeed, that award went to the schmaltzy Zanuck produced, John Ford directed family drama/literary adaptation How Green Was My Valley. I recently saw that film, and I must say I found it to be the most boring of all the Best Picture winners I’ve seen (I’ve only got six left to watch!) I can see why it won though, Academy Politics and John Ford at the helm and Darryl F. Zanuck as producer. But it definitely is not a film that endures or a film many will remember, other than perhaps how much it bored them, the way thatCitizen Kane will. Kane is a classic in every sense of the word. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, ultimately only winning one. Those nominations were Best Film Editing – Robert Wise (who would go on to become a great director/producer in his own right, winning four Academy awards), Best Score, Best Sound, Best B&W Cinematography, Best B&W Art Direction, Best Actor Orson Welles, Best Director Orson Welles, Best Original Screenplay Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz (won) and Best Picture. It was up against Blossoms In The Dust, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back The Dawn, One Foot In Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon and winner How Green Was My Valley.
Beware, if you’ve never seen the film before there will be at least one really big spoiler.