I actually watched 68 new-to-me movies in August altogether, which I believe is a record for me. 46 of them, however were on Turner Classic Movies’s Summer Under The Stars. There were several days where I watched between four and six films all in a row on TCM. There were even some days where in the midst of watching new-to-me films I watched some old favorites as well. I discovered at least one old film star I’d never known about and now love. I finally watched some essential classic films that had somehow escaped me up until now. I watched a few films that were pretty forgettable and I discovered some films that I will love forever. Overall, it was a wonderful journey of film immersion for someone who loves film down to her bones, and now I don’t know what do to with my life until next August.
This is one of my favorite classic films. It’s a masterful adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play of the same name. Like many a Williams play, it is hot and steamy and filled with tension. Richard Brooks is such an amazing director and he hits every note of the film perfectly. Somehow this masterpiece lost the Best Picture award to the overblown, boring musical adaptation Gigi. I watched Gigi recently I was aghast that it had won nine Oscars. I thought it was absolutely one of the most boring, overwrought films I’d ever seen. Then to add insult to injury I discovered it beat Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. This is definitely a case of pomp winning over substance. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof was nominated for six Academy Awards, but didn’t win a single one: Best Actor – Paul Newman, Best Actress Elizabeth Taylor, Best Color Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director – Richard Brooks and Best Picture. Aside from the two acting categories, it lost all the awards to Gigi. The other nominees for Best Picture that year were Auntie Mame, Separate Table and The Defiant Ones.
The 1956 film Giant is one of my favorite films of all time. George Stevens won the Best Director Oscar that year and the film was nominated for a total of nine awards – Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Score, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design – Color, Best Art Direction – Color, Best Supporting Actress – Mercedes McCambridge (she won the award for 1949’s All The King’s Men), Best Actor Rock Hudson, Best Actor James Dean (this was his second posthumous nomination in a row) and Best Picture. It lost to Around The World In 80 Days. I recently watched that film and I would say there is no way it is a better film than Giant. The other nominated films were Friendly Persuasion, The King and I and The Ten Commandments. Last week I also watched Gigi which beat Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in 1959, another year where the winner is in no way as good as some of its competition. I think the reason 80 Days won is because it’s a giant Technicolor travelogue, and 60 years ago it was filled with images that many people didn’t get to see in everyday life, whereas today all you have to do is flip to the Travel Channel. But if you compare the stories and the performances and the lasting power of the films, Giant is a classic in every definition of the word and is just as compelling now as it was in 1956 and 80 Days is most definitely not.