Billy Wilder – Five Graves to Cairo
My Overall Thoughts:
This is another year with 5 great nominees, but one of the films was much better than the rest and still remains one of the greatest films ever made.
5. Clarence Brown
4. George Stevens
3. Ernst Lubitsch
2. Henry King
1. Michael Curtiz
5. The Human Comedy – Interesting look at how people dealt with life on the homefront while their loved ones were far away fighting for their freedom. The cast does a fine job here and the fact that this film was written at the time of the war helps reflect attitudes at the time. The dialogue is written really well and even simple scenes come across as being so well thought out. The scene with the librarian works really well to prove that to us.
4. The Song of Bernadette – Great tale that truly puts forth a question that deals solely with faith. The characters choose to believe or disbelieve based on their own experiences along with their hopes and dreams. Jones is great in the title role and truly deserved her Best Actress Oscar for this role because she plays the part so beautifully. It was fascinating seeing how and why different characters chose to follow their beliefs and how some changed along the way. The story drags on a bit too much and might have been even better had it been trimmed a bit.
3. The More the Merrier – Starts off amazingly, but tapers off as things move along. Coburn is amazing and deservingly won an Oscar for Best Supporting actor for this role. Loved the way that the early scenes are written because the dialogue and actions of the characters are so much fun to watch as things rapidly move along. I can understand how this film could have been nominated for Best Picture that year, but in the end it’s a fun romantic comedy of the 40’s, but not the kind of film that would have been able to walk away with the big award.
2. Heaven Can Wait – Great idea that works really well. The characters and story are so enjoyable to watch as we slowly learn about their lives and everything that happens to them over the course of the near 80 years depicted. Ameche is great in the title role and it’s interesting seeing his character age since I’m more familiar with him as an older actor. I could have spent so much more time with these characters and I would have enjoyed having them expand some of the various vignettes depicted or even show us more events of his life because it was so enjoyable to take in. Nice to see this film among the Best Picture nominees of that year.
1. Casablanca – Blane is an amazing anti-hero character who has a great dilemma and arc that works so well because most people can relate or at least understand his motivations. The story is truly timeless and the intrigue and mystery along the way helps keep things interesting. The cast is superb with Bogart, Bergman, Heinreid and rains all perfectly cast in these roles. The story moves along at a great pace and by the end, we can completely understand the true motivations of everyone. One of the best films ever written.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely! Casablanca is still one of the greatest films ever made and that has much to do with the work of Curtiz. The other nominees are all fine films, but far from being as great as this one is.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!