Monday, January 7, 2008

25th Academy Awards

The 25th Academy Awards ceremony was held on March 19, 1953, from the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California and the NBC International Theatre, New York and. was the first to broadcast nationally, exclusively on NBC, after the show almost got cancelled because the studios refused to provide the usual funding. The show was broadcast from 10:30 p.m. to 12:00 midnight, switching back and forth from host Bob Hope on the West Coast to Conrad Nagel on the East Coast. The late start was made to accommodate those nominees who were performing that night on the Broadway stage. By 1953 45 percent of all households had television sets, which was up from 10 percent 3 years earlier. Hollywood saw television as the enemy which would keep people home, no longer buying tickets at the movie theater box offices. This meant that because of Hollywood's strong views, they would have nothing to do with television. With the cost of the show now reaching $100,000, the four major studios announced that they would not cover the cost of the event as they normally did. Two weeks later the Academy announced that it had made a deal with NBC/RCA for exclusive TV and radio rights.

The Greatest Show on Earth is a 1952 drama film set in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille. The film stars Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde as trapeze artists competing for the center ring, and Charlton Heston as the circus manager running the show. The three main characters are also involved in a romantic triangle. Other subplots involve performers played by Dorothy Lamour and Gloria Grahame, and a clown who never removes his makeup, played by James Stewart. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby played cameo roles as circus spectators, and Edmond O'Brien has a similar unbilled appearance. Behind-the-scene melodrama is interwoven with almost documentary-style scenes of realistic circus performances in lavish costumes (by Edith Head and others), and towards the end, a spectacular scene involving a massive collision of the two trains that carry the circus from town to town. Many critics and film fans consider this film among the worst to have ever won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Other 1952 movies of high critical acclaim include High Noon,The Quiet Man and Singin' in the Rain, which are often offered as alternative winners.

The Best Director Award went to John Ford for The Quiet Man (his final statuette) and the Best Actor Award went to Gary Cooper for High Noon. The Best Actress Award went to Shirley Booth. Booth received her first Tony, for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic), for her performance as Grace Woods in Goodbye, My Fancy (1948). Her second Tony was for Best Actress in a Play, which she received for her widely acclaimed performance of the tortured wife, Lola Delaney, in the poignant drama Come Back, Little Sheba (1950). Her leading man, Sidney Blackmer, received the Tony for Best Actor in a Play for his performance as her husband, Doc. Her enormous success in Come Back, Little Sheba was immediately followed by A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), in which she played feisty but lovable Aunt Cissy, which proved to be another major hit. She then went to Hollywood and recreated her stage role in the motion picture version of Come Back, Little Sheba (1952), with Burt Lancaster playing Doc. Screen legend Bette Davis, her career recently revitalized, was offered to star in the film version, but felt the part of Lola wasn't right for her. After that movie, Booth's first, was completed, she returned to New York and played Leona Samish in The Time of the Cuckoo (1952) on Broadway. In 1953, Booth received the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Come Back, Little Sheba, becoming the first actress ever to win both a Tony and an Oscar for the same role. When she accepted the award for best actress, she was so excited that she tripped on the stairs on the way up to accept the award during the live show. She returned to motion pictures in 1958 starring in two more films for Paramount, playing Dolly Gallagher Levi in Thornton Wilder's romance/comedy The Matchmaker (1958), which is the movie version of the nonmusical play that Hello, Dolly! was later based on, and playing Alma Duval in the drama Hot Spell (1958). In 1961, Booth began starring in the television situation comedy Hazel, based on Ted Key's popular comic strip from the Saturday Evening Post about domineering yet endearing housemaid, Hazel Burke. The show reunited her with Harry Ackerman, who produced the show, and she won two Emmys, in 1962 and 1963, and new stardom with a younger audience.

The Best Supporting Actor Award went to Anthony Quinn for Viva Zapata!. He is perhaps best known in the US for his roles in two Hollywood films, the title role in Zorba the Greek and his Oscar-winning performance in Viva Zapata!, while in the rest of the world he is associated with his role of the brutish circus strongman Zampanò in Federico Fellini's La strada. In 1947, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Returning to the screen in the early 1950s, Quinn specialized in tough, macho roles. He was cast in a series of B-adventures like Mask of the Avenger (1951). A big break was his playing opposite Marlon Brando in Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952). His supporting role as Zapata's brother won Quinn his first Oscar, the first Mexican-American to win any Academy Award. He appeared in several Italian films starting in 1953, turning in one of his best performances as a dim-witted, thuggish, and volatile strongman in Federico Fellini's La strada (1954), playing alongside Giulietta Masina. Quinn won his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for portraying the painter Gauguin in Vincente Minnelli's Van Gogh biopic, Lust for Life (1956). This award was all the more remarkable given that he was onscreen for all of 8 minutes. The following year, he received yet another Oscar nomination for his part in George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind. As the decade came to a close, Quinn allowed his age to show, and he began his transformation into a major character actor. His formerly trim physique filled out, his hair grayed, and his once smooth, swarthy face weathered into an appealing series of crags and crinkles. His careworn demeanor made him a convincing Greek resistance fighter in The Guns of Navarone (1961), an ideal ex-boxer in Requiem for a Heavyweight, and a natural for the role of Auda ibu Tayi in Lawrence of Arabia (both 1962). In that year, he also played the title role in Barabbas, based on the novel by Pär Lagerkvist. The film is an Easter season favorite down to the present day. The success of Zorba the Greek in 1964 was arguably the high water mark of Quinn's career, and resulted in another Oscar nomination. His film career slowed during the 1990s, but Quinn nonetheless continued to work steadily, appearing in Jungle Fever (1991), Last Action Hero (1993), and A Walk in the Clouds (1995). In 1994, he played Zeus semi-regularly on the syndicated series Hercules. Quinn's personal life was as volatile and passionate as the characters he played in films. His first wife was the adopted daughter of Cecil B. DeMille, the actress Katherine DeMille, whom he married in 1937. The couple had four children; they were divorced in 1965. The next year, he married costume designer Iolanda Quinn (Jolanda Addolori). The union ended in 1997, after Quinn fathered a child with his secretary, Kathy Benvin. He then married Benvin, with whom he had two children. They remained together until his death.Quinn spent his last years in Bristol, Rhode Island. He died aged 86 at Boston, Massachusetts from pneumonia and respiratory failure while suffering from cancer shortly after completing his role in his last film, Avenging Angelo (2002).

The winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar was Gloria Grahame. she made her film debut in Blonde Fever (1944) and scored one of her most widely praised roles as the promiscuous Violet, who is saved from disgrace by George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). MGM was not able to develop her potential as a star and her contract was sold to RKO Studios in 1947.Grahame was often featured in film noir pictures as a tarnished beauty with an irresistible sexual allure. During this time, she made films for several Hollywood studios. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947). Grahame starred with Humphrey Bogart in the 1950 film In a Lonely Place, a performance which garnered her considerable praise. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Other memorable roles included the scheming Irene Nieves in Sudden Fear (1952), and mob moll Debby Marsh in The Big Heat (1953). In a horrifying, especially for its time, scene, she is scarred by hot coffee thrown in her face by Lee Marvin's character. Grahame was often regarded as a difficult actress to work with, and her career began to wane after her quixotic, but successful casting in the musical movie Oklahoma! (1955). Grahame was seen as difficult to cast with the demise of film noir, not evil, but too naughty to be an innocent. She began a slow return to the theater, but returned to films occasionally to play supporting roles, mostly in minor releases.In 1960, even Hollywood was scandalized after her marriage to Tony Ray, Grahame's former stepson and son of her ex-husband Nicholas Ray (In A Lonely Place, Rebel Without a Cause) whom she had divorced eight years previously. Gloria ended up having children by both father and son. Finding film roles difficult to obtain in Hollywood, she returned to the theater and continued to work as a stage actress.In 1981, Grahame collapsed during a rehearsal for a British stage play, and returned to New York City, where she died soon after from breast cancer at the age of 57.

"The Ballad of High Noon (Do Not Forsake me, oh, My Darling)" is a popular song published in 1952 with music by Dimitri Tiomkin and lyrics by Ned Washington. It was introduced in the movie High Noon, where it was sung by Tex Ritter. It was awarded the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Honorary awards
Merian C. Cooper- For his many innovations and contributions to the art of motion pictures.
Bob Hope - For his contribution to the laughter of the world, his service to the motion picture industry, and his devotion to the American premise.
Harold Lloyd- Master comedian and good citizen.
George Alfred Mitchell- For the design and development of the camera which bears his name and for his continued and dominant presence in the field of cinematography.
Joseph M. Schenck- For long and distinguished service to the motion picture industry.
Jeux interdits (1952)- France. Best Foreign Language Film first released in the United States during 1952.

Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award
Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille grew up in Pompton, New Jersey and attended Pennsylvania Military College in Chester, Pennsylvania beginning at the age of 15. He had an older brother, William, and a younger sister who died in childhood, Agnes, after whom Cecil's famous niece was named. DeMille directed dozens of silent films, including Paramount Pictures' first production, The Squaw Man (1914), which was co-directed by Oscar Apfel, before coming into huge popularity during the late 1910s and early 1920s, when he reached the apex of his popularity with such films as Don't Change Your Husband (1919), The Ten Commandments (1923), and The King of Kings (1927). DeMille displayed a loyalty to certain supporting performers, casting them over and over in his pictures.DeMille also had a reputation for being a tyrant on the set, and he despised actors who were not willing to take physical risks. While he continued to be prolific throughout the 1930s and 1940s, he is probably best known for his 1956 film The Ten Commandments (which is very different from his 1923 film by the same title). Also representative of his penchant for the spectacular was the 1952 production of The Greatest Show on Earth which gave DeMille an Oscar for best picture and a nomination for best director.DeMille married Constance Adams on 16 August 1902 and had one child, Cecilia. The couple adopted Katherine Lester in the early 1920s; her father had been killed in World War I and her mother had died of tuberculosis. Katherine married Anthony Quinn. They also adopted two sons, John and Richard. Cecil B. DeMille died of heart failure in January 1959.

No comments: