1947 – 1952
After World War II the idea of relevance and using movies to make a statement became very popular. Movies weren’t just for entertainment, they could carry a message
Anti-Semitism was the hot topic. Two movies dealing with this as a theme were nominated.
The first, which won Best Picture, Gentleman’s Agreement, was an expose of anti-Semitism via the unwritten ‘gentleman’s agreements’. The second, Crossfire told the story of the murder of a Jewish hotel guest and the search for the anti-Semite murderer.
Other nominees were Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife, Great Expectations, Black Narcissus
not a particularly impressive field compared to other years.
Gregory Peck did Not win Best Actor for Gentleman’s Agreement, William Powell, did Not win in Life With Father, John Garfield did Not win in Body and Soul, Michael Redgrave did Not win in Mourning Becomes Electra. Ronald Colman for his role as Anthony John – a Shakespearean actor gone mad on-stage while playing Othello in A Double Life, won. This was considered a ‘career’ Oscar.
The winner in the Best Actress award category was considered a shocker; Loretta Young in The Farmer’s Daughter. She beat out Rosalind Russell, who was expected to win, Dorothy McGuire, Susan Hayward and Joan Crawford.
The Best Supporting Actor went to Edmund Gwenn for his “Father Christmas” in Miracle on 34th Street. over Charles Bickford, Robert Ryan , Thomas Gomez, and Richard Widmark.
The Best Supporting Actress Award went to Celeste Holm over Gloria Grahame, Ethel Barrymore, Marjorie Main, Anne Revere
Instead of a Best Supporting Actor or Best Actor nomination, James Baskett received an Honorary award for his performance as happy-go-lucky Uncle Remus in Disney’s Song of the South. He was the first African-American man to receive an acting award and the first Disney actor to receive an Academy Award
Song of the South also won an Oscar for Best Song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and was nominated for Best Score.
As usual, Charlie Chaplin was ignored.
This year was a shocker as Laurence Olivier’s superb Hamlet won Best Picture. It defeated The Red Shoes. The Snake Pit, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Johnny Belinda. This last was expected to win.
The Snake Pit, a socially-conscious film about mental illness and life in a mental institution continued Hollywood’s crusading.
Laurence Olivier won Best Actor for Hamlet. The competition did not come from Humphrey Bogart, (who was not even nominated), but from Lew Ayres in Johnny Belinda Clifton Webb as babysitter Lynn Belvedere in Sitting Pretty, Dan Dailey in When My Baby Smiles at Me, and Montgomery Clif in The Search.
Jane Wyman won the Best Actress award for her performance as a deaf mute in Johnny Belinda. She won over Olivia De Havilland as mental patient in The Snake Pit, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman as Joan of Arc and Irene Dunne as Mama in I Remember Mama
Walter Huston won the Best Supporting Actor award for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre over Charles Bickford, Jose Ferrer, Oscar Homolka, Cecil Kellaway .
Claire Trevor won Best Supporting Actress over Barbara Bel Geddes, Ellen Corby, Agnes Moorehead, and Jean Simmons.
This was the first year Best Costume was given. Edith Head began her run of nineteen straight years of nominations but lost.
Orson Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai, and Letter From an Unknown Woman were ignored.
Humphrey Bogart wasn’t nominated in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre nor Key Largo. John Wayne and Montgomery Clift were ignored in Red River. Henry Fonda in Fort Apache, John Garfield in Force of Evil, and James Stewart in Call Northside 777. But most noticably, Edward G. Robinson as gangster Johnny Rocco.
The Best Picture Award was presented to the front-runner film, All the King’s Men, about a corrupt, politician (based on the life of assassinated Louisiana demagogue Senator Huey Long). Other nominees included Battleground, Washington Square, The Heiress, Twelve O’Clock High, A Letter to Three Wives.
Broderick Crawford won for his role in All the King’s Men, over Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Richard Todd, John Wayne.
Pinky, about a black woman who passed as white to gain a better life received three nominations (for best actress) and no wins.
Olivia de Havilland won for her performance in The Heiress over Jeanne Crain, Susan Hayward, Deborah Kerr, Loretta
Dean Jagger won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar over Arthur Kennedy , James Whitmore, John Ireland and Ralph Richardson.
Best Supporting Actress was Mercedes McCambridge over Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, Celeste Holm, Elsa Lanchester
Fred Astaire was presented with an Honorary Award (by Ginger Rogers) as was Cecil B. DeMille.
Gene Kelly’s On the Town, They Live By Night, White Heat with a spectacular performance by James Cagney didn’t exist in the eyes of the Academy and one of the best foreign films ever made went unnoticed The Bicycle Thief by Italian director Vittorio De Sica.
The Best Picture race was basically between All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard.
All About Eve won six Oscars and boasted Bette Davis, George Sanders, Marilyn Monroe, and Anne Baxter.
The Best Actor race was won by Jose Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac defeating Louis Calhern, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart and William Holden.
The race for Best Actress was the best in the history of the Awards. Judy Holliday won over Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in All About Eve and the performance of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.
George Sanders won Best Supporting Actor and Josephine Hull as best supporting actress.
Edith Head won two Best Costume Design awards this year, one for a color film (Samson and Delilah), and one for a black and white film ( All About Eve).
The most obvious omissions in 1950 was The Third Man, not nominated for Best Picture, or Best Actor or Supporting Actor; Orson Welles as the evil Harry Lime
Marlon Brando was ignored as paraplegic WWII veteran in The Men, Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter, Clifton Webb in Cheaper By The Dozen with no nominations, Alec Guinness as eight different murder victims in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Joseph Cotten in The Third Man and James Stewart in Winchester ‘73
Although Spencer Tracy was nominated for Father of the Bride, he and Katharine Hepburn were ignored in Adam’s Rib.
An American In Paris, ws a major surprise winner of the Best Picture Award in 1951 It beat A Streetcar Named Desire,, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis and Decision Before Dawn
The entire ensemble in A Streetcar Named Desire was nominated for Best Actor/Actress and Best Supporting Actor/Actress awards; Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter. Three of the four succeeded
Marlon Brando lost to Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen.. Many consider Bogart’s Award a compensation as he had been un-nominated in The Maltese Falcon (1941), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and lost for Casablanca (1943).
The other Best Actor nominees in the competitive category included Montgomery Clift for a Place in the Sun, Fredric March as aging, unsuccessful salesman Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman,
The Best Actress race was between Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen and Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Vivian Leigh won. Other nominees were Eleanor Parker, Shelley Winters and Jane Wyman
Karl Malden won the Best Supporting Actor over Leo Genn, Peter Ustinov, Kevin McCarthy, and Gig Young .
Kim Hunter won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Streetcar Named Desire. The remaining four nominees in the category included:Joan Blondell, Mildred Dunnock Lee Grant, Thelma Ritter.
The Best Foreign picture was Rashomon. Gene Kelly received an Honorary Academy Award “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.”
Alfred Hitchcock, as usual was ignored. Strangers on a Train went un-nominated. Robert Walker was snubbed for his great performance as gay, psycho-pathic killer Bruno Anthony,
One of the finest science-fiction films of all time, The Day the Earth Stood Still was totally ignored.
For the first time the Academy ceremony was televised, on March 19, 1953, on NBC-TV, with Bob Hope as host in Hollywood and Conrad Nagel in New York.
It resulted in the largest audience in commercial television history.
The recipient of the Best Picture Award is considered the worst choices of all time; The Greatest Show on Earth. The Best Picture Award did Not go to High Noon.
It was felt the ‘political climate’, that is the current communist witchhunt caused the Academy to opt for mindless entertainment over the more meaningful High Noon, which might be seen to have some sort of communist or liberal agenda.
Although it was defeated for the Best Picture Gary Cooper won best actor over Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata! Kirk Douglas in The Bad and the Beautiful, Jose Ferrer as the physically stunted, Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge and Alec Guinness in The Lavender Hill Mob
The Best Actress Award went to Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba over Joan Crawford, Julie Harris, Bette Davis, Susan Hayward.
Anthony Quinn won the Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance in Viva Zapata! over Jack Palance, and Richard Burton in his American film debut
Gloria Grahame won the Best Supporting Actress Award over Jean Hagen whose performance was outstanding.
Singin’ In The Rain, was barely noticed, Pat and Mike with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy wasn’t noticed. Grace Kelly was not nominated for High Noon. And as usual, Charles Chaplin was un-nominated as Best Actor in his last important film Limelight.