6 Good Films That Were Not Nominated For Best Picture: The 1940s


Gary Cooper. Joan Fontaine, Mary Astor, and Donald Crisp at the 1942 Oscars.

Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 1940s.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943, dir by Alfred Hitchcock)

Amazing, Alfred Hitchcock never won the Best Directing Oscar.  In fact, it was rare that his films were even nominated.  (Though Rebecca did win Best Picture, it could be argued that film’s style was as much to due to David O. Selznick as it was to Hitchcock.)  One of the best of Hitchcock’s unnominated films was Shadow of a Doubt.  With its dark sense of humor and wonderful performances from Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright, Shadow of a Doubt was Hitchcock at his best.  It was also, perhaps, a bit too darkly subversive for the Academy.

Detour (1945, dir by Edgar G. Ulmer)

The ultimate film noir nightmare, Detour was actually well-received when it was originally released, though it would take a while for the film to be recognized as a true classic.  Still, there was no way that the Academy was going to nominate a low-budget B-movie about a guy who hitchhikes across America and manages to accidentally kill two people.  Detour was far too nightmarish and surreal for the Academy but it’s remained one of the most influential films ever made.

Gilda (1946, dir by Charles Vidor)

Another classic film noir, Gilda is the film that, for many, will always define Rita Hayworth.  Through the film was a financial and critical success, it was ignored by the Academy.  The success of this film and the popularity of Hayworth’s performance led to the fourth atomic bomb to ever be detonated being named Gilda.  Rita Hayworth was reportedly not happy to hear it.

Black Narcissus (1947, dir by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)

One of the most visually stunning films ever made, Black Narcissus won Oscars for Best Cinematography and for Art Design but it received no other nominations, not even for the outstanding performances of Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron, as two nuns who have very different reactions to the Himalayas.

Out of the Past (1947, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

A world-weary private investigator (Robert Michum) is hired by a slick and psychotic gangster (Kirk Douglas) and ordered to track down the gangster’s girlfriend (Jane Greer).  So beings this rather melancholy and introspective film noir, one that is distinguished by wonderfully shadowy photography and which features one of Mitchum’s best performances.  Sadly, the Academy recognized neither the film nor Mitchum’s performance.

Portrait of Jennie (1948, dir by William Dieterle)

This haunting and dream-like fantasy stars Joseph Cotten as a painter who meets, paints, and falls in love with a mysterious woman (Jennifer Jones) who may not be what she seems.  The film was apparently not a huge success when it was first released but, seen today, it’s hard not to get swept up in the film’s romantic sadness.  Though it received a nomination for Best Cinematography, it was otherwise ignored by the Academy.

Up next, in about an hour or so, the 1950s!

Halloween Havoc!: I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (RKO 1943)


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Val Lewton’s  I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE is, despite the exploitative title, one of the most moody and atmospheric horror films of the 40’s. This was Lewton’s follow up to the highly successful CAT PEOPLE (1942), with Jacques Tourneur again in the director’s chair. Though screenwriters Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray based their script on a story by Inez Wallace, producer Lewton had them add elements of Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE, making this a  Gothic zombie movie!

Nurse Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) is summoned to the West Indies isle of St. Sebastian to look after Paul Holland’s (Tom Conway ) catatonic wife Jessica. The cynical Holland has an air of melancholy about him (“There’s no beauty here”, he states on the sea trip to the island, “only decay and death”). Upon arrival, Betsy meets Holland’s stepbrother Wesley Reed (James Ellison), a jovial sort until he gets in the presence of…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Jacques Tourneur Edition!


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director: Jacques Tourneur!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Cat People (1942, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

I Walked With A Zombie (1943, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

The Leopard Man (1943, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

Night of the Demon (1957, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

Horror Scenes that I Love: The Demon Arrives in Night of the Demon


Today’s horror scene that I love comes from the 1957 British film, Night of the Demon.

This is one of those films that deserves to be better known than it actually is.  Directed by Jacques Tourneur, this is a moody and intelligent horror film, one that’s full of atmosphere and features a surprisingly effective demon.  Reportedly, Tourneur didn’t want to show the actual demon in the film but he was overruled by the film’s producers.  Typically, I usually side with the directors whenever it comes to stories of behind-the-scenes conflict but, in this case, I think the film actually works better with the demon as an actual physical presence.

Enjoy!

Horror Scene That I Love: The Pool Scene from Cat People


Today’s horror scene that I love comes to us from the 1942 psychological thriller, Cat People!

In this noirish scene, Alice (Jane Randolph) goes for a swim, just to find herself suspecting that she may not be alone.

Be sure to check out my reviews of the original Cat People, the sequel, and the remake by clicking on the links in this sentence!

Horror Film Review: The Leopard Man (dir by Jacques Tourneur)


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The 1943 film The Leopard Man is set in a small town in New Mexico.  It’s a place that seems to be hidden away from much of the modern world and where the cultures of Mexico and America mix, occasionally with unease.  Jerry Manning (Dennis O’Keefe) is an American publicity agent who is dating a nightclub performer named, Kiki (Jean Brooks).  Kiki has a rivalry with another performer, the far more flamboyant (read: interesting) Clo-Clo (Margo).  Jerry, however, feels that he’s come up with the perfect way for Kiki to upstage Clo-Clo.  Jerry has rented a leopard!

Unfortunately, it soon becomes obvious that neither Jerry nor Kiki knows how to handle a leopard.  Clo-Clo startles the leopard with her castanets, causing the leopard to escape and flee into the desert.  Now, Jerry has two problems.  Not only is Kiki mad at him but the leopard’s owner, Charlie (Abner Biberman), expects Jerry to pay for the missing animal.

Actually, make that three problems.  Soon after the leopard escapes, a teenage girl is chased to the front door of her house.  When she bangs on the door and begs her mother to let her in, her mother assumes that her daughter is making up a lie to get out of helping around the house.  The mother ignores her until suddenly, her daughter screams and blood starts to seep in from under the door…

All of the locals believe that the girl was killed by the leopard.  Soon, more people in town are also killed.  The police are sure that it’s the leopard but Jerry soon comes to think that something else might be happening.  Could it be that something or someone else is committing the murders and attempting to frame the leopard?

A moody and rather fatalistic film that looks truly impressive for a B-movie that was shot on the studio backlots, The Leopard Man is really more of a mystery than a traditional horror film.  That said, the film is full of atmospheric and creepy scenes, particularly a lengthy sequence in which the townspeople commemorate the anniversary of a centuries-old massacre.  The specter of death, both past and future, hangs over both the town and the film.  That’s not surprising when you consider the The Leopard Man was produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur, the same time that previously created the original Cat People.  Much like Cat People, The Leopard Man is a film that’s power comes as much from what we don’t see as what we do see.  The Leopard Man is a triumph of atmosphere and tension.

While neither Jerry non Kiki are very interesting characters, the film is full of memorable character roles.  The citizens of that small town in New Mexico are all vividly drawn and portrayed, with the film perfectly capturing the quiet desperation of being both poor and forgotten in American society.  My favorite character was Clo-Clo.  As played by Margo, she is fierce, determined, and — in a few small moments — rather tragic.  If they ever remake The Leopard Man, I’m claiming that role right now.

Halloween Havoc!: THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (AIP 1964)


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Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone had all appeared together on film in various combinations seven different times, but never all at once until THE COMEDY OF TERRORS. This black comedy masterpiece spoofs AIP’s own Poe flicks and Shakespeare, with the quartet of chiller icons having a grand old time playing Richard Matheson’s delicious screenplay to the hilt. Horror and noir vet Jacques Tourneur gets to direct the old pros, and the supporting cast features classic comic Joe E. Brown and Rhubarb The Cat (more on him later!).

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Price  is Waldo Trumble, the besotted, greedy proprietor of Trumble & Hinchley Funeral Parlor. He’s cruel to wife Amaryllis (Joyce Jameson), a failed opera singer (“I wish her vocal chords would snap”) who he married only to gain control of the company from her doddering old, half-deaf father Amos. “Demon rum will get you yet!”, she tells Waldo, to which…

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