10 Oscar Snubs From The 1960s

Ah, the 60s. Both the studio system and the production code collapsed as Hollywood struggled to remain relevant during a time of great social upheaval. The Academy alternated between nominating films that took chances and nominating films that cost a lot of money. It led to some odd best picture lineups and some notable snubs!

1960: Psycho Is Not Nominated For Best Picture and Anthony Perkins Is Not Nominated For Best Actor

To be honest, considering that the Academy has never really embraced horror as a genre and spent most of the 60s nominating big budget prestige pictures, it’s a bit surprising that Psycho was actually nominated for four Oscars.  Along with being nominated for its production design and its cinematography, Psycho also won nominations for Alfred Hitchcock and Janet Leigh.  However, Anthony Perkins was not nominated for Best Actor, despite giving one of the most memorable performances of all time.  The film literally would not work without Perkins’s performance and, considering that Perkins pretty much spent the rest of his career in the shadow of Norman Bates, it’s a shame that he didn’t at least get a nomination for his trouble.  Psycho was also not nominated for Best Picture, despite being better remembered and certainly more influential than most of the films that were.

1962: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Is Almost Totally Snubbed

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was not totally snubbed by the Academy.  It received a nomination for Best Costume Design.  But still, it deserved so much more!  John Ford, James Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, and the picture itself were all worthy of nominations.  Admittedly, 1962 was a year full of great American films and there was a lot of competition when it came to the Oscars.  Still, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance definitely deserved a best picture nomination over the bloated remake of Mutiny on the Bounty.  Today, if the first Mutiny on the Bounty remake is known for anything, it’s for Marlon Brando being difficult on the set.  But The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is still remembered for telling us to always print the legend.

1964: From Russia With Love Is Totally Snubbed

The same year that the Academy honored George Cukor’s creaky adaptation of My Fair Lady, it totally ignored my favorite James Bond film.  From Russia With Love is a Bond film that works wonderfully as both a love story and a thriller.  Sean Connery, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, and Terence Young all deserved some award consideration.  From Russia With Love was released in the UK in 1963.  In a perfect world, it would have also been released concurrently in the U.S., allowing From Russia With Love to be the film that gave the the Academy the chance to recognize the British invasion.  Instead, Tom Jones was named the Best Picture of 1963 and From Russia With Love had to wait until 1964 to premiere in the U.S.  It was snubbed in favor of one of old Hollywood’s last grasps at relevance.

1964: Slim Pickens Is Not Nominated For Best Supporting Actor

Playing three separate roles, Peter Sellers dominates Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.  But, as good as Sellers is, the film’s most memorable image is definitely Slim Pickens whooping it up as he rides the bomb down to Earth.  George C. Scott and Sterling Hyaden also undoubtedly deserved some award consideration but, in the end, Pickens is the one who brings the film to life even as he helps to bring society to an end.

1967: In Cold Blood Is Not Nominated For Best Picture

In Cold Blood, though not a perfect film, certainly deserved a nomination over Dr. Doolittle.  In Cold Blood is a film that still has the power to disturb and haunt viewers today.  Dr. Doolittle was a box office debacle that was nominated in an attempt to help 20th Century Fox make back some of their money.

1967: Sidney Poitier Is Not Nominated For Best Actor For In The Heat Of The Night

In 1967, Sidney Poitier starred in two of the films that were nominated for Best Picture but somehow, he did not pick up a nomination himself.  His restrained but fiercely intelligent performance in In The Heat Of The Night provided a powerful contrast to Rod Steiger’s more blustery turn.  That Poitier was not nominated for his performance as Virgil Tibbs truly is one of the stranger snubs in Academy history.  (If I had to guess, I’d say that the Actors Branch was split on whether to honor him for In The Heat of the Night or Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner or even for To Sir With Love and, as a result, he ended up getting nominated for none of them.)

1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes Are Not Nominated For Best Picture

Neither one of these classic science fiction films were nominated for Best Picture, despite the fact that both of them are far superior and far more influential than Oliver!, the film that won that year.

1968: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Is Totally Ignored

Not even Ennio Morricone’s score received a nomination!

1968: Petulia Is Totally Snubbed

Seriously, I don’t know what was going on with the Academy in 1968 but it seems they went out of their way to ignore the best films of the year.  Richard Lester’s Petulia is usually cited as one of the definitive films of the 60s but it received not a single Oscar nomination.  Not only did the film fail to receive a nomination for Best Picture but Richard Lester, George C. Scott, Julie Christie, Shirley Knight, Richard Chamberlain, and the film’s screenwriters were snubbed as well.

1969: Easy Rider Is Not Nominated For Best Picture

Yes, I know.  Easy Rider is a flawed film and there are certain moments that are just incredibly pretentious.  That said, Easy Rider defined an era and it also presented a portrait of everything that was and is good, bad, and timeless about America.  The film may have been produced, directed, and acted in a drug-razed haze but it’s also an important historical document and it was also a film whose success permanently changed Hollywood.  Certainly, Easy Rider’s legacy is superior to that of Hello, Dolly!

Agree? Disagree? Do you have an Oscar snub that you think is even worse than the 10 listed here? Let us know in the comments!

Up next: It’s the 70s!

12 Oscar Snubs From the 1950s

Audrey Hepburn and her Oscar.  At least the Academy didn’t snub her!

Continuing our look at the Oscar snubs of the past, it’s now time to enter the 50s!

World War II was over. Eisenhower was President. Everyone was worried about communist spies. And the Hollywood studios still reigned supreme, even while actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean challenged the establishment.  There were a lot great film released in the 50s.  There were also some glaring snubs on the part of the Academy.  Here’s twelve of them.

1950: The Third Man Is Not Nominated For Best Picture

….and Orson Welles was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor!  The Third Man received three Oscar nominations, for Director, Cinematography, and Editing.  The fact that Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and the film’s score were not nominated (and that King Solomon’s Mines was nominated for Best Picture instead of The Third Man) remains one of the more surprising snubs in Oscar history.

1952: Singin’ In The Rain Is Not Nominated For Best Picture

What the Heck, Academy!?  This was the year that The Greatest Show On Earth won the Best Picture Oscar.  Personally, I don’t think The Greatest Show On Earth is as bad as its reputation but still, Singin’ In The Rain is a hundred times better.

1953: Alan Ladd Is Not Nominated For Best Actor For Shane

How could Shane score a nomination for Best Picture without Shane himself receiving a nomination?

1954: Rear Window Is Not Nominated For Best Picture

Rear Window was not totally ignored by the Academy.  Alfred Hitchcock received a nomination for directing.  It also received nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, and Sound.  However, Rear Window was not nominated for Best Picture and James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, and Thelma Ritter all went unnominated as well.  Today, Rear Window is definitely better-remembered than the majority of 1954’s Best Picture nominees.  Certainly, it deserved a nomination more than Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Three Coins in The Fountain.

1955: Ralph Meeker Is Not Nominated For Best Actor For Kiss Me Deadly

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  If the Academy wasn’t going to nominate Rear Window for Best Picture, there was no way that they would have nominated Ralph Meeker for playing a sociopathic private detective who, even if inadvetedly, helps to bring about the end of the world.

1955: Rebel Without A Cause Is Not Nominated For Best Picture or Best Actor

The 1955 Best Picture lineup was a remarkably weak one.  The eventual winner was Marty, a likeable film that never quite escapes its TV roots.  Picnic has that great dance scene but is otherwise flawed.  Mister Roberts was overlong.  Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing and The Rose Tattoo are really only remembered by those of us who have occasionally come across them on TCM.  Perhaps the best-remembered film of 1955, Rebel Without A Cause, received quite a few nominations but it was not nominated for Best Picture.  And while the Rebel himself, James Dean, was nominated for Best Actor, it was for his performance in East of Eden.  1955 was a strange year.

1955: Robert Mitchum Is Not Nominated For Best Actor For The Night of the Hunter

Robert Mitchum only received one Oscar nomination over the course of his entire career, for 1945’s The Story of G.I. Joe.  He deserved several more.  His performance as the villainous preacher in The Night of Hunter made Reverend Harry Powell into one of the most iconic film characters of all time.

1956: Cecil B. DeMille Is Not Nominated For Best Director For The Ten Commandments

Cecil B. DeMille was only nominated once for Best Director, for 1952’s The Greatest Show On Earth.  DeMille, however, deserved to be nominated for The Ten Commandments.  As campy as DeMille’s films can seem today, he was an expert storyteller and that’s certainly evident when one watches The Ten Commandments, a film that holds the viewer’s attention for nearly four hours.  DeMille deserved a nomination for the Angel of Death scene alone.  The screams in the night are haunting.

1957: Henry Fonda Is Not Nominated For Best Actor For 12 Angry Men

With 12 Angry Men, Fonda did something that very few actors can.  He made human decency compelling.  One gets the feeling that, much like Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, Fonda made it look so easy that the Academy took him for granted.

1958: Touch Of Evil Is Totally Ignored

Anyone who had researched the history of the Academy knows that there was no way that the 1950s membership would have ever honored Orson Welles’s pulp masterpiece, Touch of Evil.  That said, it still would have been nice if they had.  Touch of Evil has certainly go on to have a greater legacy than Gigi, the film that won Best Picture that year.

1958: Vertigo Is Almost Totally Ignored

Vertigo did receive nominations for Art Direction and Sound but Alfred Hitchcock, James Stewart, and the film itself were snubbed.

1959: Some Like It Hot Is Not Nominated For Best Picture or Best Actress

Some Like It Hot received 6 Oscar nominations, including nominations for Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  It did not receive a nomination for Best Picture and, sadly, Marilyn Monroe did not receive a nomination for Best Actress.  Much as with Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men, one gets the feeling that the Academy took Monroe for granted.  It’s sad to realize that, while two actresses have been nominated for playing Marilyn Monroe, Monroe herself would never be nominated.

Agree?  Disagree?  Do you have an Oscar snub that you think is even worse than the 12 listed here?  Let us know in the comments!

Up next: Things get wild with the 6os!

Night of the Hunter (United Artists 1955; D: Charles Laughton)

Scenes I Love: The Cross-Examination From Anatomy of a Murder

Since today is Otto Preminger’s birthday, I figured that this would be a good time to share a scene that I love from one of my favorite movies, Preminger’s 1959 film, Anatomy of a Murder.

In this scene, prosecutor Claude Dancer (played, in one of his first screen roles, by George C. Scott) cross-examined Laura Manion (Lee Remick), the wife of a man who has been accused of murder.  Playing the role of the defense attorney is James Stewart.  This scene is a master-class in great acting.  Preminger could be a bit of an inconsistent director but his willingness to take on controversial subjects set him apart from many of his contemporaries.  When he had the right material, as he did here, he could create the perfect mix of melodrama and art.  Preminger’s best films, like Anatomy of a Murder, stand the test of time.

Scene That I Love: The Run From It’s A Wonderful Life (In Memory of James Stewart)

114 years ago today, James Stewart was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  In honor of the birth of one of my favorite actors, here is a scene that I love.

From It’s A Wonderful Life:

Scenes That I Love: The Cemetery Scene From It’s A Wonderful Life

Over the past 11 years, I’ve shared so many scenes from It’s A Wonderful Life that I’m a bit worried that I’m gong to run out of moments to share. It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favorite films of all time, along with being a Christmas tradition. I watched it earlier this month and I’ll be watching it tonight with my family.

Below is one of the more somber but important scenes in It’s A Wonderful Life. George and Clarence go to what would have been Bailey Park if George had been born. Instead, it’s now a cemetery and buried there is George’s brother, who would have died if George hadn’t been born. And, as Clarence explains, every man that George’s brother saved would have died as well. “Each man’s life touches so many other lives,” as Clarence puts it.

Here is a scene from a wonderful movie called It’s A Wonderful Life.

Suspense Film Review: Rope (dir by Alfred Hitchcock)

Rope, an odd little 1948 experiment from Alfred Hitchcock, opens with a murder.

Two wealthy young men, Brandon (John Dall) and Philip (Farley Granger), invite their friend, David Kentley (Dick Hogan), up to their apartment.  When David arrives, they strangle him and hide his body in a wooden chest.  As quickly becomes obvious, Brandon and Philip killed David largely to see if they could pull off the perfect murder.  Brandon is sure that they did and, that by doing so, they proved the concept of Nietzsche’s Übermensch,  The alcoholic Philip is less sure and starts drinking.

Brandon and Philip don’t just have murder planned for the day.  They’re also planning on throwing a little dinner party and, among those on the guest list, are David’s parents, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s former boyfriend.  Also attending will be Brandon and Philip’s former teacher and housemaster, Rupert Cadell (James Stewart).  In fact, Brandon regularly claims that he got the idea to commit the perfect murder as a result of discussing philosophy with Rupert.  Apparently, Rupert turned Brandon onto Nietzsche….


Well, fortunately, the dinner party conversations reveals that Brandon and Philip misunderstood what Rupert was trying to tell them.  They assumed, using the same type of logic that currently fuels most debate today, that just because Rupert mentioned something that meant that he approved of it.  As it becomes clear that Rupert would not approve of what his students have done and as Rupert himself starts to suspect that something bad has happened at the apartment, Brandon and Philip start to plot against their former mentor….

Now, it can be argued that Rope is not a horror movie.  And indeed, if your definition of horror is ghosts, vampires, werewolves, or any other type of paranormal creature than yes, Rope has none of those.  Instead, the horror of Rope is the horror of human cruelty.  It’s the horror of two privileged young men who have so twisted the words of their mentor that they’ve become monsters.  The horror in Rope comes from the fact that, in 1948, Brandon and Philip have embraced the same philosophy that, only a few years earlier, had plunged the entire world into war.  While families mourned their dead and Europe struggled to rebuild, Brandon and Philip showed that they had no understanding of or concern for the trauma that humanity had just suffered.  And making it even more disturbing is that they found the justification for their crimes in the lessons taught by the epitome of American decency, Jimmy Stewart.  The idea of that is more terrifying than any Hammer vampire flick.

Of course, Rope is best known for being a bit of an experiment.  Hitchcock edited the film to make it appear as if it was all shot in one take and events, therefore, played out in real time.  It’s an interesting idea and, as always, you have to admire Hitchcock’s ingenuity and, even in a film as grim as this one, his playfulness.  At the same time, Hitchcock’s technique makes an already stagey story feel even stagier.  Some of the actors — like James Stewart, John Dall, and Cedric Hardwicke in the role of David’s father — are able to give naturalistic and convincing performances despite the staginess of the material. Others, like poor Farley Granger, find themselves overshadowed by the film’s one-shot gimmick.

Rope is an experiment that doesn’t quite work but flawed Hitchcock is still a pleasure to watch.  The final few minutes, with Stewart and Dall finally confronting each other, are among the best that Hitchcock ever put together.  I appreciate Rope, even if it doesn’t quite succeed.

Scenes That I Love: The Phone Call From Sam Wainwright From It’s A Wonderful Life

Tonight, NBC will be airing It’s A Wonderful Life.

Watching It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve is a tradition for many people.  It definitely is for me and my family.  I’ve watched It’s A Wonderful Life so many times that I’ve practically got the entire movie memorized.  It’s not only my favorite Christmas movie but also one of my favorite movies of all time.

Everyone knows, of course, that It’s A Wonderful Life is a film about a man named George (played by Jimmy Stewart) who gets a chance to see what the world would be like without him.  What I think is often overlooked is that it’s also a powerful and poignant love story and that the scenes between George and Mary (Donna Reed) are some of the most intensely romantic ever filmed.

In the scene below, George and Mary get a phone call from Mary’s ex, Sam Wainwright.  Sam has a business opportunity but George has more on his mind than staying in Bedford Falls and making money.  This scene, which begins with Mary upset and George feeling lost, ends with one of the most powerful kisses of the 1940s.

This is a scene that I love from a movie that I love and I look forward to watching it tonight!

The Stratton Story (1949, dir. by Sam Wood)

Monty Stratton was one of the greats.

He was a Texas farmboy who knew how to throw a baseball.  Recruited by the Chicago White Sox, he spent five years in the majors.  From 1934 through 1938, he compiled a 36–23 record with 196 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA in 487.1 innings.  In 1937, he won 15 games with a 2.40 ERA and five shout-outs.  The next season, he won another 15 games and completed 17 of his 22 starts.  For those of you who might not speak baseball, that all means that he was a really good right-handed pitcher.

When Stratton wasn’t playing baseball, you could find him down on his farm in Greenville, Texas.  He lived there with his wife, Ethel.  On November 27th, 1938, Monty Stratton was hunting rabbits when he accidentally shot himself in his right leg.  While Stratton survived the shooting, his leg was amputated, bringing Stratton’s major league career to an end.

No longer able to play in the majors, Monty Stratton spent the next few years as a pitching coach and helping to start a semi-pro team in Greenville.  With the help and encouragement of his wife, he continued to practice his pitching and he eventually trained himself to the point where he could transfer his weight effectively onto his artificial leg so that he could effectively throw a baseball.  In 1947, Monty Stratton made a comeback, pitching in the minors and ending the season with an 18–8 record and a 4.17 earned run average.  Stratton spent the next six years pitching in the minors before retiring from the game.  He went on to start the Greenville Little League program.  If you go to Greenville, you can still find Monty Stratton Field near Greenville High School.

The Stratton Story was made in 1949, shortly after Stratton’s comeback and while he was still playing in the minors.  James Stewart plays Monty Stratton while June Allyson plays his wife.  The movie follows Stratton from his early days on the farm through his major league career, his accident, and his eventual comeback.  Though the real Monty Stratton served as a technical advisor to the film, I don’t know how historically accurate it was.  The movie, for instance, seemed to condense the timeline so that it seemed like Stratton went straight from losing his leg to practicing for his comeback when it actually took ten years for Stratton to eventually get signed to a minor league team.  Even if it does take some liberties from the facts, The Stratton Story is still a good movie.  The baseball scenes are great and Jimmy Stewart is convincing when he’s throwing the baseball.  He’s also convincing in the scenes where Stratton sinks into a dark depression after losing his leg.  Stewart was so good in the role that, when Stratton finally started to practice his pitching again, I wanted to jump up and cheer.

I liked The Stratton Story.  It probably helps that I love baseball but it’s also a good movie about an inspiring story.

A Blast From The Past: Tomorrow’s Drivers

Jimmy Stewart Standing Beside One Of His Many Cars

Since this is the ten year anniversary of the Shattered Lens, I’ve been making an effort to observe notable birthdays here on the site.  I’m sad to say that somehow, I missed the birthday of Jimmy Stewart!

Jimmy Stewart was born on May 20th, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  He’s my favorite of the Golden Age stars, not to mention the star of one of my top films of all time, It’s A Wonderful Life.  He also served bravely in World War II and I think it can be argued that he was Jimmy Stewart before he went to war and James Stewart afterwards.

Anyway, better late than never, here’s a short 1954 film that Stewart narrated, Tomorrow’s Drivers.  The film features a bunch of kindergarten kids learning how to drive.  Apparently, it was a program designed to make sure that kids grew up with good driving habits and didn’t end up becoming a bunch of jerks like their parents.  It actually seems like a good idea to me.  Stewart doesn’t appear onscreen but he provides the narration for the film and, with his tone, he strikes just the right mix of whimsy and seriousness.


Scenes That I Love: The Steak Scene From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Since today is the 113th anniversary of the birth of John Wayne, I decided to watch the 1962 classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance!  And then I decided to share a scene that I love from the film.

The famous steak scene features three of the greatest screen icons of Hollywood’s golden age: James Stewart, John Wayne, and Lee Marvin.  Lee Marvin is the bully who is terrorizing the entire town.  James Stewart is the idealist who thinks that the law, and not violence, is the answer.  And John Wayne is …. well, he’s John Wayne.  He’s the only man in town who can stand up to Lee Marvin but, at the same time, he’s also aware that his time is coming to a close.  In the scene below, all three of the characters display their different approaches to life and a disagreement with steak nearly leads to violence.

This scene — and really, the entire film — features these three actors at their best.  John Wayne is an actor who is often described as having “just played himself” but that’s really not quite fair.  While Wayne’s outsized persona definitely does influence how the audience reacts to any character that he plays, he was a better actor than he’s often given credit for being.  That’s especially evident in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, in which Wayne plays a confident man’s man who knows that fate is closing in on him.  The coming of civilization (represented by James Stewart) will be great for the town of Shinbone but it will also leave men like Wayne’s Ton Doniphon with nowhere to go.  The coming of civilization means that the heroes of the past are destined to become obsolete.

Enjoy this scene from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: