The 26th Academy Awards: 1954
26th Academy Awards in Los Angeles
Background to the Academy Awards in 1954
The year is 1954, and the Academy Awards are for films made in 1953. For Americans, it was the year Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated President of the United States. Charlie Chaplin left the United States after being accused of being a Communist, and the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.
Blackisting in Hollywood continued. Reynold Humphries said, "A lost generation was created". Meaning many talented directors and other film professionals that were blacklisted never recovered their stance in Hollywood. As the big studios lost their best actors, they also lost some of their ability to make great films and their ability to stay on top.
This was the second year the Awards were telecast on television on NBC and as we know certainly not the last. Strangely enough all the major winners in this year's Academy Awards were black and white films. It makes one stop and think since this was a year when color was widely used in theaters. The Awards were hosted by Donald O'Connor and Frederick March. The reason for two hosts was that the Awards were broadcast from two coasts. Donald O'Connor was in Los Angeles at the RKO and Frederick March was in New York City at the NBC Century Theatre.
Now let's look at the films that won Oscars in 1954.
Beach Scene from "From Here to Eternity"
From Here to Eternity
Based on the best selling novel by James Jones, "From Here to Eternity" received thirteen nominations and won eight Awards which tied it with "Gone With the Wind". During the voting "From Here to Eternity" recieved 675 points, a number that has not been met or topped yet!
There were a lot of changes made to this movie before it even began filming. Joan Crawford was chosen for the starring female role but didn't like the costumes and wanted her own cameraman, not getting what she wanted, she quit. In her place, actress Deborah Kerr. Eli Wallach was originally slated for the role of Maggio but he dropped out and Frank Sinatra wanted and got the part. Rumor has it his connections with the Mafia helped him land the part. It doesn't matter, he gave a stellar performance! The movie was filmed entirely at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Everything in this movie leads up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
This is the story of two men, Sergeant Warden, played by Burt Lancaster and Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, played by Montgomery Clift. Prewitt wants to be in the Army but on his own terms. Warden is a tough Sergeant but cares about his men. Warden also winds up having an affair with the Captain's wife. Anyone who has even heard of this movie knows about the scene on the beach between Kerr and Lancaster. One of the sexiest scenes ever filmed. There is however, so much more to this movie. The personality conflicts and developments throughout the movie keep you glued to your seat.
There's Prewitt's decision to quit boxing and his Lieutenant's decision not to let him. He wants Prewitt to box so he can win the the boxing championship and when Prewitt refuses, the Lieutenant makes his life miserable, no, beyond miserable, a living hell and the tensions and fights that arise from this run throughout the movie. Donna Reed plays Alma Lorene Burke, Prewitt's romantic interest. Then there's Maggio, but I won't spoil it for you.
Rather than attempt to tell you more, see the movie. Check out why it won the Best Picture Award, Best Director, Best Writing and Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography (Black and White), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound (Recording), you won't be disappointed.
From Here to Eternity Taps
I have to admit this is one of the first war movies I watched that I liked. (Sgt. York and To Hell and Back were the others.) What could possibly make life in a prisoner of war camp exciting and interesting? How about an informant?
When two prisoners try to escape through a tunnel dug by the prisoners, they are met by guards and shot. Everyone suspects Sefton (played by William Holden) as being the spy for the Germans. Sefton is antisocial and barters with the Germans for things like eggs and other luxuries. At one point Sefton says the spy may not even be an American prisoner but a German posing as an American prisoner. When the men decide it is Sefton he is badly beaten and cast out from the rest of the prisoners. I'll leave it to you to see how this is resolved.
The humor in this movie is provided by a character named Animal, played by Robert Strauss. His obsessive infatuation with Betty Grable leads to many light moments. Though the humorous television show "Hogan's Heroes" was said to be based on this movie, the only humor in "Stalag 17" is Animal. There is no comradery with any of the captors with any of the Germans.
As far as war movies go, this is a great one!
Other Award Nominees
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actress
The Cruel Sea
Above and Beyond
Call Me Madam
Best Musical Score
Best Musical Score
You can't do much better than Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, the stars of this movie. As a matter of fact Ms. Hepburn won a Best Actress Award for this one. Playing a Princess who sneaks out and tries to see Rome on her own. Joe Bradley, an American newspaper reporter working and living in Rome, finds her sleeping on a park bench and has no idea who she really is.
Movies being movies, its not hard to figure out what happens. Joe finds out who Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is and decides to show her Rome and try to get an exclusive interview at the same time. His photographer joins them taking photos for his interview. Can you guess what happens? You know love is in the air in Rome. This is an entertaining love story your should at least take a peek at since I won't give away the ending.
Interesting Facts About Roman Holiday
- It was Audrey Hepburn's first American Film.
- William Wyler wanted Jeanne Simmons to play the role of Ann and Cary Grant was supposed to play Joe.
- According to imb.com, "The original writer, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted as one of the legendary Hollywood Ten, and therefore could not receive credit for the screenplay, even when it won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay."
- This is the first American film to be filmed entirely in Italy.
Other Movies from 1953
Animated Peter Pan - Walt Disney did it again!
War of the Worlds
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The House of Wax
How to Marry a Millionaire
The Big Heat
These are just a few. I'm sure if you look through these movies you're bound to find one you remember as a favorite!
I hope this short peak at the Awards will entice you to see more of the movies listed. If you like the Academy Awards some of my other writings are listed at the end of this hub.
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment, I love hearing what you think.
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