Offical Nominations: The Facts Of Life. Never On Sunday. The Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond. Seven Thieves. The Virgin Spring. Spartacus- my winner. Can Can. Midnight Lace. Pepe. Sunrise At Campobello.
The Lost World.
The Magnificent Seven.
My Winner: Spartacus.
Arlington (fred) Valles and Bill Thomas created a wide array of costumes for Kubrick’s epic, and with a director like Kubrick, you’d better believe he was watching for any inconsistencies or flaws. Spartacus was Valles’ last film and he deservedly picks up the win thanks to attention to detail and sheer scale of the job.
For the 33rd Academy Awards this was split into BW and colour nominations.
Official winners: Sons And Lovers. Spartacus. Spartacus is my choice.
Spartacus: For it’s epic look and feel both Russell Metty and Kubrick must be applauded and rewarded here and it is a well known fact that Kubrick and his DP clashed on the film with Kubrick believing his vision superseded that of the official DP. Regardless, the film looks stunning today.
The Alamo: Known primarily for his work on Westerns, The Alamo is probably William H. Clothier’s best film. His experience on Westerns mean that he is on familiar ground here but thanks to the fame of the story he is able to let loose and capture the viewer’s imagination while simultaneously cementing well known images, people, and monuments in the audience’s mind.
Breathless: As unique as Godard’s film is in terms of story telling, it is most often the look of the film which people recall. Raoul Coutard hit his stride in the early 60s, starting with Breathless. Paris has never looked so appealing even with the criminal elements of the plot.
The Brides Of Dracula: Jack Asher gives Hammer’s classic vampire tale a haunting old world feel, with demonic castles and villages perpetually shrouded in night and fog giving the viewer some genuine chills. Having worked on Hammer Horror movies for a few years already, he was a primary force in nailing the atmosphere of each film and making the film company notorious for their tone and feel. The striking contrast between The Castle and the world outside is striking and almost tempts the viewer/characters to escape the grim nature of the world into the beauty and inevitable doom of the Vampire’s Lair.
The Last Voyage: Although the film is known for it’s effects, the cinematography by Hal Mohr is controlled and keeps the audience from becoming sea-sick amongst all the splashing and crashing.
The Magnificent Seven: Charles Lang narrowly misses out on a win here proving that he was equally as strong working with colour as he was with BW. Nominated 18 times, the man is a legend of the craft, and with The Magnificent Seven he gives the impression of a sweeping Western America making an island out of one abandoned, besieged village.
Swiss Family Robinson: Harry Waxman ensures that being shipwrecked on a lost Island has never looked like so much fun. Beautiful shots of the island, the beach, and of course the tree house give the film a lost in time feel and will charm children or years to come.
I’m not going to list all the names of those involved as we’ll be here forever. In the 60s this award was still split into BW and Colour, but I can overlook that because I’m better than the past.
Official Nominations: BW: The Apartment. The Facts Of Life. Psycho. Sons And Lovers. Visit To A Small Planet. Cimarron. It Started In Naples. Pepe. Colour: Spartacus. Sunrise At Campobello.
My Winner: Psycho. Spartacus
My Nominations: The Apartment. Psycho. Spartacus. The Brides Of Dracula. House Of Usher. The Lost World. Jigoku.
I’ve added a few films which were missed this year. The Brides Of Dracula has that terrific gothic feel which Hammer Productions did so well- although it may look cheap and cheesy now, it retains an atmosphere today which must have been much greater decades ago. The same can be said for House Of Usher, which goes one step further by letting the Art Direction dictate the claustrophobic mood. The Lost World may also look cheap and cheerful now but it was one of the pioneering adventure films ofthe decade and many directors took their cue from this for the look and feel of their film in terms of set and costume. However, my winner is a film with a singular look- one which is as pwerful today as it was then, although I would have loved to have seen the minds of a 1960 audience contort in horror at what they were presented with. Jigoku is all about looks and atmosphere, and few films deliveer so well. Wonderful design from cast such as Haruyasu Kurosawa ensure that Jigoku, once seen, will never be forgotten.
Ofiicial Nominations: Elmer Gantry. Inherit the Wind. Sons and Lovers.The Sundowners. Tunes of Glory
Richard Brookes won the award this year for his screenplay based off the novel by Sinclair Lewis, an award due in part to Lancaster’s ability to effectively deliver the fast paced dialogue. James Kenneway adapted his own novel into the screenplay for the dark Tunes Of Glory while Lambert and Clarke turned DH Lawrence’s coming of age tale into a risque flick. Inherit The Wind sees Young and Smith capturing the spirit and themes of the McCarthy era parable while Isobel Lennart ably twists Jon Cleary’s novel.
My Winner: Sons And Lovers
My Nominations: Sons And Lovers. House Of Usher. The Magnificent Seven. The Lost World. Swiss Family Robinson. Spartacus. Village Of The Damned.
Only Sons And Lovers makes it over to my list of nominations with a handful of both classic and underrated films making up the pack. Horror God Richard Matheson turns Poe’s short into a more pallatable story with plenty of atmosphere while Irwin Allen and Charles Bennett tackle Doyle’s tale of exploration and adventure. Lowell S Hawley version of Swiss Family Robinson maybe more watered down than the original text but is updated with a more family oriented feel while the trio penned screenplay for Village Of The Damned focuses more on the terror rather than the sci-fi elements. Screenwriting genius Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted at the time Spartacus was released, but it was the success of the film, due in part to the writing, which helped end this era. However, my win goes to Walter Newman’s adaptation of the Seven Samurai script. Newman largely wrote the film we know today but after being unavailable during filming, William Roberts was brought on site to make small updates- Newman asked for his name to be taken off the production. 52 years later, thanks to the awful power of The Spac Hole, he gets his Oscar win.
Official Nominations: The Apartment. The Angry Silence. The Facts of Life. Hiroshima Mon Amour. Never on Sunday
From the official nominations this year there was really only going to be one winner, with Billy Wilder’s witty screenplay backed by I.A.L Diamond’s notorious flair for comedy ensuring plenty of laughs. More than a simple comedy it touches upon controversial themes such as adultery and was generally ahead of its peers in terms of cultural relevance. Bryan Forbes’s screenplay for The Angry Silence touched on similarly relevant themes, but without the comedy and although the story from Richard Gregson and Michael Craig is interesting, there is none of the brilliance of Wilder. The Facts Of Life is a generally silly, cliche ridden film and story where that typical-for-Hollywood-but-entirely-unnatural event of placing two people in an unusual situation only for them to inevitably fall in love is the central event. In contrast, Hiroshima Mon Amour is startlingly fresh and innovative with Marguerite Duras’s screenplay abandoning linear plotting and traditional form. Jules Dassin’s Never On Sunday rounds up the nominations with a fine story written to the point of vanity.
My Winner: The Apartment
My Nominations: The Apartment. Peeping Tom. Hiroshima Mon Amour.
I’ve added one major missing to my nominations, a film which explores the more seedy, dangerous, unexplored side of life. Leo Marks penned the script for Powell’s Peeping Tom and gives his experience of cryptography to create a puzzling story which surprises at every turn.
Official Nominations: Kapo. La Verite. The Virgin Spring. Macario. The 9th Circle.
I’m afeard that for this category I can only mention the movies I have seen. Time in the Spac Hole is… different; on one path I built I world where 26 hours a day I could spend watching movies, reading books, listening to music, and playing games but the gateway to that place has been severed and so my watching and reviewing time is now limited. Out of the official nominations The Virgin Spring is the only one these eyes have seen, and it is a deserved winner.
My Winner: The Virgin Spring
My Nominations: However, mine eyes have seen many which were not nominated:
Peeping Tom: A classic British thriller, this ranks alongside The Wicker Man and 28 Days Later as one of the most evil British exports.
The Bad Sleep Well: This lesser known Kurosawa film abandons many of his trademarks and instead is a condensed look at family, revenge, and corporate corruption. Mifune ditches the Samural guard, but is no less fearsome as the young man plotting the downfall of the men responsible for his father’s death. This is Japanese noir at it’s finest, and while American counterparts always have some biting humour and a fiendish vixen, Kurosawa’s is a raw, bitter sword slash against massive corporations whose collapse will inevitably bring down everyone involved, and whose continuing existence relies upon that very fear.
Breathless: See Best Picture Nominations
Jigoku: In a stellar year for Japanese cinema, Jigoku is surely the oddest release. While Asian horrors of the time focused on typical Noh inspired visions of spirits and the afterlife, Jigoku is much more visceral and violent in its depictions of death and what comes after. Nakagawa was a master of J-Horror long before it became known as such, the groundbreaking and terrifying visions of hell above and below are startling, innovative, and inspiring for film makers. This alone would not make a great film, but the sometimes incomprehensible plot sees parallels in later works by the likes of Lynch in which sights and sounds and what is felt rather than spoken of become the primary in the story. This is bleak, brilliant, and just as true today as it was in 1960.
Late Autumn: This quiet film from Yasujiro Ozu has more bubbling under than at first seems apparent; The male dominated world of Japan in an age when women were struggling for power in the West is depicted as cold and loveless, especially when dealing with issues of love, relationships, and marriage. In the end it is the women who make the choices and the men who cause trouble even when they may have had the best intentions.
Night And Fog In Japan: Oshima’s political film deals with the bridge between fiery youth and leaving that age behind but more importantly is his commentary on the student uprising in the 1950s and the struggles with Stalin, Communism, and political defeat in the aftermath of World War II.
The Young One: Bunuel’s forgotten film was another controversial piece, dealing with rape and racism. The US was not ready for such themes and such clear depictions- Europe (and South America) was years ahead.
The Virgin Spring: See Above
My Winner: The Virgin Spring. One of the more accessible of Bergman’s film yet one which still covers his favoured themes of religion, faith, solitude, family, redemption, sex. Von Sydow commands the screen as the father to a murdered daughter who seeks and finds revenge, while assorted family mambers and friends have their own struggles to work through. For all the darkness in the plot this one is light at times and ends with a glimmer of hope.
Shirley Knight was nominated for The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs, but lost out to another Shirley- Jones, for Elmer Gantry. Both are fine performances, but my choice goes to Knight for her coy, shy capering. Jones has the much bigger role and deserved her win in a character full of controversy, but just to be different I’ll say Knight.
Janet Leigh gets the nomination for Psycho in a fine performance, but due to the length of time she is on screen I don’t believe she warrants a win, whilst Mary Ure in Sons And Lovers doesn’t really deserve a nomination.
Glynis Johns gives a decent performance in a forgettable film and hardly deserves to have been nominated too.
Shirley Knight: As above
Shirley Jones: As above
Janet Leigh: As above Audrey Hepburn: Though technically not a supporting role, things work differently in The Spac Hole, and our dear Hepburn, full of native American blood steals the show in The Unforgiven– a messy film which all involved would rather forget.
Official Nominations: In a strong year for supporting actors, Peter Ustinov’s turn as Lentulus Batiatus in Spartacus was the official winner. Ustinov was already a cinema giant, not to mention a respected author, dramatist, comedian, and military man. In Spartacus his range covers humour, anger, treachery, and the twisted shrewd mind of a businessman. He was the only actor to win an Oscar in a Kubrick film.
Peter Falk, or Columbo as he is more popularly known, won his first Oscar nomination playing on the other side of the law. As Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles in Murder Inc. he plays a gangster in the Cagney vein, and brings the necessary vicious power to the role, but also some unexpected glee. Perhaps as this was his first movie role some of his excitement shone through- nevertheless, his performance made the movie popular, a film which was otherwise dismissed as yet another crime caper.
Jack Kruschen as the irritating neighbour in The Apartment seems like a throaway nomination, especially for a part which is not integral to the plot or any of the other characters. Sal Mineo as Dov Landau in Exodus gets the most interesting character, and gives the best performance. In a controversial role we see terrorism, murder, and grief and it deserves to go down as a more memorable role as his more famous performance in Rebel Without A Cause. Out of the official nominations, this would be my winner.
The final nomination is one of the great nonsenses of The Oscars as Chill Wills ferociously sought more fame and fortune. It is further proof that if you play the game in Hollywood, suck the requisite amount of balls, and splurge the right amount of asses, you’re bound to get the red carpet treatment. Celebrity and fame may be seen as today’s masses as the peak of humanity, and the birthright of even the most hopelessly vapid waste of breath, but even 50 years ago the same sad truths existed.
Charles Bronson: Bronson gives a beautifully understated performance in The Magnificent Seven for an actor who would become known for his roles as a hard man. You still wouldn’t mess with him here as he’d likely put a bullet square in your nuts, but he is the reluctant killer and the man who wishes for a life away from the mayhem.
Horst Buchholz: The Magnificent Seven was a movie full of killers, and while we see reluctance and experience in the other six men, Chico is the young cub who will do anything do join a gang on a suicide mission. Although Chico’s motives aren’t clear at the start, if I knew that protecting a village and taking part in a massacre was so much fun, I would have been riding south with them. Horst was a versatile actor and here he excudes charm, inexperience (as a killer), eagerness, and eventually fear and understanding as he realises what a lonely and short life he could soon be sharing.
Laurence Olivier: Olivier shines as always as the wicked Crassus and his theatrical presence adds to the grandiose nature of the Roman Politician. Suave, charming, cold, and ultimately a terrifying Kubrick creation he shows how passive the buying, selling, and ending of lives can be.
Dean Stockwell: Whilst by no means his best performance, Stockwell shines in an otherwise uneventful adaptation of Sons And Lovers.
Sal Mineo: as above.
Official Nominations: This year saw a rare nomination for Hitchcock, his main competition coming from other Hollywood legend Billy Wilder. Wilder picked up the award, but my vote has to go to Hitchcock. While The Apartment is a witty enough comedy which pressed several boundaries, Hitchcock’s masterpiece is a seminal work of terror. He orchestrates with a hook for a hand, teasing and tearing at each scene for our amusement and dread. Few horror movies have been as well received critically as this, and most horror movies today owe something to it. The script may be above standard fare, offering several psychological elements rarely seen on screen before, but Hitchcock’s use of the camera as a voyeur, his dangling of shots, and his startling reveals set to horrifying sound are now staples of the genre. Few films have had as much impact to a genre as this, and the majority of this impact is down to the rotund Master.
Rounding up the list are Jack Cardiff, Jules Dassin, and Fred Zinnemann. Cardiff was already a renowned Cinematographer who had indeed worked for Hitchcock. Sons And Lovers was his most successful foray into directing and though the film is undoubtedly beautiful to watch, it remains a by the numbers retelling. The Blacklisted Dassin gets a nomination here largely because Hollywood was guilty for how they had treated him and while his filmography is wide there is nothing, including Never on Sunday, which stands out as wonderful. Zinnemann’s Sundowners is well acted and directed, but doesn’t compare with his earlier epics.
My Winner: Alfred Hitchcock
My Nominations: Only two of my nominations for Best Director 1960 were nominated in your reality. Thanks though to the power of The Spac Hole, history has righted itself and those truly worthy have won their place on the list.
Billy Wilder: Good enough to win in reality, but not good enough in the eyes of The Spac Hole.
Jean Luc Godard: Godard’s first feature, Breathless, ranks amongst his best and is still an edgy affair now. The visual flare started a new wave in France and Hollywood.
Akira Kurosawa: The Bad Sleep Well is not a well-known Kurosawa show, but his trademark style translates well to the modern setting.
John Sturges: Sturges knew how to handle a large ensemble cast, but more so he knew how to handle a group of megastars. His film is action packed, looks gorgeous, and as always manages to focus more on the characters in what many may have otherwise called a silly genre film.
Nagisa Oshima: Not only was it politically daring and controversial, Night And Fog In Japan again showed us a director in full control of his camera and confident in his innovation, particularly during the long shots.
Michael Powell: Although Peeping Tom pretty much ended his career as a respected film maker until years after he had stopped making movies, it took us further than any previous movie both into the mind of a serial killer and advancing the notion of voyeurism in the link between audience and character.
Stanley Kubrick: Spartacus is Kubrick’s reply to Ben Hur, and while not as successful it has much greater depth. The young Director took the strain of such a large production and made it even more epic than originally imagined. Signs of his perfectionism abound as he took over cinematography and provided most of the film’s beauty. My Winner: Alfred Hitchcock. Possibly a controversial choice given the talent on display, but given how Hitchcock turned what could have been another tale of murder and crime into the seminal horror movie of the 60s, the praise cannot be understated. With the Production Code fading away, of course it would fall to Hitchcock to lead the way in pushing violence and sexuality to extremes. Aside from his handling of each scene, The Master almost single-handedly promoted the film, not allowing any cast members to reveal the plot and banning previews for critics.
Official Nominations: This wasn’t a stellar year for leading Actresses- the subversive crime roles of previous years were largely gone and there was a lack of star vehicles for women. Greer Garson won the big part of the year as Eleanor Roosevelt in the interesting but forgettable biography Sunrise At Campobello, while Deborah Kerr, Liz Taylor, and Shirley MacLaine each got nominations for strong performances, with Taylor picking up the official win. Melina Mercouri is the most interesting nomination for Never On Sunday, the Greek sinking her jaws into her role as a prostitute who deflects attempts to turn her onto the moral highway- she gets my win.
Sophia Loren for It Started In Naples.
Elana Eden is powerful in her debut The Story Of Ruth.
Dorothy McGuire for the well acted The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs.
Alida Valli is chilling in Eyes Without A Face and gets my vote as winner, giving one of the landmark performances as a rather bad lady.
As a fan of the more extreme side of cinema, I ask you to join me, as I explore the history of Cinema's most extreme movies with all the sex, violence and symbolism intact. I'm here to reflect on the extreme movies that have come and gone to see what they mean, see what makes them so extreme, and of course, see if they're any good.