Category Archives: 1960

1960 ~ Oscars Pics for Pics

Listed as one of the 100 greatest films of all time, Elmer Gantry is an entertaining, powerful melodrama with memorable performances by Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy and Shirley Jones. It is the controversial telling of Sinclair Lewis’ novel regarding the charismatically engaging, but scandalous Midwestern salesman turned preacher in the 1920s.
Burt Lancaster comes on the screen with an obvious penchant for smooth talking, and the need for drink, but when he meets traveling revivalist female preacher, Jean Simmons, he falls for her, and soon decides to become an Evangelist.
They become loved and idolized, while Elmer continues to indulge in his past sins, and a jealous former lover wants revenge for being jilted.
One of the Best films of 1960, over the years it has become even more loved and revered. Winner of 5 Academy Award nominations and 3 Wins including Best Actor for Burt Lancaster and Supporting Actress Shirley Jones.

Touted as the most American film ever made, John Wayne’s “supposedly” directorial debut, The Alamo, became more of an Oscar campaign than any other movie prior. Both Wayne who starred as Davy Crockett, and Chill Wills campaigned relentlessly for the movie and Chill for his supporting actor nomination. Wayne tirelessly campaigned for the film, suggesting with ads that it would be unpatriotic not to vote for the film – “the most expensive picture ever made on American soil”

Sons & Lovers was adapted from the autobiographical book by D.H. Lawrence. A dramatic look at family, love and how that love can destroy us, and damage us. One of the most powerful character driven dramas of it’s time, Sons& Lovers was a great vehicle for it’s stars Trevor Howard and Wendy Hiller, both nominated for acting awards.

A young Dean Stockwell plays their youngest son, Paul. He was also very good in this film, but overlooked by the Academy. The cinematography was superb and won the Award that year for Freddie Francis. A good movie, with powerful performances is many times overlooked.

After his previous successes with From Here to Eternity, High Noon and Oklahoma, Director Fred Zinnemann again brought a powerful hit with the Sundowners. Starring Robert Mitchum (who was not nominated) and Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov gave outstanding performances in a tight woven drama, that today has not garnered a following.
The story of an Irish sheep-herding family in Australia during the 1920s, a wife determined to keep her husband stable and set, and the husband that dreams to have it all. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, it came home empty handed.

Nominated 10 times and winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (co-written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond), Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment has been said to be his best work.
The story of an up and coming young men played by Jack Lemmon, who secretly lends out his apartment to other company executives for adulterous sexual affairs and liaisons. This is fine until he realizes that the young elevator girl, played by Shirley MacLaine, whom he has feelings for is being taken for trysts by his married boss (Fred MacMurray) to his apartment.
This movie was a glimpse at what had happened to corporate America during the 1960’s when a lowly but ambitious accountant prostitutes his own standards and moral integrity and allows himself to be exploited just so that he can get ahead. Powerful and engaging performances by Lemmon, MacLaine and Fred MacMurray (one of the omitted of 1960) as well as Ray Walston and Edie Adams.
The Apartment, today is still a moving and entertaining film, even if somewhat out-dated. It is listed as one of the 100 Greatest Movies of all time. Was it the Best Picture of 1960? Many will dispute that. Was it the Best Picture out of the nominees? There is no question there. But then Psycho wasn’t nominated…
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Academy Awards


1960 ~ Oscar’s Supporting Actress Nominees

  Looking back on the films and the nominees now, there would probably be no question as to who the winner would be in this category. Janet Leigh. Her performance in Hitchcock’s now famous and classic Psycho was a career making role. But in 1960, things were a little different in Hollywood.

Mary Ure attacked the screen in 1960 for her sexually-emancipated Clara Dawes in Sons and Lovers. Some called her performance riveting, others called it over acted. Whichever it may have been it awarded her her first and only nomination.

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, husky-voiced actress Glynis Johns was the daughter of British stage actor Mervyn Johns. Her performance of the hotel keeper trying to lure Peter Ustinov to marry her was memorable, but not as memorable as her role in Mary Poppins a few years later and certainly not one of her better roles.

An expert at playing disturbed modern women, Shirley Knight trained at the Pasadena Playhouse before making her film debut in FIVE GATES TO HELL (1959). A bright, and outspoken leading lady, she earned early critical acclaim in Hollywood for her Academy Award nominated role in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, but remained dedicated to the theater. After losing the best supporting actress race for the second year in a row, she wasn’t interested in returning to the West Coast. In one of the best all-time appraisals of Tinseltown, she told a reporter later in 1963 in New York, “Hollywood — that’s where they give Academy Awards to Charlton Heston for acting.” She did periodically make more movies, but never gained another Oscar nomination.

Janet Leigh was Hollywood’s All American girl in 1960, and everyone thought she would walk away with the award that year in Hitchcock’s thriller, Psycho. Unfortunately she didn’t and also she never received another nomination.

Some can say what they want, but Shirley Jones played her role as the prostitute in the acclaimed film Elmer Gantry superbly. Typecast to that point as sweet, naive females, mostly in musicals, Shirley won the Academy over with her against type performance. One of the many female winners that won playing prostitutes.

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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Academy Awards, Actresses


1960 Best Actor Oscar Race

    1960 gave us many great movies and a slew of great performances by male actors. Spencer Tracy was nominated for a 7th time with his portrayal as a “Clarence Darrow-style” trial lawyer named Henry Drummond opposite prosecutor Matthew Harrison Brady (unnominated Fredric March as Biblical literalistic William Jennings Bryan) in director Stanley Kramer’s fictionalized dramatization of the 1925 Tennessee Scopes Trial, Inherit the Wind.

Lawrence Olivier, one of the greatest actors of all time, gave us an award winning performance as seedy vaudevillian performer in The Entertainer, his sixth nomination.

Trevor Howard, a powerful character actor became a leading star in Sons & Lovers as an alcoholic coal-mining father Walter Morel. This would be his first and only nomination.

Jack Lemmon gave what some call his greatest film performance ever as lonely, ambitious and young New York insurance clerk C. C. Baxter who loans out his Manhattan apartment for romantic trysts for his company’s executive supervisors while falling in love with the elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine).

But it would be the powerful and brilliant performance of Burt Lancaster, as the starring role of the bible thumping preacher with skeletons in closet and life in the moving Elmer Gantry.

Some of the other nominations in 1960 were questionable, but in the Best Actor category each one was deserved.

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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Academy Awards


The Worst of 1960 ~ #1 – College Confidential


I am sure there were worse movies in 1960, I was guess I was just lucky to have not seen them. However, I don’t know if they could be worse than my choice for worse movie of the year 1960. College Confidential starred some fairly good actors, maybe not so big in 1960 but they later became household names, such as Steve Allen, his wife, Jayne Meadows, Elisha Cook, Jr., Mamie Van Doren, and other big names like Rocky Marciano and even Conway Twitty, yes the rock-a-billy country crooner, Conway Twitty.

Randy Sparks, Steve Allen and Conway wrote the songs in this unbelieveable film. Steve Allen stars as a college professor that is doing a sex survey. Mamie Van Doren (who at the time of filming was almost 30 years old) played one of his students…and of course she passed the survey, and maybe was even having an affair with Steve’s charecter.  Townsfolk object and bring him up on charges of indecency. The film climaxes with his trial. The acting and even the music is lackluster. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a musical? Who knows, but whatever it is, it was bad!

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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Worst of 1960


The Worst of 1960 ~ #2 – Desire in the Dust


Desire in the Dust tried to jump on the “southern” style movie Bandwagon, and it fell off.  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was the premire southern movie of this time, as was Long Hot Summer, but Desire in the Dust just couldn’t measure up. Raymond Burr just wasn’t right for this role, nor was Joan Bennett as his disturbed wife, she spent most of her time mourning her dead son.

This film tried to put as much into this story as it possibly can in 102 minutes and none of it works. Even the plot summary in IMDB is confusing. Almost as confusing as the movie itself. What it mainly boils down to is a sahrecropper’s son is released from prison for running over a young boy, which he didn’t do. It was actually the boys sister that was driving the car that killed her brother, and the sharecropper’s son took the rap becasue he was in love with the daughter…who as it happens got married while he was in prison, and now he seeks vengence. This and a whole lot more thrown together, makes this a poorlyscripted, poorly cast, poorly performed and poorly directed film.

With better direction and a somewhat less entangled script this film could have actually been good.

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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Drama, Romance, Worst of 1960


The Worst of 1960 ~ #3 – The Leech Women


This movie was absolutely hilarious actually. I don’t think it was meant to be, however when i saw this some years back, I could barely get through it.  The plot is about a mysterious old womanthat  approaches Dr. Paul Talbot (played by Phillip Terry) and promises to reveal to him the secret of eternal youth. Following her to Africa, he and his wife June Talbot (Coleen Gray) witness the secret ceremony that utilizes orchid pollen and a victim’s pineal gland secretions. June returns to the United States alone and proceeds to keep herself young by killing men for their pineal secretions. She becomes enamored with a man half her actual age, and kills his fiance to maintain her youthful appearance. Eventually the cops come to investigate the murders and June kills herself by leaping from a window.

I don’t think I have seen many of the actors in other films, except Phillip Terry, who was a B-movie star who starrred in earlier films with Ray Milland (the Lost Weekend) and Olivia deHavilland (To Each His Own)

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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Horror, Worst of 1960


1960 Academy Awards

The 33rd Annual Academy Awards has been dubbed the Year of Omissions by many Oscar and Film buffs. Throughout 1960, many powerful performances and films would become classics but not even nominated at Award time. One of the biggest snubs in the Best Picture History was the exclusion of the classic Hitchcock thriller “Psycho”, not only was it not nominated for Best Picture, (yet, the Alamo was) but Hitchcock lost as Best Director to Billy Wilder’s work in The Apartment. Janet Leigh who was nominated for a Supporting Award for her work in Psycho was overlooked and the award went to Shirley Jones, who was superb, but who remembers any scenes from her role as opposed to the famous “Shower Scene”? Anthony Perkins was not even considered for his powerful portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho. And who is Chill Wills?? This is just a few of the omissions in this Oscar Race. I will be looking at the films and the stars that were nominated for the Oscars in 1960.

Nominees for 1960 are;

Best Picture:
The Apartment; The Alamo; Elmer Gantry; Suns & Lovers and The Sundowners

Best Director Nominees:
Billy Wilder; Jack Cardiff; Jules Dassin; Alfred Hitchcock; Fred Zinnemann

Best Actor Nominees:
Burt Lancaster; Trevor Howard; Jack Lemmon; Lawrence Olivier; Spencer Tracy

Best Actress Nominees:
Elizabeth Taylor; Greer Garson; Deborah Kerr; Shirley MacLaine; Melina Mercouri

Supporting Actors:
Peter Ustinov; Peter Falk; Jack Kruschen; Sal Mineo; Chill Wills

Supporting Actresses:
Shirley Jones; Glynnis Johns; Shirley Knight; Janet Leigh; Mary Ure

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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in 1960, 60's, Academy Awards