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2. On the Waterfront (1954)

Other Nominated Films:
The Canine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain

This isn’t the first Elia Kazan film to make an appearance on this list: Gentleman’s Agreement won Best Picture in 1948 (#26 on the list). When talking about directors, I’ve primarily focused on the films they released and the impact those films had on audiences. While Kazan captivated audiences with his work behind the camera, he may be best known for the people that he put in front of the camera.  Kazan helped introduce many new and exciting actors to movie audiences including Marlon Brando, James Dean, Warren Beatty, Julie Harris, Andy Griffith, Eli Wallach and Eva Marie Saint. Always striving for cinematic realism, he was able to evoke incredible dramatic performances from his actors, directing them to 21 Oscar nominations and nine Oscar wins. But, let us move onwards! Actually, I lied. Before we move onwards, I just want to say that On the Waterfront is one of Marlon Brando’s earliest roles, and Eva Marie Saint’s very first film. Okay. Now let’s move onwards. It’s important to note that On the Waterfront is based on a number of true stories and is filmed on location around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey.  On the Waterfront begins with Terry Molloy (Brando) luring fellow dockworker Joey Doyle (Ben Wagner) into an ambush so that he cannot testify against union boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), to the Waterfront Crime Commission.  Although Terry believes that Joey will simply be intimidated into not testifying, Joey is killed instead.  Everyone knows that he was murdered on orders from Friendly but no-one is willing to talk; instead they all play “D and D” (deaf and dumb). Terry is angry about being used as a tool in Joey’s death, but he too remains silent.   However things begin to change when Terry meets Joey’s sister, Edie (Saint). Edie’s is angry and upset about her brother’s death, and she tries to shame “waterfront priest” Father Barry (Karl Malden) into action.  Soon both Edie and Father Barry are urging Terry to testify against Friendly. This is where I’ll stop since if I go on…well…things would be ruined. I wouldn’t want to do that to you all.  On the Waterfront was one of the first films I watched when compiling my list, and I knew right away that it would end up ranking high on my list. Brando gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen and Eva Marie Saint matches Brando scene for scene. Throughout my life, I’ve heard the line “I coulda been a contender” numerous times but never knew where it originated from. When I saw Brando say it …I was blown away. I never expected that line to pack such a punch in the gut, but it did. The line is so iconic that it was voted the #3 top movie quote in the American Film Institute’s Top 100, and the film itself was voted the #8 movie of all time. On the Waterfront provided producer Sam Spiegel his first win for Best Picture and Elia Kazan’s second win for Best Director.

 

Nominated for 12 Oscars, Winner of 8
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Marlon Brando (WON)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Eva Marie Saint (WON)
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White – Richard Day (WON)
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Boris Kaufman (WON)
Best Director – Elia Kazan (WON)
Best Film Editing – Gene Milford (WON)
Best Picture – Sam Spiegel (WON)
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Budd Schulberg (WON)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Lee J. Cobb
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Karl Malden
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Rod Steiger
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Leonard Bernstein

Terry: You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

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14. The Sound of Music (1965)

Other Nominated Films:
Darling, Doctor Zhivago, Ship of Fools, A Thousand Clowns

Now this is one of the weeks I’ve been looking forward to writing about! There are a lot of movies I’ve enjoyed watching, but these next two films are definitely up there as far as my all-time favorites go. Let’s begin with what the hills are alive of (I just couldn’t resist.) Nominated for ten Academy Awards, The Sound of Music became the highest-grossing film of all time in 1966, overtaking the top spot from the #3 film on my countdown list — which would again jump back to the #1 spot in 1971 usurping The Sound of Music…just a bit of trivia here. Anywho! Until about a month ago, I’d only seen clips and tidbits from The Sound of Music…sorry to say. But, after watching the whole film for the first time, I was completely blown away.  From the iconic opening scene when we see Maria twirling around on the beautiful mountainside amid the snow-capped Alps, to the suspenseful ending as the Von Trapp family tries to escape the Nazis — I was captivated in every way.  Not only was the film fun and romantic, and at times quite serious due to the historical implications — the Rogers and Hammerstein songs were simply magnificent and unforgettable!  Julie Andrews was so charismatic as the free-spirited Maria — truly phenomenal and easy to love.  And, although it’s no secret that Christopher Plummer (who played Captain Georg von Trapp) absolutely hated this movie, it doesn’t change the fact that this is one of his most memorable roles. Ranked as the #4 musical of all time by the American Film Institute, The Sound of Music is an experience you will never forget.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 5

Best Director – Robert Wise (WON)
Best Film Editing – William Reynolds (WON)
Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment – Irwin Kostal (WON)
Best Picture – Robert Wise (WON)
Best Sound – James Corcoran (20th Century-Fox SSD), Fred Hynes (Todd-AO SSD) (WON)
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Julie Andrews
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Peggy Wood
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color – Borin Leven, Walter M. Scott, Ruby R. Levitt
Best Cinematography, Color – Ted D. McCord
Best Costume Design, Color – Dorothy Jeakins

Captain von Trapp: Fraulein, is it to be at every meal, or merely at dinnertime, that you intend on leading us all through this rare and wonderful new world of… indigestion?

(more…)

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