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Posts Tagged ‘my fair lady’

Happy Birthday to Classic Movie Legend, George Cukor, born today, July 7 in 1899!

Woman’s Director. That is the title Hollywood bequeathed upon George Cukor, a title he of course resented. And, to be perfectly honest, I almost resent it, too. To call Cukor a “woman’s director” is to insult his craft because it wasn’t just women who benefited from his skillful coaxing.  All of his actors, both men and woman, had something to learn and something to gain (like, say an Oscar) from this man’s talent. And if you look at the numbers, he directed three men to Academy Award winning performances and only two women. Granted, he did direct 12 best actress nominations and only 8 for best actor. But who’s counting?  So, let us celebrate this so-called “woman’s director,” by paying attention to the before mentioned Oscar winning men.

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james stewart and katharine Hepburn, the Philadelphia story, classic movie actress, george cukor

George Cukor directing Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart (in his award winning role) in The Philadelphia Story. (1940, George Cukor Director)

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George Cukor (left) with Ronald Colman (right); Colman who would go on to win an Oscar for A Double Life. (1947, George Cukor, director)

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George Cukor on set with Rex Harrison, winner of the Best Actor Oscar for the film My Fair Lady (1964, George Cukor director)

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

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12. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Other Nominated Films:
Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Prior to compiling this countdown list, I’d never seen a Sidney Poitier movie. I knew who he was, and I knew about the profound effect he had on movie history — but I never had the opportunity to see one of his films.  You could say that Poitier was the first major black movie star — he was the first black actor to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award (The Defiant Ones); he was the first black actor to win the Best Actor award (Lilies of the Field); he played roles that defied previous racial stereotypes; and by 1967 he was a MAJOR box office draw.  With that being said, I’m glad In the Heat of the Night was my first Poitier film. And I’m glad that my first two memories of Poitier will be his delivery of the iconic line, “They call me MISTER Tibbs!”, and his performance, as Mr. Tibbs, reacting to being slapped by a white man — by slapping the white man right back. Wow. While Poitier gives one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen, in my opinion he’s actually topped by his co-star, Rod Steiger (and that’s saying a lot). Steiger is just so convincing and so stinging in his portrayal of the arrogant and prejudiced Police Chief Bill Gillespie. In a way, In the Heat of the Night could be considered a character study of two men, of different races, who are on the same mission with the same goal. And although Tibbs and Gillespie start out on the wrong foot and use different methods to solve crime, they eventually put their differences aside and work together. Steiger would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, while Virgin Tibbs would go on to be ranked as one of the top 50 heroes by the American Film Institute.

Nominated for 7 Oscars, Winner of 5

Best Actor in a Leading Role – Rod Steiger (WON)
Best Film Editing – Hal Ashby (WON)
Best Picture – Walter Mirisch (WON)
Best Sound – Samuel Goldwyn SSD (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium – Stirling Silliphant (WON)
Best Director – Norman Jewison
Best Effects, Sounds Effects – James Richards

Virgil Tibbs: They call me MISTER Tibbs!

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30. An American in Paris (1951)

Other Nominated Films:
Decision Before Dawn, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire

There are very few films that are as vibrant and lavish as An American in Paris. There are also very few (if any other) films that feature an uninterrupted 16-minute dance sequence. The dance sequence. a ballet set to Gershwin’s An American in Paris  is well choreographed (I would hope so since this sequence cost over $500,000), and I believe this is the primary reason that An American in Paris won the Best Picture Oscar. An American in Paris is an exciting, stand-up-and-move-your-feet type of film, but A Streetcar Named Desire and A Place in the Sun are the truly the more superior films. But let’s not focus on what probably should have happened, let’s focus on what did happened. While the plot of An American in Paris may not be the strongest, what keeps the film from failing is the immerse star power of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the classic Gershwin songs, and the colorful direction of Vincente Minnelli. I will say that what truly kept me hooked was Leslie Caron. I’m unsure of what it is about her, but when she’s on screen, she demands your attention. When she wasn’t on screen however, it felt to me as if the movie was just slowly dragging. Although I will give credit to Gene Kelly for one of the most memorable dances of all time in I Got Rhythm. The man can really dance, and I have no problem admitting that I wish I could dance like that. An American in Paris would go on to win Academy Awards that year.

Nominated for 8 Oscars, Winner of 6
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color – Cedric Gibbons, E. Preston Ames, Edwin B. Willis, F. Keogh Gleason (WON)
Best Cinematography, Color – Alfred Gilks, John Alton (WON)
Best Costume Design, Color – Orry-Kelly, Walter Plunkett, Irene Sharaff (WON)
Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture – Johnny Green, Saul Chaplin (WON)
Best Picture – Arthur Freed (WON)
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Alan Jay Lerner (WON)
Best Director – Vincente Minnelli
Best Film Editing – Adrienne Fazan

Jerry Mulligan: She’s one of those third year girls who gripe my liver… You know, American college kids. They come over here to take their third year and lap up a little culture… They’re officious and dull. They’re always making profound observations they’ve overheard.

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