zinnemann

I premi Oscar nella storia (1955/1969)

A voi il terzo appuntamento con la storia degli Oscar, gli anni di Hitchcock, Fellini, Leone, Bunuel

Come ogni anno, in seguito all’assegnazione dei premi Oscar, nasce la polemica su quale film sia il più meritevole dell’ambito riconoscimento; ho voluto quindi fare una ricerca e confrontare il film vincitore nella categoria “miglior film” di ogni edizione con alcuni dei titoli prodotti nell’anno precedente alla premiazione.


6

Act of Violence, 1948, Fred Zinnemann

The action shifts to L.A. at night, and Zinnemann was justifiably proud of the location work here with atmospheric noir imagery from cinematographer Robert Surtees. Another character appears in the city - a hooker, played by Mary Astor - and she is in a way the heart of the film, the one person who knows that bad character and bad luck usually prevail. As a rule, Fred Zinnemann’s films are about the community surviving as heroes stand by principle…But in Act of Violence, there is a rare, bleak absence of hope, of lives that cannot avoid being destroyed by consequences. It is an unusual picture of the slow stain of war…a tough, tight script done economically and effectively, doing its damaging bit to present a real Americana, crowded with weak people and desperate compromises…’

- David Thomson

"It was said that no matter how outwardly serene a nun might be, her soul remained a battleground until she died. The Nun’s Story chronicled such a battle with restraint and compassion. American Film called it ‘among the most transcendent of films’. Britain’s Films & Filming cited the ‘wisdom’ of Audrey’s performance as ‘more profound than that of any other character Hepburn has played’. The story of Sister Luke was ‘not a crisis of faith, but a crisis of worthiness’, said Zinnemann, who marveled at ‘the tine, firm line of development’ of Audrey’s portrayal.

She had no big-name leading man or high-fashion designers to help her out, and precious few speeches. With her hands and body hidden for most of the film, she had to rely almost entirely on her eyes. ‘Large and luminous, they become a window to her doubt’, wrote Whitty. ‘They draw us so completely into her word, and to her character, that her self-torture becomes wrenching’.

The studio was jittery about the picture’s release for a plethora of reasons and not at all certain of its success. ‘To say that Warners were not entirely happy with the film would be an understatement’, said Zinnemann. ‘They thought it would flop. Well, they said, maybe Audrey [would bring] some people in’.

She did, indeed. The Nun’s Story opened at Radio City Music Hall on July 18, 1959, and made more money for Warners than any of its previous films. It cost $ 3.5 million and grossed more than $6 million then - and much more since. Hepburn was named Best Actress of 1959 by the New York Film Critics and its British equivalent. ‘Her performance will forever silence those who have thought her less an actress than a symbol of sophisticated child/woman’, said Films in Review. ‘Her portrayal  of Sister Luke is one of the great performances of the screen’.”