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Entries in The Best Years of Our Lives (4)

Monday
Feb 18 2019

Six days til Oscar.Six pieces of number 6 related trivia

Six is the number of the day so here are six different stats involving that number for distraction & fun.

1.BlacKkKlansmanis the only movie this year with exactly six nominations.The other movies this decade with with exactly that number of nominations:Darkest Hour,Phantom Thread,Manchester by the Sea,Lion*,Hacksaw Ridge,Bridge of Spies,Spotlight,Carol*,Boyhood,American Sniper,Captain Philllips*,Nebraska*,Dallas Buyers Club,War Horse*,Moneyball*,and127 Hours*.I was hoping to discover that one of those titles had EXACTLY the same category nominations asBlacKkKlansmanbut none did.Titles with an asterisk lost all their nominations but the bulk of the six-time nominees won at least 1 Oscar which is good news forSpike Lee's Adapted Screenplay bid for BlacKkKlansman,the category its most likely to win in this coming Sunday.

2.Carolis the only six-time nominee in the past decade not to score a Best Picture nomination...

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Saturday
Oct 27 2018

Happy Teresa Wright Centennial

The Oscar-winning actress ofMrs Miniverfame,was born 100 years ago on this very day in Harlem,where I'm typing this from.(Well,not literally where I'm typing this from - this apartment probably didn't exist in 1918 but who knows.)

a lesser known distinction: she was Marlon Brando's very first romantic interest in a film (his debut The Men,1950)She didn't consider herself a glamour girl,which could account for the sparcity of glamorous photoshoots compared to other 'it girls'.Wright's screen heyday was short-lived as many careers are when the success is so instantaneous and large.Still,it's hard to knock the girl next door beauty  for not being able to live up to her first two years in Hollywood.Her first three movies (Little Foxes,Pride of the Yankees,Mrs Miniver) all brought her Oscar nominations.An Oscar winner by the age of 24 with batting a thousand record there was essentially nowhere to go but down.Still,before the inevitable fade of her career she managed two more all time classics,doing her best acting for Alfred Hitchcock inShadow of a Doubt(1943) and appearing the perfect ensemble of one of the very best Best Picture winnersThe Best Years of Our Lives(1946).Her big screen career died quickly due to diminishing popularity and fights with her studio but she worked frequently on TV beginning in the 1950s.

Do you have a favoriteTeresa Wright film?

Friday
Aug 24 2012

Two Tolands

Matthere.Earlier,I wrote about Gregg Toland as Teresa Wright's accomplice in manufacturing the luminance of William Wyler's 1946 film,Best Years of Our Lives.If anyone is unfamiliar with Toland's name,you've certainly seen his work.He's the cinematographer responsible forCitizen Kane,The Best Years of Our Lives,Wuthering Heights,andThe Grapes of Wrath.He could be considered as much of an auteur as many of the great directors,leaving a fairly recognizable stamp on anything bearing his name.Orson Welles cemented his legacy when he decided to share his title card with Toland at the end ofKane.

Anyway,Toland came to mind earlier and it made me think about how,among his innumerable virtues,his most important skill was his ability to adapt.It's fascinating to see how his trademarks (deep focus,risky lighting,etc.) shifted to suit whatever director he worked with.

Deep focus existed before Toland,but he taught the world to see it as an extension of the cinematic language.As the best filmmakers do,he used the camera to define the emotional implications of the script.InCitizen Kane,Toland's methods suggested the deep tragedy of the film and helped the audience to understand Charles Foster Kane merely by looking at him.You could probably watchKaneon mute and still comprehend the characterization.

At his best,Toland told the story with his camera.Deep focus is used to isolate characters inKane– detailing their proportion to the world around them.Characters occupy different parts of the screen depending their emotional status.But inBest Years of Our Lives,deep focus is used to bring characters together.

By the timeThe Best Years of Our Livesrolled around,Toland was secure in his technique.His impeccable style and clarity adjusted to combine brilliantly with William Wyler's organizational fixation.When Al returns home and so timidly walks into his own home (after ringing the doorbell,no less),he embraces his wife about 20 feet away from the camera,down a long hallway.They are nicely in focus and so are their children,standing 5 feet away.

By comparing Toland's use of deep focus inBest Years of Our Liveswith something likeKane,we begin to notice how his gift wasn't only in choosing lenses – it was in his wisdom of when and how to use them.With Wyler,Toland used the device to synchronize with his organizational instinct and his obsession with neatness.Welles,on the other hand,encouraged deep focus to occupy a component of Kane's megalomania,to follow him down the barrel of the gun.Same method.Two wildly different results.

Friday
Aug 24 2012

Movie Love

Hello,readers of The Film Experience –亚博主页Matt Zurcher,here.Aside from joining in on a few recent editions of Hit Me With Your Best Shot,it's my first time writing at The Film Experience.亚博主页I want to publicly thank Nathaniel for inviting me to cover for him today.In order to introduce myself,I wanted to make a little list focused on a trademark of this site – the adoration of actresses.

Is it possible to fall in love at the movies?I'm not talking about the fleeting arousal that Hollywood manufactures so well – I'm talking about that strange,lingering fantasy.Pauline Kael's book titles – "I Lost It at the Movies,""Going Steady,""Reeling,""When the Lights Go Down,"and "Movie Love"– all render moviegoing as a sexual experience.I can't disagree with Pauline.There is something deeply intimate going on between the viewer and the screen.Fiction isn't so far from Fact.When we're properly pulled in,we don't separate our feelings for the person sitting next to us from the person whose face is 20 feet tall.

These are five performances that continue to enchant me.Who have you fallen for in the dark?

5.Teresa Wright,The Best Years of Our Lives[Wyler,1946]


I want to give the biggest high-five to the casting director ofBest Years of Our Lives.Teresa Wright was not the most beautiful or charming choice to play the romantic lead and daughter of Frederic March's WWII veteran. But her presence inBest Yearsis warmer than a Snuggie.She is the ultimate girl to take home to your parents.She isn't sexualized and creates a portrait of calm concern for her family and relationships.She plays a young woman who believes in the value of emotional intimacy.Gregg Toland's photography can't be left out of this discussion.It's a perfect example of Hollywood manufacturing the impossible ideal that pushes film so close to us.

four more lovely ladies after the jump

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