AND THE OSCAR DOESN’T GO TO… Ernst Lubitsch

Well, here it is, it’s 2023 and I’m already tired. Happy New Year, everyone! I had a good 2002, movie-wise and otherwise-wise. I started my Cinema Museum screenings, my Medium blog started being monetized, I had reviews published in magazines and I met some wonderful people in this wonderful city we call the Big Smoke – nobody calls it that. So, here it is, 2023 and, as per, it’s January and I give you the series of posts for this year. I realised that I’ve talked about soooo many things on my blog, particularly my several series. Screenwriters (which is now the basis or my Cinema Museum screenings – check them out), Comedy, World Cinema, etc… and I’ve yet to talk about the Oscars! Well, that’s not entirely true. But I’ve said for years that I wish the Oscars were on every day, so I shall make that happen… on this blog, once a month. AND THE OSCAR DOESN’T GO TO… will focus on the people who… never won an Oscar. I wrote three articles about this a few years and they were fairly popular. So I want to explore it a bit more.

So let’s start with one of biggest film directors of his generation, the great Ernst Lubitsch. That’s right, despite being nominated three times, Lubitsch never own a Best Director Oscar. He was nominated for The Patriot (1928), The Love Parade (1929) and Heaven Can Wait (1943), and lost to Frank Lloyd for The Divine Lady, Lewis Milestone for All Quiet on the Western Front, and Michael Curtiz for Casablanca, respectively. You probably know that Billy Wilder had a sign in his office that read How Would Lubitsch Do it?. This is not surprising. Lubitsch could craft a story like nobody’s business – look no further than Trouble in Paradise (1932), an impeccably written soph-com if there ever was one. Or Design for Living (1933), a ground-breaking sex comedy. Or Ninotchka (1939), in which Greta Garbo finally laughed. His sense of subtlety, exposition and sophistication, or the Lubitsch Touch, is the stuff of legends and it is still being copied and homaged to this day. His famous ‘Touch’ is pretty hard to put into words, but if one were to attempt it, one could argue that Lubitsch knew what to put in and what to leave out, when and in which order, for the audience to catch up, all wrapped up in the most delicious champagne-filled haze.

William Wyler and Billy Wilder’s exchange at Lubitsch’s funeral in 1947 says it all: ‘No more Lubitsch’, says Wyler. ‘Worse than that, no more Lubitsch pictures’, Wilder replies.

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: The Apartment (1960)

It’s Chriiiiistmaaaas! December’s ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES goes out to one of the best…. New Year’s Eve movies?? That’s right, The Apartment (1960, dir. Billy Wilder) doubles as a Christmas movie AND a New Year’s Eve movie, and, because I went to see it on the big screen at the BFI a few weeks ago, I thought I’d pay tribute to it once more. Some of you may know that it is my all-time favorite movie and part of the reason is that unbelievable screenplay. I think Wilder and Diamond’s script is one of the greatest original screenplays ever written and while it’s hard to pick just three quotes from it, I’m going to give it a good ol’ go! You know the story: C. C Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lends his apartment to his senior executives for them to bring their mistresses, so he can move up the office ladder. Things turn sweet and sour when he fals in love with elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Here are the quotes:

  • Mildred! He’s at it again!’ Dr Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen) – Dr Dreyfuss delivers some of the funniest lines in the film, but this one, when he thinks Baxter has someone else in his apartment ‘again’, is surely his crowning moment.
  • The mirror… it’s broken…’ ‘Yes I know, makes me look the way I feel.’ C. C. Baxter and Miss Kubelik – I love this exchange. Not only is this scene a fantastic plot point, but the dialogue is exquisite.
  • Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.’ ‘Shut up and deal.’ C. C. Baxter and Miss Kubelik – I know, I know, obvious one. But what an ending and it sums up their characters and their arcs perfectly.

Honestly, I didn’t even include my actual favorite one because I thought that was too obvious and, since this is such a great screenplay, I thought it’d change things up! Oh and if I had a band, I would totally call it The Kubeliks. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

World Cup of Film Noir

Sooo…here we are again. As the FIFA Men’s World Cup starts today, I thought I would go back to basics! World of Cup of Horror Movies last month was so much fun, I decided to do one for Film Noir, as it’s Noirvember! As you probably know, this was inspired by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s radio programme, in which they did their own World Cup of Horror Movies, and the rules are quite simple: I pick two films out of a hat (or a cup), and I have to pick which one I like better. Nice, right? So here it is… The World Cup of Film Noir!

Detour (1945) or The Hitch-hiker (1953) – Going to have to go with Detour. They are both sort of similar in their road thriller way, but I absolutely adore the rawness of Detour.

The Big Combo (1955) or The Stranger (1946) – Absolutely no contest here. The Big Combo is an obsession of mine.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) or Pickup on South Street (1953) – Love both, but going to have to say Sweet Smell of Success, which is one of my all-time favorite movies.

D.O.A. (1950) or Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Another no-brainer here. Sunset Boulevard all the way.

Crossfire (1947) or Mildred Pierce (1945) – Two of my favorites, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call Mildred Pierce a straight noir in the most basic sense, I’m going to have to pick it here. Though, on the whole, Crossfire satisfies me a little bit more on the noir front. Tough one.

T-Men (1947) or Pitfall (1948) – I’m not a big Pitfall fan. I find it a little too dull for my taste. T-Men, on the other hand, is insane. Super tense, endlessly exciting and it looks gorgeous.

Kiss me Deadly (1955) or Crime Wave (1954) – Kiss me Deadly, Kiss me Deadly, Kiss me Deadly! Love Crime Wave though.

Gilda (1946) or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) – I find both of these films incredibly fascinating. And while I love Martha Ivers and think it’s one of the best, if not THE best suburban noir, Gilda has my vote as it was the film that made a classic movie buff.

In a Lonely Place (1950) or The Set-up (1949) – In a Lonely Place. Though I do really like The Set-up.

Private Hell 36 (1954) or The Killers (1946) – I’ve talked about both at length here on the Garden and while I adore Steve Cochran’s Homme Fatale-ness in Private Hell 36, I’m going to pick The Killers, which is probably my 5th or 6th favorite film noir of all time.

There you have it! (Un)happy Noirvember!

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: The Mob (1951)

Noirvember is here and you know how I keep saying that The Big Combo (1955) is the most underrated film of all time? I believe that it goes beyond genre. I don’t think The Big Combo is the most underrated noir ever, I believe it’s the most underrated film ever. I’ve blogged about it numerous times and I am still as obsessed with it as the first time I watched it. But if we’re talking especially film noir, I think The Big Combo has a relatively steady following within the noir-loving community, as it should. The Mob (1951, dir. Robert Parrish), on the other hand… For a film with Broderick Crawford as wise-cracking policeman Johnny Damico going undercover to stop dodgy activities on the docks as well as some of the most hilarious noir lines after, perhaps, The Big Sleep, The Mob is inexplicably unknown and severely under-appreciated. As some of you may know, I wrote an article for Eddie Muller’s Noir City E-magazine in 2018. This was for the REMEMBER ME feature and I chose the always underrated, always terrifying and always brilliant Neville Brand. I researched and watched and re-watched a lot of his movies, including The Mob, which I hadn’t seen up until that point. I loved it and have been trying to get people to watch it ever since, so you know what to do! Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

  1. I’ve got more influential friends than you in the Boy Scouts.’ Pawn broker to Johnny Damico – Ouch. Imagine saying that to a police officer just as he’s trying to get a good deal just because he’s a police officer. Ha!
  2. I’ll remember your face.’ ‘I’ll try to forget yours.’ Longshoreman and Johnny Damico – I mean, that’s the stuff noir is made of, but Crawford’s delivery is always priceless.
  3. How are ya, Flynn? I got a little invitation to a party for you. RSVP.’ ‘Sure, I’ll go right home and change.’ ‘It’s a sort of come-as-you-are party. Get in.’ Gunner and Johnny Damico – Gunner has his gun firmly pointed at Johnny and this is the exchange. Brilliant. In fact, their entire interaction is so slick, it makes you wish you could drop those lines in conversation, but that’s noir for ya!

(Un)Happy Noirvember!

World Cup of Classic Horror Movies

The FIFA Men’s World Cup is right around the corner and this gave me an idea. Rather, it gave film critic Mark Kermode and radio presenter Simon Mayo an idea and I am shamelessly stealing it from them. They had their own World Cup of Horror Movies on their podcast a few weeks ago, in which Mayo would draw two numbers representing two horror films and Kermode would pick his favorite. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am literally picking two (classic horror, as per) movies out of a hat as I type and I’m also watching Mayo and Kermode’s video for instructions. And I should point out that, like the real World Cup, I do not understand the rules. Here we go.

Psycho (1960) vs The Thing From Another World (1951) – Psycho. Obviously. I should point out that I really like TTFAW but I actually like John Carpenter’s version better. In fact, that is probably my all-time favorite Horror film.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) vs The Spiral Staircase (1946) – Well, God damn it. Bagel on a bike. Heavens above. Prooooobably The Spiral Stai-, no. The Most Dangerous Game. Or maybe… Ah, damn. 1-1.

Dracula (1931) vs Freaks (1932) – Interesting. Freaks.

Cat People (1942) vs The Uninvited (1944) – Adore both, but you know I love me some Cat People.

Night of the Hunter (1955) vs I Vampiri (1957) – Please. Night of the Hunter, any day.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) vs Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) – Obviously Plan 9 Fr-, kidding, Body Snatchers.

Nosferatu (1922) vs The Invisible Man (1933) – Oooooohhhhhhh. Hmmm, probably The Invisible Man. I adore Claude Rains and he’s brilliant in it.

Les Diaboliques (1955) vs The Wolfman (1941) – Love both, but LES DIABOLIQUES! That twist is outstanding.

Do, do we go again? Semi-finals? Dance-off? I don’t know!

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: Cat People (1942)

Image from Pinterest

Horror Month is here! About three years ago, I wrote a piece about Cat People (1942) and why I think Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) is such a great tragic character. And because I’m doing that whole re-visiting stuff thing, I thought I’d go back to Cat People for Horror Month’s ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES.

Written by DeWitt Bodeen (another SCREENPLAY BY-ee from yesteryear) and directed by Jacques Tourneur, Cat People tells the story of Irene Dubrovna, a sketch artist who believes she will turn into a panther if gives into her sexual desires. And you know what, I like Irena so much, all of the quotes are hers.

  1. ‘It’s just that cats don’t seem to like me.’ Irena – Fantastic foreshadowing and perhaps the most famous line in the film.
    1. ‘I envy them. They’re happy. They make their husbands happy. They lead normal, happy lives.’ Irena – Her desire to be ‘normal’ is a motif throughout the film and like I said in my previous piece, there is a wonderful social commentary in all of that, which is just magnificent.
    1. They torment me. I wake in the night and the trail of their feet whispers in my brain. I have no peace, for they are in me.’ Irena – Bodeen’s screenplay is filled with these quotes and I personally adore them. Irena’s torment is heart-wrenching but her vulnerability is endearing. A brilliant character from a brilliant film.

Happy Horror Month!

Ask me Anything part 2 – ANSWERS

I was meant to post this yesterday, but this has been the most insane week ever! So here are my answers to your questions!

Mike asked ‘Your top 5 favorite movies?’ The Apartment, All About Eve, Casablanca, Some Like it Hot and – that’s the issue, I can never come up with a top 5, 10 or 20. But those four are pretty much the top 4.

Your top 3 favorite plays?’ Humm, interesting one. Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman and Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

Your top 3 favorite TV shows of all time?’ Queer as Folk (US Version), The Golden Girls and… the third one could be a million-way tie between soooo many shows, including Cold Case (read my article here), Ozark, Orange is the New Black, Boston Legal, Whose Line Is It Anyway? (US), etc…

Your top 2 favorite musical performers?’ Is that performers in musicals, or music acts? I’m assuming music acts, so Duran Duran and George Michael. If you mean musicals, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.

Favorite current actress and actor’ Again, sooo many. Going to say, at the moment I’m a little bit obsessed with Timothee Chalamet.

Troy asked ‘Have you seen Michael Mann’s Collateral?’ Maaaany years ago, will have to get back to you on that one!

Gill asked ‘Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? You’re allowed three actors, two actresses and a director’ Love this question! Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck and Billy Wilder.

Jon DiBenedetto asked ‘What are your top 5 favorite noirs?’ Double Indemnity, Laura, The Killers, The Big Combo and Sweet Smell of Success.

Favorite Hollywood films of the 1930s?’ Bringing up Baby, Three on a Match, My Man Godfrey, Baby Face, etc

Most underrated director?’ Humm… probably Lewis Milestone or Gregory LaCava.

Thank you for your questions, everyone! Read my ’30 useless facts about me’ article on my Medium page here 😀

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: To Have and Have Not (1944)

As I mentioned in my previous post (ask me questions!!), my birthday is coming up. I will be thirty years old next Friday, September 16th. That is also Lauren Bacall’s birthday, something I’m very proud of. And because I’ll be answering your questions on my birthday and because I haven’t had any memorable lines of my own in any movie, September’s ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES goes to Lauren Bacall. More precisely To Have and Have Not (1944, dir. Howard Hawks), which I would argue is Lauren’s film. Seriously, to own a movie that hard at just 19 years old is unbelievable. Here’s the deal: American fisherman Harry ‘Steve’ Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) helps the French Resistance by transporting people to the island of Martinique, while romancing lounge singer Marie ‘Slim’ Browning (Lauren Bacall). Here are three of my favorite quips, all Lauren’s:

  1. What are you trying to do, guess her weight?’ Slim to Steve – Steve caries an unconscious woman to a bed, and Slim is, of course, jealous. And we like that.
  2. I’m not hard to get, Steve. All you have to do is ask.’ Slim to Steve – I mean, isn’t that one of the coolest lines?
  3. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.’ Slim to Steve – This probably makes this the most predictable ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES ever, but hey, it’s a killer line, I don’t care!

Stay tuned for my Ask Me Anything answers on the 16th!

Ask Me Anything, part 2!

Sooooo… guess who’s turning 30 in a few weeks? That’s right, on September 16th, I shall be exiting my twenties, hopefully with panache. And so, I’ve decided to do another Ask Me Anything, which is obviously what the public wants. So anything you want to know about me, feel free to ask! Like always, almost anything goes. Cinema, music, life, writing, whatever! Post your questions in the comment section, on Instagram, the blog’s Facebook page or my personal page. Just ask away and have fun!

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: La Strada (1954)

So, I came back from Venice a few days ago and it was absolutely grand spending a few days in one of my favorite cities in the world. And I did say August’s ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES was going to relate to my travels somehow. No, not Summertime (1955, dir. David Lean), you’ll be surprised to hear. Instead, I’m going to be talking about one of my favorite Italian films of all time, La Strada (1954, dir. Federico Fellini), which was the first featured film on my WORLD CINEMA series last year. Ah, good times. La Strada follows Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), a simple woman who is sold by her mother to strongman Zampano (Anthony Quinn) to go on the road with him. Read my review here.

Here are three of my favorite quotes from it:

‘What a funny face! Are you a woman, really? Or an artichoke?’ The Fool (Richard Basehart) – This pretty much sums up Gelsomina and I mean that in the best way possible. Giulietta Masina had an incredible face. And in this particular role, well… it’s heaven.

Come here. There should be something here to fit you. I want you to look elegant. I don’t want to see you in rags. My women have always looked smart.’ Zampano – Zampano’s a complete brute and Quinn pulls no punches here.

Do you remember how beautiful it was, Zampano? Watching the rain from the window that day?’ Gelsomina – Her vulnerability, her sweetness, her kindness are all on display here and it’s both beautiful and tragic to watch. Is it obvious she’s one of my favorite movie characters of all time?