This week in the Best of Film Noir, I thought it would be fun to visit the Oscars again (if you missed it, my post last year, Best of Film Noir and The Oscars, highlighted where some great film noir lands in the annals of Oscar). I admit it, I love the Oscars. I love to watch the nominated movies ahead of time (if I can find the time lol), and then see who picks up Hollywood’s grand prize. But I watch for another reason as well…
The Best of Film Noir – What Can Authors Learn From The Movies?
Another reason I watch movies is to learn my writing craft. I not only enjoy movies for the pure entertainment, but the more I write, the more I find myself studying film in order to see how the story was constructed, and to see how the actors do, to see how the nuances of their acting impacts the story. I think one of the reasons why I enjoy old movies is because, in my opinion, they were by and large better written, with better dialogue and story construction. They didn’t just rely on things blowing up, or gratuitous fill-in-the-blank, to create entertainment. Anyway, try studying a movie and see what you can apply to your writing…and I’ll get off my soapbox :).
The Best of Film Noir – Oscar Trivia
I thought it would be fun to delve into a little Oscar trivia, as it relates to those people who were involved in some of the film noir I’ve examined on To Become A Writer. So without further ado, the envelope, please…
The Best of Film Noir – Best Actors and Actresses
Burt Lancaster starred in at least eight film noir, the best known also being his acting debut, The Killers. Considered one of Hollywood’s finest actors, his only Oscar win was for the non-noir Elmer Gantry.
Orson Welles holds a big place in film noir. Welles not only acted in some of the most critically acclaimed film noir, but he directed many of the movies as well (The Stranger, The Lady From Shanghai, The Third Man and Touch of Evil). Now considered one of the best directors ever, Welles’ only Oscar was for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for Citizen Kane.
Edward G. Robinson has also appeared in many film noir (Double Indemnity, The Woman In The Window, Scarlet Street, Key Largo and The Stranger). A great actor, appearing in many gangster flicks, Robinson never won an Academy Award. He did posthumously receive an Honorary Award.
Gloria Swanson appeared in one of the best of film noir, Sunset Boulevard, and was nominated for Best Actress. Ironically, Swanson, a silent film star, played a has-been silent film star in Sunset Boulevard. Swanson was also nominated for the first ever Best Actress award, for her role in Sadie Thompson. Nominated three times, she never won.
Claire Trevor, Best Supporting Actress winner for Key Largo, was known as The Queen of Film Noir because of her powerful performances in some of the best of film noir (Street of Chance, Murder, My Sweet, and of course, Key Largo).
The Best of Film Noir – Best Directors
Billy Wilder, director of some film noir greats (Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard) won much acclaim, but not so much for his film noir. He was nominated an astounding eight times for Best Director, winning twice (The Lost Weekend and The Apartment). He was also nominated countless times in other categories.
Otto Preminger, director of Laura, never won the coveted Academy Award. Many of his later films broke new ground, dealing with such issues as drug and alcohol abuse, rape, and gay and lesbian issues.
Carol Reed (The Fallen Idol, The Third Man and Odd Man Out) won for a definite non-noir film, Oliver. He also became the first British film director to receive a knighthood for his craft (not a bad replacement instead of an Oscar).
The Best of Film Noir – The Writers
I noted in last year’s film noir Oscar edition that many film noir scripts have been nominated. Some that I didn’t mention are The Stranger, Touch of Evil, The Blue Dahlia, The Narrow Margin and The Asphalt Jungle. It just goes to show that a great movie needs a great script…
I could go on about the Oscars and film noir, but I’m going to go watch the big show :). I hope you’ve enjoyed a few tidbits about Hollywood’s biggest awards.
If you like Hollywood trivia, try the second book in the Reed Ferguson mystery series, Reel Estate Rip-off. It’s a great mystery with bits and pieces of Hollywood film fun wrapped in the story.
Once again Renée Pawlish brings a little noir into a modern-day mystery. This one full of danger, film trivia, and of course fun and lively characters. I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble Reed himself in next!