31 Days Of Oscar–Week Four
Even After the Awards, Turner Classic Movies Keeps Going
The Academy will finally give out its awards on February 24. However, on Turner Classic Movies Oscar season lasts for one more week. Thanks for coming along on this monthlong journey through Oscar history. Now, read on for the fourth and final week of classic movie picks!
6 AM – The Awful Truth (1937)
8 AM – Designing Woman (1957)
10 AM – It Happened One Night (1934)
12 PM – Libeled Lady (1936)
To help ease you out of the post-Oscars haze, TCM has a delightful line up of romantic comedies during the day. These four films feature some of my favorite leading ladies of classic Hollywood: Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth, Lauren Bacall in Designing Woman, Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, and Myrna Loy in Libeled Lady. Their screen partners aren’t so bad either. It Happened One Night took home the “big five” awards in 1934: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Writing. This feat has only been repeated by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975 and Silence of the Lambs in 1991.
3:30 PM – The Dirty Dozen (1967)
The Dirty Dozen has to be one of the best “team-up” movies of all time. Set during WWII, it concerns a squad of convict soldiers hand-picked for a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Its influence can be seen in films like Inglourious Basterds and Suicide Squad, as well as pretty much any film with an anti-hero from Dirty Harry to the Dark Knight. The Dirty Dozen won an Oscar for sound effects and received additional nominations for editing, sound, and supporting actor John Cassavetes.
10:15 PM – Skippy (1933)
For a movie you’ve probably never heard of, Skippy holds several notable Oscar stats. Nine year old star Jackie Cooper is still the youngest person ever nominated for Best Actor. Director Norman Taurog was the youngest directing winner at age 32 until Damien Chazelle in 2016, who was younger by 221 days. It was the first Best Picture nominee adapted from a comic (sorry, Black Panther). Also, co-star Robert Coogan, who plays Sooky, is possibly most adorable child ever on screen.
The adventures of Coogan as Skippy include befriending poor moppet Sooky, helping rescue Sooky’s dog from the pound, and preventing his own father from leveling a shantytown. A comic-strip movie about a couple of kids and a dog may not sound like typical Oscar fare, but it’s actually my favorite of that year’s Best Picture nominees. You can only see this film on TCM. So if you consider yourself a cinephile, take this opportunity to watch Skippy.
4:15 AM – The Big Chill (1983)
By the time you read this, Glenn Close may have finally won an Oscar after seven nominations spanning nearly four decades. The Big Chill brought Close her second nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Voters singled her out from a big cast of notable actors who were all just starting out in their careers, at least three of whom would eventually win their own Oscars. The loosely-plotted film concerns a group of former college radicals who come together for a friend’s funeral and reflect upon the past and how their lives have diverged. The film also scored nominations for Best Picture and its original screenplay, but is probably best remembered for its wildly-popular soundtrack featuring songs from the 60s and 70s. Anyone under 50 wondering “what’s the deal with baby boomers anyway?” need look no further for enlightenment.
10:15 PM – The Age of Innocence (1993)
When people talk about director Martin Scorsese’s best films, they tend to focus on his gritty crime dramas. However, I think that this romantic period piece stands right up there with Goodfellas and Casino. Every element is excellent, from the Oscar-winning costume design to the nominated score by Elmer Bernstein, to the cast, which includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Ryder received the film’s only acting nomination, which seems crazy in hindsight. They nominated Day-Lewis that year for a different role, as a wrongly-imprisoned man in the based-on-a-true-story In the Name of the Father. The Academy may have considered that more of an acting stretch than a guy who can’t decide between Winona Ryder and Michelle Pfeiffer.
10:15 AM – The Time Machine (1960)
2 PM – Them! (1954)
Today’s programming spotlights science fiction. I selected two adventures with nominations for Best Special Effects. A mostly-faithful adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, The Time Machine stars Rod Taylor as the scientist who travels to the future in a steampunk amalgam of a Victorian barber’s chair, Santa’s sled, and satellite dish. The Oscar-winning special effects are all done practically with lighting, makeup, and photography. In an era when digital effects are the norm, it’s fun to see London destroyed by lava made of red oatmeal.
The giant ants of Them! may have lost the effects award to the giant squid of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but they remain impressively creepy. Filmed the same year as the original Godzilla, Them! is a cautionary tale against nuclear testing. You can watch it as a goofy atom-age monster movie, or you can buy into the suspense and terror. Either way, it’s a fun watch.
8 PM – Sabrina (1954)
10 PM – The Heiress (1949)
On the last night of 31 Days of Oscar, we celebrate one of the most prolific Oscar nominees: costume designer Edith Head. For 18 consecutive years (1948-1966), the Academy nominated Head, in several years for multiple films. Over her long career she received 35 nominations in total and eight statuettes, including two for tonight’s films.
Head won her first Academy Award for The Heiress. Olivia deHavilland stars as a plain woman from a wealthy family who seems destined for spinsterhood until she falls for a handsome fortune-hunter. She’s still Olivia deHavilland, so plain is a relative term here. However, Head achieves the illusion in part through drab or dowdy costumes cut to obscure rather than flatter deHavilland’s figure. It also helps that Montgomery Clift, as her suitor, is possibly even more beautiful than deHavilland. The Heiress also won awards for best actress, art direction, and Aaron Copland’s music.
In Sabrina, Audrey Hepburn plays the shy daughter of the chauffeur to the rich Laraby family. She leaves for school in Paris and returns with a new-found confidence and style that turns the heads of both the Laraby heirs. Head designed Hepburn’s daywear. But Hepburn selected her evening gowns from the atelier of Parisian designer Hubert de Givenchy. However, when Head won the Oscar, she didn’t give any credit to Givenchy. Hepburn promised that wouldn’t happen again, so when her film Funny Face received a nomination for costumes in 1957, both Head and Givenchy were listed as designers.