Classic Movie Countdown: Best Picture #’s 32 and 31 — Tom Jones (1963) and Going My Way (1944)

32. Tom Jones (1963)

Other Nominated Films:
America America, Cleopatra, How The West Was Won, Lilies of the Field

There hasn’t been a comedy quite like Tom Jones in a very long time, which is unfortunate since it’s such a unique film in so many ways. When I first watched the film, I actually thought it was a throwback to the silent classics since the entire opening sequence is performed with no sound at all. What also makes this comedy different is the fact that the characters in the film break the fourth wall. A lot. There’s even a moment where Tom Jones (Albert Finney) notices the camera and covers the lens with his hat. I previously saw Finney in films such as Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Big Fish, and Miller’s Crossing, but this is the best Albert Finney film I’ve seen so far (doesn’t say all that much since I’ve seen very few.) Playing the title character with great flair, Jones is a dashing young man with a heart of gold, which makes him the perfect love-’em-and-leave-’em lady charmer. Finney was nominated for the Best Actor award for this role, but didn’t come out the winner. In fact, this film had five Oscar nominations in the acting categories: Best Actor (Albert Finney), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), and Best Supporting Actress (Diane Cilento, Dame Edith Evans, and Joyce Redman.) Tom Jones is the only film in the history of the Academy in which three actresses were nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, which makes it all the more shocking to see that none of them won the award. If you’re a fan of comedy films, then Tom Jones is a must-see.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 4
Best Director - Tony Richardson (WON)
Best Music, Score - Substantially Original – John Addison (WON)
Best Picture - Tony Richardson (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - John Osborne (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Albert Finney
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Hugh Griffith
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Diane Cilento
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Edith Evans
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Joyce Redman
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color - Ralph W. Brinton, Ted Marshall, Jocelyn Herbert, Josie MacAvin

Tom Jones: [Drunkenly shouting the news of Mr. Allworthy's miraculous recovery from his carriage accident] Mr. Allworthy has recovered! It’s over! The fever’s gone! He’s sitting up. He’s well again! The Squire’s recovered! It’s over!
Narrator: It’s not true that drink changes a man’s character. It can reveal it more clearly. The Squire’s recovery brought joy to Tom, to his tutors, sheer disappointment.

31. Going My Way (1944)

Other Nominated Films:
Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Since You Went Away, Wilson

Going My Way is a feel good, lighthearted drama that is extremely sentimental and…well, it’s just a beautiful, beautiful film. But it was not a better film than Double Indemnity, and I’m not the only one who believes this either. In fact, Billy Wilder, who directed Double Indemnity, expected to win numerous awards for his film that year. While Wilder watch as Going My Way won award after award, he got to the point where he couldn’t take it anymore, and when Leo McCarey won the award for Best Director, Wilder stuck out his foot and tripped McCarey. Thought this was a funny little story to share. Any who, back to the picture that won the award. I really don’t mean to take anything away from Going My Way. As I watched the film, I was smiling throughout the whole thing, and I had such a warm feeling in my heart from beginning to end. Father Chuck O’Malley (Bing Crosby) has such a big heart, and he attempts to do everything possible for his parish, including convincing a group of known troublemakers to form a boys church choir led by him. This leads to a conflict of interest between O’Malley and the Pastor of the church, Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald). The two start off on rough ground, but as the film goes on, we watch the two Fathers bond with one another. I won’t say anything more in case there are people who haven’t seen the movie. Both Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald were nominated for Best Actor, which Crosby won. But Fitzgerald didn’t go home empty handed! He was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, which he did win. This is the first and only time that an actor was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the same film.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 7
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Bing Crosby (WON)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Barry Fitzgerald (WON)
Best Director - Leo McCarey (WON)
Best Music, Original Song - Jimmy Van Huesen (music), Johnny Burkes (lyrics) for the song “Swinging on a Star(WON)
Best Picture - Paramount (WON)
Best Writing, Original Story - Leo McCarey (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay - Frank Butler, Frank Cavett (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Barry Fitzgerald
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White - Lionel Lindon
Best Film Editing - LeRoy Stone

Father Fitzgibbons: I’m sure that the way to say what I’d like to say will occur to me after you’ve gone.

Source of Billy Wilder Story – Lally, Kevin (1996). Wilder Times: The Life of Billy Wilder. New York: Henry Holt and Company. pp. 140.

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