Classic Movie Countdown: Best Picture #’s 20 and 19 — All The King’s Men (1949) and From Here to Eternity (1953)

20. All The King’s Men (1949)

Other Nominated Films:
Battleground, The Heiress, A Letter to Three Wives, Twelve O’Clock High

I’m not someone who is very knowledgeable when it comes to the world of politics. While I may watch a large amount of political movies, I don’t exactly understand a majority of the jargon that’s being spoken. But for the most part, they always make for good dramatic and suspenseful films, which is the case here for All the King’s Men. The film is loosely based on the life of 1930’s Louisana Governor Huey Long. Starting off as a self-taught lawyer who is aiming to do the right thing, Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) fights a long, hard battle to reach the governor’s chair. But while fighting his way to the top, he loses his innocence and becomes even more corrupt than the politicians he fought so hard to conquer. All of this is seen through the eyes of Stark’s right-hand man Jack Burden (John Ireland), who sticks with Stark even when he knows the truth behind the monster. Crawford doesn’t just act as if he’s Stark; he lives and breathes the role. He’s like a flame that starts off extremely small, but in time just grows larger and larger until it is out of control. This film could have easily turned out very differently since director Robert Rossen originally offered the lead role to John Wayne. Wayne declined the role since he felt that the script was unpatriotic (he wasn’t wrong.) Ironically enough, Crawford would go on to beat Wayne for the Best Actor Oscar (Wayne was nominated for his role in Sands of Iwo Jima.) All The King’s Men, which was originally a novel written by Robert Penn Warren, was the last Best Picture winner to be based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Nominated for 7 Awards, Winner of 3
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Broderick Crawford (WON)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Mercedes McCambridge (WON)
Best Picture – Robert Rossen Productions (WON)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – John Ireland
Best Director – Robert Rossen
Best Film Editing – Robert Parrish, Al Clark
Best Writing, Screenplay – Robert Rossen

Jack Burden: I tell you there’s nothing on the judge.
Willie Stark: Jack, there’s something on everybody. Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption.

19. From Here to Eternity (1953)

Other Nominated Films:
Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday, Shane

I’m going to be completely honest with all of you here: I didn’t know that Frank Sinatra was such a good actor. I knew he’d been in a lot of films, but I just didn’t realize how good he was. After watching From Here to Eternity…well…I found out. The entire cast of this film was truly amazing. The cast included Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, and Donna Reed. All five were nominated for Academy Awards, with Sinatra and Reed winning for their supporting roles. William Holden, who won Best Actor for Stalag 17, admitted that he felt Lancaster should have won for Best Actor instead. From Here to Eternity is a haunting, poignant film that starts off with romance and friendship, and builds up to a realistic climactic sequence that ends in despair and tragedy. It also contains one of most iconic scenes in all of cinema: the beach scene with Lancaster and Kerr. It’s a truly beautiful scene that shows the passion of the relationship the two share, whether it be proper or not. From Here to Eternity became the top grossing film of 1953, and wound up being one of the ten highest-grossing films of the decade. This would also be acclaimed director Fred Zinneman’s first Best Director Oscar, which he would win again for A Man for All Seasons.

Nominated for 13 Oscars, Winner of 8
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Frank Sinatra (WON)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Donna Reed (WON)
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Burnett Guffey (WON)
Best Director – Fred Zinnemann (WON)
Best Film Editing – William A. Lyon (WON)
Best Picture – Buddy Adler (WON)
Best Sound, Recording – John P. Livadary (Columbia SSD) (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay – Daniel Taradesh (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Montgomery Clift
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Burt Lancaster
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Deborah Kerr
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White – Jean Louis
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Morris Stoloff, George Duning

Alma: Sit down and – and get comfortable. I’ll make you a martini and see what’s to cook for dinner.
Robert E. Lee “Prew’ Prewitt: Hey, this is like being married, ain’t it?
Alma: It’s better.

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