Best Original Story 1950

1927/28 through 1997

What was the Best Original Story of 1950?

Bitter Rice (Giuseppe de Santis, Crlo Lizzani)
3
27%
The Gunfighter (William Bowen, André de Toth)
2
18%
Mystery Street (Leonard Spigelgass)
0
No votes
Panic in the Streets (Edna Anhalt, Edward Anhalt)
6
55%
When Willie Comes Marching Home (Sy Gomberg)
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 11

dws1982
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Re: Best Original Story 1950

Postby dws1982 » Thu May 31, 2018 7:21 pm

The Original BJ wrote:I'm sure that some John Ford auteurists could make a case for it, but I found When Willie Comes Marching Home close to insufferable. As others have said, the material was the sort of lightweight stuff that could have been mined for comedy, but it's aggressively sincere to a fault. And since we're talking story here, I found the plot beyond flimsy, with so much of the not-even-90 minute film flailing around aimlessly.

I checked Tag Gallagher's book on Ford, and he does, in fact, make a case for it.

I've never seen it, so I can't really say either way. Although I will defend some of his "lesser" films like The Long Gray Line to the absolute end.

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Re: Best Original Story 1950

Postby The Original BJ » Thu May 31, 2018 6:50 pm

I'm sure that some John Ford auteurists could make a case for it, but I found When Willie Comes Marching Home close to insufferable. As others have said, the material was the sort of lightweight stuff that could have been mined for comedy, but it's aggressively sincere to a fault. And since we're talking story here, I found the plot beyond flimsy, with so much of the not-even-90 minute film flailing around aimlessly.

It's possible that time has simply made the film seem less fresh, but The Gunfighter is the kind of movie where I'd say it has virtues almost in spite of its story. I think there's some thoughtful writing from scene to scene, and a pleasing sense of fatalism that gives the film a mature quality -- it's clearly striving for something meaningful, and succeeds to a certain extent. My issue, though, is that what I thought was going to happen DID happen, and I find it difficult to give a story prize to a film with a plot this rudimentary.

Mystery Street definitely plays a bit like CSI: Truman Era, though the film's depiction of early forensics is certainly compelling from a historical standpoint. I found the narrative to be a generally engaging crime drama, though without much to elevate it thematically or emotionally beyond B-movie territory.

My vote comes down to the remaining two films, and I don't have a terribly strong opinion either way -- both are enjoyable but not top-tier movies. And in both cases I might say the direction is even more impressive than the writing. Bitter Rice, for instance, creates a very unique atmosphere -- I don't think I've seen anything quite like the world of the Italian rice fields here in other movies -- and has some dazzling tracking shots. The material is interesting, a blend of crime and social issue film that tackles some thoughtful class & gender dynamics along the way. But ultimately the nuts and bolts of the plot are a bit simple.

Panic in the Streets, too, benefits enormously from the atmosphere -- the location shooting in New Orleans and the shadowy photography give the film much of its sense of intrigue. But the storyline, if not wildly inventive, is consistently gripping, particularly as the Widmark/Douglas follow the clues and ultimately close in on finding their targets. I also think the character dynamics in both storylines are interesting -- with the cop and the doctor having conflicting ideas about how to proceed (in both cases, for understandable reasons), and the cabal of criminals having their own internal fights over how best to avoid detection. This strikes me as the strongest narrative of the bunch, and gets my vote in this poll.

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Re: Best Original Story 1950

Postby Mister Tee » Fri May 13, 2016 7:27 pm

Back when I was in college, there was a beloved Firesign Theatre album called Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, which featured a hilarious send-up of cornball teenage movies called Porgie and Mudhead. At some point around then, When Willie Comes Marching home turned up on TV, and universal opinion among my friends was that it was Porgie and Mudhead played straight. I can't swear I made it all the way through, but I got far enough to know I'm not going to vote for it.

War movies and Westerns -- this exercise has forced me to sit through more of both than I'd ever hoped to. The Gunfighter isn't the worst possible example of the Western genre, but, you know, I just don't much like them.

Presumably many would be just as dismissive of crime procedurals, and I have no rebuttal for that, except to say it happens to be my junk genre of choice. Mystery Street isn't anything special in the plot department...though I imagine much of the forensic evidence on which the film dwells was fresh subject matter at the time. It's an amusing enough 90 minutes, but nothing to get my vote.

Bitter Rice represents cross-pollination between Italian neo-realism and late 40s noir. It's reasonably gripping at the thriller level, has a Marxist-ish subtext, and lots of voluptuous Italian ladies. It's not the height of Italy's output during this era, but a solid one, and a respectable choice for this award.

But I'll go with the actual winner, Panic in the Streets, a hard-driving, fast-moving thriller focused on locating the source of a potentially lethal epidemic. The dual story-line -- the doctor trying desperately to isolate the infectees, and the infectees having their own reasons for staying undetected -- makes for a powerful structure, and the film roars along from start to finish. Not a great movie, but my favorite of the bunch.

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Re: Best Original Story 1950

Postby Big Magilla » Fri May 13, 2016 4:36 am

This is a tough one. I actually like four of the nominees quite a bit.

The only one I don't like is When Willie Comes Marching Home, a low-rent version of Hail the Conquering Hero that is one of John Ford's weakest films.

The Gunfighter as late as 2015 has consistently been voted one of the top westerns of all time and it's good, but the story, perhaps original then, has been done so many times since that by the time I got to it a couple of years ago it no longer seemed fresh. Definitely worth seeing, but comes out fourth best for me in this very tough competition.

Mystery Street is a taut film noir and a decades early CSI style thriller with engaging multi-cultural characters (Ricardo Montalban's lead detective is Hispanic). It's engrossing from start to finish with a terrific chase scene at its climax. It's a film that should be better known than it is.

Panic in the Streets is another great noir with an unusual setting, the search for an immigrant in New Orleans carrying the pneumonic plague with a great underlying sense of paranoia. It won the Oscar but I'm not sure how much of the film's best element, its eerie paranoia, was baked into the original story and how much was attributable to the actual screenplay and Kazan's direction.

The most unique story, however, among the three very unique ones, was writer-director De Santis' Italian neorealist Bitter Rice. He also co-wrote the screenplay. It's a very involving story about two petty crooks hiding from the police in Northern Italy with the woman working in the rice fields alongside voluptuous Silvana Mangano in her breakout role. It's both a thriller and a social drama, succeeding on all counts and gets my vote.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

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Best Original Story 1950

Postby Big Magilla » Wed May 11, 2016 1:03 pm

The poll is open.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire


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