Best Motion Picture Story 1949

1927/28 through 1997

What was the Best Motion Picture Story of 1949?

Come to the Stable (Clare Boothe Luce)
It Happens Every Spring Shirely W. Smith, Valentine Davies)
Sand of Iwo Jima (Harry Brown)
No votes
The Stratton Story (Douglas Morrow)
White Heat (Virginia Kellogg)
Total votes: 11

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Motion Picture Story 1949

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:36 am

I happened to complete this roster -- about as bad a lineup as any writing category ever, and one that seriously made me question my interest in Oscar history.

It Happens Every Spring has a pretty silly premise, but even if one is willing to not take it too seriously, it just isn't that funny either. (I did like seeing location footage of USC in the 1940s, though.)

My god, these war movies are just insufferable. There just is nothing for me in a movie like Sands of Iwo Jima, a thoroughly generic, blandly patriotic war film. (And, as we now know, not remotely as interesting as the actual story behind the Iwo Jima photograph.)

I had never heard of Stratton before The Stratton Story, but nothing about this film justified to me why his life needed to be a movie in any way. This is a totally generic sports movie, with Stratton's accident providing an all-too-typical triumph-over-adversity angle.

Come to the Stable was the final film I watched in my freshman year Intro to Cinema course. My professor introduced it as his Christmas gift to us -- not sure why, unless it was supposed to represent coal. The tone is way-too-cute throughout, and anyone held in suspense over how it's going to end -- will the nuns get the $$ to build their hospital?! -- has never seen a movie before.

White Heat is my clear choice. It's probably my favorite of the studio-era gangster pictures -- I think its narrative shows considerably more depth than the early-sound era Public Enemy/Little Caesar/Scarface classics -- with a gripping plot, complex protagonist, and a now-legendary ending. Easily the most substantial, memorable piece of writing on the ballot.

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Re: Best Motion Picture Story 1949

Postby Heksagon » Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:26 am

This is an easy choice with White Heat, an excellent action film. The rest of the nominees are nowhere near it.

The Stratton Story is a barely mediocre sports biopic, although (unlike Mister Tee) I do think the final scene is quite effective. But maybe it only felt good because the medium part was so boring. Sands of Iwo Jima is a respectable war film, but not an outstanding one. There are some things I do appreciate in it, though. It's more fast-paced that most war movies of the period, and the sergeant played by John Wayne is actually something of a flawed hero, whereas most contemporary films liked to portray NCOs in a ridiculously idolized manner.

Come to the Stable tries hard, but ends up being a fairly indifferent religious film. Not having grown up in a Catholic country, nuns don't have much of an appeal to me, either. It Happens Every Spring, however, doesn't even seem to try. It's a silly sports comedy that should not have been let anywhere near the Oscars.

Mister Tee
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Re: Best Motion Picture Story 1949

Postby Mister Tee » Fri May 27, 2016 4:17 pm

In the ungrammatical words of a former presidential candidate: let's dispel with this list quickly.

Come the the Stable has cute nuns. That's an instant disqualifier for me.

It Happens Every Spring is, like the similar Angels in the Outfield, a baseball+magic movie -- a fore-runner of Disney's Flubber movies a decade later. I barely remember the film, and was never wild about it.

Sands of Iwo Jima is "original" only in the sense the character names are different. In content, it's the same old "tough taskmaster whips the troops into shape" plot that's spawned dozens if not hundreds of movies.

The Stratton Story didn't give me whatever frissons it gave Magilla -- and I watched it only recently. The plot was, most of the way, indistinguishable from other baseball bios (like Pride of St. Louis, which we recently discussed) -- resistant managers, meet-cute spouses, huge success. The only distinction is, of course, the accident that cost Stratton his leg. I don't find his return to baseball all that inspiring, since it was barely a return (he never got close to major league success again). And, forgive me if this is callous, but I don't think every star who gets some bad break in life merits a bio-pic.

As usual, Magilla, I'm going to ignore your rulebook-hugging "did this person really create the story?" argument, and cite White Heat as the clear choice here. Which isn't to say I think White Heat is any kind of great movie -- it's largely a pulpy B-picture, with some over-the-top Freudianism (Cagney on Wycherly's lap is almost laugh-out-loud). But the excesses of the movie at least give it some distinction, and the final image/line of dialogue have of course gone into the vernacular. So, for that alone, out of this paltry bunch, it gets my vote.

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Re: Best Motion Picture Story 1949

Postby Big Magilla » Thu May 26, 2016 12:52 am

I have vague memories of the baseball comedy, It Happens Every Spring, which I recall as more tedious than funny.

Come to the Stable is a film that even if you've never seen it before, you'll be able to predict how it will turn out. Except for Celeste Holm's tennis playing nun, there's nothing really new here.

Sands of Iwo Jima is one of the better World War II dramas to be released in the years immediately following the end of the war, but that said, it's still pretty much by the numbers.

White Heat is certainly original, but I'm troubled by the reference "suggested by a story by Virginia Kellogg" which suggests that the meat of it came from the screenplay, not the story.

The Stratton Story was a huge box office hit at the time. It's pretty much a by the numbers bio until it gets to the part where Stratton (James Stewart) loses his leg which turns it from light and breezy to dark and sad if ultimately life-affirming. It's this section that registered most strongly with audiences of the day who compared the baseball player's injury to that of loved ones home from the war with a missing limb. It gets my vote for having more substance than the competition.

As a heads-up for those who haven't seen The Quiet One, a 1949 nominee for Story and Screenplay, it's in the public domain and available on YouTube and other sites. James Agee wrote the superb narration and occasional dialogue which is the whole movie, but the writing nomination went to the film's two female cinematographers and the film's male editor. Are there different rules for documentaries than feature films? Such an absurdity wouldn't have been allowed if Agee's work had been protected by the Writers Guild.

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Best Motion Picture Story 1949

Postby Big Magilla » Wed May 25, 2016 5:08 pm

The poll is open.

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