The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (winner)
Body and Soul
A Double Life
I haven’t seen a lot of movies from 1947, and most of the ones I have seen have been adapted. I’ve also learned that I was wrong about Black Narcissus, which I thought earned nominations in the following year. It didn’t, which means that the places I’ve thought it didn’t really belong…it did. It doesn’t belong here, though, because it was adapted from a novel. Truthfully, the only two I can find that could be here are Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman and Possessed, both of which I like better than at least one nomination, so I’m going to include them here.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. When I said above that I liked those two movies better than at least one of the nominations, I was speaking specifically about Monsieur Verdoux. I realize that there are a lot of people (including some who read this blog) who will happily stand up for this movie. I get that, even if I don’t specifically agree. I find the movie mean-spirited, and the Chaplin character, rather than being lovable and a bit hapless, is cruel and conniving. Movies with despicable main characters can work, but not when they are hateful, and Verdoux is.
4. Ronald Colman, along with a young and tragic Shelley Winters, are the best parts of A Double Life, a film that really wants to be seen as a film noir. There’s a lot to like in this movie, and I don’t really hate the nomination. The problem with it is that the biggest issues with the movie are with the screenplay. The story goes off the rails in the third act, and as much as I would love for it all to hold together, it simply doesn’t. That’s a problem when we’re talking about one of the best screenplays of its year.
3. I genuinely like the movie Body and Soul. It’s a good reminder that film noir is not a specific genre, but more of a style since this is clearly a sports movie, but a sports movie through that lens. It has the benefit of starring John Garfield, which is always a good thing. The problem with Body and Soul is that it does slide into the realm of cliché, which isn’t a surprise given the basic plot and the characters involved. I like the nomination here and I’m always happy to push the talents of Garfield, but the problems here are the screenplay.
2. What can I say about Shoeshine? Of the five nominations, I think this is objectively the best film. It also happens to be depressing as all hell, and the sort of film I don’t want to watch a second time. The problem here isn’t the clichés that we get from Body and Soul, but the inevitability of the way the plot is going to work for us. Once we get to a certain point, we know that these innocent kids are going to be screwed terribly and there’s nothing we can do. It’s good writing, but there’s something here that prevents me from putting it first.
1. As a movie, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer can’t hold a candle to either Body and Soul or Shoeshine. This is the definition of light and fluffy nonsense, and it doesn’t make any sense on its face. That’s okay, though, because we pretty much know that going in. The ridiculousness of the plot works because we expect it to be ridiculous. This is a farce, and it’s a very good farce that is sold as well as it can be by a great cast. Sure, we know where it’s going, but the screenplay makes it a joy getting there. I have no real issues with this as Oscar’s choice.