Friday, July 6, 2018

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Original Screenplay 1965

The Contenders:

Casanova 70
Darling (winner)
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
The Train
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

What’s Missing

Evidently, I haven’t seen a lot of original screenplays from 1965, although there are a few that I think might work their way into the list. The Shop on Main Street is one that I don’t know if it would qualify for this award or not. It has a writer for its story, but I don’t know if that was a story that was published anywhere. If it is available, it should be here. Repulsion is the sort of film that is unlikely to get a nomination for much, but it’s the story that drives a lot of it. I’d toss out The Naked Prey as a great nomination, but it was nominated the following year. That leaves me with only Juliet of the Spirits, one of the rare Fellini films that I don’t hate.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I disliked Casanova 70 a lot, which doesn’t bode well for this award. The truth is that while the Italian segment in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex was a spoof almost literally on this film, it was a spoof that I thought was superior to the original in just about every possible way. I get that this was supposed to be racy when it was made, but it really isn’t. I also find it difficult to believe that this was funny even in the era it was created. It misses on virtually every front.

4. I considered Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines for the bottom spot, but I was stopped by a single realization. It’s true that the film doesn’t work for me at all in the modern era. Everything that’s supposed to be funny isn’t, and I didn’t crack a smile through the entire running time. The difference between this and Casanova 70 is that I could see this being funny 50 years ago, or I could at least see me thinking it was funny 40 years ago. These days, not so much, but at least it worked for its own time.

3. I understand why a movie like Darling would win several Oscars including the one for its screenplay. While I wouldn’t vote for it, the screenplay is an impressive one, and one that manages to handle a lot of ugly ideas in clear and relevant ways. It’s such an unpleasant film in so many ways, though, that I balk at even recommending it despite what I think is its genuine brilliance. That makes it a hard movie to put up for an Oscar win, although I have done that before. I get why it won; I just wouldn’t award it.

2. Of the five nominations, The Train is the movie I liked the best. This is the sort of tough, muscular action film that I rarely associate with someone like Burt Lancaster, and yet here he is, front and center. I love the story here, based vaguely on a piece of history. This is a thinking person’s war film, one that doesn’t glamorize combat, but that does fully understand that in some situations, there is glory and honor to be found in fighting for and defending something important and real. I would not have complained had this won.

My Choice

1. In something of a shocker, I’m voting for a straight-up musical for the win here, and it’s a musical that is almost operatic in that every line is sung. I get that there are a lot of people who don’t love the story behind The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but I think it’s absolutely the best part of the film. I especially like the ending for being realistic and based in the real world and satisfying, even if it’s not the ending that most of us thought we’d get when we walked into the movie. It does just about everything right, and it’s where my vote would have gone.

Final Analysis


  1. If Repulsion were in the running (what a great year Catherine Deneuve had and yet no nomination) I'd be more conflicted but as it is I'm 100% for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I was very tentative when I started to watch the film but it just blew me away in every aspect.

    I don't think Darling was a bad winner but so much of its power is tied to Julie Christie's lead performance.

    The Shop on Main Street is a tremendous picture but it wouldn't fit here since it was based on a short story called The Trap. Too bad it didn't get into Adapted Screenplay though.

    Juliet of the Spirits is a Fellini that I've yet to get to as is Alphaville which is something else from this year that I've heard many positive things about. The only other film that I think could be considered, it seems like a it was a big year for adaptations, is The Great Race which is a fun, somewhat rambling film but a damn sight better than either Casanova '70 or Magnificent Men.

    1. I think this sums things up for me pretty accurately. Repulsion would be a fine nomination, and I'd have a much more difficult time with a winner, although I'd still almost certainly go in the same direction as I did here. Darling gets much of its strength from Christie's performance.

      Good to know about The Shop on Main Street.