I Never Sang for My Father
Lovers and Other Strangers
Women in Love
1970 is, apparently, one of those years where a lot of the movies I like came from original screenplays. I say this because I don’t have a lot of suggestions for replacement films for the Adapted Screenplay category despite not really liking a full three of the nominees. But I have found enough to replace them, at least in terms of finding films I liked better that fit the category. We can start with The Conformist, which was cool and sleek, something I can’t say for any of the actual nominations. I don’t love Catch-22 as a film, but it’s a solid adaptation of a book that is extremely difficult to adapt. Finally, there is Diary of a Mad Housewife with its great lead performance from Carrie Snodgress. Of all the films that weren’t nominated, it’s the one I’d want the most, if only for its rage.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Lovers and Other Strangers is supposed to be a comedy, and by 1970 standards, it probably was. By modern standards, though, it most certainly was not. Had this been a film that attempted to look at relationships, it might have survived as something worth watching. Instead, it attempts to inject comedy into the proceedings and ends up being cliché-ridden and uninteresting. There are a lot of romantic comedy clichés here, and the movie puts them forward not as something to challenge the conventions but to revel in them. I pass.
4. I’m not a fan of D.H. Lawrence, so it’s no surprise I’m not crazy about Women in Love. In fact, I would suggest that the claim to fame of the film is the naked wrestling match between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, what is certainly the most homoerotic cinematic moment until the entirety of Top Gun. I didn’t absolutely hate the film, but I can’t say that I loved it, either. Having not read the book, I can’t say if it’s an accurate adaptation; I can only say that I don’t much like the story on the screen.
2. I Never Sang for My Father is a movie that shoots for—and mostly hits—capital-T truth. What it gets right in terms of the story is giving us a character who is the sort beloved by everyone who doesn’t really know him and despised by everyone who does. He’s a friendly, sweet, old man on the surface, and a tyrant to everyone who manages to get past that veneer. It’s impressive just how well this is done. I know nothing about what this was adapted from, but at the very least, this part of the adaptation appears to be masterful.
1. The biggest problem with M*A*S*H is, honestly, in the screenplay. There isn’t a great deal of plot in this movie. However, that’s not really important because it’s not about the plot. In a lot of ways, it’s a very typical Altman film—lots of characters talking over each other, huge ensemble cast. But it’s also coherent and funny. And it’s still funny, unlike a lot of comedies. Given the nominations, it was an easy choice, and I’d stick with it on an open field as well. Admittedly, the competition isn’t that tough, but it’s still a solid winner.