Elmer Gantry (winner)
Inherit the Wind
Sons and Lovers
Tunes of Glory
1960 is one of those film years that has a few surprises. That’s definitely the case for adapted screenplays, were some truly deserving films were inexplicably left off the docket. The explainable ones are the science fiction and horror movies--The Time Machine, Village of the Damned, and especially Eyes Without a Face. Who knew that last one was an adapted screenplay? The best contender for a foreign language movie would have been Two Women. The Entertainer would have been an interesting choice, even if I wouldn’t make it. I have a certain fondness for Sink the Bismarck even if I know it doesn’t truly belong. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a huge hole in the nominations, but Spartacus not being here is actually staggering.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. I really didn’t like The Sundowners much. It was one of those movies about people who are poor but happy but troubled but spirited but this but that, and I tired of it very soon. Compared with many of the film s that were not nominated, it clearly doesn’t belong in this list. The story might be interesting in the sense of what the characters ultimately have to decide, but this is not a movie that we haven’t seen before in general. There’s not much original here, and I found it difficult to care. That’s a bad endorsement for a film.
4. I liked Tunes of Glory for what it was, but what it was was a film that trades entirely on its performances rather than its rather thin plot. Rather than a fully scripted movie (which I’m sure it actually was), it feels like a couple of pages of a treatment and a few character studies. I think it’s interesting to put this kind of story on the screen, and I’m impressed in that sense that Tunes of Glory got made. But the screenplay seems weaker than the people in the screenplay, and that bodes ill for this award..
3. Sons and Lovers, on the other hand, is entirely serviceable as a film. The truth is that I’m going to be slightly biased against it here because I don’t really like the story it is trying to tell. I didn’t actually hate this movie more than I just didn’t really care for it much or care a great deal about it. Well, I have to admit that I find the Freudian stuff to be more than just a little bit ridiculous. Nobody takes Freud that seriously anymore in terms of actual science of the mind, but boy, Sons and Lovers sure as hell wants to.
2. I don’t really have a huge problem with Elmer Gantry except once again that I don’t really like the story that much. There’s nothing specifically wrong with the adaptation as far as I know, although as is normally the case, I’m not incredibly familiar with the source material. In truth, based on the nominations that we got, I don’t entirely hate this movie as the win, but it’s not even close to my choice. In an open field, this might well make my list of five, but it’s not getting that close to the win.
1. Inherit the Wind is the only right answer here, and even in an open field with much more tight competition (like Spartacus), I’m still putting the trophy in the hands of this films screenwriters. This is how you do a courtroom drama. The film is absolutely oozing ith tension, and for a story that is bound to heat up creationist/evolution debates, it’s surprisingly even handed and doesn’t really even make anyone a villain. The whole thing is good, but the last 20 minutes or so are all-time great. It’s my easy choice for the win.