My Oscars

     Seeing as how I love movies so much and am very critical of them, I think that awarding Oscars would be the perfect job for me. Movies are very important to our society, and I believe that the movies that are worth watching should be rewarded. I can just see it now. All the starts, including Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, and Audrey Hepburn, just to name a few, are glamorously waltzing down the red carpet to their seats--all with one thought in mind: "Am I going to win an Oscar?" Well, it was a tough decision with the movies Wuthering Heights, The Heiress, The Innocents, My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, two versions of A Doll's House, and A Streetcar Named Desire to choose from; but after much contemplation, I made my final decision.

          The first Oscar I would chose to award would be for a portrayal of a character, and that Oscar would go to Olivia de Havilland for her portrayal of Catherine in The Heiress, directed in 1949 by William Wyler. The novel, Washington Square, written in 1880 by Henry James, was excellent to begin with; but in my opinion, Olivia is what brought the novel to life. Just her physical characteristics were enough for her to play a convincing Catherine. Too many times, people in Hollywood try to hire a beautiful actress to convince the audience that she is an unattractive, non-witty young girl; and that just never works. Olivia is not hideous by any means, but she does have a plain look that was needed for the part. She had a way of acting somewhat dumb in the beginning, which sets the audience up for a surprise when she has a total revelation in the end: Brava, Olivia de Havilland

          The next Oscar I would award would go to the 1964 musical film My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor and based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, for its exceptional job with costumes, settings, and music. I do not know of anyone who would not support me in this decision. The movie does have a good plot behind it, but Pygmalion has the same plot, and it obviously does not have the same effect as My Fair Lady. The costumes, music, and settings are what give the movie character. The songs were unique and catchy, such as "Wouldn't It Be Lovely." The costumes were absolutely ravishing. Audrey Hepburn looked like a million dollars at the ball. The settings were very artistic and detailed, such as the racing track during Ascot. Everything about this movie was obviously carefully planned to be appealing to the eyes and the ears.

     The third Oscar I would like to award would be a movie that best represents its original work, and that would have to go to Elia Kazan's 1951 cinematic version of Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire. It is often rare that I watch a movie based on a play or novel that has not lost a bit from the original piece. I can surely say I have done so after reading and watching A Streetcar Named Desire. It was quite refreshing to watch this movie and not be surprised by any drastic changes. If something is good to begin with, why change it? The characters were exactly how I imagined they should be; the settings were exactly how I imagined they should be; and most importantly, no important themes, characters, or events were left out. When movie makers want to turn a classic novel or play into a movie, they should watch A Streetcar Named Desire for some valuable advice.

     The next award would be for the best depiction of a human emotion, and that would go to Montgomery Clift in <i>The Heiress</i> for his portrayal of Morris. He does such a good job of playing a deceitful, greedy young man that he almost has me fooled in the end! For a split second I did not know whether to feel sorry for him or be glad that he had got locked out by Catherine. Then I came to my senses and remembered that being and conniving are all part of greed; therefore, he did a wonderful job. All he wants is Catherine's money and does not care for her one bit. He does not care much for his sister and her children either. He portrays a greedy young man who wants nothing more than to make himself happy. It would be interesting to see if Montgomery Clift would do as well playing an honest, caring, unselfish man!

     I would then award another Oscar to A Streetcar Named Desire for the excellent depiction of the relationship of two lovers. When Marlon Brando and Kim Hunter are on screen, the chemistry between them is amazing. Once can almost see the sparks flying! They play a couple, Stanley and Stella, who are passionately, madly involved with one another. However, desire is the only thing they share, it must be obvious to the audience how intense it is. Though I am certainly not saying that these characters are role models of what lovers should be like, I am saying that the relationship that they had to play could not have been portrayed more perfectly.

     Now that I have handed out all of these Oscars, I would just like to say that there is no one movie that I would absolutely be outraged if it received an Oscar. That movie would be William Wyler's 1939 Wuthering Heights. Saying that it did not by any means live up to the 1847 novel, by Emily Brontë, would be putting it lightly. First of all, the movie was just faintly the same as the novel. Many characters were left out, and many personalities of characters were much weaker. In the novel, Heathcliff is a brute with "evilish" intentions, but in the movie he seems to be a poor orphan boy, as played by Rex Downing, who is treated so badly he is forced to seek revenge, as an adult, portrayed by Laurence Oliver. I say to the writers of the script Wuthering Heights, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, try again.

Natalie Bringham

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