Day Four of Noirvember: Oscar Noir

Film noir features and Academy Awards don’t exactly go hand in hand, if you know what I mean. There’s never been a film noir Best Picture winner (not even Double Indemnity!! Blasphemy!) and noir performers seldom made that walk down the carpeted aisle to collect the golden statuette.

But.

That doesn’t mean that our shadowy favorites are completely award-less. So today – exactly four months before the 2018 Academy Awards are presented – my Noirvember celebration takes a look at those performers, editors and writers who were given an Oscar for their film noir work. Maybe some of your favorites are here!

Van Heflin turned in an outstanding performance in Johnny Eager.

1942

Van Heflin won for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Johnny Eager (1941). He beat out William Bendix in Wake Island, Walter Huston in Yankee Doodle Dandy, Frank Morgan in Tortilla Flat, and Henry Travers in Mrs. Miniver.

1944

Joseph LaShelle won for best black and white cinematography in Laura. One of his fellow nominees was John Seitz for Double Indemnity. LaShelle later served as the cinematographer for several other noirs, including Fallen Angel (1945), Road House (1948), and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950).

Joanie with her Oscar.

1945

My girl Joan Crawford waltzed off with the Best Actress Oscar for Mildred Pierce over Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of St. Mary’s, Greer Garson in The Valley of Decision, Jennifer Jones in Love Letters, and Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven.

Also, that year, Leon Shamroy won for best color cinematography for Leave Her to Heaven, and Charles G. Booth won for best original screenplay for The House on 92nd Street.

1947

Ronald Colman won the Best Actor Oscar for A Double Life, where he played a Broadway actor whose personal life becomes tragically intertwined with his stage life. Colman beat John Garfield in Body and Soul, Gregory Peck in Gentleman’s Agreement, William Powell in Life with Father, and Michael Redgrave in Mourning Becomes Electra.

The other noir award that year was for film editing, won by Francis Lyon and Robert Parrish for Body and Soul.

Claire Trevor was outstanding in Key Largo.

1948

Claire Trevor was much-deserving of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Gaye Dawn in Key Largo. She won over Ellen Corby in I Remember Mama, Agnes Moorehead in Johnny Belinda, and Jean Simmons in Hamlet.

Awards were also given that year to William Daniels for best black and white cinematography, and Paul Weatherwax for film editing, both for The Naked City.

1949

Two noirs were nominated for film editing for the 1949 Oscars – Champion and The Window. The award was won by Harry Gerstad for Champion. Gerstad was the son of a silent film cinematographer and went on to direct and edit numerous episodes of the popular Superman television series.

Sunset Boulevard won Oscars for art direction and best story and screenplay.

1950

A total of three Oscars were earned by noirs in 1950. For Sunset Boulevard, Hans Dreier and John Meehan won for best art direction, and Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman, Jr., won for best story and screenplay; and husband and wife team Edna and Edward Anhalt won for best motion picture story for Panic in the Streets.

1950 was the last year that any noir from the classic period won an Academy Award – no awards for Best Director or Best Picture, and not a single award for such classic gems as Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, Criss Cross, The Asphalt Jungle, The Big Heat – I could go on and on.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll  continue to use Noirvember to celebrate these awesome films, these first-rate stories, and the talented performers who made them come alive. Join me, won’t you?

And come on back tomorrow for Day Five of Noirvember!

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~ by shadowsandsatin on November 4, 2017.

9 Responses to “Day Four of Noirvember: Oscar Noir”

  1. As our Noir heroes would say, ‘who needs awards, honey, I just want to survive this picture.’

  2. Fun stuff, and a useful reminder that noir went under- rather than entirely unrecognized by the Academy!

    One teensy correction. In 1950 two noirs won three Oscars rather than three noirs winning Oscars.

  3. 1947s Crossfire was nominated for 5 Oscars. You’d think they would have won one of them, wouldn’t you?

    Speaking of 1947, if I’d been in charge (a big dream) I’d have nominated in supporting categories, Esther Howard for Born to Kill and Wallace Ford for T-Men. I really like the alternative Oscars.

    • So many nominations, so few awards. I’m still not over Going My Way winning all those awards in the year Double Indemnity was released. And I’m totally on board with Esther Howard for the win! She was GREAT in Born to Kill.

  4. It seems the Academy only recognizes certain types of pictures. Comedies are another film genre that do not get the attention they deserve. Many film comedians have stated that it is harder to do good comedy than it is drama.
    While Film Noir isn’t my favorite genre, it certainly is a unique one. I adore Johnny Eager. It is interesting to see both Van Heflin and Robert Taylor begin to play against the types they were then known for.

    • You’re so right about comedy not receiving its due! And I certainly share your fondness for Johnny Eager — in fact, in my post yesterday about my favorite noir by year, I’d originally listed Johnny Eager as my pick for 1941.

  5. Very interesting post! I love Laura and Joseph LaShelle is my favourite cinematographer of all time, so that’s one of my favourite Oscar wins. And speaking of noir cinematography, I find it ridiculous that John Alton wasn’t nominated for T Men, Raw Deal or The Big Combo. Oh and the Best Picture thing… well, that’s just ludicrous.
    But hey, who cares about awards! We know what’s what 🙂

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