February 22, 2011

5 My Oscar Picks, Part 6 Continued: 1962

This is a continuation of the post on past Academy Awards, comparing the winners with my own choices, that I began last week. I'll be covering the years 1961-1965, presenting my thoughts on one year each day this week. Today: 1962.


The Winner: Lawrence of Arabia
My Pick: Lawrence of Arabia

The Winner: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
My Pick: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia

The Winner: Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird
My Pick: Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia

The Winner: Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker
My Pick: Katharine Hepburn, Long Day's Journey Into Night

The Winner: Ed Begley, Sweet Bird of Youth
My Pick: Terence Stamp, Billy Budd

The Winner: Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker
My Pick: Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate

The Winner: Sundays and Cybèle
My Pick: Sundays and Cybèle

There wasn't much question that Lawrence of Arabia would take the prize for picture and director this year. Some find the move lacking in personality, but to me it's a great achievement that really deserves all the praise it has gotten. In the years since its release, it has come to be regarded as the epitome of the movie epic and in 2008 was named the #1 epic film of all time by the American Film Institute. I do regret, though, that Peter O'Toole's star-making performance in the movie wasn't recognized as the best by an actor this year. I understand all the reasons Gregory Peck won—he was a well-loved personality in Hollywood, a modest, really nice guy who had been nominated several times but never won, and he played the most noble character imaginable, a civil rights icon—but I still think O'Toole should have won. In 2006 his T. E. Lawrence was picked by Premiere magazine as the greatest movie performance of all time.

In the best actress category, this is one year that a tie really would have been justified. Both Anne Bancroft and Katharine Hepburn gave award-worthy performances, but being able to vote for only one, in the end I went with Hepburn for the best straight dramatic performance of her career. Omar Sharif, like Peter O'Toole a little-known actor made a major star by Lawrence of Arabia, was the favorite to win for best supporting actor but lost to veteran Ed Begley. I chose Terence Stamp as the innocent young title character in Billy Budd, only his second film and his first released in the U.S. Angela Lansbury was the favorite to win for best supporting actress for her chilling performance in The Manchurian Candidate, and I think she should have won. The French film Sundays and Cybèle probably isn't well-remembered today, but it's a moving film and a deserving winner for best foreign language film. Many great movies and performances were overlooked this year (I wrote about them in detail in the last part of my post on the year 1962 in American films), but I would say the biggest omission was Ride the High Country for picture, director, actor (the never-nominated Joel McCrea would have been my choice), and best supporting actor (Edgar Buchanan).

Tomorrow I'll continue with my thoughts on the Academy Awards for 1963.


  1. I've been enjoying this series. I have a particular interest in 1962 - it was the year I was born. "Lawrence of Arabia" is the obvious choice. I think "To Kill A Mockingbird" was likely its only serious rival.

    In terms of Best Actor, I wonder if the Academy thought Gregory Peck had been nominated several times before without winning, and since Peter O'Toole was just starting out, he would likely be a future Oscar winner. We know how that turned out. Does he have the most nominations without ever winning? (Apart from the Career Oscar, of course).

  2. Kevin, thanks for leaving a comment, and I'm pleased to hear of your enjoyment of my thoughts about past Oscars. According to IMDb, Peter O'Toole is indeed the actor with the most nominations (8) and no wins. I think you're right about voters being reluctant to take a chance on an unknown entity, thinking that someone worthy of the award will have more chances in the future. The Academy has traditionally been reluctant to give the Oscar to a young actor for a breakthrough performance, the award usually going to a popular veteran instead, and 1962 seems to be a case in point. It has not shown the same reluctance towards actresses; in fact, just the opposite seems true in this category. I would have thought they would have made up for it in 1968 when O'Toole was nominated for "The Lion in Winter," but they didn't, going with Cliff Robertson instead. A lot of people attributed his win to a vigorous ad campaign in the trade papers. Richard Burton received 7 nominations (one for supporting actor) without a win.

  3. R.D.
    Okay, I have to admit I still have not seen LAWRENCE. It is one of those lapses in my film watching that have yet to be corrected. Of the films I have seen THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE would lead the pack with CAPE FEAR, THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD close by.

  4. John, you must see "Lawrence," but by all means try to see it in a theater the first time. I agree that the other titles you mention are all very good movies. I think "Cape Fear" doesn't get the attention it deserves--Robert Mitchum is as menacing as he was in "Night of the Hunter"--and "Loneliness" needs to be better known. It's one of the very best British films of the sixties and Tom Courtenay is just a knockout in it.

  5. Theater screening would be ideal. Hopefully the Tampa Theater (old style theater that shows classics and Independent film)gets around to showing it. I agree about "Loneliness" and Tom Courtenay's peformance. The film should be better known, one of the great rebel films of the period.