Library Moments: Academy Award Winners 1965

38th oscars

Joanne Woodward and George Peppard take the stage Presenters at the first Oscars televised in color
Image source: http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1966

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

As of January 1st, 2015 Haliburton County Public Library was fifty years old.  There are four municipalities that make up Haliburton County, all of which have a history of libraries older than fifty years, but in 1964 county council made the decision to amalgamate the four municipal library systems into one.

The 87th Academy Awards took place recently and on Library Moments we discussed some of the award winners from 2014.  Because of our anniversary we promised to tell you about some films from the 38th Academy Awards that honoured the best in film for 1965.

This week on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning  and I will each talk about a movie that was an award winner fifty years ago.

cat ballouSherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: Catherine “Cat” Ballou, a prim young schoolteacher, travels to Wyoming to visit her father after completing a proper Eastern education. When her father is murdered at the hands of the greedy Wolf City Development Corporation, Cat vows revenge. With the help of two charming young misfits and drunken over-the-hill gun-for-hire Kid Shelleen, Cat forms an unlikely band of outlaws. The gang must get its act together quickly in order for Shelleen to face off against the developers’ silver-nosed hired killer, Tim Strawn. While Jane Fonda is perfect as the title character in Cat Ballou, it is Lee Marvin who steals the show in his hilarious dual role as bumbling drunkard Kid Shelleen and silver-nosed villain Tim Strawn. Before this film, Marvin had spent years playing tough guys and heavies in mostly supporting roles. Marvin showed the world that he could play comedy as well as drama, and he was rewarded by winning the Academy Award as Best Actor for his effort. Singer Nat King Cole played one of the singing minstrels in Cat Ballou. Cole was coughing a great deal whenever he was on the set and losing weight but most figured he was just running himself down with a grueling schedule of filming the movie as well as singing nightly at a Lake Tahoe nightclub. What they, and Cole himself, didn’t know was that he was already very sick with lung cancer. Cole, whom Jane Fonda described as “kind and wonderful,” fought through his illness to give a spirited performance in his small but memorable role. The cancer would take his life at the age of 45 in February 1965, just a few months shy of Cat Ballou’s release. Cat Ballou started out as a low budget B-movie, and while the people involved knew that the film was good, they had no idea that it would go on to become a classic and win Lee Marvin an Oscar®. The film that had cost peanuts to make ended up becoming the seventh most successful film of 1965.

sound of musicErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Based on the musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, which was based on The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews as the indomitable Maria and Christopher Plummer stoic Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp was the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1965. On stage and on film The Sound of Music tells the story of Maria von Trapp, a free spirit studying to become a nun. When Captain von Trapp needs a governess for his children, his first wife having passed away, Maria is sent from the abbey to care for them and introduces a world of imagination, laughter and music to the strictly regimented family. Ultimately the Captain and Maria fall in love, however the Third Reich is on their doorstep and the Captain is summoned to serve the Nazis. Determined not to be part of their evil regime, the von Trapps resolve to flee Austria – but will they succeed before the Nazis discover their plan?

The Sound of Music is so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that even if you haven’t seen the movie, you have likely heard the songs – Edelweiss, Do-Re-Mi, My Favourite Things, and the titular The Sound of Music. It not only won Best Picture in 1965, but it also displaced Gone with the Wind as highest grossing picture at that time. In 2014 the Academy Awards paid tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the film with Lady Gaga singing a medley of the film’s musical hits. HCPL has had requests for The Sound of Music on DVD, but for a while was unable to actually acquire it. Happily, this classic has now released a 50th Anniversary edition which is now on our shelves available for you to borrow and enjoy.

doctor zhivagoBessie: Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel Dr. Zhivago was published in the West amidst celebration and controversy. The book had to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union to be published.  Helped by a Soviet campaign against the novel, it became a sensation throughout the non-communist world. It spent 26 weeks atop the New York Times best-seller list, and in 1958 Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. While the citation noted his poetry, it was also understood that the prize was for Doctor Zhivago.

The film adaptation came out in 1965 and starred Omar Sharif as Dr. Zhivago and Julie Christie as Lara. Young and beautiful, Lara is loved by three men: a revolutionary, a mogul, and a doctor. Their lives become intertwined with the drama of Russian revolution and the lead up to the first world war. Doctor Zhivago is still married when he meets Lara. Their love story is unfolding against the backdrop of revolution which affects the doctor’s career, his family, and his love for Lara.

The critics were generally disappointed in the film, complaining of its length at over three hours, and claiming that it trivialised history, but acknowledging the intensity of the romantic drama and the treatment of human themes. Over time, however, the film’s reputation has improved greatly. It is now regarded as among Director David Lean’s finest films, as well as one of the best films of the epic genre, ranking it the 39th greatest American films of all time. It garnered ten Academy Award nominations and won five, and as of 2014 is the eighth highest-grossing film of all time.

The three movies discussed today have endured and are still popular; they are all available to borrow from the Haliburton County Public Library as well as other award winning films.

That’s it for today’s episode of Library Moments here on 100.9 CanoeFM, thanks for listening and happy viewing.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM April 5th – April 11th, 2015.

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