Monday, 8 May 2017

Books made into Academy Award Winning Movies for Best Picture (1950 to 1960)

This is the second part of the series of articles that I am writing on the movies that have been made into Academy Award winning movies for Best Picture. In continuation with the common trend in Hollywood you shall figure that most of the award winning movies from 1950 to 1960 were adapted from brilliant books. Listed below are some of the novels which in the true sense are Oscar winning novels and can be added up to the list of books you got to read.

From Here to Eternity

James Jones debut novel From Here to Eternity was published in 1951. The book not only won the National Book Award in the US but also named as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. The plot of the book revolves around the protagonist Private Robert E. Lew Prewitt, a soldier with six years in the army who at the age of 23 is demoted and transferred to the G Company. The commanding officer of G Company Captain Dana “Dynamite” Holmes had chosen Robert because of his skills as a boxer. However, Robert who is a skillful boxer refuses to do so because of an incident in which he had blinded a fellow boxer. This results in a lot of harsh treatment being imparted on him. The events that follow to the Pearl Harbour incident make the remnant of the book. In 1953 the book was adapted into a motion picture by the same name with Fred Zinnemann directing the movie and Buddly Adler producing it. It had 13 Academy Award Nominations and won in 7 categories besides Best Picture.

The list of wins and nominations by “From Here to Eternity” in the 26th Academy Awards are as under:
Fred Zinnemann won the Academy Award for Best Director.
Daniel Taradash won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay - Writing.
Frank Sinatra who played the role of Private Angelo Maggio won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Donna Reed who played the role of Alma Burke won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The Academy Award for Best Cinematography - Black and White went to Burnett Guffey and Academy Award for Best Sound was won by John P. Livadry.
William A. Lyon won the Academy Award for Best Editing.

The other nominations included included two for best actor and one for best actress. Montgomery Cliff and Burt Lancaster were both nominated in the Best Actor category for their roles as Private Robert E. Lewitt and First Sergeant Milton Warden respectively, while Deborrah Kerr was nominated in the Best Actress category for her role as Karen Holmes.

Around the World in Eighty Days

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is a renowned novel in science fiction and adventure genre. The story revolves around a bet that Phileas Fogg the protagonist makes against his friends at the Reform Club that he can circumnavigate the entire world with all the modern modes of travelling available then in 80 days and within a sum of 20000 pounds. He sets out on the journey with his new valet Passepartout. The adventures that follow in their journey is the remainder of the story. This epic novel was made into a movie produced by Michael Todd and directed by Michael Anderson. The movie won the Best Picture Award in the 29th Academy Awards in 1956. It won a total of 5 academy awards and had 8 nominations altogether.

Lionel London won the Academy Award for Best Cinematogrphy - Color.
Gene Ruggiero and Paul Weathermax won the Academy Award for Editing.
Best Music’s Academy Award went to Victor Young.
John Farrow, S. J. Perelman and James Poe who adapted the novel into their screenplay won the Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Writing.
Michael Anderson direction also bagged him an Academy Award nomination in the same category.
Ken Adams, Ross Dowd and James W. Sullivan were nominated for Best Art Direction while Miles White was nominated for Best Costume.

Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai

The 1952 novel ‘Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai’ written by Pierre Boulle which literally translates in English to the name ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was adapted by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson into a movie of the same name. The movie was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The novel was translated in English by Xan Fielding in 1954. The story revolves around the plight of British soldiers in the hands of the Japanese during the Second World War. It is about the construction of the Burma railway in which a huge number of British soldiers were involved. The film not only won the Best Picture award in the 30th Academy Awards in 1957, but six other awards including Best Director and Best Screenplay. Alec Guiness for his portrayal of Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Actor while Sessue Hayakawa for his role of Colonel Saito got a nomination in the category for Best Supporting Actor. The other wins included Best Music (Malcolm Arnold), Best Editing (Peter Taylor) and Best Cinematography (Jack Hildyard).


Gigi is a French novella written by Colette first published in 1944. The story revolves around Gigi a young Parisian girl being groomed to become a courtesan and Gaston a wealthy man who falls in love with her and marries her. In the 1958 film adaptation by the same name Leslie Caron played the role of Gigi while Louis Jordan portrayed Gaston. The film was a winner in the Best Picture category in the 31st Academy Awards. The film was produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincent Minelli for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director. Alan Jay Lerner who adapted the screenplay from the novel won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The other categories in which the movie won Academy Awards were Best Art Direction - Set Decoration (E. Preston Ames, F. Keogh Gleason, Henry Grace, and William A. Horning), Best Cinematography - color (Joseph Ruttenberg), Best Costume Design (Cecil Beaton), Best Film Editing (Adrienne Fazan), Best Musical Score (André Previn) and Best Original Song ("Gigi" by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe).

You can point out that the 1959 movie Ben-Hur which not only won the Academy Award for Best Picture but also 10 other Academy Awards making it one of the largest number of Academy Award winning movies was based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. While I agree to the same but as pointed out in the previous article, I am making a list of books which have been directly adapted into movies. However, the 1959 movie Ben-Hur was a remake of the 1925 silent movie of the same name which in turn was adapted from the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace. I hope this article was informative and gave information on some of the most loved novels of all time.

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