1945 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
"THE LOST WEEKEND", "Anchors Aweigh", "The Bells of St. Mary's", "Mildred Pierce", "Spellbound"
RAY MILLAND in "The Lost Weekend", Bing Crosby in "The Bells of St. Mary's", Gene Kelly in "Anchors Aweigh", Gregory Peck in "The Keys of the Kingdom", Cornel Wilde in "A Song to Remember"
JOAN CRAWFORD in "Mildred Pierce", Ingrid Bergman in "The Bells of St. Mary's", Greer Garson in "The Valley of Decision", Jennifer Jones in "Love Letters", Gene Tierney in "Leave Her to Heaven"
JAMES DUNN in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", Michael Chekhov in "Spellbound", John Dall in "The Corn Is Green", Robert Mitchum in "The Story of G. I. Joe", J. Carrol Naish in "A Medal for Benny"
ANNE REVERE in "National Velvet", Eve Arden in "Mildred Pierce", Ann Blyth in "Mildred Pierce", Angela Lansbury in "The Picture of Dorian Gray", Joan Lorring in "The Corn Is Green"
BILLY WILDER for "The Lost Weekend", Clarence Brown for "National Velvet", Alfred Hitchcock for "Spellbound", Leo McCarey for "The Bells of St. Mary's", Jean Renoir for "The Southerner"
Now that World War II was over and a more optimistic mood swept across the country, glamour returned to the awards ceremony. But the Best Picture award was presented to producer/director/co-writer Billy Wilder's four-Oscar winning, socially-significant The Lost Weekend, a grim, realistic, downbeat drama based on Charles Jackson's best-selling novel and the first major Hollywood film to deal with the subject of alcoholism in a serious tone. Some consider Wilder's humiliation the previous year with his seven-time nominated film Double Indemnity (1944) (with no wins) was one of the main factors for his tremendous win this year. This time, Wilder's Best Picture film won four of its seven nominations. This was also the first time that the Best Picture Oscar winner also won the prestigious top prize (known as the Grand Prix) at the Cannes Film Festival.
[The Best Picture winner in 1945 set a pattern for more adult, socially-responsible Best Picture winners in the 40's. Serious "social issues" films would win the Best Picture award in four of the next five years: e.g., The Lost Weekend (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and All the King's Men (1949).]
The meaningful film, from Charles Jackson's adapted novel, won four major awards - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Director Wilder won Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay (shared with Charles Brackett). Brackett and Wilder were producers-directors of the previous year's Double Indemnity (1944). They would collaborate together in the future with A Foreign Affair (1948) and Sunset Boulevard (1950).
The Best Picture winner defeated the following four Best Picture nominees:
- the classic film noir melodrama by director Michael Curtiz, Mildred Pierce (with six nominations and one win - Best Actress)
- MGM's lively musical directed by George Sidney, Anchors Aweigh (with five nominations and one win - Best Musical Picture Score) - notable for an animated mouse named Jerry, from the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon, in a dance sequence with star Gene Kelly
- director Alfred Hitchcock's suspense thriller with psychoanalytic content about an amnesia victim and a Freudian psychologist, Spellbound (with six nominations and one win - Best Dramatic Score)
- Leo McCarey's The Bells of St. Mary's (with eight nominations and one win - Best Sound Recording), the sequel to the previous year's award-winning Going My Way (1944). This time, the film told the story of an easy-going priest who battles with the Mother Superior of parochial St. Mary's School.
[Note: The Bells of St. Mary's was the first sequel to be nominated for Best Picture. Other sequels later nominated for Best Picture included The Godfather, Part II (1974) - a winner, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) - a loser, with another installment: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) - a winner. The Bells of St. Mary's lost in four major awards categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (Bing Crosby), Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman), and Best Director (Leo McCarey) - all four were honored winners from the previous year!]
Two directors of the five Best Picture-nominated films were not nominated as Best Director: George Sidney for Anchors Aweigh, and Michael Curtiz for Mildred Pierce. They were replaced with the following two directors:
- French director Jean Renoir (with his sole nomination) was nominated as Best Director for The Southerner (with three nominations and no wins), his most respected American film about the hardships of a Texas farmer who struggles to support himself as a Southern cottonfield sharecropper
- Clarence Brown (with his fifth of six career nominations) was nominated as Best Director for National Velvet (with five nominations and two wins - Best Supporting Actress and Best Film Editing)
Debonair Wales-born Ray Milland (with his sole career nomination and Oscar win) won the Best Actor award for his stark portrayal of whiskey-soaked, boozing Don Birnam with writer's block on a five-day binge in the year's Best Picture winner The Lost Weekend. It was an about-face role for the lightweight comedy and romantic actor for over a decade, with Milland using increasingly desperate measures to obtain a drink, and eventually ending up hallucinating (with delirium tremens) in a hospital. Milland continued acting for many years, including starring as Ryan O'Neal's father in Love Story (1970). [Other alcoholic roles that have earned Oscar nominations include: James Mason in A Star Is Born (1954), Bing Crosby in The Country Girl (1954), Susan Hayward in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), and Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses (1963).]
The other Best Actor nominees included:
- Bing Crosby (with his second nomination) reprising his role as Father O'Malley in the sequel The Bells of St. Mary's. Crosby was the first actor to be twice-nominated for playing the same role in two different films. [Others who have the same distinction include Peter O'Toole - as King Henry II in Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968), Al Pacino - as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather, Part II (1974), and Paul Newman - as Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986).]
- Gene Kelly (with his sole unsuccessful career nomination) as carefree, dancing sailor Joseph Brady on shore leave in Hollywood in director George Sidney's Anchors Aweigh (with five nominations and one win - Best Musical Score) - it was Kelly's first big hit with MGM following his debut film For Me and My Gal (1942) and Cover Girl (1944). [Kelly wasn't even nominated for possibly his best performance ever on film in Singin' In The Rain (1952). Kelly did receive an Honorary Oscar in 1951.]
- Gregory Peck (with his first of four unsuccessful nominations in five years - his fifth and final nomination was a winner in 1962) was nominated for his role as young Scottish missionary Father Francis Chisholm in 19th century China in director John Stahl's The Keys of the Kingdom (with four nominations and no wins). [Gregory Peck became a star after appearing in three films in 1945: Spellbound, The Valley of Decision, and The Keys of the Kingdom - his second film.]
- Cornel Wilde (with his sole career nomination) was nominated for his role as pianist/composer Frederic Chopin in the biopic A Song to Remember (with six nominations and no wins).
The biggest winner of the awards ceremony in 1945 was longtime 20s-30s star Joan Crawford in a triumphant return to the spotlight for her Best Actress-winning performance in Michael Curtiz' melodramatic 'women's picture' Mildred Pierce. It was Crawford's sole career Oscar for her portrayal of a hardworking, sacrificial, middle-class mother figure (the title role) who found business success with a restaurant but personal tragedy with her spoiled daughter in the James M. Cain story of murder, larceny, blackmail and adultery. [She would be nominated (though not the winner) two more times, for Possessed (1947) and Sudden Fear (1952).]
The other Best Actress nominees included:
- Ingrid Bergman (with her third nomination) as Mother Superior Sister Benedict in The Bells of St. Mary's
- Greer Garson (with her sixth nomination) as poor Pittsburgh housemaid Mary Rafferty (who falls in love with wealthy coal mine owner Gregory Peck) in director Tay Garnett's melodramatic The Valley of Decision (with two nominations and no wins)
- Jennifer Jones (with the third of four consecutive nominations in a career total of five) as amnesiac Victoria - who falls for the love letters written by an imposter in director William Dieterle's melodrama, Love Letters (with four nominations and no wins)
- Gene Tierney (with her sole career nomination) as beautiful neurotic Ellen Berent - a pathologically possessive and jealous woman in director John Stahl's soap-operish Leave Her to Heaven (with four nominations and one win - Best Color Cinematography)
The Best Supporting Actor award was won by Irish actor James Dunn (with his sole nomination) as alcoholic father and waiter Johnny Nolan whose drinking habits frustrate his attempts to support his family in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn about turn-of-the-century Brooklyn tenement life, the debut feature film of future Oscar winning director Elia Kazan. [Kazan would be nominated for five career awards, winning twice for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and On The Waterfront (1954).]
The other Best Supporting Actor nominees included:
- Michael Chekhov (with his sole career nomination) as threatened psychiatrist Dr. Alex Brulow (and Ingrid Bergman's mentor) in Spellbound
- John Dall (with his sole career nomination for his film debut) as Welsh mining boy Morgan Evans (taught by spinster schoolteacher Bette Davis) in director Irving Rapper's The Corn is Green (with two nominations and no wins)
- Robert Mitchum (with his sole career nomination!) as infantry commander Lieutenant Walker in the Italian campaign in WWII in director William Wellman's The Story of G. I. Joe (with four nominations and no wins)
- J. Carrol Naish (with his second and last career nomination) as Charley Martin - a war hero's father in director Irving Pichel's A Medal for Benny (with two nominations and no wins)
The winner in the Best Supporting Actress category was Anne Revere (with her second of three career nominations - and sole Oscar win) for her role as Elizabeth Taylor's supportive, strong-faced mother Mrs. Brown, who helps her daughter train for the Grand National race in director Clarence Brown's National Velvet (with five nominations and two wins - Best Supporting Actress and Best Film Editing).
The other Best Supporting Actress nominees included two co-stars:
- Eve Arden (with her sole unsuccessful career nomination) as Mildred's knowing, wise-cracking, sidekick friend Ida in Mildred Pierce
- Ann Blyth (with her sole unsuccessful career nomination) as the bitchy, spoiled daughter Veda Pierce in Mildred Pierce
- Angela Lansbury (with her second of three unsuccessful career nominations) as innocent music-hall singer Sibyl Vane in writer/director Albert Lewin's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic novel titled The Picture of Dorian Gray (with three nominations and one win - Best B/W Cinematography)
- Joan Lorring (with her sole unsuccessful career nomination) as young seductress Bessie Watty in The Corn is Green
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
There were many serious omissions and problems with this year's awards. Why was Anchors Aweigh given a Best Picture nomination and four other nominations, when Edgar Ulmer's noir classic Detour was unrecognized? Another noir film was also un-nominated: Robert Siodmak's The Suspect. Edward G. Robinson and co-star Joan Bennett were un-nominated in two Fritz Lang noir films: The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street.
Boris Karloff (never nominated for an Oscar in his entire career) was ignored in Val Lewton's superb B movie horror classic The Body Snatcher. Elia Kazan's feature directing debut film A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was denied Best Director and Best Picture nominations, and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Joan Blondell. John Ford's They Were Expendable also received only two minor nominations - the film's major star John Wayne was un-nominated.
Vincente Minnelli's and MGM's romantic drama The Clock received no nominations - it told about Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland in her first non-singing role), an all-American single working girl, and young soldier Corp. Joe Allen (Robert Walker) on two-day leave in New York. They happened to meet in Penn Station, fell in love, and hastily committed to marriage -- and because time ran out -- had the ceremony in a diner. Likewise, Michael Curtiz' multi-generational domestic epic Roughly Speaking was also devoid of nominations, particularly for Rosalind Russell's portrayal of real-life Louise Randall Pierson (the film's scriptwriter, based on her autobiographical novel), a strong persevering woman who endured numerous setbacks including two marriages, the Depression, polio and four children. It was a role that Bette Davis reportedly turned down.
And Robert Mitchum, who lost his sole Oscar nomination in 1945 for a minor role in The Story of G.I. Joe, wasn't even nominated for his better and greater roles for the rest of his film career, in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Out Of The Past (1947), Crossfire (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), The Sundowners (1960), and Cape Fear (1962).