Three Oscars: West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia and Tom Jones — How Did They Fare?

Since we talked last, the EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy group has watched and evaluated three Oscar-winning Best Pictures: West Side Story (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Tom Jones (1963).

It is with sadness that I report that West Side Story was something of a flop. When young, I found the musical exciting, novel, boisterous, comic and sadly romantic. Now older, our audience gave the movie a rating of 7.95 on a scale of 1-10. That puts the film right in the middle of the pack of the thirty-four films evaluated to date — only an average rating among the Best Pictures.

I abstract the written comments for each show to a single sentence and then reduce that sentence to a single word. Here is the sentence for West Side Story:

“Most loved the music, songs and dancing but hated the message of the movie, because the message is that hate of others for their differences is still with us as it has been since Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; some saw that sad message of hate manifested in our current stuggles to integrate immigrants, our glamorization of gangs and the violence prevalent in our inner cities; there was an air of sadness in the comments that was reflected in the movie doing poorly in its overall rating.”

And, the single word for West Side Story was: “sad.”

Our next film was the 1962 winner, Lawrence of Arabia.” My expectations were high. My youthful memories were of an extravaganza sweeping across the wind-swept deserts with high adventure and lofty ideals. The reality to my older eyes was disappointing. Despite his brash and dashing antics to free and unite the war-torn tribes of Arabia, Lawrence managed only an 8.00 on our 10 scale — again, as with West Side Story, only an average rating for a movie some consider one of the best of all time. And again, I was personally disappointed: both that an old favorite managed so poorly in this modern day and also that I was personally less enamored with that old favorite. Perhaps young eyes are truly more forgiving than those grown older with time.

The single sentence for Lawrence that I took from the written comments is this:

“Most everyone liked the sweeping cinematography and the acting; some found the story confusing; most did not like the hard ugliness of the fighting and the fact that nothing seems to have changed from then to now.”

“Nothing seems to have changed.” Like West Side Story, the innocence of youth appears to have been lost to the realities of older eyes viewing Lawrence of Arabia in the less forgiving desert of today’s world.

The single word for Lawrence: “discouraging.”

For this, I needed some relief.

Tom Jones?

Tom Jones is 1963 film awarded the Best Picture Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It is a comedy of a young man finding his identity and fortune in an improbable romp across merry old England. Quite the new and avant-garde show at the time. How would it be seen today?

The very bottom of the heap! That’s right. For Tom Jones, the rating out of 10 was 3.17, the lowest average assigned by the EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience to a Best Picture to date. I was astonished, astounded and amazed. How could a Best Picture be so bad? Even the Rotten Tomatoes audience gave it a 59%. Collectively, we gave it a slight 8%.

The single sentence for the Tom was:

“Some liked Albert Finney, the scenery, the word plays, film techniques and British humor; most disliked everything, including the scenes, dialect, story, acting, plot and bawdiness.”

To my dismay, the lament into the movies of the ’60’s had continued.

The single word for Tom Jones was “disliked.”

Can hope be on the horizons?


Next week, we move to My Fair Lady (1964) and, after that, The Sound of Music (1965).

Pass the popcorn.

The shows are about to begin.

With guarded anticipation from Dallas, we await the ratings, sentences and single words derived from the studied viewings of our stalwart EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphers.

Until then,

Grandpa Jim

PS: I have not forgotten. I owe you the top movies of the first four decades of the Oscars, the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. The acquisition of the data has taken longer than anticipated. Hopefully, with the next post, we can view the listings of the very best and most highly rated shows. See you back here soon for the results.

Best Pictures: Happy New Year, EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy and “West Side Story”

Happy New Year to all our readers around the globe.

2017 is here. Now we begin the annual struggle to remember to write and include the New Year’s digits in all that we say and do. I wish you wonderfully and exceptionally well in all your do’s and say’s this year. You are the New Year’s people.

Tonight, we continue the viewings of the Oscar-award-winning Best Pictures. This project started last year on January 8, 2016 with the 1927-28 winner, the only truly silent film to win the outstanding picture award, “Wings.” On December 1, 2016, we finished the year with the sadly comedic winner, “The Apartment.” With and between the two in 2016, we watched thirty-three (33) Best Pictures in yearly order. I view this as an amazing accomplishment for 2016, and the resolution is to continue the process in 2017. A special “Thank You” to the thirty (30) brave souls who participated and completed the EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy Survey form after the showings. We averaged 13.45 views per movie for a total of 444 in-crowd survey forms. Yes, the data is being tabulated.

Tonight is the 1961 winner, “West Side Story.”

“West Side Story” is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Natalie Wood plays Maria (Juliet) and Richard Beymer plays Tony (Romeo). The tale is of a turf war between rival teenage gangs in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and the two lovers who cross the battle lines.

The film was nominated for 11 and won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture at the 34th Academy Awards hosted by Bob Hope (his 7th time to host). “West Side Story” is the musical with the most Oscars and is consistently listed as one of the top musicals in cinema history. Only three films have received more Academy Awards at 11 (“Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”).

Be here next week for some highlights from the survey results for “West Side Story.”

Also, next week I will give you the top-ten-rated Best Pictures of the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s from the surveys and from a special one-time ranking by our viewing audience. Make your picks and be here to compare the results.

See you next week at the cinema.

And now, tonight’s show.

Grandpa Jim


The New Year’s People — 2016

© James J. Doyle, Jr



“Send in more bubbles, Second. Those parents need help.”

“Yes, Sir, Commander Sudsy. You there, pop to it and foam up. You heard the boss.”

“It is amazing, Second. Human scientists see this soaping and lathering as some kind of chemical interaction, polarized this and layers of that. They have no idea what’s happening.”

“It is hard to believe, Captain. We must remember, Sir, we are invisible to them.”

“True, Second, very true. . . . What are the reports from the other fronts? We can take a break here. The bubble bath is foaming up and the parents are scrubbing away.”

“With the help of our people, Director Sudsy, with the help of our people.”

“Where do you get these titles for me, Second? I’m just a simple Suds.”

“You are the Suds for Operations and that is a big responsibility, Mr. Field Marshall, Sir, a very big responsibility”

“Yes, well, your report then. What is the status of our field forces and the party crews?”

“With your permission, General, I’ll do smoke, dust and dirt first.”


“Fires persist in the west, dust storms rage to the mid-south, and children are as usual escaping on all fronts to play in the dirt. Our agents say Christmas toys are responsible for an increase in smudging on the kids. You could see that in the two we’ve been observing.”

“I see those two are now dried, dressed and ready for bed. My recollection from the surveillance report is that the parents are home for the evening. Is that correct?

“It is, Fierce Brigade Leader, they plan to stay up for the stroke of midnight.”

“It is the big night, Second.”

“It is, Courageous Commander, New Year’s Eve itself.”

“Our big lift, Second. When the clocks strike twelve, our people will be buoyed and strengthened throughout the world. It is the turn of the year that pumps us up and keeps us bubbling.”

“You’re right there, my Major of the Moment, and we could use the lift. Reserves are low on all fronts. The field people say they have just enough to make it to midnight.”

“What about the party crews, Second? Without the crews, there’d be no sparkling beverages to welcome the New Year. I know the human scientists call it carbonation and effervescence, but you and I know who’s responsible. It’s the last big bubble of the year. Are we ready?”

“There are challenges, mon Capitaine. Proximity is most important. When the tabs are pulled and the corks are popped, the bubbles have to be there and ready to go. Timing is critical. We have the people. That’s not the issue.”

“I get the feeling there is an issue. Is there a problem, Second?”

“Perhaps, O Glorious Leader.”

“Second, enough with the creative appellations. Just call me ‘Sir.’”

“Well, Sir, you remember the saponification fiasco a few years back?”

“I recall a snafu in the management of change protocols. Resources were not properly deployed.”

“Quite correct, Sir, the new Suds for Manufacturing failed to staff the quality control laboratories at the soap production sites. Without our people in the sinks and on the tubs, the tested products did not bubble and suds. Major shipments of bar soap, shower gel and bath powder were declared off specification and directed to disposal. The cleansing materials never reached the humans exposed to the smokes, dusts and dirts our field sudsing forces guard against.”

“That could not have been kind to the noses, Second.”

“Spot on, Sir. Without humans wetting and rubbing the soaps, gels and powders, our people could not introduce the bubbles and foams to counter the rising olfactory distress.”

“But this is this year, Second. There have been no reports of odor problem or humans not washing for lack of soap.”

“It’s not the soap, Sir. This year it’s the ‘bubbly.’”

“The sparkling beverages. Did they somehow fail their tests?”

“No, Sir, our people were present and ready. The drinks bubbled as designed.”

“Then, what’s wrong?”

“Global warming.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Our teams didn’t catch it, either, at first. Carbon dioxide has been linked to global warming. To help control carbon dioxide emissions, the governments launched campaigns to reduce the consumption of carbonated beverages. The advertisements worked, much better than anyone, including our field monitors, anticipated. In response to decreased demand, manufacturing plants greatly reduced their production of the fizzy drinks.”

“You’re saying supplies of bubbling beverages are down?”

“Way down, Sir. So much so our scientists say we may not make threshold.”

“That bad? We Sudses need to bubble in order to replenish ourselves. I’ve read the studies the Suds for Research publishes. Bubbling must be associated with human activity, either a cleansing function or a festive happening. New Year’s Eve is our big night. It’s the pop that puts us over the top.”

“I know, Sir, but the bubbly is not there. We missed the critical moment when the switch in manufacturing occurred. During our household and restaurant surveys, we caught the supply change adjustments, but there’s nothing we can do tonight.”

“Switch? You may have something there, Second. Our reports show the parents here are staying in to celebrate the New Year. Is that correct?”

“Yes, Sir, old home bodies they are, watching the telly with a tray of treats and their drinks for the evening. They’ll be downstairs by now.”

“What are those drinks, Second?’

“Checked the fridge myself, Sir. My field training, you know. They have imported water and a very nice white wine, both non-carbonated.”

“So you say, Second. So you say.”

“I do, Sir. What are you thinking, Sir?”

“There’s time. Yes, with the new communication technology, there’s time. Bounce over here, Second, and take a look at these instructions. This is an urgent wave to our party crews at their stations around the globe.” Second reviews the handwritten directions. “It’s not long, Second. Do you have it memorized?”

“Yes, Sir, I’m on it. Consider it done. And, Sir, I must say this is just marvelous. I do think it might work.”

“I hope so, Second. I do hope so.”


* * * * * * *


“Honey, are you sure the water was okay?”

“It was fine, Sweetie, not that different from last year.”

“It was, well, yeah, it was like last year.”

“Sweetie, look, on the TV, only a few seconds. It’s time to open the bottle.”

“The cork is almost out. Hold the glasses.”



“Pour. Pour. It’s New Year’s Day! Give me a kiss.”


“Happy 2017”

“And to you!”

“Thank you for the bubbly, Sweetie. It’s perfect.”

“It is. Unexpected and perfect. A surprising start for the New Year.


* * * * * * *


“This is the evening news. The breaking story tonight is bubbling over, all around the world. That wasn’t carbon dioxide in your beverages on New Year’s Eve. Drink manufacturers are in full conformance with the environmental regulations. That was real fizz you felt when you raised your glasses and the bubbly crinkled your noses, but it will not contribute to global warming. Scientists have confirmed the discovery of a new gas. Apparently removing carbon dioxide from beverages triggered an unknown side reaction, which liberated a material with bubbling properties similar to CO2 but with no adverse impacts to our atmosphere. Bubble away and know your planet is protected.”


* * * * * * *


“A masterful stroke, Sir, simply masterful.”

“Thank you, Second. A slight repackaging of our underlying message for the media. It worked because our people were already in place to do what they always do so well. They bubbled away.”

“The humans loved the surprise, Sir. They kept popping tops and pulling corks. On the bubble gage, we’re off the charts.”

“It’s hard not to appreciate a glass of cheer on New Year’s Eve. I was counting on the uplifted mood of the participants.”

“The message, Sir, was genius, pure genius. A new gas, that was simply out of this world.”

“Thank you, Second. We must give credit to the Sudses in Human Relations. They floated the idea to the major networks in record time. A green story with a new twist and a safe new gas to start the new year.”

“It is truly a promising start, Sir. At this rate, there will be no need for gas cuts or bubble tightening. And, there will be more room for new recruits on the party crews.”

“Precisely, Second. I know we are the Sudses and that sudsing for cleansing will always be a priority, but in my sphere of spheres I have always felt the New Year and bubbling for fun is the future. There we have room to grow and expand, to balloon and burst with joy. It is our mission to push ever outward and upward with raised expectations into the bright and billowing sky. Float and bubble, bubble and float, we are the New Year’s People.”

“Hear, hear, Sir, we are the The New Year’s People and proud of every happy bubble.”









Keep Reading “The Christmas Song” And Get Ready To Find A Surprise Story On Christmas Day 2016!!!

I think the next Christmas Story is my favorite.

Of course . . . they all are . . . but there is something about . . .

“The Picture And The Card”

Maybe it’s the grandkids jumping on the bed.

Maybe it’s the warm kitchen on Christmas Eve.

Or, maybe, it’s waking up on Christmas Day and always being . . .


Merry Christmas


Second Christmas Story Tomorrow — December 23, 2016

Join us tomorrow morning for a second Christmas Story.

This one first appeared almost four years ago in 2012.

It has been revised for this its reprise and reappearance.

Of course, you can always find it under “Other Stories.”

The story is entitled “The Christmas Song.”

The 2016 version is hours away.

Be here to see it then.


It is a personal favorite.

I remember the old farmer well.