[1948.1] Johnny Belinda

I will be watching all 5 nominees from 1948 before I move on to the next year. The goal here is to watch them and have an internal discussion among them to try to piece together a “history” of the year. Let’s get to it. 

Johnny Belinda, 1948’s ebullient story about a young, intelligent deaf-mute girl from a small town on the eastern coast of Canada, offered a daring exposé on the unraveling consequences of rape in a small town.

This film holds a special mantle on Oscar’s shelf as its release defiantly shirked Hays’ Code rules against immoral or inappropriate subject matter in film. Perhaps from 1948 forward, rules that once boxed a story in, no longer applied. What’s interesting is that rape is a notoriously murky subject matter to tackle. Johnny Belinda‘s take on the matter is diffused somewhat seeing as the film itself thankfully does not muse on rape and rape culture, but rather treats it as a plot and mood device. This decision allows stars Jane Wyman and Lew Ayres to absolutely shine.  Continue reading