Tag Archives: Alfred Uhry

The Arts: Pulitzer Prizes

This photo by the AP's Oded Balilty won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. Uploaded by ap.org.

It’s ironic that Joseph Pulitzer, a newspaper owner noted in his time for shaping the truth to fit his personal views, has become synonymous with excellence in journalism and literature. Pulitzer arranged his estate so that, upon his death in 1911, a significant sum would go to New York’s Columbia University to establish a school of journalism and to recognize excellence in his lifetime profession.

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Today, Pulitzer Prizes are awarded in 21 categories, from the broad (Fiction) to the very narrow (Editorial Cartooning). Winners receive a $10,000 cash prize, though the increase in earnings that comes from identifying oneself or one’s works as “Pulitzer Prize Winner” can be substantial.

Looking at past winners of the prizes reveals some exceptionally deserving works. Tom Shales for Criticism… The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway in Fiction… Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry, and South Pacific by Rogers and Hammerstein in Drama… Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland in Music… Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, and Marianne Moore in Poetry… Charles Krauthammer in Commentary… and David McCullough for John Adams in Biography.

Joseph Pulitzer was respected during his lifetime for his intense personal drive and passions. But he rehabilitated his less savory journalistic tendencies by attaching his name to an enduring award for excellence. By the way…the award’s powers that be tell us that the correct pronunciation is “Pull it, sir.” So now we know.

A great video featuring Pulitzer Prize winning photographs of recent years:

Film: Driving Miss Daisy

Hoke tries to talk Miss Daisy back into the car so he can drive her to the Piggly Wiggly. Uploaded by fujishobo.np.infoseek.co.jp

Can’t you see the pitch meeting in Hollywood for this movie? WRITER: “It’s about an old Jewish woman in Atlanta and how she comes to respect her black chauffeur.” MOVIE EXEC: “Does something blow up? Do they have to run from the fireball?”

Miss Daisy was a 72-year-old woman who’d had an accident, and her son felt it was no longer safe for her to drive. So he hires a chauffeur to take her around town. She resists the idea, even telling her driver, “This is not the way to the Piggly Wiggly!”

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Although Driving Miss Daisy was a successful play before being adapted to the screen, I think the film’s success depends almost entirely on the performances of Jessica Tandy as Miss Daisy Werthen and Morgan Freeman as Hoke. Morgan Freeman was nominated for an Oscar (he lost to Daniel Day-Lewis’s wonderful performance in My Left Foot), and Jessica Tandy was named Best Actress, becoming the oldest winner (81) of that honor.

Speaking of awards, this movie has a couple of unusual distinctions. Alfred Uhry wrote the screenplay, based on his own Pulitzer award-winning play. It’s only the second Pulitzer winner that was adapted and became Best Picture, following Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take it With You (1937). Driving Miss Daisy is also the first film since 1932 to win Best Picture without its director (Bruce Beresford) even being nominated.