GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT (1947)
What is it? Reporter Philip Green (Gregory Peck) poses as a Jew in order to write an expose on anti-Semitism. He uncovers a host of small acts of racism in the process, and has to reassess relationships in his own life as a result.
Why did it win? It's another Issue movie - and the fact that two of the year's nominees dealt with the same issue suggests the extent to which it was a hot-button issue at the time. Then, that was perhaps particularly true in Hollywood: the arts world in the US always contained a strong Jewish presence, something which had become even stronger throughout the 1930s as European Jews fled to the US. After the horrors of the Holocaust were uncovered late in the War, a seismic shift in attitudes drove anti-Semitism out of the mainstream - and films like this were part of that shift.
Did it deserve to win? It wasn't a terribly strong field. The other nominees were The Bishop's Wife (Cary Grant as an angel), Crossfire (another film tackling anti-Semitism), Great Expectations (the David Lean / John Mills / Alec Guinness version) and Miracle on 34th Street (the original). Lean's Dickens adaptation is probably the best of the bunch, with hindsight - but Black Narcissus, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and that zenith of the noir genre, Out of the Past, weren't even nominated.
Worth a look? Gregory Peck's always worth watching, but it's not essential viewing.