Oscar Winners Inspired by the Post

Ardent readers might know that the Post has a long-standing tradition of publishing noteworthy fiction, but you might be surprised to hear that many of Tinsel Town’s Oscar-winning films originated as fiction in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post. Check out our list of nine Post-inspired award winners — and two films that, while popular, failed to claim a statue.

Award Winners

Movie poster for the film Lassie Come Home.
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All rights reserved.
    1. Lassie Come Home (1943)

You’ll be surprised at which cast member earned the biggest bucks on this set.

    1. Red River (1948)

Two of this film’s principal stars almost weren’t cast due to fears they wouldn’t get along—which turned out to be true!

    1. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

One of the most popular Westerns ever made—and it could have happened without John Wayne!

    1. The Quiet Man (1952)

A famous actress broke her hand while slapping away her co-star’s advances during the production of this film.

    1. Lili (1953)

Though it predates the age of email, this movie is credited with the first use of a popular emoticon.

    1. The Sand Pebbles (1966)

You’ll never guess what famous movie this director was working on at the same time he made Sand Pebbles.

    1. Death on the Nile (1978)

Sometimes filming on location is a treat … and sometimes, it’s a cramped, sweltering ordeal.

    1. Fail Safe (1964, 2000)

This movie might have been more successful if it hadn’t been for a poorly timed satire with a strikingly similar plot.

    1. True Grit (1969, 2010)

Two famous actresses turned down the role of Mattie Ross in the 1969 adaptation.

Popular Films

    1. Call of the Wild (1935)

You’d never know this story was supposed to be about the dog, thanks to this wildly popular debonair male lead.

    1. And Then There Were None (1945)

Perhaps one of the most copied plot lines of all time, you’d be surprised at which popular TV shows have retold the tale.

The Sand Pebbles (1966)

"Movie poster for the film The Sand Pebbles."
© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Drawing on his own experience aboard a Yangtze gunboat in the 1960s, author Richard McKenna set the time of his oriental tale a decade earlier, during the Northern Expedition in China. The three-part story first appeared in the Post in November 1962 and made its film debut in 1966.

Pat Boone had campaigned hard for the role of protagonist Jake Holman, but director Robert Wise’s first choice was Paul Newman. In the end, the role went to Steve McQueen.

Initially slotted for nine weeks of filming, the production took seven months to complete thanks to a series of unfortunate delays, including a capsized camera boat which ruined the soundboard, monsoons in Taipei, an abscessed molar that caused McQueen to fall ill, and rumored “hostage taking” of several cast member passports by the Chinese government until additional taxes were paid from filming. At the studio’s insistence, Wise reluctantly occupied the downtime with a “fill in” project he had originally rejected for being “too saccharine”—1965’s The Sound of Music.

For its troubles, Sand Pebbles was nominated for eight Golden Globes, including a win for Richard Attenborough for Best Supporting Actor, and eight Oscar nods, including Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture, and Best Actor—the only Academy Award nomination of Steve McQueen’s career. Wise was said to be so proud of the film that he held annual parties with surviving cast members to commemorate its completion.