Now in our ninth calendar year!|
PCR #406 (Vol. 9, No. 1) This edition is for the week of January 1--6, 2008.
Hello, gang! We start the year with a short one plus our new year long series on Oscar's Errors. Shall we begin?
I GUESS IT'S OK IF YOU MISS
It's been 142 years since Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Since then, we've lost three more presidents and have had numerous attempts on other political figures. I mention this because, until this past year, NOT ONE ASSASSIN or ATTEMPTED ASSASSIN HAS EVER BEEN RELEASED FROM PRISON! Then, earlier last month, Arthur Bremer, who shot and paralyzed George Wallace in 1972, was freed after serving more then 30 years. This week, Sarah Jane Moore, who fired at, but missed, President Ford in 1975, was released from a California prison without explanation. If not for a disabled veteran standing next to Moore it is quite possible President Ford would have been killed. Oliver Sipple was standing next to Moore and batted her arm up as she fired, causing the bullet to fly over Ford's head. My guess is that President Ford, who passed away last year, may have left some kind of note asking for Moore to be freed after he passed away. Wonder when Squeaky Fromme is heading home?
WELCOME TO THE HALL
Congratulations to Madonna, Leonard Cohen, the Dave Clark Five, John Mellencamp and the Ventures, who were recently elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Special congratulations to DC5 keyboardist and lead singer Michael Smith for doing me proud! Mike is still touring with his group Mike Smith's Rock Engine. Curious. Of course you are: http//www.mikesmith1964.com
Wow! So many familiar names in this month's birthday column. But one knocked me for a loop: Art Brown! Wow, I feel like Obi Wan Kenobi when I say "that's a name I haven't heard since...." Happy Birthday everyone!
AND THE OSCAR FOR 1976 SHOULD HAVE GONE TO...
One of the things I really enjoy as a member of the Kansas City Film Critic's Circle is having a vote in our annual end of year awards (we will be voting this Sunday, 1/6 - winners announced here next week). I actually helped fill out a friend's official Oscar ballot a few years ago and, after making movies a major part of my life for the past 30 years, I'd like to think that sometimes the wrong person or film got, or didn't get, the big prize. This year I'm going to go back in time and make things right. And what better place to start then on March 29, 1976, when the films for 1975 were recognized. And if you've read ANYTHING I've ever written about films, you know that 1975 was the year of "JAWS."
The day the nominations came out, a local television station in Los Angeles spent the morning with Steven Spielberg, who boldly predicted on camera that "JAWS" would get no less then 10 nominations. Sadly, Spielberg was wrong. Though "JAWS" did pick up a nomination for Best Picture, it only got three more in technical categories (Original Score, Sound and Film Editing). A major surprise was that Spielberg, who was nominated by the Director's Guild, did not earn an Oscar nom. The DGA nominees were Milos Foreman, Stanley Kubrick, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman and Spielberg. The Oscars went with the first four but replaced Spielberg with Federico Fellini. The tv crew famously caught Spielberg muttering, "I don't believe it. They chose Fellini over me." Should Spielberg have been nominated? Should he have won? Honestly, yes and no. Of his fellow nominees, the one that didn't really belong (again, this column is my opinion) was Kubrick. The film he was nominated for, "Barry Lyndon," was overlong and overdone. If I was giving the Oscar it would have gone to Altman, whose "Nashville" is still one of the 10 greatest films of the 1970s.
Best Actor was Jack Nicholson for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," which I can't argue with. What shocked me (and Matt and Johnny Carson among others) was that none of the three leads from "JAWS" pulled a Best Actor nod. Of the three, Robert Shaw (2) and Roy Scheider (1) had previous Oscar nominations to their credit. Richard Dreyfuss (who would go on to win Best Actor a few years later) was nominated for a British Academy Award. As a fan of the film, I can't pick a favorite performance between the three but the general consensus in researching this year was that Robert Shaw was deemed the most award worthy. Besides Nicholson the nominees that year were Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon), Walter Matthau (The Sunshine Boys), James Whitmore (Give 'em Hell Harry) and Maximilian Schell (The Man in the Glass Booth). OK, Pacino is Pacino. Leave him there. No one did grumpy comedy like Matthau. Which leaves us Whitmore and Schell. Whitmore's nomination was surprising because the film did not play wide. In fact, most people who saw it caught it on the "Z" channel, Hollywood's early cable movie channel. Schell ranted and raved through "Glass Booth," but it obviously was enough to gain a nomination. Of course, the irony here is that "The Man in the Glass Booth" was written by none other then Mr. Robert Shaw!
Supporting Actor went to George Burns, who stepped into "The Sunshine Boys" when his friend, Jack Benny, passed away shortly before filming began. Good performance plus 80 years old put the golden boy in Burn's hands. My choice would have been Brad Dourif, who almost stole "Cuckoo's Nest" from Nicholson as mental patient Billy Bibbit. The other nominees: Burgess Meredith (Day of the Locust), Chris Sarandon (Dog Day Afternoon) and Jack Warden (Shampoo). Sarandon's role was miniscule and, if I had to pick a supporting actor from "Dog Day Afternoon" it would have been John Cazale or Charles Durning. Meredith had a juicy role in "Locust" and more then earned his nomination. And everytime I think of "Shampoo" I still see Jack Warden accidentally overhearing his wife and Warren Beatty having sex. Not knowing who the participants are, Warden smiles and exclaims, "Now THAT'S what I call fucking!" A classic line. If I'd been allowed to pick a nominee it would have been Henry Gibson from "Nashville."
Though it lost the big prize, "JAWS" did win the Oscar in the other three categories. The big winner that night was "Cuckoo's Nest," becoming the second film, and the first in 41 years, to sweep the top five awards (Picture, Director (Foreman), Actor, Actress (Louise Fletcher) and Screenplay.
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.