Now in our ninth calendar year!|
PCR #428 (Vol. 9, No. 23) This edition is for the week of June 2--8, 2008.
Hello, gang! A short one this week but at least I'm fairly on time. Shall we begin?
CLINT 1, SPIKE 0
I am a huge fan of both Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood. I consider Lee's "Do the Right Thing" one of the great films of the 1980s and have admired Eastwoods work behind the camera since "Play Misty For Me." This week, Lee was outwardly critical of Eastwood for not featuring any black actors in his two most recent war films, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." Lee told reporters "Very few Hollywood films deal with black soldiers…For the most part, if you look at the history of Hollywood cinema they haven't dealt with anybody other than white Americans. If you think Hollywood and World War Two, you think John Wayne -- the great white male that saved the world." To which Eastwood, who studied the history of the battle he featured in both films,replied "Does he know anything about American history?...The U.S. military was segregated till the Korean War, and the blacks in World War Two were totally segregated. The only black battalion on Iwo Jima was a small munitions supply unit that came to the beach. The story was about the men who raised the flag and we can't make them black if they were not there. So tell him: Why don't you go back and study your history and stop mouthing off!"
Way to make my day, Clint.
A lot was written on the message board last week about a gaffe presumed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made about there being "57 states." I heard the sound clip a few weeks ago and I believe he refers to the "56 states." Of course, conspiracy theorist that I like to be, it hit me that there are 56 Islamic States in the world. Hmmmmmmm. Thoughts?
MORE FROM MICHAEL BAY
This week, MTV viewers voted "Transformers" last years favorite film. In accepting the award, director Michael Bay commented that filming on "Transformers 2" began this past Monday. The film now has a subtitle: "Revenge of the Fallen." Hmmmmmm. Thoughts?
Alton Kelly, legendary artist who designed the classic psychedelic rock and roll posters of the 1960s, died this week at the age of 67. Kelly was well known for his work for such bands as Journey, Steve Miller and the Grateful Dead, whose classic "skull and roses" emblem was created by Kelly.
AND THE OSCAR FOR 1972 SHOULD HAVE GONE TO...One of the most memorable ceremonies ever! Chaplin returns and Brando burns!
March 27, 1973. Oscar night. A night that, when it ended, would be remembered for one of the most bizarre and exciting ceremonies ever. The show got off to a bad start when co-host Charlton Heston's car had a flat on the way to the theatre. The producers sent a page into the audience to find a familiar face and of all the people seated in the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, the kid snagged Clint Eastwood, who, when he finally got to the stage, hadn't "said a dozen words in any film ever." Luckily Heston raced on stage and the show began.
The two films to beat were very different period pieces: Bob Fosse's "Cabaret" and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather." Both films had been nominated for 10 awards ("The Godfather" had actually been nominated 11 times but the nomination for Musical Score was withdrawn when it was learned that composer Nino Rota had reused some of the score he had written for the 1958 Italian film "Fortunella."
The story of "The Godfather" is one of the greatest in Hollywood history. Bob Evans, head of Paramount, bought the novel and hired Coppola to direct it because he heard Coppola worked fast and cheap. Evans hoped to get the film into theatres before any buzz the book might earn would wear off. However, as shooting progressed, the book became bigger and BIGGER,causing Evans to plead, on film, to the corporate owners of the studio to authorize more money for the production. The result was nothing short of a masterpiece, often discussed with "Citizen Kane" as the greatest American film ever made.
The battle for Best Picture included one of the most diverse lists of films ever:
Cabaret Deliverance The Emigrants, The Godfather and Sounder
A musical, a violent thriller, a foreign film, a gangster film and, most important, a film with a cast made up mostly of black actors telling a story themed to the black audience, though I do admit that the book "Sounder" was one of my favorites in 5th grade.
All of these films are excellent nominees and I've seen each of them multiple times, from twice for "The Emigrants" to at least a hundred for "The Godfather." That being said, my vote would have gone to "The Godfather." Which is just what the academy did. However, the big story here took place before the Oscar was handed out. While reading the list of nominees, presenters David Niven and Elizabeth Taylor were interupted by a naked man streaking past them. Niven got the biggest laugh of the night by remarking that "the only laugh that man will ever get will be for stripping and showing off his shortcomings!" Pretty witty. And controversial. Many people, myself included, feel this event was staged. I've always thought that Niven, who was an excellent writer in his own right, was a little too quick on his quip. In fact, he starts it as soon as the guy runs by, then stops and says it later. And, instead of being arrested for trespassing, the streaker, Robert Opel, was provided clothes BY THE ACADEMY and herded to the press area where he held an impromptu press conference. Thirdly, there has only been one image of the event released. You'd think with all of the cameras (still and moving image) that someone would have caught a shot of this guy SOMEWHERE. Of course, the photo released is a perfectly cropped image with Mr. Opel and his peace sign visible but with his "shortcomings" unseen.
The Best Actor race seemed to be a foregone conclusion. The nominees: Marlon Brando (The Godfather), Peter O'Toole (The Ruling Class), Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier (both for Sleuth) and Paul Winfield (Sounder). After a few years of hit and miss performances, Hollywood was abuzz over the return of Brando to a role worthy of his talent. What makes the nomination so much sweeter is that the studio didn't want him.
But again, Bob Evans backed his director and Brando delivered one of the most indelible performances of his brilliant career. I know I would have voted for him. Brando did win on this night, which brings us memorable moment #3. When the winner was announced, it wasn't Marlon Brando heading to the stage but a small woman in Indian garb who politely waved off Roger Moore's attempt to hand her the trophy. The woman identified herself as "Sacheen Littlefeather" and said she was here on Brando's behalf to refuse the award and to bring attention to the way Native Americans were being portrayed in Hollywood. She left the stage to a smattering of boos and met the press backstage. Later it was learned that the Indian spokeswoman was actually an out of work actress named Maria Cruz. To make the story complete, it should be noted that Cruz went on appear in such films as "The Trial of Billy Jack" and "Johnny Firecloud," where she appeared as Indian characters.
For Best Actress, the nominees were: Liza Minnelli (Cabaret),
Diana Ross (Lady Sings the Blues) Cicely Tyson (Sounder),Maggie Smith (Travels with My Aunt) and Liv Ullmann (The Emigrants). More history here as, for the first time, two black actresses were nominated in the Best Actress category. The frontrunners were singers Minnelli and Ross, whose portrayal of the late Billie Holliday was outstanding. And as much as I love "Cabaret," I think I would have voted for Miss Ross. The academy didn't agree with me this time, giving the trophy to Minnelli. Thankfully no controversy ensued.
More history in the Best Supporting Actor category thanks to the following nominees: Joel Grey (Cabaret), James Caan, Al Pacino AND Robert Duvall (The Godfather) and Eddie Albert (The Heartbreak Kid). For the first time in history, one film netted three supporting nominations. Of course, not to be outdone, the same thing happened with "The Godfather Part II." Of course, part of this is due to how the nominations are submitted. To me, the main star of "The Godfather" was Pacino, who is on screen more then any other actor in the film. Yet he was submitted in the supporting category, mostly I'm sure to ensure that Brando had a clear sail to the big prize. Still, I would have voted for Pacino. However, the award went home with Grey, who was recreating his Tony Award winning performance in "Cabaret."
For the supporting ladies, the nominees included: Eileen Heckart (Butterflies Are Free), Susan Tyrrell (Fat City), Jeannie Berlin (The Heartbreak Kid) Geraldine Page (Pete 'n' Tillie) and Shelley Winters (The Poseidon Adventure). Sorry, but to me there is nothing as fun to watch as Winters' Mrs. Rosen swimming underwater and saving Gene Hackman. No contest for me here. Unfortunately for Miss Winters, who already had two Oscars on her mantle, the voters went for Heckart
The directing contest matched up some great talent: Bob Fosse (Cabaret), John Boorman (Deliverance), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Sleuth) and Jan Troell(The Emigrants). Another surprising turn of events when Coppola, who had won the DGA award, could only applaud as Fosse was named Best Director. This set off a series of events never seen again in entertainment as later in the year Fosse won the Best Directing Tony Award for "Pippen" and the Emmy in the same category for "Liza with a Z." Of course, Coppola would get his Oscar two years later for "The Godfather Part II."
The final surprise of the evening was on of the most memorable moments in the show's history. After 20 years in self exile, Charlie Chaplin was enticed to come to America to receive a special Academy Award. The applause was deafening as he took the stage. The irony of this was that earlier in the evening, Chaplin won his first Oscar ever for the music of his 1958 film "Limelight." By academy rules, to be eligible for an Oscar a film has to play in both NYC and LA. As "Limelight" had never played in Los Angeles during it's release, it was eligible for consideration.
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. I'm catching "The Incredible Hulk" on Monday so look for my review later in the week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.