Now in our ninth calendar year!|
PCR #453 (Vol. 9, No. 48) This edition is for the week of November 24--30, 2008.
Hello gang! Hope everyone is enjoying their tasty leftovers. Shall we begin?
William Gibson, award winning playwright whose most famous work, "The Miracle Worker," was later made into an Oscar winning film, passed away at his Massachusetts home at the age of 94.
Betty James will no longer be able to "go up and down stairs" either alone or in pairs. Ms. James, co founder of the company that made the Slinky, died this week at the age of 90. The Slinky was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001.
TREK FANS BE WARNED
This will not be good news to my friend Andrew. He is a "Star Trek" stickler and is not happy with ANY alterations to the original show. That being said, IDW Publishing will release a series of (4)comics that will lead up to the May 8th opening of J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek." May God have mercy on their souls!
SO THAT'S WHERE HE WENT
Have you ever been stopped for speeding in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and muttered to your companions how that fat cop with the pony tail looked a lot like Steven Seagal? Well you may have been right. Seems that for the past 20 years, in between straight to video films and shitty country music albums, Segal has been a fully commissioned deputy with the sherrif's office. Still wondering what Kelly LeBrock ever saw in him, A&E will now follow Seagal with a camera as he keeps his community safe in the new series, "Steven Seagal: Lawman."
SO HOW IS ELVIS DOING?
Sometimes it doesn't pay to get away from it all. In 1970 actor David Gulpilil starred in the Australian film "Walkabout." Not fond of the fame he garnered, the Aborigine retreated deep into the bush, making the occasional film appearance. When he met with director Baz Luhrman for a role in "Australia" he remembered a young musician he once jammed with. He asked Luhrman, "That fellow I played didgeridoo with all those years ago. Jimi Hendrix. Is he still around?" Dude, get a television!
AND THE OSCAR FOR 1951 SHOULD HAVE GONE TO...STELLA! HEY, STELLA! WHERE'S MY OSCAR?
March 20, 1952. Hollywood's biggest night. Oscar time and the big money is on a sweep for "A Streetcar Named Desire." After almost 900 performances on Broadway, almost the entire stage cast was brought to Hollywood for the film. The only major casting change was Vivien Leigh, who filled in for original Blanche DuBois, Jessica Tandy, as the studio felt she added "star power." Tandy had won a Tony Award for her performance. Standing in the "Streetcar's" path was an overlong musical with a bare plotline but incredible dance sequences, "An American in Paris."
They were included in the Best Picture nominees, which were: An American in Paris, Decision Before Dawn, A Place In the Sun, Quo Vadis and A Streetcar Named Desire. "Decision" was a popular World War II drama starring Richard Basehart, while "A Place In the Sun" was (and still is) one of the most loved romances ever filmed. "Quo Vadis" was the annual "epic" that Hollywood loved to honor. Still, the race came down to the big two. My vote would have gone to "Streetcar." Even though I'm a big fan of musicals I still get antsy and check my watch whenever I have to sit through the 17 minute ballet finale of "Paris." However, I'm among the minority as the academy honored "An American in Paris."
Best Actor also seemed like a shoo in for one man. Marlon Brando, who had taken Broadway by storm in "Streetcar" was already being hailed as one of the great actors of his generation. The nominees were: Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen), Arthur Kennedy (Bright Victory), Fredric March (Death of a Salesman), Montgomery Clift (A Place In the Sun) and Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire). A combination of old school and new method. In "African Queen" Bogart's Charlie Allnut must shepard Katherine Hepburn down a dangerous river in a boat of the same name. Kennedy shone as a soldier blinded by a sniper's bullet in "Bright Victory," while March chewed up the scenery as Willy Loman in "Salesman." As a young man who gets one woman pregnant while loving another, Clift arguably gives the performance of his career in "Sun." But the man to beat was Brando, whose bruising Stanley Kowalski remained in film goers minds long after the movie was over. He sure would have gotten my vote. But the winner was Bogart, who won his only Oscar this night. In my opinion, Bogart's greatest performance was in "The Caine Mutiny," a role for which he was also nominated. He lost the award that year...to Marlon Brando.
The nominees for Best Actress included Katherine Hepburn (The African Queen), Jane Wyman (The Blue Veil), Eleanor Parker (Detective Story), Shelley Winters (A Place in the Sun) and Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire). This was Hepburns' fifth nomination (she would earn a total of twelve). Both she, Wyman and Leigh were previous winners in this category. Winters would go on to win (2) supporting Oscars while Parker would be nominated three times in her career. My choice here would have been Winters, an actress best remembered as loud and blousy but here as fragile as an egg. The award went to Leigh, who became just the second actress, after Luise Rainer, to win two Oscars in two nominations. If memory serves me, Sally Field and Hilary Swank are the only other members of this group of distinguished ladies.
For Best Supporting Actor, the nominees were: Gig Young (Come Fill the Cup), Kevin McCarthy (Death of a Salesman), Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov (Quo Vadis) and Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire). Ironically, Young's nomination came from playing a rebelious alcoholic, which Young sadly became in real life. He would go on to win this award in 1969 for "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" but never achieved the acclaim his talent should have brought him. As Biff, the athletic son of proud pop Willy Loman, McCarthy gave a strong performance. He would, of course, go on to become a fan boy favorite with films like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." As Petronius and Nero, respectively, Genn and Ustinov commanded the screen among thousands of extras in the Roman epic "Quo Vadis," while Malden's quiet Mitch lent passion to "Streetcar." My vote here goes to Ustinov, who owns the screen as Nero. The academy went for Malden, who would later earn another nomination opposite Brando in "On the Waterfront."
On the ladies side, the nominees for Best Supporting Actress included Joan Blondell (The Blue Veil), Mildred Dunnock (Death of a Salesman), Lee Grant (The Detective Story), Thelma Ritter (The Mating Season) and Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire). This would be Blondell's only Oscar nomination. Dunnock, who demanded that "attention must be paid" would be nominated again while Ritter earned a total of six nods. Grant would also be nominated again, winning this award for "Shampoo" in 1976. This was Hunter's only nomination as the put upon Stella in "Streetcar." She is probably more familiar to PCR readers for her role of Zira in the "Planet of the Apes" films. My vote here would have gone to Hunter, as did the academy's. With Hunter's win, "Streetcar" became the first film to capture three acting awards ("Network" duplicated this feat in 1977).
The nominees for Best Director reads like a who's who of the greatest film makers of all time: John Huston ( The African Queen), Vincente Minnelli (An American In Paris), William Wyler (Detective Story), George Stevens (A Place In the Sun) and Elia Kazan (A Streetcar Named Desire). These five men have a total of 25 DIRECTING NOMINATIONS between them and they each have at least one Oscar for directing (Wyler an amazing 3). Kazan was recreating his work from Broadway with "Streetcar," while it was well known that, because of his on going divorce with Judy Garland, Minnelli often missed work on the set of "Paris," leaving the reigns to star Gene Kelly, who directed the entire "Embraceable You" sequence for the film. No matter who you picked, you really couldn't go wrong. My vote would have gone to Huston but the voters went with Stevens, who would win this award later for "Giant."
Well, that's all for now. Hope everyone is enjoying their leftovers. Have a great 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.