Little, Brown and Company, 1993.
Source Notes, Index and listings of winners and losers.
Hbk. 766 pages. £20.00.
|Does the mere thought
of the Academy Awards send you straight to sleep? It seems an odd idea
to reward Hollywood superstars who are already far too rich for their own
good. Even worse, the star presenters and winners often feel they have
to say something important to the world at large.
At the ceremony held on 29 March 1993, Emma Thompson, after winning her Best Actress award said "This is such a great honour to receive this in the year when we recognise and celebrate and honour women."
That was nothing compared to Richard
Gere's declaration that China should withdraw its troops from the Buddhist
"I wonder if something miraculous and really kind of movie-like could happen here, where we could send some kind of love and truth and kind of sanity to Deng Xiaopeng (the Chinese dictator) in Beijing, that he would take his troops and take the Chinese away from Tibet and allow these people to live as free, independent people again."
These are but small outbursts of political correctness compared to Marlon Brando's protest about the treatment of American Indians in films, delivered by Sacheen Littlefeather. What made matters worse was that she was a fake. John Wayne for once was correct, when he observed that, "If he (Brando) had something to say, he should have appeared that night and stated his views instead of taking some little unknown girl and dressing her up in an Indian outfit."
Two years earlier, in 1970, George C. Scott had shown his disapproval of the Oscars in a Time magazine interview, "I don't give a damn about (it). I'm making too much money, anyway. ' He thought the show itself was full of "phoney suspense and the crying actor clutching the statue to his bosom and all of that crap." His views are regarded as being coloured by his loss of the Best Supporting award in 1959, and subsequent failures to clutch a statue to his bosom. His wife, Trish Van Devere, thought that, "He...wanted it so badly that he became almost completely wrapped up in it. When he didn't win, he took a hard look, and came to believe it wasn't healthy to want something so much. "
In such a profession your career stands or falls on your last picture in terms of critical reaction, peer-group recognition and most of all, box-office performance. When you are at the top of the pile you have a long way to fall. There are many box-office 'certainties' who make films that are monumental failures. Every film is a gamble, so it is not surprising that everyone concerned with their production seeks to become a respected and sought-after part of the film making establishment. Then, of course, Academy Awards do help feed and nourish the ego.
All the dissenting voices, controversy
and political statements about deprived minorities are but mutterings in
the background compared to the shouting of the hype that goes on to garner
nominations and votes. The industry and individuals, pay small and large
fortunes, to advertise their worthiness in the Hollywood trade papers.
Some of these are excruciatingly bad. John Wayne's campaign for his 1960
film, The Alamo, should win an award for bad taste. The film itself cost
him most of his personal fortune and assets, so there was an air of desperation
in his ads that regarded viewing the film as every U.S. citizens' patriotic
duty. A flavour of the Oscar campaign can be gathered by the following,
which was the climax to 43 days of consecutive trade ads:
Also see Oscar
Reflections by Alan Pavelin.