The Oscar

1966, Movie, NR, 119 mins

Review

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The plot here is so melodramatic and so unrealistic that the film becomes laughable. Boyd, as movie star Frank Fane, is up for the Best Actor Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony. As he sits waiting for the winner to be announced, his life story is told in flashback by his ex-best friend, Bennett. Not surprisingly, Boyd comes from a slimy past and has stepped on anyone and everyone to get to the top. Beginning his career as an announcer at a striptease club, Boyd is discovered by drama coach Parker, who shows him more than just the finer points of acting and lands him his first film role. Parker gets talent agent Berle to represent Boyd, and the actor is on his way. He is joined by his best friend Bennett, who becomes his public relations man. Boyd continues to step on and use people. When his career begins to hit bottom, he is able to get the lead in a television series, but drops it when he hears he's been nominated for an Oscar. He has a private investigator expose his sordid past to get sympathy from Academy voters. This ploy backfires, however, when his friends and family discover his ruthlessness and dishonesty. Everyone leaves and he attends the ceremony alone. When the Best Actor award is read by Merle Oberon, Boyd stands as he hears the first name of the winner, Frank, announced. But the award goes to Frank Sinatra, not Frank Fane. Boyd slumps back into his chair.

No awards go for best acting here, but plenty for bad acting. Singer Bennett heads the list, followed closely by Berle and Sommer. This brainless Hollywood trash can be enjoyed for its camp qualities. The comeuppance ending of the film is the only reason for its existence. The story was based upon a real incident occurring at the Academy Awards ceremonies in 1932. Will Rogers was making the award for Best Director and announced in his folksy way: "and the best director of the year is... Well, well, well, what do you know! I've watched this young man for a long time...Saw him come up from the bottom, and I mean the bottom. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Come up and get it, Frank!" With that, director Frank Capra, who had been nominated as Best Director for LADY FOR A DAY (which received four Oscar nominations), rose from his table and began working his way nervously through the crowded Biltmore Hotel ballroom. The spotlight picked him up just as he stepped onto the dance floor, but then swung sharply away to shed its bright light upon another director, Frank Lloyd, who had actually won the Oscar for CAVALCADE. Capra was in shock and later said: "That walk back was the longest, saddest, most shattering walk in my life. I wished I could have crawled under the rug like a miserable worm. When I slumped into my chair, I felt like one. All my friends at the table were crying." The tears disappeared the following year when Capra won an Oscar for Best Director for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. He would go on to take statuettes for MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) and YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938). Unlike the lead character in this film, Frank Capra was never a loser. The film received its own Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. leave a comment

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