Thursday, January 17, 2008

38th Academy Awards

The 38th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1965, were held on April 18, 1966 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. They were hosted by Bob Hope. The ceremony was telecast in color for the first time.

The two top films in the Best Picture Oscars race in 1965, The Sound of Music and Doctor Zhivago, each had the same number of nominations (ten), and equally divided the same number of Oscars (five). The top winner was 20th Century Fox's and Robert Wise's The Sound of Music, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical of the same name brought to the screen. It was the real-life story of unsuited postulant Maria (Julie Andrews) who left Austria's Nonnberg Abbey, became governess to seven motherless Von Trapp children, and helped lead the singing family out of Nazi-occupied Austria to Switzerland (and then to America). The musical originated with the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp. It contains many popular songs, including "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi", "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "The Lonely Goatherd", as well as the title song. The movie version was filmed on location in Salzburg, Austria and Bavaria in West Germany, and also at the 20th Century Fox Studios in California. It was photographed in 70 mm Todd-AO by Ted D. McCord. It won an Academy Award for Best Picture and is one of the most popular musicals ever produced. The cast album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The United States Library of Congress also selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2001. The film, which was released in 1965, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Robert Wise won an Academy Award for Directing for the film, which stars Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp. Hammerstein, who wrote the lyrics, died in 1960, several years before the film adaptation went into production, so Rodgers had to write the lyrics for two songs that were added to the score: "I Have Confidence" and "Something Good". The Sound of Music is also credited as the film that saved 20th Century Fox, after high production costs and low revenue for Cleopatra nearly bankrupted the studio.

The Best Actor award was won by Lee Marvin. Known for his gravelly voice, Marvin at first did supporting roles, mostly villains, soldiers, and other hard-boiled characters, but after winning a Best Actor Oscar for his part in Cat Ballou, he landed more heroic and sympathetic leading roles. He played Gloria Grahame's vicious boyfriend in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953). Marvin had a small but memorable role in The Wild One (1953) opposite Marlon Brando (Marvin's gang in the film was called "The Beetles"), followed by Seminole (1953) and Gun Fury (1953). He was again praised for his role as Hector the small town hood in Bad Day at Black Rock with Spencer Tracy (1955). During the mid-1950s, Marvin gradually began playing more substantial roles. He starred in Attack! (1956), and The Missouri Traveler (1958) but it took over one hundred episodes as Chicago cop Frank Ballinger in the successful 1957-1960 television series M Squad to actually give him name recognition. In the 1960s, Marvin was given prominent co-starring roles such as The Comancheros (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962; Marvin played Liberty Valance) and Donovan's Reef (1963), all with John Wayne. Thanks to director Don Siegel, Marvin appeared in the groundbreaking The Killers (1964) playing an organized, no-nonsense, efficient, businesslike professional assassin whose character was copied to a great degree by Samuel L. Jackson in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction. This film was also the first time Marvin received top billing in a movie and the only time Ronald Reagan played a villain. Marvin won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Actor for his comic role in the offbeat western Cat Ballou starring Jane Fonda. Following roles in The Professionals (1966) and the hugely successful The Dirty Dozen (1967), Marvin was given complete control over his next film. In Point Blank, an influential film with director John Boorman, he portrayed a hard-nosed criminal bent on revenge. In that film Marvin, who had selected Boorman himself for the director's slot, had a central role in the film's development, plot line, and staging. In 1968, Marvin also appeared in another Boorman film, the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Hell in the Pacific, co-starring famed Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. Marvin had a much greater variety of roles in the 1970s and 1980s, with fewer 'bad-guy' roles than in earlier years. His 1970s films included Monte Walsh (1970), Prime Cut (1972), Pocket Money (1972), Emperor of the North Pole (1973), The Iceman Cometh (1973) as Hickey, The Spikes Gang (1974), The Klansman (1974), Shout at the Devil (1976), The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday (1976), and Avalanche Express (1978). Marvin was offered the role of Quint in Jaws (1975) but declined. Marvin's last big role was in Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One (1980). His remaining films were Death Hunt (1981), Gorky Park (1983), Dog Day (1984), The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission (1985), with his final appearance being in The Delta Force (1986). A father of four, Marvin was twice married: Betty Ebeling (divorced). Pamela Feeley (October 18, 1970 - Marvin's death). He died aged 63 in 1987.

The Best Actress award went to a Julie, though it was Julie Christie not Andrews that won. Christie's first major film role was as Liz, the friend and would-be lover of the eponymous Billy Liar played by Tom Courtenay in the 1963 film directed by John Schlesinger. Schlesinger, who only cast Christie after another actress dropped out of his film, directed her in her breakthrough role, as the amoral model Diana Scott in Darling (1965), a role which the producers originally offered to Shirley MacLaine. Though virtually unknown before Darling (1965), Christie ended the year 1965 by appearing as Lara Antipova in David Lean's adaptation of Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago (1965), which was one of the all-time box office hits, and as Daisy Battles in Young Cassidy, the John Ford-Jack Cardiff directed biopic of Irish playwright Sean O'Casey. In 1966, the 25-year-old Christie won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Darling (1965). Later, she played Thomas Hardy's heroine Bathsheba Everdene in Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and the lead character, Petulia Danner, (opposite George C. Scott) in Richard Lester's Petulia (1968).In the 1970s, Christie starred in such films as Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971) (her second Best Actress Oscar nomination), The Go-Between (again co-starring Alan Bates, 1971), Don't Look Now (1973), Shampoo (1975), Altman's classic Nashville (also 1975, in an amusing cameo as herself opposite Karen Black and Henry Gibson), Demon Seed (1977), and Heaven Can Wait (1978). She moved to Hollywood during the decade, where she had a high-profile (1967-1974), but intermittent relationship with actor Warren Beatty. Christie made fewer and fewer films in the 1980s. She had a major supporting role in Sidney Lumet's Power (1986), but other than that, she avoided appearances in large budget films and appeared in riskier fare. Christie made a comeback with her appearance as Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996). Despite her training, it was her first-ever venture into Shakespeare. She next starred as the unhappy wife in Alan Rudolph's domestic comedy-drama Afterglow (1997). Critics were delighted with her performance, for which she received her third Oscar nomination. Since this last nomination, Christie has appeared mostly in small roles in English and American films.Christie's latest portrayal is the female lead in Away From Her, a film about a long-married Canadian couple coping with the wife's Alzheimer's disease. Based on the Alice Munro short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain", the movie is the first feature film directed by Christie's sometime co-star, Canadian actress Sarah Polley.

The Best Supporting Actor award was won by Martin Balsam. In 1947, he was selected by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg to be a player in the Actors Studio television program and went on to appear in a number of television plays in the 1950s and returned frequently to television as a guest star on numerous dramas (e.g. The Twilight Zone). Balsam appeared in such films as On the Waterfront, 12 Angry Men (as Juror #1), Time Limit, Psycho, Cape Fear (1962) as the police chief, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Seven Days in May, Catch-22, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Two-Minute Warning, The Delta Force, Death Wish 3, The Goodbye People, and the 1991 Martin Scorsese remake of Cape Fear (Balsam, Gregory Peck, and Robert Mitchum all appeared in both the 1962 and 1991 versions of the film). Balsam played Washington Post editor Howard Simons in the 1976 blockbuster All the President's Men. He also appeared in a film that eventually became a highly popular Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, the 1975 Joe Don Baker police drama Mitchell. In 1973, he played Dr. Rudy Wells when the Martin Caidin novel, Cyborg was adapted as the TV-movie, The Six Million Dollar Man, though he did not reprise the role for the subsequent weekly series. In 1965, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Arnold Burns in A Thousand Clowns. During 1952, he married his first wife, an actress Pearl Somner. They divorced two years later. His second wife was the actress Joyce Van Patten- the marriage lasted three years from 1959 until 1962; their only child is a daughter, Talia Balsam. He married his third wife Irene Miller, in 1963. Balsam died in Rome, Italy of a heart attack at the age of 76.

The Best Director award was won by Robert Wise for The Sound of music (his second award) and the Best Supporting Actress Oscar was won by Shelly Winters for A Patch of Blue (also her second Oscar). "The Shadow of Your Smile", also known as Love Theme from 'The Sandpiper', is a popular song. The music was written by Johnny Mandel, the lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. The song was introduced in the 1965 movie The Sandpiper and became a minor hit for Tony Bennett. It won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The Shop on Main Street is a 1965 Slovak, Czech, and Czechoslovak film about the Aryanization programme during World War II in the Slovak State. The film was written by Ladislav Grosman and directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos. It was funded by Czechoslovakia's central authorities (as were all films under communism), produced at the Barrandov Film Studio in Prague, the Czech Republic, and filmed with a Slovak cast on location at the town of Sabinov in north-eastern Slovakia and on the Barrandov sound stage. It stars Jozef Kroner as carpenter Tono Brtko and Polish actress Ida Kamińska as the Jewish widow Rozália Lautmannová. The film won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Kamińska was nominated in 1966 for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

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