Friday, January 18, 2008

39th Academy Awards

The 39th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1966, were held on April 10, 1967 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. They were hosted by Bob Hope.

The Best Picture winner, A Man for All Seasons is a 1966 film based on Robert Bolt's play of the same name about Sir Thomas More. Paul Scofield, who had played More in the West End stage premiere, also took the role in the film. The film also stars Robert Shaw as Henry VIII, Orson Welles as Wolsey, John Hurt as Richard Rich, Nigel Davenport as the Duke of Norfolk and Wendy Hiller as More's second wife, Alice. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann who had previously directed such films as High Noon and From Here to Eternity. Scofield won the Best Actor Oscar. The film also won Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, cinematography, costume design, Best Director, and Best Picture. It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Robert Shaw, and Best Supporting Actress for Wendy Hiller.

Noted for his distinctive voice and delivery, Paul Scofield won both an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award in 1967 for his role as Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. Scofield starred in the screen versions of A Man for All Seasons (1966) and King Lear (1971). Other major screen roles include Strether in a 1977 TV adaptation of Henry James's novel The Ambassadors, Professor Moroi in the film of János Nyiri's If Winter Comes (1980), for BBC Television, Mark Van Doren in Robert Redford's film Quiz Show (1994) for which he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor, and Thomas Danforth in Nicholas Hytner's film adaptation (1996) of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Scofield married actress Joy Parker in 1943. The couple have two children; Martin (born 1944), a lecturer in 19th century English literature at the University of Kent, and Sarah (born 1951).

The Best Actress Oscar went to Elizabeth Taylor ( her second) for Who's affarid of Virgina Woolf and the Best Director Oscar to Fred Zinneman for A man for all Seasons. The Best Supporting Actor award went to Walter Matthau, best known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent collaborations with fellow Odd Couple star Jack Lemmon. In 1955 he made his motion picture debut as a whip-wielding bad guy in The Kentuckian opposite Burt Lancaster. He appeared in many movies after this as a villain such as the 1958 King Creole(where he is beaten up by Elvis Presley). That same year, he made a western called Ride a Crooked Trail with Audie Murphy and the notorious flop Onionhead starring Andy Griffith and Erin O'Brien. Matthau also directed a low budget 1960 movie called The Gangster Story. In 1962, he won acclaim as a sympathetic sheriff in Lonely are the Brave. He also played a villainous war veteran in Charade, which starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. In addition to his busy movie and stage schedule, Matthau made many television appearances in live TV plays. Although he was constantly working, it seemed that the fact that he was not handsome in the traditional sense would keep him from being a top star. Success came late for Matthau. In 1965, aged 44, Neil Simon cast him in the hit play The Odd Couple opposite Art Carney. In 1966, he again achieved success as a shady lawyer opposite future friend and frequent co-star, actor Jack Lemmon, in The Fortune Cookie. During filming, the film had to be placed on a five month hiatus after he suffered a heart attack. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for that movie, and also made a memorable acceptance speech. He was visibly banged up, having been involved in a bicycle accident shortly before the awards show. He scolded nominated actors who were perfectly healthy and had not bothered to come to the ceremony, especially three of the other four major award winners: Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis and Paul Scofield. Matthau and Lemmon became lifelong friends after making The Fortune Cookie and made a total of ten movies together (eleven if we count Kotch, in which Lemmon has a cameo as a sleeping bus passenger), including the movie version of The Odd Couple (with Lemmon playing the Art Carney role) and the popular 1993 hit Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men with Sophia Loren. Matthau was married twice; first to Grace Geraldine Johnson, and from 1959 until his death in 2000 to Carol Marcus. He had two children, Jenny Matthau and David Matthau, with his first wife, and a son, Charlie Matthau, with his second. Walter Matthau died of full cardiac arrest on July 1, 2000 in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 79.

Sandy Dennis won the Best Supporting Actress award for Who's affraid of Virginia Woolf?. Dennis made her television debut in 1956 in The Guiding Light and her film debut in Splendor in the Grass (1961). However, she was more committed to following a career in the theater. She won consecutive Tony Awards for her performances in A Thousand Clowns and Any Wednesday and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Honey, the alcoholic wife of George Segal, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). She followed this with well-received performances in Up the Down Staircase (1967), The Fox (1967), Sweet November (1968) and The Out-of-Towners (1970). Dennis died from ovarian cancer in Westport, Connecticut, aged 54.

A Man and a Woman (French: Un homme et une femme) is a 1966 French film. The movie was written by Claude Lelouch and Pierre Uytterhoeven, and directed by Lelouch. It is notable for its lush photography (Lelouch had a background in advertising photography), which features frequent segues between full color, black-and-white, and sepia-toned shots, and for its memorable musical score by Francis Lai. It won many awards, including the Grand Prix at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen. Aimée was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Lelouch for Best Director.

"Born Free" is a song with music by John Barry, and lyrics by Don Black. It was written for the 1966 film of the same name. The song was used to honor Elsa the Lioness, who was one of the most famous animals in history. The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

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