Sunday, January 20, 2008

41st Academy Awards

The 41st Academy Awards were presented April 14, 1969 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. There was no host. Beginning this year the ceremony is telecasted throughout the world.

Oliver! is a 1968 musical film directed by Carol Reed. The film is based on the stage musical Oliver!, with book, music and lyrics written by Lionel Bart. The screenplay was written by Vernon Harris. Both the film and play are based on the famous Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, even though Charles Dickens is not mentioned once in the credits. The musical includes several musical standards, including "Food Glorious Food", "Consider Yourself", "As Long as He Needs Me", "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" and "Where is Love?". The film version was a Romulus Films production and was distributed internationally by Columbia Pictures. Filmed in studio in London, Oliver! won an Academy Award for Best Picture. Oliver! was also the last musical to win the Best Picture Oscar until Chicago thirty-four years later.

The film's director Carol Reed was named Best Director. Reed, an English film director, was the winner of an Academy Award for his film version of the musical, Oliver!. He embarked on an acting career while still in his teens, but soon went into the role of producer/director, and was responsible for The Stars Look Down (1939), Kipps (1941), Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949), Outcast of the Islands (1952), Our Man in Havana (1959), and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), becoming a prime essayist of film versions of the novels of Graham Greene. From 1943 until 1947, he was married to the elegant British film star Diana Wynyard. After their divorce, he married, in 1948, the actress Penelope Dudley Ward. They had one son, Max, and a nephew was the actor Oliver Reed. His stepdaughter, Miss Ward's daughter, Tracy Reed, acted in numerous films, notably as the only woman in Dr. Strangelove. Carol Reed died from a heart attack on 25 April 1976 at his home in Chelsea, London at the age of 69.

The Best Actor award went to Cliff Robertson for his role in Charly. Robertson is notable for his performances in PT 109 (chosen personally by John F. Kennedy to portray the then-Lt. Kennedy), The Best Man, Charly (an adaptation of Flowers for Algernon for which he won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor), Picnic, Autumn Leaves, Too Late the Hero, Three Days of the Condor, Obsession, J. W. Coop, Star 80 and Malone. More recently, Robertson's career has had a resurgence. He appeared as Uncle Ben Parker in the first movie adaptation of Spider-Man, as well as in the sequels Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3. He was once married to actress Dina Merrill.

The Best Actress Oscar was shared, which made history as for the first time two actresses recieved the exact same number of votes for their respective performances. For Katharine Hepburn that was the third Oscar and the second consecuitive one for The Lion In Winter. Her co-awardee, Barbra Streisand, won for her role in Funny Girl. She has won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Original Song as well as multiple Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. She is considered one of the most commercially and critically successful female entertainers in modern entertainment history and one of the best selling solo recording artists in the US. Her first film was a reprise of her Broadway hit, Funny Girl (1968), an artistic and commercial success. Her next two movies were also based on musicals, Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! (1969) and Alan Jay Lerner's and Burton Lane's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970), while her fourth film was based on the Broadway play The Owl and the Pussycat (1970). She also starred in the original screwball comedies, including What's Up, Doc? (1972), with Ryan O'Neal, and For Pete's Sake (1974), and the drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford. Her second Academy Award was for Best Original Song as composer of the song "Evergreen", from A Star Is Born (1976); this was the first time a woman had received this award.In 2004, Streisand made a return to film acting, after an eight-year hiatus, in the comedy Meet the Fockers (a sequel to Meet the Parents), playing opposite Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner and Robert De Niro. Barbra Streisand has been married twice. Her first husband was actor Elliott Gould to whom she was married from 1963 to 1971. They have one child, Jason Gould. Her second husband is actor James Brolin, whom she married on July 1, 1998. The wedding was reported regularly in the celebrity gossip media. While they have no children together, Brolin has two children from his first marriage and one child from his second marriage. Both of her husbands starred in the 1970s conspiracy thriller Capricorn One.

The Best Supporting Actor award went to Jack Albertson. Jack Albertson had a prolific movie career, mostly playing supporting roles. Notable among these were: a bit part as the postal worker who redirected all of Santa Claus' mail to the New York Courthouse in Miracle on 34th Street (1947); a film version of Top Banana (1953), teamed again with his friend Phil Silvers; The Subject Was Roses (1968), for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar; Charlie Bucket's Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), from which younger fans might recognize him; The Poseidon Adventure (1972), where he was the husband who encouraged his wife, the former swimming champion (played by Shelley Winters in her Oscar-nominated role) to swim for safety. Albertson was married to Wallace (Wally) Thompson and had one daughter, Maura. Jack Albertson died on November 25, 1981, at 1:30 p.m. from colorectal cancer.

The Best Supporting Actress award went to Ruth Gordon for her performance in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. She was perhaps best known for her films roles such as the oversolicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby and the eccentric life-loving Maude in Harold and Maude. In addition to her acting career, Gordon wrote numerous well-known plays, film scripts and books. Gordon was signed to an M-G-M film contract for a brief period in the early 1930s but did not make a movie for the company until she acted opposite Greta Garbo in Two-Faced Woman in 1941. She had better luck at other studios in Hollywood, appearing in supporting roles in a string of films, including Abe Lincoln in Illinois (as Mary Todd Lincoln), Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (as Mrs. Ehrlich) and Action in the North Atlantic, in the early 1940s. Gordon and then-husband Garson Kanin collaborated on the screenplays for the Katharine Hepburn – Spencer Tracy films Adam's Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952). Both films were directed by George Cukor. The onscreen relationship of Hepburn and Tracy, seen in those films, was modelled on Gordon and Kanin's own marriage. Gordon and Kanin received Oscar nominations for both of those screenplays, as well as for that of a prior film, A Double Life (1947), which was also directed by Cukor. In 1953's The Actress, Gordon's film adaptation of her own autobiographical play, Years Ago, became a major Hollywood production, with Jean Simmons portraying the girl from Quincy, Massachusetts, who convinced her sea captain father to let her go to New York to become an actress. In 1966, Gordon was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe award as Best Supporting Actress for Inside Daisy Clover opposite Natalie Wood. It was her first nomination for acting. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Rosemary's Baby, a film adaptation of Ira Levin's bestselling horror novel about a satanic cult residing in an Upper West Side apartment building in Manhattan. Gordon also won another Golden Globe for Rosemary's Baby, and was nominated again, in 1971, for her role as Maude in the cult classic Harold and Maude (with Bud Cort as her love interest). Gordon married second husband, writer Garson Kanin, who was 16 years her junior, in 1942. Gordon's only child, a son born in 1929, Jones Harris, was born out of wedlock from a relationship with acclaimed Broadway producer Jed Harris. Gordon died of a stroke in Edgartown, Massachusetts, aged 88, in 1985.

War and Peace is a Soviet-produced film adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace. Sergei Bondarchuk directed the film, co-wrote the screenplay and starred in the role of Pierre. The film took 7 years to produce and cost over $100 million. It won the Best Foreign Language Film award.

The Windmills of Your Mind is a song with words and music by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand from the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair. Noel Harrison performed the song for the film score. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968. (Harrison's father, the British actor Rex Harrison, had performed the previous year's Oscar-winning Talk to the Animals).

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