Sunday, January 20, 2008

42nd Academy Awards

The 42nd Academy Awards were presented April 7, 1970 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. There was no host. Instead, awards are presented by seventeen "Friends of Oscar."

Midnight Cowboy is an Academy Award-winning 1969 drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Dustin Hoffman and then-newcomer Jon Voight in the title role. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, and Barnard Hughes. The film follows the story of a young Texan named Joe Buck (Jon Voight), who works washing dishes in a seedy restaurant. Before Dustin Hoffman auditioned for this film, he knew that his all-American image could easily cost him the job. To prove he could do it, he asked the auditioning film executive to meet him on a street corner in Manhattan, and in the meantime, dressed himself in filthy rags. The executive arrived at the appointed corner and waited, barely noticing the "beggar" less than ten feet away who was accosting people for spare change. At last, the beggar walked up to him and revealed his true identity. Schlesinger chose the song "Everybody's Talkin'" (written by Fred Neil and performed by Harry Nilsson) as its theme, and the song reappears throughout the movie. The song "He Quit Me" was also on the soundtrack; it was written by Warren Zevon, who also included it (as "She Quit Me") on his debut album Wanted Dead or Alive. The sex scenes in this movie were considered shocking in 1969. There were only bare breasts and buttocks shown, though there are brief gang rape scenes of both "Crazy Annie" and Joe. While the MPAA was prepared to give the film an R rating upon their initial viewing, the co-chairman of United Artists, Arthur Krim, insisted upon self-applying an X rating on the advice of psychiatrist Aaron Stern, later to become an official MPAA ratings board consultant. It soon became the first X-rated film to win an Academy Award. At the time, X ratings had not yet become associated with the pornography industry. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay; it is the only X-rated film to win an Oscar in any category. (Coincidentally, the previous year had seen the sole G-rated Best Picture winner, Oliver!) Both Hoffman and Voight were nominated for Best Actor awards.In 1994, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The Best Director award went to John Schlesinger. His first two movies, A Kind of Loving (1962) and Billy Liar (1963) were concerned with the life of characters based in the North of England. His third Darling (1965) described tartly the modern urban way of life in London and was one of the first films about swinging London. Schlesinger's next movie was Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's popular novel. Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy (1969) was internationally acclaimed and it won Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. His later films include Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), The Day of the Locust (1975), Marathon Man (1976), Yanks (1979), Pacific Heights (1990), A Question of Attribution (1991), The Innocent (1993) and The Next Best Thing (2000). Schlesinger underwent a quadruple heart bypass in 1998, before suffering a stroke in December 2000. He was taken off life support at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs on July 24, 2003 by his life partner of over 30 years, photographer Michael Childers. Schlesinger died early the following day at the age of 77.

John Wayne was awareded the Best Actor award. He epitomized ruggedly individualistic masculinity, and has become an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive voice, walk and enormous physical presence. He was also known for his conservative political views and his support in the 1950s for anti-communist positions. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne thirteenth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. His career began in silent movies in the 1920s and he was a major star from the 1940s to the 1970s. He is closely associated with Westerns and war movies, but he also made a wide range of films from various genres - biographies, romantic comedies, police dramas, and more.After two years working as a prop man at the Fox Film Corporation for $75 a week, his first starring role was in the 1930 movie The Big Trail. The first western epic sound motion picture established his screen credentials, although it was a commercial failure. Before this film, Wayne had only been given on-screen credit once (in Words and Music), as "Duke Morrison". Wayne continued making westerns, most notably at Monogram Pictures, and serials for Mascot Pictures Corporation, including The Three Musketeers (1933), a French Foreign Legion tale with no resemblance to the novel which inspired its title. Beginning in 1928 and extending over the next 35 years, Wayne appeared in more than twenty of John Ford's films, including Stagecoach (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), The Wings of Eagles (1957), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). His performance in Stagecoach made him a star.His first color film was Shepherd of the Hills (1941), in which he co-starred with his longtime friend Harry Carey. The following year he appeared in his only film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the Technicolor epic Reap the Wild Wind, in which he co-starred with Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard; it was one of the rare times he played a character with questionable values. In 1949, director Robert Rossen offered the starring role of All the King's Men to Wayne. Wayne refused, believing the script to be un-American in many ways. Broderick Crawford, who eventually got the role, won the 1949 Oscar for best male actor, ironically beating out Wayne, who had been nominated for Sands of Iwo Jima. He lost the leading role in The Gunfighter to Gregory Peck because of his refusal to work for Columbia Pictures after Columbia chief Harry Cohn had mistreated him years before as a young contract player. One of Wayne's most popular roles was in The High and the Mighty (1954), directed by William Wellman and based on a novel by Ernest K. Gann. His portrayal of a heroic airman won widespread acclaim. The Searchers continues to be widely regarded as perhaps Wayne's finest and most complex performance. John Wayne won a Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969). Wayne was also nominated as the producer of Best Picture for The Alamo, one of two films he directed. The other was The Green Berets (1968), the only major film made during the Vietnam War to support the war. Wayne was married three times and divorced twice. His wives, all of them Hispanic women, were Josephine Alicia Saenz, Esperanza Baur, and Pilar Pallete. He had four children with Josephine and three with Pilar, including the producer Michael Wayne and actor Patrick Wayne. Wayne is also the great-uncle of boxing heavyweight Tommy Morrison. Wayne's son Ethan was billed as John Ethan Wayne in a few films and played one of the leads in the 90's update of the Adam-12 television series. John Wayne died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, aged 72.

Maggie Smith, is a two-time Academy Award, four-time BAFTA Award, two-time Golden Globe and Emmy-winning English film, stage, and television actress. She became a fixture at the Royal National Theatre in the 1960s, most notably for playing Desdemona in Othello opposite Laurence Olivier and winning her first Oscar nomination for her performance in the 1965 film version. In 1969 she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as an unorthodox Scottish schoolteacher in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a role originally created on stage by Vanessa Redgrave in 1966. She was also awarded the 1978 Academy Awar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the brittle actress Diana Barrie in California Suite, acting opposite Michael Caine. Smith appeared in Sister Act in 1992 and had a major role in the 1999 film Tea With Mussolini, where she appeared as the formidable Lady Hester. Indeed, many of her more mature roles have centred on what Smith refers to as her "gallery of grotesques," playing waspish, sarcastic or plain rude characters. Recent examples of this would include the judgemental sister in Ladies in Lavender and the cantankerous snob in Gosford Park, for which she received yet another Oscar nomination.Due to the international success of the Harry Potter movies, she is now widely known for playing the role of Professor Minerva McGonagall. She most recently appeared in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, released in July 2007. Smith has been married twice. She married Robert Stephens on 29 June 1967 at the Greenwich Registry office and had two sons with him: actors Chris Larkin (born in 1967) and Toby Stephens (born in 1969). They divorced on 6 May 1974. She married playwright Beverley Cross on 23 August 1975 at the Guildford Registry Office, and the marriage ended with his death on 20 March 1998.

Gig Young won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Young appeared in supporting roles in numerous films during the 1940s, and came to be regarded as a popular and likable second lead, playing the brothers or friends of the principal characters. His dramatic work as an alcoholic in the 1951 film, Come Fill the Cup, and his comedic role as a tipsy but ultimately charming intellectual in Teacher's Pet earned him nominations for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Young won the Academy Award for his role as Rocky, the dance marathon emcee and promoter in 1969 film, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?. Young was married five times; his first marriage to Sheila Stapler lasted seven years, ending in 1947. In 1951, he married second wife, Sophia Rosenstein. The marriage lasted only one year, after which Rosenstein died of cancer. After the death of his second wife, Young was briefly engaged to actress Elaine Stritch. After meeting actress Elizabeth Montgomery after she appeared on an episode of Warner Bros. Presents in 1956, the two married later that year. The union lasted six stormy years and ended amid rumors of domestic violence. Young married fourth wife, Elaine Williams, nine months after his divorce from Montgomery was final. Williams was pregnant with Young's child at the time of the marriage and gave birth to Young's only child, Jennifer, on April 21, 1964. After three years of marriage, the couple divorced. On September 27, 1978, at age 64, Young married his fifth wife, a 31 year-old German art gallery employee named Kim Schmidt. He had met Schmidt on the set of his final film, Game of Death, where she was working as a script supervisor. On October 19, 1978, three weeks after his marriage to Schmidt, the couple was found dead at home in their Manhattan apartment at The Osborne across from Carnegie Hall, West 57th Street. Police theorized that Young first shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself in a suicide pact.

The Best Supporting Actress award went to Goldie Hawn. Hawn began her acting career as a cast member of the short-lived situation comedy Good Morning, World during the 1967-1968 television season, her role being that of the girlfriend of a radio disc jockey, with a stereotypical "dumb blonde" personality. Her next role which brought her to international attention was as one of the regular cast members on the 1960s sketch comedy show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. On the show, she would often break out into high-pitched giggles in the middle of a joke, and deliver a polished performance a moment after. Noted equally for her chipper attitude as for her bikini and painted body, Hawn personified something of a 1960s "It" girl. This persona was parlayed into three popular film appearances in the late 1960s and early 1970s: Cactus Flower, There's a Girl in My Soup and Butterflies are Free. She made her feature film debut in the 1968 The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (she was billed as Goldie Jeanne) in a bit role as a giggling dancer. Hawn won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Cactus Flower (1969), which was her first supporting role and which co-starred Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman. After Hawn's Academy Award win in April 1970 for Cactus Flower her film career took off. She starred in a string of above average and very successful comedies starting with There's a Girl in My Soup (1970), $ (1971), Butterflies Are Free (1972) and Shampoo (1975) as well as proving herself in the dramatic league with the satirical drama's The Girl From Petrovka and The Sugarland Express both in 1974.She also hosted two television special's: Pure Goldie in 1971 and The Goldie Hawn Special in 1978. The latter was a sort of comeback for Goldie who had been out of the spotlight for two years since the 1976 release of The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, while she was focusing on her marriage and the birth of her son. On the special she performed show tunes and comedy bits alongside comic legend George Burns, teen matinee idol Shaun Cassidy, popular television star John Ritter (during his days on Three's Company) and even The Harlem Globetrotters joined her for a montage. The special later went on to be nominated for a prime-time Emmy. This came four months before the feature film release of Foul Play which became a box office smash and revived Hawn's career in the film industry.Hawn's popularity continued into the 1980's starting with Private Benjamin (1980) a comedy which not only starred Hawn but was also her foray into producing. Private Benjamin, which also starred Eileen Brennan and Armand Assante, garnered Hawn her second Academy Award, this time in the best actress league. Hawn's box office success continued with an assortment of high ranking and mediocre pictures including comedies like Seems Like Old Times (1980), Protocol (1984) and Wildcats (1986) (Hawn also served as executive producer on the latter two) and drama's like Best Friends (1982) and Swing Shift (1984). Hawn's last picture of the 1980's was opposite partner Kurt Russell (for the third time) in the 1987 comedy Overboard, a critical and box office disappointment which questioned the likability and bankability of the two paired together onscreen. Her career slowed down after 1987, but was revived somewhat in 1990 with the action comedy Bird on a Wire, a critically panned and seemingly commercially successful picture that paired Hawn with action favorite Mel Gibson. The film was seen as somewhat cheesy and the chemistry between Hawn and her costar Gibson was notably out of touch. The early 90's weren't particularly good to Hawn, with little success associated with the thriller Deceived (1991) or the drama Crisscross (1992). But her success in 1992 when she appeared opposite Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep in the film Death Becomes Her garnered her much attention. Following up that was Housesitter (1992), a screwball comedy with Steve Martin She made her entry back into the film business with producing the satirical comedy Something to Talk About starring Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid, as well as making her foray into directing with the television film Hope (1997) starring Christine Lahti and Jena Malone. She returned to the screen again with a bang in 1996 as the ageing, alcoholic actress Elise Elliot in the financially and critically successful The First Wives Club, opposite Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, with whom she covered the Lesley Gore hit "You Don't Own Me" for the film's soundtrack. The film revived the career's of all three actresses who had been floating in a sort of career limbo.She continued her tenure in the 90's with Woody Allen's musical Everyone Says I Love You (1996) and reuniting with Steve Martin for the comedy The Out-of-Towners (1999) a remake of the 1970 Neil Simon hit (the original starred Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis). The film was critically panned and bombed at the box office.As of 2008, her last film appearance was in the 2002 runaway hit The Banger Sisters, opposite Susan Sarandon and Geoffrey Rush. After her disastrous marriage to actor/director Gus Trikonis from 1969 to 1974 Hawn said she was not contemplating marriage again, even going as far to say in 1975 that: "I don't understand it." Although she seemed to change her mind a year later when she married Bill Hudson, of the Hudson Brothers, the two divorced in 1980 and have two children, Oliver (born 1976) and Kate Hudson (born 1979), both of whom are now noted actors. Hawn has been in a relationship with actor Kurt Russell since 1983, when the two reconnected on the set of Swing Shift (they previously met while filming 1968's The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band). The couple have a son together, Wyatt Russell, born July 10, 1986, who lives in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, learning and playing hockey.

Z is a 1969 French language political thriller directed by Costa Gavras, with a screenplay by Gavras and Jorge SemprĂșn, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. The film, which one the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar presents a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Gregoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its satirical view of Greek politics, its dark sense of humor, and its chilling ending, the film captures the sense of outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making. Z stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate (an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis, who would many years later become President of Greece). International stars Yves Montand and Irene Papas also appear, but despite their star billing have very little screen time compared to the other principals. Jacques Perrin, who co-produced, plays a key role.

"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" is a song written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. The version by B. J. Thomas was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 list in the United States in January, 1970. It has been covered numerous times, most notably by the Rat Pack.
The song is often associated with the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which features the song in a key scene (which is parodied in the Leslie Nielsen spoof film Spy Hard, keeping the song intact). It is also on the soundtrack of the film Forrest Gump. The Academy Award winning song was later used in the superhero film, Spider-Man 2, to accentuate Peter's blissful mood after abandoning his Spider-Man identity and its responsibilities.

The Honorary Award was given to:

Cary Grant- For his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.

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