Tuesday, January 22, 2008

45th Academy Awards

The 45th Academy Awards were presented March 27, 1973 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, and Rock Hudson. The ceremony was marked by Marlon Brando's refusal to accept his Best Actor award for The Godfather, and by Charles Chaplin's first competition Oscar win for Best Score for his 20-year-old film Limelight, which was eligible due to a technicality; Chaplin had received an honorary Oscar the previous year.

The Godfather is an Academy Award-winning 1972 crime film based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, with screenplay by Puzo and Coppola. The film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and James Caan The story spans 10 years from 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the Corleone crime family. The Godfather has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In addition, it is ranked as the second greatest film in American cinematic history, behind Citizen Kane, on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list by the American Film Institute. Francis Ford Coppola was not the first choice to direct, as at least two other directors were approached first. Italian director Sergio Leone was offered the job, but he declined on the basis that he did not find the story interesting as it glorified the mafia. (He went on to direct his own gangster opus, Once Upon a Time in America, which focused on Jewish-American gangsters.) At the time, Coppola had directed eight previous films, the most notable of which was the film version of the stage musical Finian's Rainbow — although he had also received an Academy Award for co-writing Patton in 1970. Coppola's casting choices were not popular with the studio executives at Paramount Pictures, particularly Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone. Paramount, which wanted Laurence Olivier (who was unable to take the part due to health problems), originally refused to allow Coppola to cast Brando in the role, citing the difficulties Brando had had on recent film sets.Coppola chose Brando over Ernest Borgnine, as the former won him over with his screen test. Brando went on to win an Academy Award for his portrayal, which he refused to accept.The studio originally wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O'Neal to play Michael Corleone, but Coppola wanted an unknown who looked like an Italian-American, who he found in Al Pacino. Pacino was not well known at the time, and the studio did not consider him right for the part, in part because of his height. Pacino was given the role only after Coppola threatened to quit the production. Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Martin Sheen, and James Caan also auditioned. A then unknown Robert De Niro auditioned for the roles of Michael, Sonny, Carlo and Paulie Gatto. He was cast as Paulie, but Coppola arranged a "trade" with The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight to get Al Pacino from that film. De Niro would later play the young Vito Corleone in Part II, winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role.Coppola cast his infant daughter, Sofia, as Connie and Carlo's newborn son, Michael Francis Rizzi, in the climactic baptism scene near the movie's end. Sofia Coppola played roles in the later Godfather movies.The film is greatly respected among international critics and the public and is routinely listed as one of the greatest films ever made. The soundtrack's main theme by Nino Rota was also critically acclaimed; the main theme ("Speak Softly Love") is well-known and widely used.The Godfather won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando refused to accept the award and sent actress Sacheen Littlefeather in his stead to the Oscars to explain why) and Best Writing (adapted screenplay) (Francis Coppola, Mario Puzo). The film was nominated for eight additional Academy Awards.

The Best Actress award went to Liza Minelli for Cabaret. She is the daughter of legendary actress and singer Judy Garland and her second husband, film director Vincente Minnelli. As a teenager with two younger siblings, Minnelli bore the brunt of Garland's substance abuse issues and instability, and often had to take responsibility for her mother and siblings. Minnelli’s half-siblings through her mother are sister Lorna Luft and brother Joe "Joey" Luft. Her half-siblings are a result of Garland's marriage to her manager Sid Luft. She also has a half-sibling Tina Nina Minnelli through her father's second marriage.Minnelli has been married (and divorced) four times; her husbands have been: Peter Allen (real name Peter Allen Woolnough) (March 3, 1967–1972). Australian-born Allen, who died of complications from AIDS in 1992. Allen was Judy Garland's protégé in the mid-1960s. Jack Haley Jr., (September 15, 1974–1979), a producer and director. His father, Jack Haley, was Garland's co-star in The Wizard of Oz. Mark Gero (December 4, 1979–1992), a sculptor and stage manager David Gest (March 16, 2002–July 25 2003), a concert promoter. Her first film role was as the love-interest in Albert Finney's only film as director and star, Charlie Bubbles (1967). In 1969 she appeared in Alan J. Pakula’s first feature film, The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), as Pookie Adams, a needy, eccentric teenager. Her performance won her her first Academy Award nomination. She played another eccentric character the following year in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, directed by Otto Preminger. In 1972, Minnelli appeared in perhaps her best-known film role, as Sally Bowles in the movie version of Cabaret. Minnelli won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance, along with a Golden Globe Award, and was featured on the covers of Time and Newsweek Magazines simultaneously.Following a string of less successful feature movies and ventures into television, she finally got the chance to work with her father, director Vincente Minnelli, in the 1976 fantasy-musical A Matter of Time, co-starring Ingrid Bergman. After severe editing and cutting, done at the request of the producers, the film was neither a commercial nor a critical success. Her appearance opposite Robert De Niro in the 1977 film, New York, New York however, gave Minnelli her best known signature song, "Theme from New York, New York". Frank Sinatra released a successful cover version two years later and used it as his signature song as well, sometimes even duetting with Liza live on stage. After her performance as leading lady to Dudley Moore in 1981's Arthur, Minnelli made fewer film appearances.

Joel Grey won as Best Supporting Actor for Cabaret. Grey originated the role of the Master of Ceremonies in the Broadway musical Cabaret in 1966 for which he won the Tony Award. Grey won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1972 for the same role in the film version of Cabaret. His victory was part of a Cabaret near-sweep, which saw Liza Minnelli win Best Actress and Bob Fosse win Best Director, although it lost the Best Picture Oscar to The Godfather. Grey beat front-runner Al Pacino for Best Supporting Actor while Fosse beat Francis Ford Coppola for Best Director. Grey is one of only eight people who have won both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for the same role. In 2000, Grey played Oldrich Novy in the film Dancer in the Dark and had recurring television roles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as Doc, 2001), Oz (as Lemuel Idzik, 2003) and Alias (as "Another Mr. Sloane," 2005). He played the role of a demon in the final episode of Dallas and was a wealthy, paroled ex-convict on Law & Order: Criminal Intent (episode, "Cuba Libre"). He also appeared on the shows House and Brothers & Sisters. Grey was born Joel Katz in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Grace and Mickey Katz, who was an actor, clarinetist, comedian and director. He is the father of actress Jennifer Grey, the star of Dirty Dancing, and James, a chef. In 1958 he married Jo Wilder. They divorced in 1982.

Eileen Heckart won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the 1972 movie adaptation of Butterflies Are Free and was nominated in 1956 for her performance as the bereaved, besotted Mrs. Daigle in The Bad Seed. She also appeared as a Vietnam War widow with Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge. Heckart was married to John Harrison Yankee Jr. from 1944 until his death in 1997.A heavy smoker for much of her life, Heckart died of cancer at her home in Norwalk, Connecticut at the age of 82.

Bob Fosse was a musical theater choreographer and director, and a film director. He won an unprecedented eight Tony Awards for choreography, as well as one for direction, and received the Academy Award for Best Director in 1972 for Cabaret. Fosse moved to Hollywood with the ambition of being the next Fred Astaire. His early screen appearances included Give A Girl A Break, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis and Kiss Me, Kate, all released in 1953. It was a short sequence that he choreographed in the last that brought him to the attention of Broadway producers. Fosse directed five feature films. His first, Sweet Charity in 1969, was an adaptation of his Broadway musical. His second film, Cabaret, won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Director. Fosse next directed Lenny in 1974, a biopic of the self-destructive comic Lenny Bruce. Lenny was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. In 1979, Fosse co-wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical All That Jazz, which won four Academy Awards. All That Jazz also earned Fosse his third Oscar nomination for Best Director, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture. In addition, All That Jazz won the Grand Prize at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. Fosse's final film, 1983's Star 80, was a controversial biopic of slain Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. It evoked mixed critical reaction, although Richard Schickel of Time and Rex Reed gave it rave reviews, and it has acquired a strong cult following.Bob Fosse was first married to fellow dancer Mary Ann Niles, then to dancer Joan McCracken from 1951 to 1959; he then married dancer Gwen Verdon in 1960. They had one daughter, Nicole Providence Fosse, who is also a dancer. He separated from Gwen Verdon in the 1970s, but remained married to her until his death. Bob Fosse died from a heart attack at the age of 60.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a 1972 surrealist film written and directed by Luis Buñuel, a Spanish filmmaker associated with the Surrealist movement. The film was made in France and is in French, although some dialogue is in Spanish. The film has been described as "a complex, shifting, virtually plotless web of dreams within dreams within dreams", and is about the attempts of a group of upper middle-class people attempting — despite continual interruptions — to dine together. The film received the 1972 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

"The Morning After" (aka "The Song from 'The Poseidon Adventure'") is an Academy Award-winning song, first released in May 1973. It was the first hit for singer Maureen McGovern, and was used as the love theme for the film The Poseidon Adventure, which was released late the year before.At first, the song was not a hit. However, the song gained much publicity after being nominated for, and eventually winning, the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

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