Wednesday, January 23, 2008

46th Academy Awards

The 46th Academy Awards were presented April 2, 1974 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by John Huston, Diana Ross, Burt Reynolds and David Niven. The ceremony is perhaps best remembered as the ceremony in which a streaker named Robert Opel ran across the stage naked. In response, host David Niven quipped, "The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping... and showing his shortcomings." In 2001, this incident was voted as the most memorable Oscar moment in history.

The Sting is an Academy Award-winning caper film from 1973 set in September of 1936 and revolving around a complicated plot by two professional grifters (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) to con a mob boss (Robert Shaw). The story, created by screenwriter David S. Ward, was inspired by some real-life con games. The movie was directed by George Roy Hill, who also directed Newman and Redford in the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The title phrase refers to the moment when a con artist finishes the "play" and takes the mark's money. (Today the name is mostly used in the context of law enforcement sting operations.) If the con game is successful, the mark does not realize he has been "taken" (cheated), at least not until the con men are long gone. The movie is divided into distinct sections with old-fashioned title cards that resembled lettering and illustrations. The film was noted for its musical score - particularly its theme song, "The Entertainer", a piano rag by Scott Joplin, which was lightly adapted for the movie by Marvin Hamlisch. The film was a major box office success in 1973, taking in more than US$160 million.

George Roy Hill won the Best Director Oscar for the movie. The 1964 Peter Sellers movie The World of Henry Orient raised Hill's profile in Hollywood, but his 1966 blockbuster Hawaii was a setback. Reportedly, when budget estimates reached $14 million, the producers attempted to replace Hill with Arthur Hiller; but abandoned the idea after hundreds of native Polynesians in the cast went on strike, declaring: "We can and will perform only for our friend, Monsieur Hill." Hill rebuilt his Hollywood reputation with the Julie Andrews movie Thoroughly Modern Millie and then the massively-successful Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and, after Slaughterhouse-Five, The Sting. Both Butch Cassidy and The Sting starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Butch Cassidy won four Academy Awards; The Sting won five Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. The success of those two films meant that, for a time, Hill was the sole director in history to have made two of the top 10 moneymaking films. Hill died on December 27, 2002 at his home in New York of complications from Parkinson's disease.

Jack Lemmon won the Best Actor Oscar for Save the Tiger and Glenda Jackson her second as Best Actress for A Touch of Class. The Best Suporting Actor award went to John Houseman for the Paper Chase. Along with Orson Welles, Houseman founded the Mercury Theatre, best remembered for their 1938 radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. Houseman produced more than two dozen films, including the 1946 film noir, The Blue Dahlia. He first became widely known to the public, however, for his Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning role as Professor Charles Kingsfield in the 1973 film The Paper Chase, a role which he reprised in the television series of the same name. In the 1980s, Houseman was also known for his role as grandfather Edward Stratton II in Silver Spoons, which starred Rick Schroder, and for his commercials for brokerage Smith Barney, which featured the catchphrase, "They make money the old fashioned way...they earn it." He also made a guest appearance in John Carpenter's 1980 movie The Fog as Mr. Machen. Houseman died of spinal cancer in 1988 at his home in Malibu, California. He was 86 years old.

Tatum O'Neal is an Academy Award-winning American actress best known for her film work as a child actress in the 1970s. She remains the youngest actor, at the age of 10, to win an Oscar. O'Neal was born into the motion picture family of actor Ryan O'Neal and actress Joanna Cook Moore. Her brother, Griffin, was born in 1964. In 1967, her parents divorced. Her father married actress Leigh Taylor-Young, a marriage which produced her half-brother, Patrick. She also has another half-brother, Redmond, from Ryan O'Neal's relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett. In 1974, Tatum O'Neal became the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award, a record that continues. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress for her performance in Paper Moon. O'Neal played the role of Addie Loggins, a child con artist being tutored by a Depression-era grifter played by her father, Ryan. She was 10 years old at the time she won the award. Other movies in which O'Neal appeared include The Bad News Bears, Nickelodeon, International Velvet, and Little Darlings. Controversy arose regarding her underage nude scene opposite screen icon Richard Burton in the Canadian-made Circle of Two. Her acting career took a backseat to her marriage to John McEnroe, the professional tennis player, for many years, but in 2005 she began a recurring role as Maggie Gavin on the firehouse drama series Rescue Me, portraying the unbalanced and lively sister of Tommy Gavin, played by Denis Leary. O'Neal's character is married to a firefighter in her brother's firehouse.

"The Way We Were" is the title song to the 1973 movie The Way We Were, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. The song was written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman; and scored by Marvin Hamlisch. Barbra Streisand is best known for singing "The Way We Were" and her version is the one used for the movie. The song won the Academy Award for Best Song. It also made AFI's list of top 100 songs from film; it was ranked number eight.

La Nuit américaine is a 1973 French film directed by François Truffaut. It stars Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Léaud. In French, nuit américaine ('American night') is a technical process whereby sequences shot during the daytime are made to appear as if they are taking place at night. In the English-speaking world the film is known as Day for Night, which is the equivalent English expression. The film is often considered one of Truffaut's greatest films, and indeed one of the best films ever made: for example, it is one of two Truffaut films that feature on Time magazine top 100 list of the 100 Best Films of the Century, along with The 400 Blows. The film won the 1973 BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Valentina Cortese was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and Truffaut for the Academy Award for Directing.

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