Friday, January 25, 2008

49th Academy Awards

The 49th Academy Awards were presented March 28, 1977 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Richard Pryor, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, and Warren Beatty.

Rocky is an Academy Award-winning 1976 film written by and starring Sylvester Stallone and directed by John G. Avildsen. It tells the rags-to-riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but good-hearted debt collector for a loan shark in Philadelphia. Balboa is also a club fighter who gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship when the scheduled contender breaks his hand. Also starring in Rocky are Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill, Rocky's trainer and Carl Weathers as the champion, Apollo Creed. The film, made for only US$1.2 million,[1] and shot relatively fast in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it made over US$117.2 million, won three Oscars, including Best Picture, and garnered mostly positive reviews which helped to launch Stallone's career. The film spawned five sequels: Rocky II, III, IV, V and Rocky Balboa. In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

John G Avildsen is an American film director. His movies include Guess What We Learned in School (1968), Cry Uncle! (1970), Joe (1970), Rocky (1976) and Rocky V (1990) with Sylvester Stallone, and The Karate Kid (1984), with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. He also directed the acclaimed Save the Tiger, starring Jack Lemmon, Lean on Me (1989), starring Morgan Freeman as the no-nonsense high school principal Joe Clark; The Power of One (1992) and 8 Seconds (1994), starring Luke Perry. A recurring theme in many of Avildsen's movies is the triumph of an underdog character over adversity. Avildsen won an Academy Award for directing Rocky.

The Best Actor award was won by Peter Finch. After finishing school, he worked in several badly paid jobs until he tried acting. He began in 1935 playing theatre roles, and also working in radio. In 1938, he appeared in his first film, Dad and Dave Come to Town. Thereafter he played again on stage, where he was noticed by Laurence Olivier and encouraged to return to London. During this time Finch had an affair with Olivier's wife, Vivien Leigh. The affair began in 1948, and continued on and off for several years. Despite his stage experience, Finch suffered from stage fright and turned to films. His first role in a British-made film was in Eureka Stockade (1949) (set in Australia). Finch's Hollywood debut was in The Miniver Story in 1950, but his first major role was in 1956's A Town Like Alice. In 1972, his role of the homosexual Jewish doctor in Sunday Bloody Sunday earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He did not win the award on that occasion. At the time of his death, he was doing a promotional tour for the 1976 film Network in which he made an over-the-top portrayal of the crazed television anchor man Howard Beale. He was posthumously nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role, and went on to win the award, which was accepted by his widow. Peter Finch was married three times. His first wife was Tamara Tchinarova and his second wife Yolande Turner. Both marriages ended in divorce. His third wife was Eletha Finch. He had four children from his three marriages. Finch died from a heart attack on January 14, 1977 at the age of 60.

Faye Dunaway won for Best Actress for her role in Network. Over the course of her more than five decade career Dunaway has starred in a variety of films, from the most critically acclaimed including Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown and Network, to blockbusters such as The Towering Inferno and the notorious such as the cult classic Mommie Dearest. Dunaway appeared on Broadway in 1962 as the daughter of Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. Her first screen role was in 1967 in Hurry Sundown, but that same year, she got the leading female role in Bonnie and Clyde (opposite Warren Beatty) which earned her an Oscar nomination. It was in the 1970s that she began to stretch her acting muscles in such films as Three Days of the Condor, Little Big Man, Chinatown, Eyes of Laura Mars, and Network, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress as the scheming TV executive Diana Christensen. In the 1980s, although her performances did not waver, the parts grew less compelling. Dunaway would later blame Mommie Dearest (1981) for ruining her career as a leading lady. She played an alcoholic in Barfly (opposite Mickey Rourke). In a later movie, Don Juan DeMarco (1995), Dunaway co-starred with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando. Romantically linked to a series of men ranging from the comedian Lenny Bruce to actor Marcello Mastroianni, Dunaway has been married twice. Her first husband, from 1974 until 1979, was Peter Wolf, the lead singer of the rock group the J. Geils Band. Her second, from 1984 until 1987, was Terry O'Neill, a British photographer; they had one child, Liam O'Neill (born 1980).

Jason Robards was an Emmy Award, Tony Award, and two-time Academy Award-winning American actor. He became famous playing works of American dramatist Eugene O'Neill, and would regularly play O'Neill's works throughout his career. Robards' was cast in both common-man roles and as well known historical figures. Robards decided to get into acting after the war. His career started out slowly. He moved to New York City and found small parts there, first in radio and then on the stage. His big break was landing the starring role in José Quintero's 1956 off-Broadway production and the 1960 television film of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, as the philosophical salesman Hickey, winning an Obie Award for his performance. He also played Hickey in a 1985 Broadway revival staged by Quintero, who directed Robards in Broadway productions of O'Neill's plays Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hughie, A Touch of the Poet and A Moon for the Misbegotten. He repeated his performance in Long Day's Journey Into Night in the 1962 film and televised his performances in A Moon for the Misbegotten and Hughie. He made his film debut in the 1946 two-reel comedy Follow That Music, but after his Broadway success he was invited to make his feature debut in The Journey in 1959. He became a familiar face to movie audiences throughout the 1960s, notably for his performances in A Thousand Clowns (1965) (repeating his stage performance), The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968), and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Robards played three different US Presidents on film - namely Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect Tribute and a television production of Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Ulysses S. Grant in The Legend of the Lone Ranger (a role he also voiced in the PBS miniseries The Civil War), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in FDR: The Final Years. Robards received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in consecutive years for All the President's Men (1976) and Julia (1977). He was also nominated for another Oscar for his role in Melvin and Howard (1980) and received the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for the 1988 production of Inherit the Wind. Robards had six children from his four marriages, including actor Sam Robards by his third wife, actress Lauren Bacall, whom he married in 1961 and from whom he was divorced in 1969. He died of lung cancer at the age of 78 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Beatrice Straight won as Best Supporting Actress. Straight was active in the early days of television, appearing in anthology series such as Armstrong Circle Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Kraft Television Theatre, Studio One, The United States Steel Hour, Playhouse 90, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and dramatic series like Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, The Defenders, Mission: Impossible, and St. Elsewhere. Straight worked infrequently in film, and is remembered best for her role as a devastated wife confronting husband William Holden's infidelity in Network (1976). She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance which, at five minutes and forty seconds, remains the shortest ever to win an Oscar. Further film and television performances include the role of the mother of Lynda Carter in the Wonder Woman series, and Marion Hillyard, the icy, controlling mother of Stephen Collins in The Promise. She also played the role of the paranormal investigator Dr. Martha Lesh in the film Poltergeist (1982), the most widely seen role of her film career. Straight was married twice, first to Frenchman Louis Dolivet, a left-wing activist who became editor of United Nations World magazine and later a film producer. They divorced in 1949, and she immediately married film and Broadway actor/producer Peter Cookson, with whom she had two sons. She suffered from Alzheimer's disease in her later years. Straight died from pneumonia in Los Angeles, California at age 86.

Black and White in Color is a 1976 war film, or rather, a black comedy directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud as his directorial debut. It depicts French colonists at war with the Germans in the Ivory Coast, Africa, during World War I. The film adopts a strong antimilitaristic point of view, and is notesworthy for ridiculing the French side even more harshly than their German counterparts. The original French title is the first four words (the first line) of the song Le Chant du départ, a French military song. The film was a co-production between companies in France, Germany, the Ivory Coast and Switzerland. It won the 1976 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; it was submitted to the Academy by the Ivory Coast, resulting in that country's first and only Oscar.

"Evergreen" is the well known theme song from the 1976 film A Star Is Born. It was composed and performed by Barbra Streisand with lyrics by Paul Williams. The song was released on the soundtrack to A Star Is Born. Barbra Streisand earned an Academy Award for Best Original Song, her second overall, as composer of the song. With "Evergreen", Streisand earned a Grammy Award for Song of the Year as well. She and Paul Williams also won Golden Globes in the category of Best Original Song for the song.

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