The 54th Academy Awards were presented March 29, 1982 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Johnny Carson.
Chariots of Fire is a British film released in 1981. Written by Colin Welland and directed by Hugh Hudson, it is based on the true story of British athletes preparing for and competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. The title is a quotation from the hymn Jerusalem which is a setting of a poem by William Blake. The film's working title was "Running" until Welland saw the scene with the singing of the hymn and decided to change the title.Although the film is a period piece, set in the 1920's, the original soundtrack composed by Vangelis uses a modern, 1980's electronic sound with a strong use of synthesizer and piano among other instruments. This was a bold and significant departure from earlier period films which employed sweeping orchestral instrumentals. Vangelis was rewarded with an Academy Award for his work. The title theme of the film has become iconic and has been used in subsequent films and television shows during slow-motion.
The Best Director award went to Warren Beatty for Reds. Beatty's sister, three years his elder, is the talented and multi-award winning actress and writer Shirley MacLaine. He made his film debut under Elia Kazan's direction and opposite Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass (1961). The film was a box office success and Beatty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama. Subsequently he appeared in several films which went relatively unnoticed. Then, at age 30, he achieved critical acclaim and power as a producer and star of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. Subsequent Beatty films include McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Parallax View (1974), Shampoo (1975), and Heaven Can Wait (1978). The last film gave him box-office power he hadn't had since Bonnie and Clyde. He used this to make Reds (1981), an historical epic about famed Communist journalist John Reed in the Russian October Revolution. It won Academy Awards for Best Director (Beatty), Best Cinematography, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Maureen Stapleton). In 1990 he bounced back when he produced, directed and starred in the title role as the comic strip character Dick Tracy in the film of the same name. The film was one of the highest grossers of the year and was also the highest grossing film in Beatty's career at that point. However he did not manage to repeat the box office success of Dick Tracy in his subsequent films. He went on to star as the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel in the biopic Bugsy (1991) opposite Annette Bening, whom he married in 1992. He starred opposite Bening once again in Love Affair (1994). Both films failed to do well. His next film which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in was the political satire Bullworth (1998) which was critically appreciated but also failed to do well at the box office. In 2001 he appeared in his last film, Town and Country, which became the second-largest money loser of any movie ever made. In 1992 he married Annette Bening, his co-star in the gangster film Bugsy. They have four children: Kathlyn (b. 1992), Benjamin (b. 1994), Isabel (b. 1996) and Ella Corinne (b. 2000).
Henry Fonda was a highly acclaimed Academy Award-winning American film and stage actor, best known for his roles as plain-speaking idealists. Fonda's subtle, naturalistic acting style preceded by many years the popularization of Method acting. Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor, and made his Hollywood debut in 1935. Fonda's career gained momentum after his Academy Award-nominated performance in 1940s The Grapes of Wrath, an adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel about an Oklahoma family who moved west during the Dust Bowl. Throughout six decades in Hollywood, Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in such classics as The Ox-Bow Incident, Mister Roberts, and 12 Angry Men. Later, Fonda moved toward both more challenging, darker epics as Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (portraying a villain who kills, among others, a child and a cripple) and lighter roles in family comedies like Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball. He was the patriarch of a family of famous actors, including daughter Jane Fonda, son Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda, and grandson Troy Garity; his family and close friends called him "Hank". In 1999, he was named the sixth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. Fonda's film career blossomed as he costarred with Sylvia Sidney and Fred MacMurray in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), the first Technicolor movie filmed outdoors. He also starred with ex-wife Margaret Sullavan in ‘’The Moon’s Our Home’’, and a short re-kindling of their relationship led to a brief consideration of re-marriage. Sullavan then married Fonda’s agent Leland Hayward and Fonda married socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw, who had little interest in the movies or the theater. Fonda got the nod for the lead role in You Only Live Once (1937), also costarring Sidney, and directed by Fritz Lang. Fonda’s first child Jane Fonda was born on December 21, 1937. A critical success opposite Bette Davis, who had picked Fonda, in the film Jezebel (1938) was followed by the title role in Young Mr. Lincoln and his first collaboration with director John Ford. Fonda's successes led Ford to recruit him to play "Tom Joad" in the film version of John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath (1940), but a reluctant Darryl Zanuck, who preferred Tyrone Power, insisted on Fonda's signing a seven-year contract with the studio, Twentieth Century-Fox. Fonda agreed, and was ultimately nominated for an Academy Award for his work in the 1940 film, which many consider to be his finest role, but his friend James Stewart won the Best Actor award for his role in The Philadelphia Story. Second child Peter Fonda was born in 1940. Fonda played Wyatt Earp in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine (1946) and appeared in the film Fort Apache (1948) as a rigid Army colonel, along with John Wayne and Shirley Temple in her first adult role. Fonda did seven post-war films then his contract with Fox expired.He starred in the 1955 film version of Mister Roberts opposite James Cagney, William Powell and Jack Lemmon, continuing a pattern of bringing his acclaimed stage roles to life on the big screen. On the set of Mister Roberts, Fonda came to blows with John Ford and vowed never to work for him again. He never did Fonda followed Mr. Roberts with Paramount Pictures's production of the Leo Tolstoy epic War and Peace, in which Fonda played Pierre Bezukhov opposite Audrey Hepburn, and which took two years to shoot. Fonda worked with Alfred Hitchcock in 1956, playing a man falsely accused of murder in The Wrong Man, an unusual though not successful effort by Hitchcock based on an actual crime and filmed on location in black and white.In 1957, Fonda made his first foray into production with 12 Angry Men, based on a teleplay and a script by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet. The low budget production was completed in only seventeen days of filming mostly in one claustraphobic jury room and had a strong cast including Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, and E. G. Marshall. The intense film about twelve jurors deciding the fate of a young man accused of murder was well-received by critics worldwide. Fonda shared the Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations with co-producer Reginald Rose and won the 1958 BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his performance as "Juror #8”, who with logic and persistence eventually sways all the jurors to an acquittal.After western movies The Tin Star (1957) and Warlock (1959), Fonda returned to the production seat for the NBC western television series The Deputy (1959–1961), in which he also starred. Around this time, his fourth troubled marriage was coming to an end. The 1960s saw Fonda perform in a number of war and western epics, including 1962's The Longest Day and How the West Was Won, 1965's In Harm's Way and Battle of the Bulge. In the Cold War suspense film Fail-Safe (1964), Fonda played the resolute President of the United States who tries to avert a nuclear holocaust through tense negotiations with the Soviets who see an attack coming their way.He appeared against type as the villain "Frank" in 1968's Once Upon a Time in the West. After initially turning down the role, he was convinced to accept it by actor Eli Wallach and director Sergio Leone, who flew from Italy to the United States to persuade him to take the part. In 1970, Fonda appeared in three films, the most successful of these ventures being The Cheyenne Social Club. The other two films were Too Late the Hero, in which Fonda played a secondary role, and There Was a Crooked Man, about Paris Pitman Jr. (played by Kirk Douglas) trying to escape from an Arizona prison. After the unsuccessful Hollywood melodrama, Ash Wednesday, he filmed three Italian productions released in 1973 and 1974. The most successful of these, My Name Is Nobody, presented Fonda in a rare comedic performance as an old gunslinger whose plans to retire are dampened by a "fan" of sorts.Fonda finished the 1970s in a number of disaster films. The first of these was the 1977 Italian killer octopus thriller Tentacoli (Tentacles) and the mediocre Rollercoaster, in which Fonda appeared with Richard Widmark and a young Helen Hunt. He performed once again with Widmark, Olivia de Havilland, Fred MacMurray, and José Ferrer in the killer bee action film The Swarm. He also acted in the global disaster film Meteor, with Sean Connery, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden, and then the Canadian production City on Fire, which also featured Shelley Winters and Ava Gardner. Fonda had a small role with his son, Peter, in 1979's Wanda Nevada, with Brooke Shields. 1981's On Golden Pond, the film adaptation of Ernest Thompson's play, marked one final professional and personal triumph for Fonda. Directed by Mark Rydell, the project provided unprecedented collaborations between Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, and between Fonda and Fonda's daughter, Jane. The elder Fonda played an emotionally brittle and distant father who becomes more accessible at the end of his life. With eleven Academy Award nominations, the film earned nearly $120 million at the box office, becoming an unexpected blockbuster. In addition to wins for Hepburn (Best Actress), and Thompson (Screenplay), On Golden Pond brought Fonda his only Oscar for Best Actor (it also earned him a Golden Globe Best Actor award). Fonda was by that point too ill too attend the ceremony, and Jane Fonda accepted on his behalf.Henry Fonda was married five times. His marriage to Margaret Sullavan in 1931 soon ended in separation, which was finalized in a 1933 divorce. In 1936, he married Frances Ford Seymour. They had two children, Peter and Jane. In 1950, Seymour committed suicide. Fonda married Susan Blanchard, the stepdaughter of Oscar Hammerstein II, in 1950. Together, they adopted a daughter, Amy (born 1953), but divorced three years later. In 1957 Fonda married Italian Countess Afdera Franchetti. They remained married until 1961. Soon after Fonda married Shirlee Mae Adams, and remained with her until his death in 1982. Fonda died at his Los Angeles home on August 12, 1982, at the age of 77 from heart disease.
Katharine Hepbrun won her fourth Oscar for On Golden Pond. The Best Supporting Actor award went to John Gielgud for Arthur. Although he began to appear in British films as early as 1924, making his debut in the silent movie Who Is the Man?, he would not make an impact in the medium until the last decades of his life. His early film roles were sporadic and included the lead in Alfred Hitchcock's Secret Agent (1936), Benjamin Disraeli in The Prime Minister (1940), Cassius in Julius Caesar (1953), BAFTA Award for Best British Actor), George, Duke of Clarence to Olivier's Richard III (1955), and Henry IV to Orson Welles' Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight (1966). But he lost his aversion to filming in the late 1960s, and by the 1980s and 1990s he had thrown himself into the medium with a vengeance, so much so that it was jokingly said that he was prepared to do almost anything for his art. He won an Academy Award for his supporting role as a sardonic butler in the 1981 comedy Arthur, starring Dudley Moore, a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Providence (1977), a BAFTA Award for Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and his performances in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), The Elephant Man (1981), and Shine (1996) were critically acclaimed. In 1991, Gielgud was able to satisfy his life's ambition by immortalizing his Prospero on screen in the film Prospero's Books. Gielgud was one of the few people who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award. Gielgud's final onscreen appearance in a major release motion picture was as Pope Paul IV in Elizabeth which was released in 1998. Longtime lover Martin Hensler, 30 years his junior, died just a few months before Sir John did in 2000.
The Best Supporting Actress award went to Maureen Stapleton for Reds. Stepping in because Anna Magnani refused the role due to her limited English, Stapleton won a Tony Award for her role in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo in 1951. (Magnani's English improved, however, and she was able to play the role in the film version, winning an Oscar.) Stapleton's film career, though limited, brought her immediate success, with her debut in Lonelyhearts (1958) earning a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She appeared in the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie, in the role of Mama Mae Peterson, with Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Paul Lynde and Ann-Margret. She was nominated again for an Oscar for Airport (1970) and Woody Allen's Interiors (1978). She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Reds (1981), directed by Warren Beatty, in which she portrayed the Lithuanian-born anarchist, Emma Goldman. Stapleton won a 1968 Emmy Award for her performance in Among the Paths of Eden. She was nominated for the television version of All the King's Men (1959), Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975), and The Gathering (1977). Her more recent appearances included Johnny Dangerously (1984), Cocoon (1985) and its sequel Cocoon: The Return (1988). Stapleton's first husband was Max Allentuck, and her second husband was playwright David Rayfiel, from whom she divorced. She had a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Katherine, by her first husband and later was a devoted grandmother. Her daughter, Katherine Allentuck, garnered good reviews for her single movie role, that of "Aggie" in Summer of '42 (Stapleton herself also had a minor, uncredited role in the film as the protagonist's mother). In 2006, Maureen Stapleton, who was a heavy smoker, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at her home in Lenox, Massachusetts, at the age of 80.
Mephisto is the title of a 1981 film adaptation of Klaus Mann's novel of the same name, directed by István Szabó, and starring Klaus Maria Brandauer as Hendrik Höfgen. The film was a co-production between companies in West Germany, Hungary and Austria. The film adapts the story of Mephistopheles and Doctor Faustus by having the main character Hendrik Höfgen abandon his conscience and continue to act and ingratiate himself with the Nazi Party and so keep and improve his job and social position. Both the film and Mann's 1936 novel mirror the career of Mann's brother-in-law, Gustaf Gründgens, who is considered by many to have supported the Nazi Party and abandoned his previous political views for personal gain rather than conscience. Mephisto was awarded the 1981 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; the film was submitted to the Academy by Hungary.
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)", performed by Christopher Cross, is the theme song from the 1981 film Arthur starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. The song was written in collaboration between Cross, pop music composer Burt Bacharach, and his frequent writing partner Carole Bayer Sager. A fourth writing credit goes to Minnelli's ex-husband and Australian songwriter Peter Allen, also a frequent collaborator with Bayer Sager; the line "When you get caught between the moon and New York City" from the chorus is taken from an unreleased song they had previously written together. The song won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Original Song. The award was presented by singer Bette Midler, who, in her presentation of the nominated songs, called the song " 'That Song About the Moon and New York City,' also known as 'Four on a Song,' " referring to the four songwriters.