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Entries in Oscars (70s) (69)

Monday
May052014

A Smackdown Summer Cometh

When I announced that The Film Experience would be the new home of the long departed series Stinky Lulu's Smackdown last summer I figured you would be thrilled. It's our kind of party. I promised Stinky we'd do at least six smackdowns if we brought it back. With four battles already behind us -- pie throwing 1952shady and sinister 1968, warm and kooky 1980, and troubled histrionic 2003-- let's wrap it up with four more. 

Rather than announce at the end of each month, I figured we'd give you all four lineups in case you'd like more time to catch up over the hot months and cast your votes in the reader polling that accompanies each battle. Those votes count toward the final outcome, so more of you should join in. 

These annums were chosen after comment reading, dvd searching, handwringing, and also to rope in prospective panelists (to be announced later) though I know you'll go bonkers for a couple of them.

Saturday May 31st
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1941

Mary Astor won an Oscar for The Great Lie in which she co-starred with Bette Davis. Davis herself was something of a good luck charm that year for this category. Two of her other co-stars, Patricia Collinge and Teresa Wright, were nominated for their roles in The Little Foxes (a film we'll be covering very soon in "Seasons of Bette"). Rounding out the category were two formidable mamas in men's pictures:  Margaret Wycherly for Sergeant York and Sara Allgood in the Best Picture winner How Green Was My Valley.

Monday June 30th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1964

Women of a certain age for the awesomeness - somehow this shortlist escaped the usual attack of the ingenues. My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins were splitting the statuettes that year but neither took home a Supporting Actress trophy. That honor went to Zorba the Greek's Lila Kedrova. Also nominated that year were regular Oscar losers Gladys Cooper for My Fair Lady and Edith Evans for the Deborah Kerr picture The Chalk Garden, and two actresses from perpetually overheated... and perpetually wonderful genres: Agnes Moorhead in the grand dame guignol Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte and Grayson Hall from the Tennessee Williams Night of the Iguana

Thursday July 31st
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1973

One of Oscar's most fascinatingly diverse Best Picture years also produced quite a range of peculiar one-offs right here. All five nominees were first timers and only Madeline Kahn (Paper Moon) was ever nominated again. The other contenders were showbiz trouper Sylvia Sydney (Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams) and three young film newbies 26 year-old Candy Clark (American Graffitti), 15 year old Linda Blair (The Exorcist) and the youngest competitive Oscar winner of all time, 10 year old Tatum O'Neal (Paper Moon).

Sunday August 30th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1989 (Season Finale!)  

Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) took home the gold for playing mom to Daniel Day-Lewis on his first Oscar win. Her shortlist sisters? Quite a famous bunch they were. Oscar chose Oscar winner Dianne Wiest for the ensemble comedy Parenthood, both Lena Olin and Oscar winner Anjelica Huston from the underseen but  actressy Enemies: A Love Story, and brand new starlet Julia Roberts, then considerably less famous than brother Eric, for Steel Magnolias.

Drink your juice, Shelby, and join us for all of four Smackdowns. Queue up those DVDs. You know you want to for more movie merriment.

Sunday
Apr272014

April Showers: Midnight Express (1978)

Waterworks some nights at 11. This one is from the vaults from the first season. But it's worth a revisit as the film is currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.


I've always been a little bit a lot perplexed by the famous shower scene in Alan Parker's Midnight Express (1978). I'm not exactly sure why it's in the movie. Midnight Express strongest asset is arguably its expressive physicality and gritty tactile quality; you feel like you're right there in the grotty hellish Turkish prison, sweating and suffering along with Billy Hayes (Brad Davis). But the sexual vibes coming off of the movie are at times unfathomable. Is it gay? Is it bi? Is it straight? Is it just horny? Or is its ambiguous eroticism simply a by-product of casting a star as carnally charismatic as Brad Davis in the lead role?

As warm up to the famous shower scene we get a montage detailing the friendship of Billy and Erich (Norbert Weisser) a fellow prisoner. They've been in this hellhole for years. We see them do yoga togethe and bathe each other. They even duet on a private meditation mantra...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr012014

Morning Confession: I've Never Seen an Ali MacGraw Movie

Happy 75th birthday today to Ali MacGraw. "Who?" Some of you might be asking, which is telling.

My first and only significant memory of Ali MacGraw, who was quite famous when I was a child, was seeing her face on the sheet music to the theme from Love Story (1970) that my sister used to play on the piano when I was tiny. I have no idea why I remember this so vividly but I do. I also remember my mom grumbling about the movie's tagline which she said was 'TOTALLY UNTRUE'.

love means never having to say you're sorry

My sister had quite a few movie theme songs on sheet music and the other ones I remember looking at were Ice Castles, Jaws and Star Wars. The only one that I had actually seen was Star Wars. I don't remember seeing it in theaters. My true movie memories don't start until the following year in 1978 with Superman and Return From Witch Mountain. (If you're curious here are two of my earliest movie memories in comic book form)

Ali MacGraw was, in the late 70s / early 80s something of a symbol of flash in the pan movie stardom for complicated but, as I'd come to understand it much later, totally normal celebrity reasons: addictions, tough marriage, unlucky film choices, you name it. But this morning as I went to type this up I made the horrifying realization that I've never seen ANY of her films, no not even Love Story (1970). That's a significant gap in my Oscar viewing since it was nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture.

Have you seen Love Story. And have you ever played a movie theme on the piano? 

Monday
Mar242014

Monologue: Sterling Archer, Burt Reynolds & Dead Bodies

Have you ever watched Archer? I had tuned in here or there but hadn't ever committed. This weekend I binge watched about 10 episodes and now I'm madly in love. I'm beginning to think it's one of the great sitcoms, each character is so fully defined and there are jokes of so many varieties, not just verbal but visual and physical and recurring and always true to character. One of my favorite recurring gags is Archer's obsession with Burt Reynolds. In the Season 2 episode "Pipeline Fever" he keeps talking about Gator (1976) since he and his ex-girlfriend/coworker are going to the swamp. They're arguing about the element of surprise when Archer gets distracted.

Which is why mobility is key. And how will we achieve mobility, huh? An airboat, Lana. Just like Burt Reynolds in White Lightning. Not to mention Gator! Which... even though it's a sequel I think it's the stronger of the two films.

Remember Jerry Reed's character in Gator? McCall? No? Well, whatever. Check this out, I stol--borrowed it from Woodhouse? RIGHT! It's just like in Gator.

Archer has blown their cover by pulling a gun and an air marshall is now pointing a gun at them. Later in the episode he shows up in an outfit that read suspiciously like Burt's insanely memorable rubber vest from Deliverance (1972) though it's not remarked upon.

Which brings us to a Burt Reynolds speech from that great 70s picture

What to do with a dead body... what to do? That's always a (movie) question. Fifty-three minutes into the classic Deliverance (1972), the shit has hit the fan or, rather, the men have already squealed like pigs. Four increasingly unhinged friends are now freaking out over the fresh corpse in their midst. Drew (Ronny Cox) in particular wants to be done with their time in the woods and turn things over to the law. Burt Reynolds has the answer in his greatest pre-Boogie Nights role (the one he was famously Oscar snubbed for).

 

You let me worry about that, Drew. You let me take care of that. You know what's going to be here, right here? A Lake! Far as you can see. Hundreds of feet deep. Hundreds of feet deep!

Did you ever look out over a lake? Think about something buried underneath it. Buried underneath it!

Man, that's about as buried as you can get.


It must have been tempting to film Burt's take-charge moment entirely in tight sweaty closeup. That's exactly what a modern filmmaker would do, beholden as they now all are to constant closeups and the TV-centric emphasis on the dead center of each frame, as if stardom can't be grasped if more than one person inhabits any frame. Thankfully, director John Boorman, his Oscar nominated editor Tom Priestley and the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond trust that alpha male star Burt Reynolds doesn't need any help in seizing a scene.

Instead we get a riveting and creepy mix of longshots, closeups, and slow pans which never let's us forget any of the players, their specific relationships to one another ...and especially the unsettling constant presence of that intruding dead body, draped inelegantly across a tree branch.

 

previous monologues

 

Thursday
Mar062014

Liza at the Oscars. Then, Then, Then, and Now

Liza Minnelli's appearance at the Oscars this past weekend was the subject of much discussion and typical ageist snark ("old people are so ridiculous!") online which was... disappointing. Not that Liza didn't bring some of it upon herself particularly with her slow on the uptake reactions to Ellen's drag queen joke* and the selfies. But before we get into this year's particulars, CONTEXT.

I think it's worth remembering that this was not Liza's first time at the rodeo. Liza has lived her entire life in the unreality of showbiz so if she wants to wear a braless blue pant suit with matching hair stripe, to Hollywood's High Holy Night, she damn well should! After all, few people attending this weekend's ceremony can rival her for true icon status (Meryl, Bette, Poitier... and very few others)

Click to read more ...

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