With each viewing of this unrelentingly unconvincing take on what I assume was intend to be a cautionary tale on the dangers of unbridled ambition; I grow less and less surprised that one of its screenwriters (Harlan Ellison) is known principally for his work in science fiction.
|Stephen Boyd as Frankie Fane|
"I'm fighting for my life! And there's a spiked boot for anyone who gets in my way!"
|Elke Sommer as Kay Bergdahl|
"It's that seed of rot inside of you which makes you what you are that
you can't change. You just dress it better!"
|Tony Bennett as Hymie Kelly|
"You lie down with pigs, you come up smelling like garbage!"
|Eleanor Parker as Sophie Cantaro|
"You go after what you want. In some men it's admirable, in you it's...unclean!"
|Milton Berle as Arthur "Kappy" Kapstetter|
"You never know you're on the way out until you suddenly
realize it would take a ticket to get back in."
|Jill St. John as Laurel Scott|
"What does he think I am, dirt? Every morning I'd get the feeling
he was gonna leave two dollars on the dresser for me!"
|Koo koo Frankie shows a wise-guy actor (Jan Merlin) what it's like |
to be on "the business end of a knife."
|Joseph Cotten as Kenneth Regan, head of Galaxy Pictures|
"I find myself repelled and repulsed by you."
|Ernest Borgnine & Edie Adams as Barney and Trina Yale|
|Frankie's cutthroat efforts to win an Oscar make up the bulk of the 1963 Richard Sale novel |
upon which the film is adapted, but comprise only the last half hour of the film
|The Dynamic Duo|
Hope you like Tony Bennett's expression here, 'cause that's all you're getting for two hours
|Not really sure the last time I saw a character in a movie resort to|
knuckle-biting to convey distress, but in The Oscar, it happens twice!
THE STUFF OF FANTASY
As hard as it is to believe that the Motion Picture Academy actually endorsed this sordid melodrama, one has to wonder about the many drop-in guest appearances of so many "stars" adding verisimilitude and unintentional comic relief. Were they contractual, or were they simply prohibited from reading the entire script?
|Edith Head (or an amimatronic copy) as herself|
|Columnist Hedda Hopper balancing several pounds of hair and a Joan Crawford necklace|
|A puffy Peter Lawford portrays a has-been actor (a little too convincingly)|
|Jack Soo as Sam, Frankie's live-in valet|
|A beaming Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy, in her brunette phase|
THE STUFF OF FANTASY
I'm not sure if this preponderance of masochistic females has anything to do with The Oscar falling short of becoming the midnight screening hoot-fest its entertaining awfulness suggests; but such wrong-headed thinking prevails throughout The Oscar, making it one of the best of the worst, the apex of the nadir, and unequivocally one for the books. A book titled: " What The Hell Were They Thinking?"
|Elke Sommer wore the same Edith Head gown to the real 1966 Academy Awards she wears in the fake ceremony that bookends The Oscar (top photo). Here's a clip of a somewhat botched dual acceptance speech with Connie Stevens for Doctor Zhivago's absent costume designer, Julie Harris. Watch HERE|
|Although only an instrumental version plays in the film, Tony Bennett sang the Muzak-ready theme song from The Oscar (titled, "Come September" ) on the soundtrack album. This 45rpm single was an opening day giveaway at many first-run theaters. Listen HERE|