EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|OSCAR, THE (director/writer: Russell Rouse; screenwriters: from a novel by Richard Sale/Harlan Ellison/Clarence Greene; cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg; editor: Chester W. Schaeffer; music: Percy Faith; cast: Stephen Boyd (Frankie Fane), Elke Sommer (Kay Bergdahl), Milton Berle (Alfred ‘Kappy’ Kapstetter), Eleanor Parker (Sophie Cantaro), Joseph Cotten (Kenneth Regan), Jill St. John (Laurel Scott), Tony Bennett (Hymie Kelly), Edie Adams (Trina Yale), Ernest Borgnine (Barney Yale), Broderick Crawford (Sheriff ); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Clarence Greene; Columbia; 1966)|
|"A dreadful empty
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A dreadful empty film about Hollywood by Hollywood, that
only Hollywood could screw up so royally. This is no All About Eve
(1950) or The Big Knife (1955). Some viewers who love bad
films will be drawn to this one because it's so tacky that they might
take it for side-splitting camp when it's meant to be taken as straight
dramatics. The character singer Tony Bennett plays (his sole dramatic
role in films, that proves he's no actor) sums up this sleazy soaper
when he tells the heartless Stephen Boyd character who betrayed him: "Lie down with pigs and you get up
like garbage." Russell Rouse ("The Well"/"The Thief"/"The
Alive") cowrites and directs this
pathetic film laden with stilted dialogue, limp acting from its
celebrity cast (featuring a miscast Boyd), an overbaked unrealistic melodramatic plot and a base sensationalist take on Hollywood
in-fighting. It's loosely based on the Harold Robbins exploitation type
of best selling pulp novel by Richard Sale, and is cowritten by Harlan
Ellison and Clarence Greene.
There are many cameos from Hollywood personalities such as Bob Hope, Merle Oberon, Hedda Hopper, and Edith Head. The Academy of Arts and
Sciences gave this crappy film permission to use its Santa Monica site
where it holds the Oscar presentation (allowing them to re-enact the
ceremony of giving out the Academy Awards, and thereby giving such a
mean-spirited phony film a sense of false reality).
It's the story of a vicious heel, Frankie
Fane (Stephen Boyd), who
claws his way from the bottom to superstardom in Hollywood by stepping
over others on his selfish rise to the top.
It opens at the
Oscar ceremonies, where Frankie Fane has been nominated for Best Actor
and wants more than anything else to win. He sits alone since he's been
everyone. Also at the ceremony
is Hymie Kelly (Tony Bennett), the cad's former childhood best friend
who became Frankie's PR man. Hymie relates
story in flashback of how his fellow impoverished neighborhood friend
arrived at the prestigious
ceremony and betrayed him and others. They include the following: the
aging lonely heart acting coach Sophie Cantaro (Eleanor
Parker), the oily agent Kappy Kapstetter (Milton Berle), and the
long-suffering girlfriend Kay Bergdahl (Elke Sommer). The flashback
includes all the nasty things the unscrupulous thug did to get there,
starting with Frankie as the announcer in a small town
seedy bar strip club for his sexy girlfriend stripper Laurel (Jill St.
John) and skipping town with his partner Hymie and Laurel after beating
up the bar manager who tried to stiff him. Frankie had to payoff the
corrupt sheriff (Broderick Crawford),
who framed the trio on prostitution charges and demanded a kickback to
drop the charges. It then follows Frankie's circuitous route to fame
and success at any price.
The N.Y. Herald Tribune, the now
newspaper, pointed out that the film's laughable comforting message was
that "Heels may get to Hollywood but once there, rest assured, they
do not win Oscars."
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ