Archive for March 1966

The Oscar

March 4, 1966

This was bad enough to effectively kill Harlan Ellison’s career as a movie screenwriter (he continued to work in TV). Two others, including the director, have their names on the script, yet nobody but Ellison could have penned such ornately ludicrous dialogue (go here for some samples); he can be a powerful, intense writer, but he can’t write anything that sounds like human beings would say it, and the attempts at urbane banter here fall flat on their asses and straight through the floor. As for the plot, it involves seedy bastard Stephen Boyd on his odyssey from struggling nobody to ruthless movie star. The movie is preoccupied with Boyd’s rise to the top and his terror of losing it all; it may be the quintessential Hollywood movie, except that it was greeted with guffaws on sight and decades later remains a camp favorite in some quarters. Elke Sommer (as Boyd’s wife) and Tony Bennett (as his sad-sack buddy) headline a cast full of slumming stars making cameos. The best performance is probably by Milton Berle in a straight, non-mugging turn as Boyd’s agent. For some reason — perhaps because it’s out of print — the video has an asking price of $50 or higher on places like See if your library can get you a copy, if you really must see it.