One of the positive things about people knowing you are an enthusiast (we prefer that to “fan”) of a particular subject, team or band is that your friends from a long time ago or even recently sometimes give or send you something they’ve found gathering dust in their home or have recently bought.
Beatles fans are about the best when it comes to this. Pete Dicks of Beatles and Beyond in England has been great and sent us several books a few years ago. Others have sent me music that we wouldn’t have found elsewhere.
RDH Great Stories collection has grown substantially since we have been giving Beatles presentations and have had Beatles exhibits at several locations in central Indiana.
Today, we received a particular treat. We’re going to send you even back further into our past first though. In the summer after finishing the 6th grade, Richard Thompson and Ronald Hawkins put together an imaginary baseball magazine, clipping items from real magazines and writing stories to go with them.
Years later, Hawkins was the editor of the Thomas Jefferson High School newspaper and Thompson was the sports editor and cartoonist.
Until he retired, Thompson was a great educator, artist and more, following a track that he moved toward in high school. Hawkins went on to work for more than 40 years on newspapers, magazines and other media.
Mr. Thompson sent Mr. Hawkins a package that arrived today. It was a wonderful surprise. Mr. Thompson knows Mr. Hawkins is a Beatles presented and collector.
The item was a magazine from December 1965. Here are few images from it:
The creative teams involved in making the Best Picture winners from 1973-1977 feature “heavyweight” directors, actors, themes and, yes, even a movie about heavyweight boxers.
The heavyweight directors included Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, Milos Foreman, and George Roy Hill. The actors included Allen, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, and Sylvester Stallone.
The Sting, 1973, directed by George Roy Hill
Many critics loved (with the exception of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert) “Butch Cassidy and “The Sundance Kid” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but it didn’t win the Oscar for Best Picture.
When the actors teamed up again for director George Roy Hill’s “The Sting,” however, they won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This comic, caper film is filled with twists and turns in what in many ways is about getting revenge for a late friend.
The “sting” of a big-time racketeer pits brain against gun and brawn. The tale is told with the marvelous music of Scott Joplin and is bolstered by great acting.Others competing for the 1973 top honor included “The Exorcist,” “Cries and Whispers,” and “American Graffiti.”
The Godfather II, 1974, directed by Francis Ford Coppola
For once a sequel is deserving of the honor of its predecessor. “Godfather I” won the Best Picture award and with the acting assistance of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro among others, director Francis Ford Coppola wins the honor again with this outstanding crime drama.
Of course, The Godfather movies are about more than crime. They were about families, culture and acceptance in a world that was resistant to letting them into the great American melting pot.
In this second movie, we witness a family betrayal and death, finding a way to gain political favors, the long-reach of one’s family in the old world, and revenge on the family’s perceived enemies.
Mr. Coppola truly deserved a Best Picture honor for this 200-minute epic.
Other competitors for the 1974 Best Picture honor included “Chinatown,” “The Conversation,” and “Lenny.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975, directed by Milos Forman
You would have to be “cuckoo” not to find something to like about “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the 1975 winner of the Oscar for Best Picture.
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, (who became a counter-culture hero with his Merry Pranksters), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is the beneficiary of a bravura performance by Jack Nicholson
The story is about a second-rate crook who pretends to be insane in order to avoid prison and be sent to what he expects to be an easier experience in a mental hospital. He proves to be an uplifting spirit for his fellow patients, but runs into a difficult adversary in the head nurse.
The cast is outstanding with several actors on the verge of stardom. That cast includes Louise Fletcher, Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd, Will Sampson, and William Redfield.
Others contenders for the 1975 Best Picture Award included “Barry Lyndon,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Jaws” and “Nashville.”
Rocky, 1976, directed by John Avildsen
“Rocky” is not only about a Philadelphia underdog boxer taking on the heavyweight champion of the world, it also is a testament to the behind-the-scenes story of unknown Sylvester Stallone getting the movie made, starring in his film and for it to win the 1976 Best Picture Oscar.
In addition to Stallone, the fine cast includes Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, and Carl Weathers.
This was the first real sports movie to win the Best Picture Oscar even though “On the Waterfront” had a sports backdrop. The score is an uptempo joy.
The only problem with “Rocky” is that it led to far too many sequels.
Other contenders for the 1976 honor were “All the President’s Men,” “Bound for Glory,” “Network,” and “Taxi Driver.”
Annie Hall, 1977, directed by Woody Allen
Woody Allen had completed numerous outstanding films before his “Annie Hall” won the 1977 Oscar for Best Picture.
This semi-autobiographical film about his relationship with Annie/Diane Keaton is a whimsical comedy that takes on the issues of loneliness and love, family, communications, maturity, city life, careers and even driving.It’s filled with classic scenes including one with a lobster, one with Paul Simon, and many more.
As with most of Woody Allen’s movies, “Annie Hall” has a great cast. In addition to those previously mentioned, the cast include Allen regular Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Marshall McLuhan (check out his sudden appearance while Woody is waiting in line to see a movie),
legendary interviewer Dick Cavett, Shelley Duvall, Colleen Dewhurst, Jeff Goldb added hislum, and Christopher Walken.
Another major plus for this movie was the cinematography of Gordon Willis, who also added his touch to Allen’s 1979 black and white visually and musically dazzling “Manhattan.”
The crop for Best Picture Oscar in 1977 was bountiful, but “Annie Hall” deserved the honor. Other contenders were “Star Wars,” “Julia,” “The Goodbye Girl,” and “Turning Point.”
Each year after the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture is announced, I immediately buy it, if I don’t already have it in my collection.
I didn’t see “The Shape of Water” in a theater, but my 4k copy arrived today. And tonight, March 21, I was treated to true cinema magic as this wonderful fantasy/science fiction/love story that even weaves a little sinister government “big brother” conspiracy into this amazing movie. And there’s a magical, musical segment that fits perfectly into this film.
Set in 1962 in Baltimore, we finally have a movie in which the creature has a happy ending. This film is almost an extension of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” but it is so much more.
I have a list (chiefly in my head) of movies that I call “Ronald” movies. They have a certain almost magical spirit that is so uplifting and inspiring.
The “Ronald movies” include Frank Capra’s “Lost Horizon,” “Field of Dreams” and “Cinema Paradiso.” There are others, but I am adding “The Shape of Water” to that list now.
Thank director/co-author Guillermo Del Toro, actors Sally Hawkins (no known relation), Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Doug Jones, an amazing artistic team and others for creating one of my all-time favorite Academy Award Best Winners.
Having finally seen and written about the most recent winner, we’ll be continuing our posts about the previous best picture winners soon.
The Library of Congress website is a source of vast information. One of the latest posts involves translating Mayan documents.
Here’s a portion of that story:
On March 13 and 14, an international team of linguists visited the Library of Congress to transcribe and translate, for the first time, the “Guatemalan Priests Handbook,” a rare and important manuscript in the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Collection.
Dating from the early 16th century, the manuscript is written in several indigenous Mayan languages. The visiting linguists, experts in the earliest Christian theologies written in the Americas, were Saqijix Candelaria Lopez Ixcoy of Guatemala’s Universidad Rafael Landivar, an authority on the manuscript’s ancient k’iche language; Sergio Romero of the University of Texas, Austin; Frauke Sachse of the University of Bonn; and Garry Sparks of George Mason University.
RDH Great Stories will be continuing its review/descriptions of the Academy Award for Best Picture winners, but since a new winner will be announced tonight it’s time to post a list of the winners since our last entry, which ended with the 1972 winner, “The Godfather.”
And the winners were:
1973: The Sting
1974: The Godfather, Part 2
1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
1977: Annie Hall
1978: The Deer Hunter
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer
1980: Ordinary People
1981: Chariots of Fire
1983: Terms of Endearment
1985: Out of Africa
1987: The Last Emperor
1988: Rain Man
1989: Driving Miss Daisy
1990: Dances with Wolves
1991: The Silence of the Lambs
1993: Schlinder’s List
1994: Forrest Gump
1996: The English Patient
1998: Shakespeare in Love
1999: American Beauty
2001: A Beautiful Mind
2003: Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2006: The Departed
2007: No Country For Old Men
2008: Slum Do Millionaire
2009: The Hurt Locker
2010: The King’s List
2011: The Artist
2013: 12 Years a Slave
2014: Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)