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 RDH Great Stories month long Baseball exhibit is scheduled to open today at the Martinsville, Ind., main branch of the Morgan County Public Library.
The library is open seven days per week, but the hours vary depending on the day of the week. For details about library at 110 S. Jefferson St., Martinsville, Ind., go to http://morgancountylibrary.info/
The exhibit includes items related to multiple major league and minor league professional teams.
(Editor’s note: This is the ninth part in a multi-part series on the winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture. They are being presented in chronological order with “Wings,” the first winner, included among the movies reviewed and/or described in the first part.)
The five Oscar winners for Best Picture winners between 1968 and 1972 all had a certain edgy quality to them, even the musical “Oliver,” based on a Charles Dickens book and the stage musical, fits that description.
Those films were certainly reflective of the times with social upheavals, the U.S. presidency of Richard M. Nixon, the ongoing Vietnam War and many other issues shaking the times.
Oliver!, 1968, directed by Carol Reed
“Oliver!,” the 1968 Academy Award Best Picture winner, not only leaves one humming some of its tunes, but thinking about some of the issues the story raises.
Based on Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” the movie is story is about a young boy swept into a gang of youthful thieves. It’s a story about poverty, too, and what it forces some people to do. That is still a very relevant issue today at it was in 1968 and when Dickens novel was first published as a serial between 1837–39.
At a little more than 2-1/2 hours, Oliver! is plenty of entertainment per entertainment dollar in addition to being thought-provoking. The memorable songs include “Consider Yourself Part of the Family,” “I’ll Do Anything,” “Food Glorious Food,” and “As Long as He Needs Me.”
The cast includes Ron Moody, Shani Walls, Oliver Reed, Mark Lester, Jack Wild and Hugh Griffith.
Other contenders for Best Picture in 1968 included “Funny Girl,” “The Lion in Winter,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
Midnight Cowboy, 1969, directed by John Schlesinger
Although its original rating has been changed, “Midnight Cowboy” is the only Best Picture winner with the distinction of having a “X” rating when it was first released.
The film had been approved with an “R,” but after United Artist executives consulted a psychologist who said that the “homosexual frame of reference” and its “possible influence upon youngsters,” the studio agreed to accept the X rating. The Motion Picture Association of America ultimately changed its rating system and the movie got its R rating.
This is a gritty film about a naive, young Texas man, played by Jon Voight, who thinks he can make a great living as a gigolo in New York City. Once there, he meets the street-savvy, homeless, dying Ratso, played by Dustin Hoffman.
In “Midnight Cowboy,” Hoffman as Ratso yells one of the all-time classic movie lines as he walks across NYC street traffic: ” “I’m walkin’ here!” That line reached No. 27 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.” Additionally, the song “Everybody’s Talkin’,'” which is featured throughout the movie, won Harry Nilsson a Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance
In many ways, this is a very down movie, but sadly the story of beautiful dreams destroyed by harsh realities is still a true story for many people today.
The other contenders for the 1969 Best Picture Award included “Anne of the Thousand Days,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Hello Dolly,” and “Z.”
Patton, 1970, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
The Academy Award Best Picture winning “Patton” is described as a milestone in screen bio-pics by many critics.
George C. Scott extensively studied the brilliant, eccentric Gen. George S. Patton in preparing for the role. Scott displays the brilliance and the temper of the general, who was a major figure in World War II.
Scott, who won the Best Actor Award, had refused the Oscar nomination but won the award anyway. In a letter to the Academy, he stated that he did not feel himself to be in competition with other actors.
In addition to Scott, actors in the film included Karl Malden, Stephen Young and, if you dig further down in the credits, Tim Considine.
Other contenders for the 1970 Best Picture award included “Airport,” “Five Easy Pieces,” and “M*A*S*H.”
The French Connection, 1971, directed by William Friedkin
“The French Connection,” the 1971 Best Picture winner, is a high-energy, landmark film about international smuggling of heroin into New York City and a maverick detective’s efforts to try to stop it.
The great chase scenes through NYC streets are among the greatest in film history, which earned the film editors a well-deserved Oscar.. You will catch yourself moving back and forth in your seat (if you can manage to stay in it) trying to dodge the cars.
Gene Hackman is the star of this film, but the great cast also includes Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, and Tony LoBianco.
Other nominees for the 1971 Best Picture honor included “Clockwork Orange,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Last Picture Show,” and “Nicholas and Alexandra.”
The Godfather, 1974, Francis Ford Coppola
Hollywood has given us many notable gangster or mob films, but the two Oscar Best Picture winning “Godfather” movies gave us a greater sense of that world than ever before.
“The Godfather,” 1972, and “The Godfather Part 2, 1974, hold the distinction of being the only films that both the original and the sequel won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
In the first movie, we see Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, the “godfather,” in a role that some critics view as his greatest film performance. The other members of this great cast include Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, Abe Vigoda, singer Al Martino, and Alex Rocco.
This is a story about gangsters, but also one about families, not just crime families but in this case about Italian families seeking their version of the American dream and power.
It’s hard to imagine any other movie winning the 1972 Oscar for Best Picture than this Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece, but the other contenders included “Cabaret,””Deliverance,” “Sounder.”
Four of the five best picture Oscar winners between 1958-1962 were big picture productions, including two musicals. The fifth was a comedy.
Gigi, 1958, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Thank heaven for musicals like “Gigi,” the 1958 winner of the Oscar for best picture.
And for director Vincente Minnelli it meant another Oscar for best picture.
The story surrounds young a Parisian girl being trained to be a “courtesan,” but finds herself drawn to a man known to be a womanizer.
The New York Times reviewer in 1958 wrote, “There won’t be much point in anybody trying to produce a film of ‘My Fair Lady’ for awhile because (producer) Arthur Freed has virtually done it with ‘Gigi.'” Actually, “My Fa Lady” became a film and won an Oscar for best picture in 1964. More about that movie in a future post.
Aside from the similarity to “My Fair Lady,” “Gigi” was one of the first MGM films to be shot on location. The film is filled with tributes to the French lifestyle.
The memorable songs for this movie include “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” and “I Remember It Well.”
The cast includes Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold and Eva Gabor. The screenplay’s music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics and screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner.
Other competitors for the 1958 Oscar included “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and the Defiant Ones.”
Ben Hur, 1959, directed by William Wyler
Though many watch this just for the chariot race or watch it as their Easter weekend tradition, “Ben Hur” also is a powerful, deeply religious, nearly four-hour long movie that is rich enough in detail to merit several viewings.
Although this movie is largely a Christian movie, agnostics, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and others can find meaning in this William Wyler-directed extravaganza. It’s about learning to forgive, being loyal to one’s family, the healing power of belief and, of course, about the story of Jesus Christ as viewed by the author, and about the clashes between the Jews and the occupying Romans.
Although based on Civil War Gen. Lew Wallace’s novel, the story had previously been produced on stage (no kidding) and in films. But this version was the most spectacular yet.
For this writer growing up in Louisville, Ky., this move was such a spectacular for our family that we had to see it in one of the fancy downtown movie theaters, not one of the usual drive-ins where we could bring our beverages and homemade popcorn. If we wanted popcorn, we would have to buy it at the Brown Theater concession stand.
The outstanding cast for this movie included Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Sam Jaffee, Haya Harareet, and Hugh Griffith.
Other 1959 competitors for the honor included “Anatomy of a Murder,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Room at the Top.”
The Apartment, 1960, directed by Billy Wilder.
“The Apartment,” the 1960 Academy best picture is both a comedy and a morality tale about assisting others’ infidelity.
Under the direction of “all-star” director Billy Wilder, the film involves a bachelor (Jack Lemmon) who turns over the key to his apartment to the hierarchy of his employers, a situation he doesn’t like. When gives the key to one boss (Fred MacMurray), he finds that the woman (Shirley MacLaine) he brings is someone Lemmon’s character knows and is attracted to.
Lemmon drew high praise for his performance in this part, following his starring role in “Some Like it Hot.” A New York Times critic wrote Lemmon “takes precedence as our top comedian by virtue of his work in this film.”
This was quite a different role for MacMurray, whom some of us were just getting to know as the dad in “My Three Sons.”
Other contenders for best picture in 1960 included “The Alamo,” “Elmer Gantry” and “The Sundowners.”
West Side Story, 1961, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.
Academy Award winning best picture “West Side Story” is one of the best-loved musicals even by those shaking their heads at ballet-style dancing gang members.
Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the story is about gang and ethnic conflicts on New York City’s West Side. A ground-breaking musical, the story follows the Jets and the Sharks as they fight for their turf while Maria and Tony fight for love.
The magnificent music is by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The cast includes Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn.
Other films nominated for the 1916 best picture Oscar were “Fanny,” “The Hustler,” and “Judgment at Nuremberg.”
Lawrence of Arabia, 1962, David Lean
While based on a true story, David Lean’s Academy Award best-picture winning “Lawrence of Arabia” is about a descent into madness even though the basic story is a action-filled tale regarding how Brit T. E. Lawrence helped Bedouins in their battle against the Turks during World. War I.
This spectacular movie needs to be seen on a big screen. The cinematography by David Lean’s crew is spectacular showing the beauty and terrors of the desert. It’s truly one of my favorite movies to watch, an intelligent and visual delight as nearly all of David Lean’s films were.
The descent into madness by Lawrence is exemplified by his increasingly dangerous tactics and even his seeming loss of identity. The movie is loosely based on T. E. Lawrence’s “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” Although Lawrence is very heroic, he eventually starts to lose his British identity, takes more and more chances, wears Arab garb and takes on action in the desert that few would chance.
Lawrence is played marvelously by Peter O’Toole in his first major film. Others in this great cast include Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Omar Shariff, Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains
Films competing with this Lean masterpiece for the 1962 best picture honor included “The Longest Day,” “The Music Man” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Coming soon: 1963-1967, the age of “They call me Mr. Tibbs,” “The Rain in Spain” and much more.
From 1948-1952, giants of the entertainment world — including the motion picture –industry played prominent parts in the movies that won the Academy Award for best picture.
Those names would include Laurence Olivier, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, Cecile B. DeMille, Charlton Heston, Gene Kelly, Vincente Minnelli, Leslie Caron, Anne Baxter, and in a relatively minor role Marilyn Monroe.
Even William Shakespeare got in on the action.
“Hamlet,” 1948, directed by Laurence Olivier.
This Oscar-winning version of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” was the first time one of The Bard’s great plays received the Academy Award for best picture.
This production was a creation of Laurence Olivier who directed the movie and played Hamlet. The film version was shortened considerably from the four-hour play to 153 minutes. Shot in Denmark, it was lauded for its photography.
In case this is new to you, the story is about the prince (Hamlet) “who just couldn’t decide” and was seeking revenge for the death of his father.
The great cast included Jean Simmons, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Stanley Holloway, Eileeen Herlie, Basil Sydney and Felix Aylmer.
Among other nominees for the top prize were”The Red Shoes” and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”
“All the King’s Men,” 1949, directed by Julian Jarrold
Based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren, this incredible political drama is the fictional story of a politician who rises to the governorship fighting corruption but then falls to the same demons.
The movie and book are supposedly based on the life and death of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long, who called himself “The KIngfish.” He served as the governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a member of the United State Senate from 1932 until his assassination in 1935. There’s also a bit of Major League Baseball Commissioner and former Kentucky Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler in the character, but Chandler wasn’t assassinated.
Set in the depression era, it starred Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, John Ireland, Joanne Dru and John Derek (future director/photographer and husband of Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek). This was a big break for Crawford whom many of us boomers remember from the “Highway Patrol” TV series.
A remake in 2006 starring Sean Penn doesn’t have quite the same power as the original.
Other contenders for the 1949 top picture Oscar included “A Letter to Three Wives” and “Twelve O’Clock High.”
“All About Eve,” 1959, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewciz
“A’ll About Eve” is the ultimate backstage drama with Anne Baxter’s character taking over the Broadway role and life of aging star Bette Davis’ character .
In addition to Davis and Baxter, the great cast of this best picture winner includes George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill and Thelma Ritter. Marilyn Monroe also appears in several scenes.
This movie deservedly won six Oscars. Among the other outstanding films competing for the best picture Oscar were “Born Yesterday,” “King Solomon’s Mine,” and “Sunset Boulevard.”
An American in Paris, 1951, directed by Vincente Minnelli
Best picture winner “An American in Paris” serves as a great showcase for the marvelous dancing skills of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in addition to the great music of Gershwin.
The plot involves Kelly, playing an artist in Paris, being torn between two women. The songs, choreography and production are what makes this a delight to watch, not the plot.
This is not this writer’s favorite Kelly musical. “On the Town” and “Singin’ in the Rain” rank higher on my list of favorite Kelly musical vehicles. Yet, it is an outstanding film, worth watching several times if you appreciate great productions.
Other nominees for the best picture Oscar included “A Street Named Desire” and “A Place in the Sun.”
The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952, directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
This Oscar winner might have been about the greatest show on Earth, but it wasn’t the greatest movie of 1952.
“The Greatest Show on Earth” is a romance and fugitive story under a circus big top. This film lives up to Cecil B. DeMille’s reputation as a fabulous creator of big productions.
The outstanding cast includes Jimmy Stewart. Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston and Dorothy LaMour.
This writer’s problem isn’t that this is a bad film, but that there were better movies nominated for the 1952 Academy Award for best picture. Those included “High Noon,” “The Quiet Man,” and “Moulin Rouge.”