In recognition of Oscar night (though I really could not care less about tonight’s awards), here’s a little trip down memory lane for the opening to the 42nd Annual Academy Awards, where you get to see some honest glamor and class that even the presence of the reprehensible Jane Fonda can’t muck up.
A few thoughts:
-Good Lord! Jon Voight is so young! I’m used to thinking of him as the venerable old thespian from Anaconda and John Paul II (yes, those are the two roles I associate him with. They’re both great roles!). Here he’s a fresh-faced heartthrob right off of playing a male prostitute in Midnight Cowboy alongside an equally youthful Dustin Hoffman (“I’m walkin’ here!”) back when a film about homosexuality was daring and controversial instead of it being daring and controversial to saying anything against it.
-I really love how Gregory Peck takes a moment to explain the voting process to the audience. I think that’s a handy feature. Perhaps Clint Eastwood or someone could do that this year.
-Myna Loy! Wow, she had charisma; even at 65, she still appeared glamorous and commanding just walking out on stage.
-In a contrast to the over-rehearsed performances you’ll see tonight, I love how John Wayne and Bob Hope improvise together and Wayne realizes abruptly that he’s lingering too long and scurries off stage.
-Speaking which, what a genius was Bob Hope! He packs more humor and charm into ten minutes than have been shown in the past two or three Oscar Nights combined.
-Oh, and maybe it’s me, but I think there’s a definite edge to some of his jokes. Despite his own moral failures, he didn’t approve of the counterculture and the deteriorating morality of both the screen and the country at large. Hope’s expression during this routine looks kind of severe: as if he’s really trying to get his disgust across through his jokes.
-Fred Astair! Later that evening he did indeed do a dance number, and it was amazing, especially considering he was 70 years old at the time! Just take a look (you can skip by them giving the award to some documentary no one remembers).
Finally, here’s footage of that night’s Best Actor winner: the great John Wayne finally winning his long-deserved Academy Award (he was first nominated for Sands of Iwo Jima, easily could have won for Red River or She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and he really should have won for The Searchers). If you ever wanted to see John Wayne reduced to tears, this is probably as close as you’re gonna get.