No “Failure To Communicate” Here!

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 09:00 AM.

            I didn’t watch the Academy Awards last Sunday. Something about a bunch of actors handing out awards to each other just doesn’t ring true to me. How do you know if they are sincere……or just acting?

My disenchantment with the Oscar presentations started back in 1968, when Paul Newman didn’t win best actor for his role in “Cool Hand Luke”. He ate fifty eggs in that movie at one sitting. Fifty! You tell me any other actor who got nominated that year could have come close to that! My stomach went to spinning as I watched him cram those last few in. People around me were gagging on their popcorn and Milk Duds. I think about it now, forty-seven years later, and I still get a little nauseous. Now that, folks, is SOME MORE powerful acting!

            Ole Luke showed us a lot of grit in the face of confinement and adversity. He didn’t bow, he didn’t bend, he didn’t break……and when things looked the worst, he gave us that “you can’t beat me” grin that made everyone in the theater proud to be an independent, free thinking American. Shoot, I thought about rushing out and joining the nearest chain gang!    

            When he didn’t win, I knew the fix was in. Some of this “Best Picture”, “Best Actor”, “Best Animated Short Subject” electing might have been more political than ability. Big studio money, egos, behind the scenes shuffling and warped Hollywood thinking has won more Academy Awards than any real acting.

            Let me tell you how crazy the movie industry can be, the very same year “Cool Hand Luke” came out Paul Newman also delivered up an absolutely award winning performance in another film……he should have won first AND SECOND if the voting had been on the up and up. And he didn’t even get nominated for his role as John Russell in “Hombre”! Remember when the self-appointed aristocrat, as the stagecoach was abandoned in the middle of nowhere, was screaming at Newman, “Why do we have to follow you? Who put you in charge? Why do we all have to listen to you?” He turned to her with no malice and no grin, narrowed his eyes a mite and uttered, “Cause I can cut it, lady”. 

            No one doubted that he couldn’t!

But it didn’t seem to impress the academy voters. Movies haven’t had quite the same appeal to me since Paul left the business and my Captain Midnight Decoder Ring quit working. That’s why I couldn’t tell you one person this year who won an Oscar…….or who was even nominated. I don’t know who dazzled or who fizzled walking down that red carpet. I don’t know which acceptance speech ran on and on or which actress was first to blotch the simple cue cards. And I’m fairly certain the emcee didn’t keep the audience rolling like Bob Hope used to do it.



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