Comfortable and Furious

The Oscars: When Pigs Fly Edition

“The day those stout hearts band together is the day that pigs get wings” -Henry II
“There will be pork in the treetops come morning.” -Eleanor

I must thank my Lickspittle-in-Chief Bob, Pooka 1st Class, Narcissistic Division, for his invaluable assistance in compiling this pile from the foothills of  Bandini Mountain, Hollywood USA.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

    “To talk of many things:

Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax

    Of cabbages—and kings—

And why the sea is boiling hot—

    And whether pigs have wings.”

Flying pigs nesting in trees brings us to the tainted subject of the Oscars. ”Gotta dance!”  Nesting pigs: read Academy Members. (NO, I am not some sort of raging Bolshevik, DC the Unreconstructed Confederate)

Firstly: the Oscars are an industry award. If you are reading this, you are likely not in the industry, let alone a member of the AMPAS. Your opinion does not count nor valid any more than regarding the United Fruit Peddlers Golden Banana Award.

Let’s play the Hollywood game. For example: Nominees for the 1962 Best screenplay adapted from another medium- Come on down!!!

To Kill a Mockingbird – Horton Foote

Horton Foote was a fine writer who wrote several good screenplays, especially good at portraying rural southern folk.

David and Lisa – Eleanor Perry. Not my cup of tea, and without broad appeal.

Lawrence of Arabia – Robert Bolt. (uncredited Michael Wilson) To my mind one of the best screenplays ever filmed. Well structured, every line of dialogue reveals character as well moving the narrative along.

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov. Not bad, but Vlad did not write it.  His screenplay was unfilmable. James Harris and Stanley Kubrick wrote it.

The Miracle Worker – William Gibson. Gibson adapted from his hit play.  The scene at the water pump is one of the most emotionally moving scenes ever put on film.  It had the added virtue of having happened in real life.

(I must mention a mystery on the nominees for original screenplay side for 1962. Last Year at Marienbad. Really?  I thought that movie was made as a primer for students of editing on how to make match-cuts.)

The Oscar went to Horton Foote.  Ah, OK.

Best Picture: Lawrence of Arabia

Best Director: David Lean

Best Cinematography Color: Lawrence of Arabia – Freddie Young

Best Actor nominees: 

Gregory Peck – To Kill a Mockingbird as Atticus Finch

Burt Lancaster – Birdman of Alcatraz as Robert Stroud

Jack Lemmon – Days of Wine and Roses as Joe Clay

Marcello Mastroianni – Divorce Italian Style as Ferdinando Cefalù

Peter O’Toole – Lawrence of Arabia as T. E. Lawrence

Lemmon, Peck and Lancaster had been stars for over a decade.  Mastroianni was a foreigner, and O’Toole was an unknown.

How do you quantify an actor’s performance? You don’t, it’s a matter of taste, temperament and prejudice.  But there is an additional factor.

Peck was the politically correct selection. The Academy proved it was against racism and injustice. Of course, it never found the stones to defend Charlie Chaplin ten years earlier, and were it not for Kirk Douglas defying the Black List by hiring Dalton Trumbo for Spartacus (not his best work, I might add), it might have been a going concern. 

Let us not forget the Academy threw W. Griffith under the bus by removing his name from the award for highest lifetime achievement as a director.  Ignoring the fact he practically invented the art and craft of movies.

That additional factor? 


Millions spent by studios and some actors themselves for countless ads in the trades, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, billboards all over Town and mass postal mailing like the crap from candidates running for political office for the opportunity to commit treason on the taxpayer dime.

In the pre-tech days members had to attend private screenings or public theaters using free passes sent to them in the mail.  Then came the DVD screeners.

My sister, as a member of the Editors Guild of the IATSE, received dozens every season. It was a task to dispose of them as they could not be tossed in the trash as they were watermarked to the receiver, each bearing an FBI threat.  Agents of China and other pirate nations were always on the lookout for profitable titles to copy and market.  She would not want the pirated copy of Raiders of the Golden Monkey stamped Donated to the People’s Republic by Susan Welsh.  It was my task to snap the nasty DVDs in half and dump them in the recycle bin.

The Oscar campaigns of some Oscar thirsty actors stop just short of them strolling Hollywood Blvd clad in nothing save a sandwich board begging the plea:


I deserve that Oscar.

What are we left with?

A three-hour TV annual celebration of ego wherein millionaires give each other gold icons and expect to be loved for it.

Artistic merit? If you see it, send up a flare.





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