THE OSCAR MOVIE DETAILS:
* Embassy Pictures
* Director: Russell Rouse
* Cast: Stephen Boyd, Elke Sommer, Tony Bennett, Eleanor Parker, Milton Berle, assorted guest stars-awards:
* Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.
Ruthless, ambitious Frankie Fane claws his way up the ladder to the summit of Hollywood fame, destroying anyone who gets in his way.
It's trash movie time again and our choice holds an exalted place in the genre. Perhaps only "Valley of the Dolls" is as good/bad as "The Oscar." I hardly know what to highlight first in the catalog of delights this film offers.
Never has a film been so risible and expert at the same time. Never has a film been so trashy and compellingly realistic at once. Absolutely littered with a huge cast, including many great has-beens of erstwhile Hollywood fame, and one unexpected wannabe, the actors are all both wonderful and terrible, like the movie itself. It is completely irresistible and a treat of the highest order. Or, depending on your tastes, you may head rapidly for the exit.
"The Oscar" is the story of Frankie Fane, a two-bit hustler (played with ferocious intensity by Irish actor, Stephen Boyd) who goes from pimping (primarily Laurel, played by the delicious Jill St. John, the world's worst actress) and working odd jobs for pennies, to a top Tinseltown star the hard way, using, abusing and squashing everyone in his path, then mercilessly discarding them when they are no longer of use to them.
No cliche is overlooked in this Hollywood tale of his greed, ruthless ambition, and psychopathic disregard for anyone but himself. Among those he encounters along the way are (ready?) Kay Bergdahl (Elke Sommer, utterly gorgeous, quite charming, yet almost unintelligible at times with her "Mittel-European" accent and facial tics), a designer who knows exactly what a turd Frankie is, but fall for him anyway (as do all the women in this laugh-fest), Sophie Cantaro (Eleanor Powell), an ageing talent scout, Milton Berle (!), in a surprisingly effective performance as his agent, in addition to ....Joseph Cotton, Ernest Borgnine, Edie Adams, Peter Lawford, Merle Oberon, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Jack Soo, and Jean Hale. All are top-notch in their roles, giving their all to this campy fun, and many were probably grateful for the work.
Have I forgotten anybody? Indeed, I have, and on purpose, saving the best for last! Someone had the interesting idea of seeing whether Tony Bennett was possible movie material, so here he is as Hymie Kelly (!) - "My mother was Jewish was Irish; wanna make something of it?" - Frankie's friend, errand-boy, and stooge from the beginning, loyal to the very end, when it comes out that he married Laurel, who died on the operating table, pregnant with Frankie's baby. Well, suffice it to say, Mr. Bennett was most emphatically NOT movie material. He is awful, but never mind; his complete lack of acting talent makes the movie even better.
At the end, Frankie's career is slipping (remember, every cliche) and everyone deserts the bastard, but he's been nominated for....The Oscar (for best actor), so who needs them?
When the winner is announced as "Frank", he stands up and then you hear Miss Oberon (the presenter, whose role is all of five seconds long) say, "Sinatra!"
Frankie painfully applauds and slumps to his seat as various audience members who've been hurt by him, lick their lips in gleeful revenge.
As I've said, either you consider it a total delight or you got up and left a long time ago. I hope, like me, you're in the first group. They'll always make bad movies -- but seldom as entertaining as this one!
Watch the trailer for "The Oscar"
CURT LOVES OLDIES: Curt Solash dishes on the best and worst movies of all time
Curt Solash is a retired educator, an antique advertising collector and a lifelong cinemaphile from New York City who now lives in sunny Florida with his life partner.