44th Academy Awards - 1972
Chaplin Accepting his Oscar
44th Academy Awards
Even today I believe there isn't a soul alive who hasn't heard of Charlie Chaplin. What many may not have heard about was the shabby treatment he received from the United States. During the war he tried to help Russia in it's battle against Nazi Germany and as a result he was labeled a Communist. When he left the country for the premiere of one of his movies, he was denied re-entry into the United States. Charlie hailed from London, but had made the United States his home. He was called "a threat to national security" and as a result he and his wife moved to Switzerland where he continued to work and finish out his days. He was one of the greatest film makers!
At the 44th Academy Awards, Charlie Chaplin was given an Honorary Award. This Award is not given every year and is truly a recognition of great film making. When Chaplin went up to receive his award he received a twelve minute standing ovation, the longest in Academy history. Certainly well deserved!
Jane Fonda won Best Actress for Klute, but said, “There’s a great deal to say and I’m not going to say it tonight.” Her protests against the Vietnam War are still controversial today and it was widely known that was what she was referring to that night. It is certainly to her credit that she did NOT say anything about it.
Betty Grable appeared to give out the musical scoring award. This was her last public appearance, she was battling cancer at the time.
The 44th Academy Awards presentation actually won an Emmy! How's that? An Awards show winning an award?
Now let's take a look at some of the top pictures.
The French Connection
This movie won, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Screenplay. Based on a non-fiction book the characters were based in reality.
An unsuspecting French actor becomes the smuggler of thirty two million dollars worth of heroin into New York City. The French crime lord, Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) is responsible for planting the heroin.
What awaits in NYC? Popeye (Gene Hackman) and Buddy (Roy Scheider) are narcotics investigators who stumble on the big load being smuggled into the US. This film has been called "gritty" and it certainly is. Popeye and Buddy realize a local couple who own a Mom and Pop type store are living pretty high on the hog with their meager earnings. Tailing them, the cops soon find they've found the smuggling ring.
Popeye was not portrayed as the kind of cop you see Tom Selleck playing now. He was sometimes brutal and obsessed with his job. A womanizer who frequently breaks the rules, most likely a true police officer of the day, especially in his narcotics role.
I'm not even touching this one. You really have to see it to believe it. The chase scene in this movie set the tone for all future chase scenes. I really don't want to say too much more because I'll ruin it for you. It's edgy, "gritty", and different than other police movies you've seen. Check it out if you haven't already seen it.
The Last Picture Show
Nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. In an age when everyone has just adjusted to all movies being in color, this one was shot in black and white.
Life in a small Texas town for teenagers coming of age. Background music is fifties country western music. Not your typical coming of age story with nude indoor pool parties, an affair with the football coach's wife, a wealthy teen who says he doesn't want to bed a virgin, a girl having sex with her mother's lover, and that is just a part of it.
The last picture show is the one the boys see just before the local movie theater closes down. The main places in the town were the diner, the pool hall and the theater, all owned by Sam the Lion(Ben Johnson) a central character providing the significance for the last picture show.
Did I mention this is also a "gritty" film? Must've been the year of the gritty film. Fishing at "the Tank" is a favorite pass time for the boys though ironically it is believed there are no fish in the tank. It is the one refreshing spot in the hot and dry town and a lot of time is spent there.
I could go on about the details and the story but then you wouldn't want to see it. It is a sad movie, with some pretty pathetic characters, but the acting is good and there is much food for thought here in a small forgotten place.
Movies Nominated That Did Not Win
A Clockwork Orange
Peter Finch - Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Julie Christie - McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Fiddler on the Roof
Walter Matthau - Kotch
Glenda Jackson - Sunday, Bloody Sunday
The Last Picture Show
George C. Scott - The Hospital
Vanessa Redgrave - Mary Queen of Scots
Nicholas and Alexandra
Chaim Topol - Fiddler on the Roof
Janet Suzman - Nicholas and Alexandra
Fiddler on the Roof
Winning Best Song Score Adaptation, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound, this musical is quite a departure from the other two films I've just mentioned.
The story of a poor Jewish family in a Russian village in pre-revolutionary Russia. Political unrest and anti-semitism run high, but Tevye, his wife, and his family of five daughters hold to the old traditions. He would love to be rich and he wants good marriages for each of his daughters. The town matchmaker is not so optimistic about their prospects because they are poor. Political unrest is coming to their village. They try to ignore the possible implications, but by the end of the film cannot and are forced to leave their village.
The music is a delight with songs like, "Matchmaker", "If I Were a Rich Man", and "Tradition". It certainly makes you tap your toes. A good musical to watch and hum along to.
Every great film should seem new every time you see it.— Roger Ebert
More Movies From 1971
There's quite a selection of movies from 1971. Do you remember "Support Your Local Gunfighter"? A humorous look at westerns that showcases James Garner's talent. Of course there's also movies like "Isle of the Snake People" and "Black Belly of the Tarantula", but what year doesn't have its Sci-Fi type thrillers or should I say attempt at thrillers? Of course our beloved Walt Disney always gives us a great film to watch and enjoy. Here are more movies you might remember:
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder
Harold and Maude
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Omega Man
Diamonds are Forever
The Andromeda Strain
Summer of '42
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Do you think 1971 was a great year for movies?
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