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44th Academy Awards - 1972

Updated on September 18, 2015

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

Best Picture
Best Actor
Best Actress
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
Cardinal Knowledge
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Omega Man
The Beguiled
Brian's Song
Dirty Harry
Diamonds are Forever
The Andromeda Strain
Summer of '42

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Do you think 1971 was a great year for movies?

See results

"Bringing you movies that are part of your memories."


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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      Glad I could help Deb ;)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You just outlined some very good reasons why I need to see these. I missed them the first time around, because I was under my parents' roof.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      Thanks Larry, always good to have you here.

      drbj, I was once the consummate movie goer but now thanks to TV's wonders I get to stay home and enjoy them!

      Sha, Brian's Song was definitely a tear jerker, made all the sadder because it was true. Lots of good movies that year. Willie Wonka is a true classic!

      Yes Faith, it was quite a mix of movies, not unlike the year itself. Quite a mix of emotions on and off the screen. Glad you enjoy this series, I have a few years to go ;)

      That is so true Ruby. Sometimes watching a movie the second time is even better because you catch things you missed the first time!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I saw most of the movies either in the theater or reruns. I loved The Fiddler on the Roof. I remember how badly Chaplin was treated. Nineteen seventy one was a year of discord in America. It was not wise to speak your mind. I agree with Roger Ebert, I've seen many movies over again and they were just as good the second time around. Another great series that I enjoy. Thank you..

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Mary,

      Oh, that is terribly sad about how we treated Chaplin, and I did not realize we had done so! Thank you for sharing that fact. He was brilliant.

      An interesting mix of movies here for this particular year. I love Dirty Harry, Fiddler on the Roof, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Willie Wonka ...

      May have to check out those I missed.

      You always do such a wonderful job here in your presentation and information, Mary.


    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      I haven't seen the first two movies you mention. I was only in 9th grade in 1971 so I wasn't allowed to see many of the movies that were produced that year. I do remember Fiddler on the Roof, Willy Wonka, The Summer of '42, and Brian's Song. In fact, we watched Brian's Song in one of my English electives. I was glad I sat in the back because I cried my eyes out!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      I didn't see the 'Snake' movie or the 'Tarantula' film, Mary, but I did view every one of the films you mentioned except 'The Beguiled,' and enjoyed them all. I may be the consummate movie goer.

      It's true, we treated Chaplin, a great artist, shabbily.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I really enjoy these. A wonderful series.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      Mike, I love it when your mind wanders ;) but most of all I love it that you enjoy this series!

      Ann there were some good films this year, but I don't see them as stellar. Other years surpassed this one. Thanks so much for following!

      You picked some good ones Frank! So glad you enjoy these trips down memory lane.

      Manatita, glad you are home safe. Yes, it was sad that Chaplin was treated so badly! Have a glorious weekend.

      Ah Billy, you're more like me than you know. I see soo many movies, Larry's always asking me, "when did you see that one?"

      You are most welcome Genna. Thank you for always being here. The French Connection and Last Picture Show would not be my picks, but the acting was superb. Gene Hackman was on top of his game.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Mary...

      Jane Fonda was wonderful in "Klute" -- and I agree with you in that it was very wise for her not to turn this awards program into a political podium. I'm embarrassed to say that I have not seen "The French Connection," or "The Last Picture Show." (I know, I know -- where have I been?) But after reading your synopsis, I certainly plan to and soon. I did see "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," and "Mary, Queen of Scotts."

      What a wonderful photo headlining this article: The great Charlie Chaplin and Jack Lemmon. I do so looove this series, Mary. Thank you, thank you!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm not sure if it's fantastic or sad that I've seen every single movie you mentioned in this article. I'm a bit surprised to tell you the truth, but I do love movies...and I love this series, as you know.

      As they say in the theater, BRAVO!!!!!

    • manatita44 profile image


      3 years ago from london

      As usual Mary, I've seen some of them and our tastes seem to merge a lot. Chaplin, I did not kn0w that America gave him such a hard time. Shame on them! The guy was a very positive model and a great visionary. A total genius! Much Love.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      3 years ago from Shelton

      Til thanks you for the rush of memories once again.. There were just a few good movies I enjoyed back then.. Dirty Harry and Wily Wonka.. not too many movies that stood out at least not for me.. Billy jack was good.. and I think the French Connection won it all in 71.. or 72 hmmm I forget ..anyways a great hub my friend

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Great stuff! I love The French Connection and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Dirty Harry. Not a bad year for films, was it? Charlie Chaplin was a lovely man but I never took to his films; slapstick is not my favourite genre.

      I also enjoy this series of yours, Mary. Looking forward to the next.


    • mckbirdbks profile image


      3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Well, there are certainly some blockbusters in this years Academy Award choices. It is a wonder to walk down memory lane and bring back these classics. I agree 'The French Connection' is gritty and the chase scene is right up there with the best. 'The Last Picture Show' showed off Larry McMurtry's talents as a writer. His 'Lonesome Dove' will be read for years to come. (And he was a bookseller for many years in a small town in Texas. - Oops where was I?)

      I enjoy your Academy Awards series.


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