Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sorry, Harlan

The Oscar ~ This 1966 film was notorious in my teenage years. It was known as one of the worst movies ever made, and it was also the main reason my favorite author, Harlan Ellison, had so much contempt for Hollywood, as it was co-written by him. The really bad part was that it very rarely aired on TV. The one time it did, it was so boring I fell asleep before it had barely begun. Luckily (or maybe not) I got a chance to see it again recently, and in its entirety.

Based on the novel by Richard Sale and starring Stephen Boyd, hot off of Ben-Hur, the lovely Elke Sommer, and believe it or not, Tony Bennett in a dramatic role, the flick actually boasts quite a cast and crew of superstars and behind-the-scenes masters. At first glance, this could have been, and should have been a surefire hit. The question is – what happened?

The acting. To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz – “The acting, the acting…” When the performances are good, they’re over the top, and when they’re bad, they are so camp it would make a drag queen blush. The Oscar feels like the love child of Peyton Place and Mommie Dearest. More than once I had that same feeling I have when watching Showgirls… did they let the cast in on the joke? If this had more music, more costumes and more patient pauses, this could be another Rocky Horror midnight movie sensation.

Sorry, Harlan. Proof positive that you can have Jill St. John do a striptease, and your movie will still suck. The Oscar is so bad, it’s good, but not that good.

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