Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The Oscar (1966)
Props to Dan Callahan. The Citizen Kane of bad movies is the best description evah. It's awe-inspiring, how no hint of talent or artistry crops up to mar the perfection of The Oscar's badness. No detail was too small to fuck up. My new life's ambition is to watch this with the Blogdorf Goodman crew and Beauty Addict, because the makeup is the world's most complete list of don'ts. Jill St. John's eyelids were turned into baby blue dinner plates and Eleanor Parker (ah, Eleanor, how you suffered for this one) had her coral lips drawn way outside the mouth edge (girls, don't ever do that). The costume designer signals which women are the tarts (St. John and Edie Adams) by dressing them both in doubleknit polyester that drapes straight down like a windowshade and has the added benefit of making their breasts look like lemons stuck to a wall. Even the hairstyles are awful, especially when they've been "mussed" to indicate a romp in the hay.
Parker, all of 44 in this movie and she would have looked 34 if not for the hair and lips, knocks Elke Sommer into a propeller beanie in the looks department. You get to compare the two Miss Es directly, as Eleanor plays her big topless scene on her tummy facing stage left and peeling the paint off the walls with her emotions; and Elke plays her topless scene on her tummy facing the same way and delivering her lines like she's announcing that the train will be held at the station momentarily. Joseph Cotten is the stalwart, integrity-stuffed studio head--lots of those in Hollywood-on-Hollywood movies, for that extra touch of versimilitude, one assumes.
As for Tony Bennett, in his big scene, his suit dusted with cornstarch to indicate a soul's struggle in the depths, the singer seems to be channeling John Garfield on a frequency that can only tune in to late-period Jack Webb.
Stephen Boyd anchors the cast, his dimpled chin working furiously to indicate the states of emotion he can't convey by squaring his shoulders. He also has the ugliest speaking voice the Siren has yet encountered, a bastard mix of Irish and American that drowns the consonants in his throat like kittens and forces the vowels back out through his nose. But it's Milton Berle, as the goodhearted agent done wrong by his two-timing client, who gives this peerless defense of the honor and decency of Hollywood:
Boyd: I'm no different from anybody else in this damn town.
Berle: That's not true, Frankie. Oh, if it comes to a matter of life or death, if we have no other choice, then we hurt others--but reluctantly.
The Pathécolor is hideous and the art direction was a trip down memory lanes marked Wood Paneling, Harvest Gold and Avocado. And the Siren still wants to know how many pairs of false eyelashes were on Merle Oberon for the finale, which was just as thrillingly god-awful as Yojimboen promised.
Need I tell you I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it? My god, it was wonderful.