Released in December of 1959…Wow! What an amazing ride for this incredible, cinematic masterpiece!!!
Thanks to Emmanuel in France for researching on YouTube and finding some really rare live footage of Stephen Boyd at two Academy Awards ceremonies! One is at the 1959 ceremony. Stephen is seated next to power-player columnist Hedda Hopper, who adored Stephen. The other is a quick shot of Stephen with date Romney Tree at the 1960 ceremony, when Ben-Hur won 11 Academy Awards!
1959 Academy Awards
Look for Stephen at 57 seconds in!
1960 Academy Awards
Very brief shot of Stephen and Romney on the far left at 2:21
Finding a positive review of “The Oscar” is a bit of a challenge, but I really like this particular review!
March 5, 1966, Daily News, New York
There have been many “inside” film stories about Hollywood producers and stars, including the current attraction at the Music Hall, “Inside Daisy Clover.” But there has never been as bitter a pill for Hollywood to swallow as “The Oscar” which had a gala premiere Thursday night at Loew’s State with a number of the film’s stars in attendance. It opened to the public yesterday at both the State and Festival Theatres.
The Embassy Pathe Color production is being released in the nick of time as the balloting on the 1965 awards is going on right now in Hollywood. The results will be announced by the Academy April 18. As unseemly as the fight for the coveted award is shown to be, and in spite of the shockingly violent stripping of a star’s glamor during the course of the film, “The Oscar” is bound to attract attention from other than inveterate movie-goers. For anyone with a modicum of interest in the behind-the-scenes of a movie studio, “The Oscar is a must-see film.
The the first place, it gives Stephen Boyd a chance to prove that he is a fine actor, as well as a handsome profile in a wide screen colorful epic, is role, penned with acid by Harlan Ellison, Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene from Richard Sale’s novelistic expose, is a fascinating portrayal of a heel.
The sorry tale is about Frankie Fane’s rise from manager of a stripper for stag parties to a top Hollywood star to his slipping career, suddenly stopped on the slide downhill by is nomination for the Academy Award. Fane’s ruthless, despicable maneuvers to cop the Oscar and revitalize his screen career are shown in all their naked baseness on the screen. Frankie is exposed as a man without feeling and, as on of his erstwhile friends says of him, carrying the seed of rot inside himself.
The role of the Hollywood heel is played with remarkable verisimilitude by Boyd. He is surrounded bu a bevy of beauties, each one adding to the success of the production. Elke Sommer represents the beautiful and talented clothes designer who becomes the star’s wife. Eleanor Parker is the woman who gives him his first big boost towards success. Jill St. John plays the gorgeous stripper in the early part of the film and Edie Adams helps him with a battle with a blackmailer.
The surprise of the film is the excellent performance that Tony Bennett contributes in his first screen role and Milton Berle’s fine portrayal in the straight dramatic role as Fane’s agent. Joseph Cotton, Ernest Borgnine, Peter Lawford, Ed Begley, Broderick Crawford and a feminine quartet of famous people add spice to the production. The four woman are the late Hedda Hopper, Merle Oberon, Nancy Sinatra and dress-designer Edith Head. Rouse directed the film in a realistic manner.
Seeing the film on the screen is better than a conducted tour of the exterior Hollywood and its studios, as “The Oscar” gives one a real inside look at the cinema capital and its people. However, I hope that this picture of what happens to an Oscar nominee is presented more in fancy than in fact.
Not those Oscars–THIS OSCAR, from 1966! Yes, it’s time to lie, cheat, bully, double-cross, fight and claw your way to the very top in order to get this little prize, only to watch it slip through your fingers at the very last second. Good luck out there, Oscar Nominees. Frankie Fane knows your pain.
Hollywood – The Motion Picture Academy still hasn’t solved its supporting-actor problem.
The support category in the Oscar sweepstakes has vexed Hollywood ever since 1944. That was the year when Barry Fitzgerald was nominated for both star and support awards for his performance in “Going My Way.”
Absurd? Of course. The academy has kept changing its rules ever since (Fitzgerald finally won for support). For a while, actors in hit films permitted themselves to be demoted to supporting class to qualify in that less competitive race. Now the academy rules that any actor with star billing– usually denoted by having his name appear above the title — must compete in the star race.
That still isn’t the answer, as you can see in the case of Stephen Boyd. Recently he won the Hollywood foreign press award as best supporting player because of his work in “Ben-Hur.” Yet he drew no Oscar nomination, because he had star billing in the film.
“Ridiculous!” declares the outspoken Irishman. “I was a supporting player in the picture. Every other role in ‘Ben-Hur’ was in support of Chuck Heston.
“Why, not counting the chariot sequence, my role lasted only a half-hour on the screen. Now how can you call that a starring role?”
Boyd remarked that Hugh Griffith had a much larger role than he did. Yet Griffith was nominated for support, while Boyd remained a star.
“Nobody can tell me that Thelma Ritter is not a star, yet she was nominated for support for ‘Pillow Talk,” the actor added. That’s another incongruity. Some noted character performers never get star billing, though their roles are stellar. Yet some top names will accept minor roles as long as they get the balm of star billing. You figure it out.
Boyd has always managed to speak his mind in this town, and it made him a puzzle for his studio (20th Century Fox). For instance, the bosses were taken aback when he refused to take the role of Boaz in “The Story of Ruth.”
“It;s a good script, but I felt I couldn’t add anything to the role,” he remarked. “It wouldn’t have helped me and it wouldn’t have helped the picture.”
He was equally vocal about wanting to do “Let’s Make Love” with Marilyn Monroe after Gregory Peck walked out of the lead. But it went to Yves Montand instead.
“That was a part I would have done,” Boyd complained. “The studio didn’t think I could do comedy.
“Good lord, for about 10 years I played 50 different plays a year in repertory in England. About 10 of those would be dramas. I got my first big breaks in films doing comedy.”
Boyd takes rather a fatalistic view of his service with the 20th-Fox, which extends another two and a half years. He’ll stick it out – but in the roles he thinks he can do. During that time, he’ll make no move to change his citizenship.
“That’s a big step, and I’d never do it while I was under contract and had to stay in the country,” he reasoned.