Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Broads bilk the script at the '68 Oscars

While trolling through YouTube doing research for my Triple Crowners series, I came across this clip. Watch and be stunned:

This is Natalie Wood, Ingrid Bergman, Jane Fonda, Diahann Carroll and Rosalind Russell at the 1968 Academy Awards (which was the first year the ceremony was broadcast globally). They presented the best director Oscar, but not before admonishing the nominated directors for doing their best "to make female stars obsolete." Bergman starts off the patter with, "We are assembled here somewhat reluctantly..." and the quintet proceeds to mock the directors -- except Anthony Harvey, who had a female lead in Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter -- for stacking their casts with men exclusively. (Bergman herself disqualifies Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet in nominee Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare adaptation, by brushing her off as "a teenaged newcomer" in a tone that is mischievous at best, contemptuous at worst.) Fonda and Russell in particular appear to be reveling in their own rebellion.

I've devoured my share of Oscar-related books, and I've never heard of this bit of unscripted subterfuge. After finding this clip, I tried to Google my way to answers: Whose idea was it? It must've been planned and rehearsed -- how else could it have been executed so flawlessly? What was the general reaction at the time, besides a surprised smattering of laughter in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion? How come the winner, Carol Reed, didn't respond during his acceptance speech? I found no answers online. The quintet of women aren't even listed as presenting the 1968 best director Oscar in the "Self" section of their IMDb filmographies. I scoured my Oscar books and found no mention of the incident. And yet here these women are, plain as day on YouTube, sticking it to the men and then politely giving the Oscar to one of them.

Has anyone heard of this before? Is this old news? And do you think these women's stunt was purposeful or tactless? Either way, it's one of the few Oscar clips that the Academy has not pulled selfishly and unreasonably from YouTube. Watch it while you can, if only to hear Russell dismiss HAL 9000 as "girlish."

6 comments:

John T said...

It's in Inside Oscar, during the ceremony notes. Also, anyone notice the serious lack of seat-fillers here?

J.J. said...

Damn. What did Inside Oscar have to say about it? (I only have Behind the Oscar in my possession, as well as The Big Show and Variety's book.)

I did notice the patchy crowd, as well as the cue card guys (quickly changing a card as the camera pans around 1:39). They must've been flustered by the women's departure from the script.

NATHANIEL R said...

i don't know. is it really offscript? it seems kinda winky standard complaining... like the way they always include digs at themselves for "the picture that directed itself"

you know?

so weird to see all these megastars together though. natalie wood is my eternal first girlfriend but she seems positively stoned ;)

J.J. said...

It just seems too rude and subversive to be part of the script -- but it also seems too polished to be a last-minute orchestration. Maybe Inside Oscar has answers...

JS said...

As fun as it is to think of it as unscripted, the camera work suggests otherwise as it manages to keep track of each actress as they deliver their lines.

J.J. said...

You're right. All the evidence is there. I guess I had a hard time believing that AMPAS would write something like that. The whole thing falls a little flat for me, which led me to believe it was a small stunt, not a play for laughs. Either way, I'm glad I stumbled across it.