litany of losers -- I really dislike that term; let's make it
non-winners -- who are very good company.
Many cineastes consider "Citizen Kane" to be the best motion
picture ever made. Funny, you won't find it on the list of Oscar
winners, nor its actor-director, Orson Welles, who captured Hollywood
in his mid-20s just before World War II.
I personally favor "The Last Picture Show" for that designation.
That's not on Oscar's honor roll, either. Peter Bogdanovich's early
masterpiece lost out to the cop caper "The French Connection" in one
of the more blatant miscarriages of Oscar-related justice.
On Sunday, they'll present actor Peter O'Toole with a lifetime
achievement award. After seven nominations and no wins, that's the
very least they could do. But another great actor, Richard Burton,
also went 0 for 7 and died without receiving any recognition.
Next year, before it's too late, the academy should give another
lifetime achievement trophy for one of Hollywood's best actors who
also never got the big O -- Richard Widmark. From "Kiss of Death" to
"Take the High Ground" and "Judgment at Nuremberg," Widmark has
etched an illustrious, though un-Oscared, career.
In a Hollywood where Burton, Widmark and O'Toole have heretofore
gone unrecognized while John Wayne, Lee Marvin and Gary Cooper
(twice) have stepped to the podium, the academy voters have a lot to
answer for. But sometimes, they do manage to correct their earlier
Elizabeth Taylor, for instance, delivered brilliant performances
in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Suddenly Last Summer," both of which
went unrewarded at Oscar time. Then a lesser vehicle called
"Butterfield 8" broke the jinx, and a stellar turn in "Who's Afraid
of Virginia Woolf?" produced a second statuette.
Rod Steiger turned in probably the greatest un-Oscared performance
of all time in "The Pawnbroker," but lost out to -- no kidding --
Marvin's tipsy gunslinger in "Cat Ballou." Thankfully, Steiger got
his due a couple of years later for his redneck police chief in "In
the Heat of the Night."