“A Film Isn’t a Horse Race”
Thanksgiving is almost here, but don’t assume that means it’s turkey time. At least, not at your local movie theater.
Time now for Hollywood to bring its “A” game. The last few weeks of the year inevitably bring a fresh crop of films that the major studios hope will be serious Oscar contenders.
But what did our favorite Twilight Zone scribe, our curator at the Night Gallery, think of the Academy Awards? Not much.
Here, taken from a 1972 speech, is what Rod Serling had to say about the yearly Oscar telecast:
This offers up the patently impossible premise that there’s a ‘best picture’ and a ‘best performance’ and a ‘best director’ and a ‘best’ actor and actress. And I don’t think that’s true; I think that borders on the nonsensical. You can make comparative judgments about an art form, any art form. But a film isn’t a horse race. And to say that the whole or a component part thereof is the best, absolutely the best, is like trying to establish that an orange tastes better than an apple.
And there’s always something a little tribal rite-ish, a little shoddy, a little cheap about those Academy Awards ceremonies – the synthetic suspense, and the full-blown gush of breathless appreciation expressed by the winner as he or she thanks the 316 people by name responsible for her being there that evening. And all those shots of people like Liz [Taylor] and Dick [Burton], who sit there in a kind of celestial radiance, as if they weren’t really human.
I think it’s ancient, anachronistic crap that smacks of a Hollywood of another time – a Hollywood of Louella Parsons and Fatty Arbuckle and fan magazines. I’d say glory be to George C. Scott, who had the guts and the integrity to take a walk and refuse to lend his name to an institution that had the same kind of dignity that you’d find in a kind of smarmy Miss America pageant or an evening of professional wrestling.
George C. Scott shared Serling’s disdain. He won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Gen. George S. Patton in the movie “Patton” — in absentia. He returned the award, later telling Time magazine, “The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don’t want any part of it.”
Considering that the annual highlight is when they show a montage of classic films, I’m inclined to agree.
Photos courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. WordPress followers, just hit “follow” at the top of the page.
Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!