If the name Harlan Ellison doesn`t mean anything to you let me point out that he is one of the most respected science fiction authors of the 20th century . Ellison also wrote a couple of episodes of the original OUTER LIMITS series in the early 60s which James Cameron seemed to have borrowed for THE TERMINATOR . In fact Cameron borrowed so heavily that Ellison won a succesful court battle for plagerism and latter prints of THE TERMINATOR acknowledge the works of Harlan Ellison . Seeing as Ellison co wrote this screenplay you wonder if Harold Robbins didn`t think about doing something similar at one point
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This screenplay has Harold Robbins ugly signature written all over it . It`s a melodramatic pot boiler along the lines of THE CARPET BAGGERS set in the movie world . The story opens at the Oscars where Frankie Fane is rubbing his hands in anticipation of getting his hands on the academy award for best actor . The story then flashes back to Frankie`s younger days and for the rest of the movie we`re shown he`s an amoral manipulative S.O.B from the mean streets . In a rather contrived manner we`re shown how he got into movies ( His knife skills served him well ) then once he got his foot in the door he walked all over everybody , he exploited everybody , he used everybody to make it to the top of the movie world . Duh isn`t that how everyone makes it Hollywood ? I think Tom Hanks and a few other people may be genuinely nice human beings but can you say that about most players and movers in Hollywood ? So it seems rather rich Frankie Fane should be condemned for exploiting people
And there`s a confusing morality message to all this . All the way through the movie we`re wanting to see Frankie fall on his face which happens in the end since the best actor Oscar goes to Frank Sinatra , but think about it , Frankie is an amoral shark , he`s no scruples and he`basically a ruthless thug but he`s become a major movie star , he has lots and lots of money and there`s no certainty that he will never win an Oscar in the future . Is this actually the fate you would want to see happen to a movie villain ? If having a movie career as a film star with loads of cash in the bank and an Oscar nomination is failure I`d sure like to how success is defined ? I suppose it`s open to conjecture if Mr Sinatra invited Frankie to the after show party where he was never seen again but I`d better not comment on that in case I wake up with a horse`s head in my bed
THE OSCAR isn`t all bad despite it being a bad movie . It`s one of those movies that has a watchable quality mainly down to its schlock value . If you like Harold Robbins novels you`ll like this though perhaps fans of Harlan Ellison`s work should stick with THE TERMINATOR
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