If anyone follows my reviews one will note that I always use the expression hero/heel when talking about Tyrone Power. He could be a full blooded hero or he was a hero/heel, a likable sort of guy, but one who was ruthless in getting what he wanted. You need someone of Power's ability and charm to play such a part. And sad to say that was something Stephen Boyd just doesn't bring to The Oscar.
Even when one is an anti-hero there has to be certain qualities brought out that make you root for the guy. Two minutes into watching The Oscar and I wanted to punch out Stephen Boyd. This guy is all heel with no charm and uses people like toilet paper.
Joseph E. Levine assembled quite a cast to support Boyd and I don't think I've ever seen so much talent squandered on such a mediocre picture. Try counting the number of Oscar winners in it. Just Edith Head's Oscars and she plays herself in the film must bring the total to over 20. She got a nomination here for costume design, one of two The Oscar got, the second was for Art&Set design.
Tony Bennett is the hero's best friend who is similarly used and abused doesn't give a half bad performance and this was to be a breakthrough for him as a dramatic actor like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. I also liked Milton Berle as his agent.
Some of the women in Boyd's life in this film are Eleanor Parker, Elke Sommer, and Jill St. John. The one I liked best was Jean Hale as a star who the up and coming Boyd is sent on a publicity date with. She's a female version of him so there is one great moment where she gets dumped on literally.
One woman who was in Stephen Boyd's life and who always tried to promote his career in her column appears her as herself in one of her last appearances. Rumor has it that Boyd made old Hedda Hopper's life particularly memorable in her golden years.
In the old My Favorite Martian series there was an episode where Ray Walston uses a special light bulb in the room and it gives off a benevolence bulb. You just become inexplicably likable to all around. Bill Bixby sees this as a great way to score with women and he uses it. But Walston tells him that on earthlings it gives you a hate me glow and the two spend the rest of the episode trying to find the antidote.
That's what Boyd projected here, a two hour hate me glow. And in fact this review is dedicated to an attorney I knew back in Brooklyn, a man who had ambitions for a great political career, but had a hate me glow that made Boyd look like Albert Schweitzer. No names of course, but Ronald J. D'Angelo this film is for you.
The Oscar is a campy all star look at an ambitious actor and if you can stand the hate me glow that Boyd projects, you'll like looking at the stars.
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