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  • This obscure, sublimely over-heated film is a second cousin to "Valley of the Dolls" in terms of pure, unadulterated Hollywood camp. The film is like a massive wad of cotton candy for those who enjoy a two hour trip to movie hell. Opening at the ceremony for the title statuettes, we see that Boyd is the front-runner for Best Actor. But first, the audience must step back in time to discover how he got there. It falls to Bennett to narrate the with the most dry delivery of horrendous socko '60's scripting. Looking like a Dean Martin wax figure that's been left in the sun for two hours, he is a stumpy, squatty disaster in this film. Billed as "Introducing Tony Bennett", he has zero charisma, receives corpse-lighting, doesn't sing even once and forever after (thankfully) played only himself in films. At any rate, as the film flashes back, lean, mean Boyd (in a performance that ensured he'd never see another "Ben-Hur") is instantaneously irredeemable and agonizing as a big mouthed roamer who's joined by his stripper girlfriend (St. John) and a passive buddy (Bennett.) In these early scenes, St. John actually manages to come off as sexy despite a crazed tigress costume and the tacky surroundings. Soon, though, she's chewing one end of the scenery while Boyd chews the other. They meet in the middle where hapless Bennett is sitting like a bump on a log. Soon Boyd is trying to make it as an actor with the assistance of love-starved talent scout Parker (in a typically dedicated performance) and agent Berle (solid, also, in a non-comedic least it is meant to be non-comedic!) Boyd's eternal bad attitude and horrible personality continue to inflict pain on all those around him and the viewing audience. In the film, he has a magnetic presence that draws everyone to him and causes them to embarrass themselves repeatedly. This charm is invisible to the film's viewers. One of his victims is the lovely Sommer, who looks stunning in an array of Head gowns and intricate hairstyles. His rise to the top of his profession is spoiled by his own ego and eventually he gets tripped up. He even gets one of those hilarious dreams with smoke swirling and actors dully repeating their lines. The movie is jam-packed with bits by stars who should have known better, some of them even Oscar-winners themselves (Crawford, Brennan, Borgnine.) Other cameos of people playing themselves lend a faux verisimilitude to the proceedings (Hopper, shortly before her death, Head, Hope, Oberon, even James Bacon appears at a press conference looking pouty because Archerd got all the lines.) There's a great little part for Hale as a snotty, demanding starlet and it's one time when Boyd comes off well. Lawford has a bit as a fallen star who works in a restaurant. Sadly, his own career would soon hit the skids as well. Adams adds a bit of verve as Borgnine's showy wife. She has one unfortunate scene, though, in which her behind is spread right in front of the camera. The film is a feast of kicky '60's production design, fun clothing and enormous hairdo's. There are a few clever touches in the film. At least twice, scenes involving different people are duplicated to show the parallels. The film has one of the all-time hilarious "surprise" last cackle before the credits roll. A MUST for any connoisseur of bad films!
  • There is no other way to concieve of this film getting made other than being the by-product of extraterrestrials intercepting tv signals of DYNASTY, MELROSE PLACE and the like and recreating them as a realistic depiction of the way Earthlings behave. This gets my vote as the most unintentionally fall-on-your-ass hilarious movie ever made; you simply can't write comedy this good! The dialogue must have turned John Waters chartreuse with envy, and the performance by Steven Boyd is akin to what if one of the THUNDERBIRDS marionettes had been cast in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLFE?. His body language is quite like some poor puppet being randomly jerked around while the puppeteer tries to shake off LSD-conjured spiders. And the incredibly strange dialogue from a knife-wielding strip joint owner:(attempting to be intimidating, with a crazy gleam in his eye and tossing his switchblade between both of his hands) "Pretty? Pretty?" No one in the history of civilization has ever talked like any of the characters in this film. If you are fortunate enough to have this unjustly out-of-print film at your local video store, not only should you rent it immediately, but you should invite over all of your friends and let them stare at this mess in slack-jawed amazement. A solid 10 on the laughs scale! And you will pee your pants at Tony Bennet's narration/ performance!!! RENT IT RIGHT NOW, FOR GOD'S SAKE!
  • I just saw this film and I had to go out to buy it. Why? it's so bad its good!

    This film was supposed to show all the nasty side of how an Oscar nomination goes to the head of its nominee and what he would do to win -- and in a way it does.

    But the acting is so over the can't help but laugh. The hair styles are big, the performances are big..come on, it's just one of those fun little 60's 'soap opera' films that you'd never watch for serious sake, but mindless fun with you and your friends. (Remember the soap opera 'General Hospital' in the early, early 60's with the obviously over the top acting, silly drama situations, the real organ playing, etc.? Well this is even funnier!)

    It grabs ya, but you cannot help but laugh, laugh laugh, it's SO over the top. If anyone wants to know what makes a "campy" film, don't rent "Mommie Dearest", rent this one. There isn't any way you could hate this film, you'd be laughing too hard. I'd watch it on rainy days, or if I'm feeling blue, or I just want to get together with a bunch of friends and just point out just how over the top this is.

    This is a 10+ on the campy scale, a 5 regular. Go out and rent it, just to have a ball. It's fab-u-lous!
  • I also love this movie. I first saw it about 12-15 years ago on a short-lived series on TNT called "Bad movies we love" or something like that. For many years I traditionally watched it right before the Oscar broadcast. The "Airplane" of bad movies, the hilarious dialogue just keeps coming. I taped it from a pay TV source many years ago, but would also buy a pristine VHS or DVD copy. Jill St. John's finest hour. Struggling young actor,impatient for stardom, steps on everyone he meets on his way to an Oscar nomination. Terrible overacting by nearly everyone involved, and ridiculous,riotous dialogue make this a classic guilty pleasure. Made at a time when Hollywood was not yet consciously making "bad" movies. Great fun.
  • come up smelling like fleas". One of the lines actually spoken (by Tony Bennett)in "The Oscar". Words can not describe this film. It is so so is GREAT! Stephen Boyd's performance is way way way over the top like nothing you have ever seen before. He is like a rabid dog hopped up on speed. The other performers are terrible too! Especially Tony Bennett who looks like he is reading his lines off cue cards. But it is the script that will have you on the floor laughing. There are so many memorably bad lines in this that I recommend you have a whole pad of paper and a pen ready to jot them all down. Rush don't walk to your nearest video store and rent this! One of the best (if not THE best) of the camp crazed melodramas of the 1960's. 10/10 as ultra grade A+ high camp. Regular still high 6/10 for its sheer audacity and 60's chic look at the bowels of Hollywood. Norma Desmond Mr. Boyd is ready for his close up.
  • This expose of a Hollywood heel plays like a bush-league attempt at the baroque language of SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, but man, does it work. Stephen Boyd is the absurdly mannered amoral punk who'd screw over his mother and steal her shoes to make it to the top. Among those with his shoeprints on their neck are Milton Berle (horny, melancholy, used-up agent), Jill St. John (tragic "roundheels broad"), Tony Bennett (as Hymie Kelly, the tragic Jewish-Irish second banana) and Elke Sommer (Swedish zaftig-bomb with a conscience). As directed by Russell Rouse, THE OSCAR has the feel of Sam Fuller doing overbright TV. The movie is way beyond "campy" or "good-bad;" nearly every scene is a diamond-plated jaw-dropper.
  • Atrocious film from producer Joseph E. Levine, here ripping the lid off the Hollywood can but getting nothing out of it except hot air. Ruthless, snarling Stephen Boyd scratches his way up from seamy strip joints (as manager for the non-blushing Jill St. John) to the top of the H-wood heap as the world's most constipated actor. Laughable backstage melodrama is high camp, but how can one laugh without feeling sorry for all the embarrassed personalities on the screen--none more so than Tony Bennett, looking like a basset hound in a tuxedo. The fifth-rate screenplay is full of now-legendary fruit-loop lines, boiling over with 'significance', while the surroundings (once considered plush) now look tatty. Elke Sommer (as a sketch artist for Edith Head!) is the one cast member who doesn't bulldoze her way through the picture. Otherwise, it ain't for the squeamish! *1/2 from ****
  • Perhaps the most notable thing about "The Oscar," aside from the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences probably wishes it didn't allow the filmmakers to use its award as a part of their turkey, is that the opening credits of the film give away two key elements that really shouldn't be revealed, one of which laughably gives away the ending!

    This really goes to the point that nobody in this film seemed to know or care about the process of making it and were more enamored with the concept of setting their film on Oscar Night than in having the story make any sense, and were more about getting names to list, hoping to increase the Box Office receipts. Bad move.

    I was hoping for an over the top, completely ridiculous, scenery chewing melodrama, and I was rather disappointed. Granted, Stephen Boyd definitely does have some ludicrous dialog and plays bigger than he should for what he's doing, but it really isn't "fun" to watch. Even more to the point, there's no one in the film who can challenge him.

    Milton Berle comes the closest as his agent. But Berle doesn't get to crack wise, as we would expect him to do with a knucklehead client like this one. He plays it straight up. What was the point of that? And Elke Sommer is such a conflicted character, it's difficult to understand what she brought to the film, aside from the obvious eye candy intended.

    The other oddity is in seeing Tony Bennett play his one and only acting role. Clearly, he wasn't ready for this sort of challenge and I can't blame him for begging off film for the safety of his music career after this disaster.

    Wasted were Oscar Winner Ernest Borgnine who plays some two bit private eye and Edie Adams who actually seems the most realistic character in the entire film. Also, Edith Head, the multiple Oscar winning Costume Designer, who was seen on screen in three different scenes, and uttered half a word.

    But I'm seriously still reeling over the credit spoilers. If you do watch this film (and I don't recommend you do because it definitely isn't good and it unfortunately isn't bad enough to be amusing) don't read the opening credits!
  • abcpc12 February 2005
    When oh WHEN, will whom ever owns the rights to this classic HOOT, ever release it on video (VHS/DVD)? I'd buy it in a NANU SECOND! It's got to be the funniest "Drama" ever! The fact that NOBODY involved in this movie noticed, at the time it was being filmed, how DREADFULLY BAD it was turning out is ASTOUNDING! I haven't even seen it on broadcast, cable or satellite TV lately. I wish I'd have taped it when it was running. Other MUST release films are, "Crack in the World", "The Great Bank Robbery" (Zero Mostel). Still waiting.....P.S. Maybe IMDb can have a page set up just for movie fans to LIST films that we think should be available to buy, then maybe studios could check it out and see how popular those films are and hasten their release!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I believe that this movie was a career killer for Stephen Boyd. He made a brief resurgence in Fantastic Voyage, but the die was cast after this epic.If you look at his career after making this film, you will definitely notice a downward spiral. In a few years he was doing TV pilots and well known turkeys like Slaves and Kill. In Hannie Caulder, he didn't even get a credit.The movie, itself, is so poorly written, cast and acted that it almost looks intentional. You keep thinking to yourself, this was a joke, right! Tony Bennett takes the acting honors as "Hymie" Kelly(they couldn't decide on an ethnic group, so they made him bi-ethnic), the heel's good buddy and stooge. The producers probably thought -- "Now here we have a popular Italian singer, with some real acting potential, This will do for him what From Here To Eternity did for Sinatra." All I remember is Bennett flailing his hands around and saying, "If you lie down with pigs, you wake up smelling like garbage." A nifty line, if I do say so, and quite original. Needless to say, Bennett went back to his vocals. The part that always makes me laugh is the ending, where the Oscar nominees competing with Frankie are announced. There is something with Richard Burton and Frank Sinatra. Then the last nominee is Burt Lancaster in the "Spanish Armada". Burt Lancaster in the "Spanish Armada". Sure sounds like an Oscar candidate to me.
  • Sometimes Hollywood thought of itself in such high regard that taking a serious look in the mirror was impossible. The Oscar is probably the weirdest example of this. Stephen Boyd stars as Frankie Fane, a walking, talking Ken doll with the charm to match. Boyd has always been one of my favorite actors in the looks department, he had a great face and usually gave good performances. Here it's like someone else borrowed his body for the production. The story tells of how a star got to the point of an Oscar nomination, his rise to fame and all the people he walked over to get there. This film would make a great double feature with Valley of the Dolls, they both take themselves way too seriously for the level of writing and direction and the result is bizarre and unintentionally hilarious. Chock full of stars of the time, great production, costumes, sets, it's all there in an epic extravaganza of campy melodrama. Very colorful and big yet it has the performance quality of an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. The script is beyond clich√© and everyone tries to eat the scenery to grab their moment. Everyone that is except Tony Bennet who would have served the film better by being a singer in a nightclub scene. Elke Sommer does strange things with her eyes to emphasize emotion and many of the fine actors must have cried themselves to sleep the night of the premier, or thrown tantrums, aghast at what they had been part of. Must be seen to be believed. At one point Bennet calls Boyd to tell him of the nomination, "You and Burton and Lancaster..." Righhhhhht.
  • It starts with some really bad chunks of dialogue - and it gets worse! However, it is weirdly watchable and by the end I was quite enjoying it. A larger collection of ott performances you probably won't find. Some review I read called it 'The Bad and the Beautiful crossed with Harold Robbins'. Approach it as a kind of weird comedy and you'll have fun. It doesn't really deserve to be out-of-print - it's an interesting cast (set of misfires), and has a kind of odd historical value ...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Did Harlan Ellison really contribute to the screenplay of this film? Did he really script the scene at the end when Oscar nominations are read and we find that Richard Burton is a nominee for something called "Grapes In Winter"? Worse than "Valley of the Dolls," even worse than "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," this one deserves a permanent place in the video library of all those who love deplorably bad movies. It's impossible to decide who gives the worst performance in this film, but Stephen Boyd has the most screen time so he deserves the prize even more than the laughably inept Tony Bennett. The movie is incredibly naive about the importance of the Oscar. Sure, it can make a career, but losing one isn't likely to end one either. Like they say, it is an honor just to be nominated, but when Boyd learns he will not go home with the gold, well, the movie suggests it's all over for him. But for all its glorious badness, this movie's greatest contribution to popular culture came in the 80s when SCTV produced a memorable spoof called "The Nobel" that is even more side-splitting.
  • Stephen Boyd leads an impressive cast (Milton Berle, Edie Adams, Ernest Borgnine, Joseph Cotten, Jill St John, Eleanor Parker, Tony Bennet, Peter Lawford, Jack Soo, Elke Sommer) in this flawed Hollywood expose for the masses. The biggest flaw being that he's supposed to be an unscrupulous guy (which he is) who steps over everyone (which he does) in order to get to the top echelon of Hollywood actors. Once he gets a taste of life at the top, problems arise, because of all the people he's used and disposed of to get there. It sounds bad, however, the way his part is written doesn't do justice to how bad he's supposed to be. He's just another aggressive lout, with at least episodes of decency, who's self-blinded by the unreasonable purpose to reach the top. Anyone who's watched a few movies has seen characters who are much worse. Nonetheless, he gets a great comeuppance towards the end of the film that is worth waiting for, not that you have to suffer through a terrible film in the meanwhile. There's more than enough to string the viewer along, with pretty good performances by Milton Berle as Boyd's agent, and Joseph Cotten as the head of the studio. Granted, Tony Bennet is no actor, but there are nifty parts for Jill St John, Edie Adams, and Ernest Borgnine, as well as Peter Lawford.
  • The Academy Award. The Oscar. Hollywood's token of prestige and honor. Many try for it. Many fail. Some succeed. A lot of films have been made about the Oscars. Some good. Some bad. This one is completely off the map!

    This movie is the story of an actor up for an Oscar. Sounds simple right? That's what the name says on the movie poster. We then spend the entire movie watching his slow struggle to the top, going through the ranks, overcoming adversity, and finally achieving the nomination. Sounds pretty good, yes?

    But when your hero is Stephen Boyd, an actor who majored in overacting and vein-popping, when the script uses every movie cliche in the book, when the directing is at best horrible, you're in for a rough voyage.

    Throw in Milton Berle as Boyd's agent and it gets ugly. Uncle Miltie plays it straight, trying to garner a real Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. An hour into this movie, you're praying Berle will dress in drag just to lighten things up. His whole performance screams "Nominate Me!"

    However, this movie was doomed when Tony Bennett was given the role of Boyd's best friend/narrator of the film. This was Tony's only starring role and after 10 seconds, you'll know why. Acting just wasn't his forte. Bennett remains emotionless and motionless when others speak in the film. But when his cue comes up, you can see the twinkle in his eye, his arms flail, and he delivers the line. He wisely stuck to his day job after this movie.

    Look for Hedda Hopper in this film, just months before she died.
  • I'm less interested in the alleged camp value of this film that I am in the opportunity to again see so many of the names with which I grew up working. It was business as usual in those days fifty years past, and anytime they surface again, in any form, it is to treasure. This film IS Hollywood of the mid '60s.

    The Oscar isn't any worse than 75% of the films of the era. --Or today, when you get down to it. In that day, an all-star cast was employed to conceal all inadequacies; these days, CGI fulfills the very same function. I get it. A lot of people don't, simply because CGI is so big and bombastic by its very nature as to overwhelm judgment. Another fifty years from now, I think there are going to be lots of films like The Oscar, films that people laugh at because they have nothing going for them but an obvious patch meant to cover their weakness. You can bet on it.

    The film is built around three male roles, with everyone else more or less stepping out of their way for the big acting moments given to them. Boyd, always the stony-jawed, steely-eyed manly male actor, is exactly as you remember him. Tony Bennett does a really nice job, which is a pity, given this films negative rep. Milton Berle was a surprisingly good dramatic actor, and proved it in many films and TV shows, just like this one. Eleanor Parker rises above the secondary status to which the actresses in this film are consigned. She makes the development from haughty to pathetic entirely credible.

    Bottom line: Enjoy it as a chance to see names, names, names, even if you don't buy the drama or the story. It comes straight from the heart of the last demi golden age, just past the decline and disappearance of The Golden Age of Hollywood. It commemorates this unique time and place as well as any film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Embassy Pictures and Joseph E.Levine brought us "The Oscar" in 1966 which was the film version of a novel by Richard Sale, an insider look at a fictional Oscar race for Best Actor. Even the movie version which was watered down and smartly leaving out of a lot of the machinations of the erratic plot of the novel and concentrated on its good qualities like the "Frankie Fane" lead character expertly portrayed by Stephen Boyd. Some say Boyd after appearing in "The Oscar" never had a commendable role in a Hollywood film again. He is cast to a tee and perhaps too much so. Elke Sommer plays the part of "Kay" who becomes his wife has the role tailored for her attributes. She was never better than in "The Prize" with Paul Newman. Jill St.John, who gets the acting honors here has never been better than she is in this film. Rather dubiously, she receives that honor. On hand are Eleanor Parker, Joseph Cotton, Ernest Borgnine, Milton Berle as "Cappy" the agent, Edie Adams is also a well realized casting coup for her character and Peter Lawford is on hand and sympathetic. The picture is very well known for featuring and introducing Tony Bennett in a sizable co-starring role as "Hymie Kelly," Fane's PR man and friend from his past who has what for any other actor I would imagine a chance to really act. Unfortunately, he is not up to the challenge. The script is loaded with great dialogue and in hindsight becomes festooned with quotes ripe for the picking. The screenplay is credited to Harlan Ellison, director Russell Rouse and producer Clarence Greene. The picture is studded with celebrities making cameos and playing themselves in parts like Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Oberon, Bob Hope. In hindsight, "The Oscar" scores higher than when it was made as everything about it proved to be "second rate" except the sheer splendor of the wallow it provides. Director Russell Rouse has his moments like at the end when the camera backs away from Fane sitting twisted in his chair at the Academy auditorium reduced finally to see what happens to his vulgarity while nearly everyone around him is giving the winner a standing ovation. Color.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a really bizarre movie. Although festooned with the official Academy Awards logo and crammed full of fancy cars and houses, the film looks and feels cheap. Although it lists on its credits the brilliant and acclaimed sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison (who, around this time, won an Emmy for his Star Trek script) and gifted vet Russell Rouse (whose "D.O.A." was an actual Oscar surprise in 1950, the film boasts of nothing more than a poverty of imagination. Although it features all kinds of celebrities playing themselves, such as Edith Head, Hedda Hopper, and Merle Oberon, and although it has some of the best character actors playing supporting roles, including Milton Berle, Peter Lawford, Eleanor Parker, Jack Soo, Walter Brennan, I mean the list goes on and on -- people who should not be in this movie, frankly -- its emotional center is a character played by a non-actor, Tony Bennett, and leading man Stephen Boyd plays it like a 2:00 soap opera. I mean, they could not have invested more in the support of this movie, and less in the leads.

    Much respect to Mr. Bennett -- he's a wonderful singer and a great celebrity, but he does not look good in a movie. He looks kind of impish, his character is given nothing to do but complain, and the character is built on a contradiction -- he's a sensitive man, as we see in his early scenes with the stripper played by Jill St. John (another example of the movie's creativity) and yet he hangs out with this bizarre sociopath played by Boyd. Boyd's character is just incredible. The best scene in the movie is when he lurks behind a cabinet listening while an obese co-worker makes a pass at his girl (Elke Sommer, delivering a typically phonetic performance) and disses him, then comes around the corner and punches the guy in the nuts, whereupon the man makes a comical face, covers his mouth, and runs into the bathroom! And believe me, or don't, but this scene was actually NOT written as comedy! The movie is highly watchable, despite being such a disaster.... well, partly because it's a disaster, but also because the support is really excellent. Maybe sensing the "Oscar" in the air, both Berle and Parker deliver the goods, and the scene with Peter Lawford is touched with semi-autobiographical sorrow. Every two or three minutes if you keep your eyes open you'll see somebody interesting, at least to fans of Hollywood classics. But the drama is so over the top, with Boyd's performance coming off almost like a villain from the Batman TV show, I mean it's impossible to take the movie seriously for five minutes. I'm surprised Ellison allowed them to leave his name in the titles. Of all the films that have ripped him off and not given him credit, it's funny to think that his name is actually on this steaming pile.

    By the way, at least I learned something from the movie -- I'd never seen a picture of Edith Head, much less footage of her, and I instantly realized that she is the basis for the character in "The Incredibles", the little woman who designs the superhero costumes. Costume designer, yeah.....

    If you're in doubt.... see it. It's terrible, but in a uniquely 1960s American way.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** One of the greatest bad movies of all times "The Oscar" has it all ham acting laughable dialogue ridicules plots and most of all those in it thinking that their involved with one of the greatest and thought provoking films ever to be released since "Birth of a Nation" back in 1915.

    If there ever was a movie about the behind the scenes activities before and during the Academy Award over-hyped Oscar Night this is it! With at least a dozen real life Oscar winners in it's cast who know full well what it takes, besides their acting, to win one. Actor Frankie Fane, Stephen Boyd, has gone from the gutter to the glittering heights of Hollywood's elite as we first see him on Oscar Night waiting to win the coveted prize that he's been scheming for all these years. It's then that we get first hand the lowdown, and I mean low, to Frankie's life from his good friend Hymie Kelly, Tony Bennett, who together with Frankie's estrange wife the gorgeous blond beauty Kay Bergdahl, Elke Summers, are in the audience.

    Starting out as a two bit bar and strip-joint hustler Frankie worked himself up to the top by screwing everyone, especially a bevy of beautiful women, who helped him on his climb on the ladder to success. Not caring for no one but #1, himself, Frankie made a slew of enemies on his way to the top whom he knew had their knives sharpened to do him him when he finally starts to fall from grace in the eyes of the movie moguls in Tinsel Town. It was that fanatical passion to stay on top that lead Frankie to the events he was to face as the film "The Oscar" came to its shocking but very predictable conclusion.

    With Frankie nominated for best actor for his role as a lowlife creep and shyster, which he is in real life, in the film "Breakthrough" he still had doubts that he won't be able to win the Oscar against the likes of fine and seasoned actors like Richard Burton and Burt Lancaster that he resorted to type, in the swine that he is, to fix the vote in his favor! Frankie gets private eye for the stars Barney Yale, Earnest Borgnine, to plant a story about him Hymie and his late girlfriend Laurel Scott, Jill St. John, being busted five years ago in the south on morals charges: pimping and prostitution. Frankie knew that the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures, who vote on who's to win the Oscar, would flock to him knowing that one of the other nominees, for best actor, leaked the story in order to destroy Frankie's chances of winning! Of all the lowdown sleazy and outrageous things that Frankie pulled during the movie this was by far he sleaziest!

    ***SPOILERS*** It's when a greedy Barney starts feeling that Frankie didn't pay him enough, a measly $2,000.00, for securing him the Oscar that he blackmails Frankie into giving him $15,000.00 or else he'll reveal not who paid him to release this shocking information about his past but who did't! Frankie in a fit of hysteria tries to get his good friend and now full time gofer Hymie Kelly to do in Barney in order to keep him from talking!

    Hymie, or Tony Bennett, in what has to be one of the most explosive performances since the taxi scene between Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger in "On the Waterfront" comes to his senses in finding out what a creep and back-stabbing lout his good friend Frankie Fane really is! It's then that Frankie gets a dose of his own medicine in not only getting creamed, from behind, by Hymie but finding the reason his former girlfriend Laurel died and also his part leading to her untimely death! But by far the best, or worst, was yet to come for Frankie when later at the Academy Awards when the best actor was announced the roof or sky fell on top of his head with him finally getting all that he had coming to him which he so rightfully deserved!

    P.S Despite his eye-popping performance as Hymie Kelly in the film Tony Bennett never was in another movie in an acting, but only in a singing, part! You go figure it out!
  • No narrative description can even begin to do justice to the glories of "The Oscar." Though apparently intended as a serious drama, this film plays out as one of the greatest comedies ever made. For years I would laugh out loud at the mere thought of some of the lines. Many campy performances in the minor parts, my personal favorites being Ernest Borgnine as the scurrilous Barney Yale and Walter Brennan as multi-millionaire Orrin C. Quentin (there's a name for you). But the film offers one scene that is strangely poignant. About halfway through, Frankie Fane (Stephen Boyd) goes to a Hollywood restaurant where he encounters an actor named Steve Marks. After some pleasantries they part and only then does Fane realize that Marks is now a waiter at the restaurant, his film career in ruins. Marks is none other than Peter Lawford, playing a role that eerily foreshadows his own decline.
  • bkoganbing16 June 2008
    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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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

    !!!! SPOILERS !!!!

    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
  • Above and beyond all the semi-enjoyable camp and melodrama of "The Oscar" is this...and it doesn't surface until the final scene, and final bit of dialogue: Frank Sinatra is shown to be the "good guy"...the role model for Frank Fane and other actors, regardless of whether they actively are seeking The Oscar.

    In reality, according to many who were there in Hollywood and Vegas during Sinatra's heyday and fell inside his considerable orbit of influence, 'Ol Blue Eyes was more full of himself, and could be even more difficult to be around, than the character of Fane, as created by author Richard Sale in the novel and effectively portrayed here by Stephen Boyd.

    Sinatra, in fact, would have been a more realistic Fane than Boyd...because the character he was playing was not too far off himself. Yet, when Oscar presenter Merle Oberon, at the film's conclusion, says, "...Frank.....SINATRA (not Fane)...!" as the winner for Best Actor, everyone stands and applauds. For all his iconoclasm throughout his career and life, Sinatra suddenly has become Establishment.

    As for "The Oscar" itself, it's like watching an accident. We're filled with a kind of shocked fascination, so we continue to watch. A major question here is why all those excellent professionals---Joseph Cotten, Ernest Borgnine, Eleanor Parker, Broderick Crawford, Walter Brennan---chose to be a part of this trite, unrealistic tale of Hollywood.

    As Fane, Boyd projects a sarcastic, sometimes vicious---though at times curiously vulnerable---persona. Elke Sommer is at her physically charismatic best. And her acting is surprisingly good.

    Tony Bennett, though, is the metaphor for all that is laughable in "The Oscar". He portrays Fane's pal, Hymie Kelly, with cartoonish over-acting.

    Milton Berle, as agent Kappy Kapsetter, shows how solid a straight actor he could be. All those prominent people who have smaller roles here do creditable jobs.

    About the same time "The Oscar" came out, in 1966, Broadway was doing the Budd Schulberg story, "What Makes Sammy Run?" Its theme, and that of "The Oscar", are similar: sooner or later, those who step on others on the way up will get smacked back down.

    After what was done on the screen to "The Oscar", Schulberg probably was happy his story never was made into a film.
  • edwardholub25 June 2005
    There are good and bad movies in every genre. The genre of the film making business contains Sunset Boulevard, The Player, Contempt. It also contains Won Ton Ton, The Wild Party and The Oscar. One of the things wrong with the Oscar is that it's attempt to portray low down sleaze with kid gloves. If the story is down and dirty, FILM it down and dirty. Where Hymie Kelly should have yelled BULLS**T, they have him yell, "BIRDSEED." I would love to remake this movie and make it totally repulsive and revolting. Make it a Hollywood story by way of Sin City. Take no prisoners. Change the names that would normally distract from the horrible elements that would push the story forward. Where do I sign?
  • Stephen Boyd stars as a wannabe actor willing to climb the ladder and walk over anyone who gets in his way in doing so, in this campy it's-so-bad-its-good tale of Hollywood. To begin with, the dialogue in the first thirty minutes or so is so awful it's laughable, especially lines delivered by Jill St. John and Tony Bennett. Yes, crooner Tony Bennett is in this. If you have the desire to keep with it, it becomes totally engrossing. It's so over the top in its presentation, you can't argue with the fact that it entertains. In fact, it boasts a very colorful and memorable supporting cast including Elke Sommer, Eleanor Parker, Ernest Borgnine, Edie Adams, and Milton Berle, who is surprisingly believable and underplays his role as Stephen's agent. Despite the fact that Stephen Boyd's ego is practically the whole show, everyone else is just great in their roles, especially Edie Adams. If you get a chance to catch this, don't turn the channel. In fact, I'd watch it again right now. It's that much of a guilty pleasure. It's the kind of bad picture that is a lot of fun and is better than it has a right to be. The big question is who wins "The Oscar?"
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