I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oliver!, 1968







Rated G

Funny story… I had never seen this movie before and I actually watched the second half of it first. By accident, of course. I thought I chose the “widescreen” format side of the disc (over the “fullscreen” version); turns out, I put in “widescreen, side B”. You’d think the beginning music entitled “Entre Act” would have given it away but my excuse is that I had just put the kidlets down for a nap and I was fiddling with their monitors, too preoccupied to notice. I’m somewhat familiar with the storyline thanks to a little Disney movie called “Oliver & Company”. No really, I’m familiar enough with the storyline of Charles Dickens’ novel, “Oliver Twist”. So I thought it was really strange that it was missing some very recognizable songs and the plot seemed a little disjointed. Mind you, it didn’t really click until I put it back in the mailbox to send back to Netflix and realized I only watched an hour of film. So, I put it back in and finished with the beginning. I don’t recommend that style of viewing.

“Oliver!” is about the orphan boy who got busted for asking for more. As a nine year-old, he gets kicked out of the orphanage for having the audacity to ask for more gruel for supper. He’s sold for practically nothing and runs away to find a “family” of orphan boys (ironically) living with an elderly man who teaches them how to “Pick a Pocket or Two” to survive. I won’t go into the plot here, but naturally, there’s conflict and then a happy resolution (but not before a couple of deaths). The film has a pretty recognizable score in my opinion with well-known songs including, “Food, Glorious Food”, “Consider Yourself”, “I’d Do Anything”, and “Where is Love?” I’m a fan of live theatre so I would recommend seeing this one on the stage over watching the film if the choice presented itself to you.

Overall, I thought the singing was average and the acting fine, but not Oscar-worthy. To date, this is the only G-rated film to have won Best Picture. “Oliver!”’s win was a major upset. It was up against “The Lion in Winter”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Rachel, Rachel”, and “Funny Girl”… more on that later, believe me. It also won Best Director, Best Musical Score, Best Art Direction/Set Direction and Best Sound, all of which I contest. It also won a sixth Honorary award for its choreography which I’ll let slide.

FAVORITE SCENE:

I enjoyed watching the choreography of the musical number, “Consider Yourself” (even if Oliver is the only one off beat when he joins the gang in the last bar of music). The whole town is singing and dancing while they go about their daily routine of buying and selling goods in the marketplace, while the Artful Dodger is reassuring Oliver that he will soon feel at home. I’m still waiting for the day when my town will do a spontaneous but collective song and dance routine. My character shoes are by the door.


LESSONS LEARNED:

If you want something, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Well, in Oliver’s case, it kind of did… but it did end happily for him.

Don’t trust just anybody. Just because someone appears to be trustworthy, doesn’t mean they are.

* * * * * * * * * *
 
I’d like to entitle the second half of this post:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?!

This is the second movie I’ve come across in my blog so far where I completely disagree with the Academy’s choice for Best Picture (first one was “American Beauty”). If you know me, you know I’m a fan of musicals, so well done “Oliver!”, thank you for adding another musical to the short list of musical winners. HOWEVER, the award should have gone to another G-rated musical “Funny Girl” starring the absolutely fabulous Barbra Streisand. “Hello gorgeous…”


This movie is based on the real life of vaudeville comedienne Fanny Brice, a Jewish girl who rises from the slums of New York’s Lower East Side to become a star in Ziegfeld’s Follies. She falls in love with Nick Arnstein, who is addicted to gambling, and remains devoted to her man even though the gambling and her fame take a toll on their marriage. The film has an incredible soundtrack including one of my favorite songs of all time, “People”.


This was 22 year-old Barbra Streisand’s film debut (in a role she had perfected on Broadway in 1964). Barbra is a phenomenal actress and singer. Her voice is flawlessly and technically sound, seriously. Whether you like her style of singing or not, you still have to admit she is a brilliant musician.


As an actress/singer/director/writer/composer/producer/designer/activist/philanthropist, she is one of only 13 EGOTs out there (someone who’s received an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award). If you haven’t noticed already, I’m kind of a fan of Babs. Thankfully she won Best Actress for her role in “Funny Girl”. (Actually, she and Katharine Hepburn TIED for that award for the first, and so far, only, time in Oscar history.)

My point is: if you’re going to rent/borrow a film from 1968, choose this one. Heck, if you’re going to rent/borrow a film PERIOD, choose this one. And then call me and we’ll “talk amongst ourselves”…

2 comments:

  1. Oh Barb, she is good. I didn't know she was an EGOT. I'm surprised you never saw a CYT version of Oliver at least.

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  2. To me Funny Girl was nothing more than a vanity project for Barbara. Take her performance out of the equation and you are left with a by the numbers love story.

    Oliver on the other hand has pretty much stood the test of time. The West End production is still going strong. There was a talent show a couple of years ago called I'd do Anything which was looking for someone to play Nancy. To top it all off the songs are much more memorable (the military like Be Back Soon, the lively Oom Pah Pah the show stopping Consider Yourself).

    The funny pun here is that Oliver rained of Funny Girl's parade.

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