Reviewed by Nicholas D'Amico
Rating: 7.5 Beans
he Oscar Review, Part 2
What may seem as laziness on my part was actually just that, seeing as I didn't finish the plot rundown on this movie until 6:59 AM the night I wrote it. The plot you know; now let's get on to the performances...
Stephen Boyd (Frankie Fane): There are two other movies I know Stephen Boyd from: the 1959 version of "Ben Hur" (as Messala) and the 1957 movie, "Abandon Ship!" (as Will McKinley). Having seen these, I know the man could act. The only thing I can figure leading to his sneering, wolfish, scenery-chewing performance in "The Oscar" is the direction (or lack of it) he received from Russell Rouse. I mean, look at this! Granted, being saddled with the "hip" sixties dialogue he was forced to spout ("Will you stop beating on my ears?! I'm up to here with all this bringdown! I'm me! You don't like what you see, then change the scenery! Go! That's right, go!. I'm not good enough, take off!") couldn't have helped, but, my God! The way he manhandles poor Tony Bennett and waves his hands around like he's shooing fruit flies every time he gets excited about something... I'm sure he was a nice guy in real life. I can't imagine EVERYONE on the set from the director on down being too timid to pull him aside and say, "Look, Stephen... can you tone that down just a hair?" Of course, if weren't for the over-the-top performance he gives as the lead character in this movie, it wouldn't even have made this list.
Elke Sommer (Kay Bergdahl): The best Elke Sommer movie I ever saw was a forgotten James Bond rip-off called "Deadlier Than the Male" (1966) where she played a female assassin. Her Teutonic beauty and accent played well in that film since she was an evil, cold-blooded murderess whose beauty hid her ruthlessness, and she also didn't have to say the name "Frankie" aloud.
Tony Bennett (Hymie Kelly): This film was his acting debut. If anyone has ever seen him act in anything else, PLEASE let me know! Tony Bennett is one of the best singers this country ever produced, but his acting skills leave quite a bit to be desired. Again, it could be the direction or the magnificent dialogue (when asked by Broderick Crawford where he got the name Hymie Kelly, he builds to a shout as he declares, "From my father, Michael Kelly! And he got it from his father, Timothy Kelly! And my mother's name was SADIE RABINOWITZ!! ANY MORE QUESTIONS?!?!?" Or the rundown on the history and ingredients of Waveless Rancheros). Again, he seems like a nice enough guy, but I'd be willing to bet that both his agent and the casting director for this movie ended up as pothole filler in the L.A. Freeway.
Ernest Borgnine (Barney Yale) does a pretty good job in his role as a loudmouthed P.I., but that fall his double takes after being decked by Frankie kills me. And that little groan you hear as he goes ass over teapot across the desk. Oooohhh...
Milton Berle (Kappy), Eleanor Parker (Sophie), and Joseph Cotten (Regan) don't really rate a mention here since they come off relatively unscathed. Walter Brennan, however, should have gotten an Oscar just for delivering his "Man" speech with a straight face. And that guy who plays the club owner at the beginning of the movie! What the FUCK was that "Pretty?... Pretty pretty?... Pretty
pretty pretty?" thing?! And they way his expression of confidence disappears when Frankie grabs that trash can... Jesus! It's like he's thinking, "Uh-oh... Sure, I've got a knife, but he's got a TRASH BASKET!!!" I'll have to remember that the next time I'm in a knife fight.
Other reviews for this movie:
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