Well, the Academy Awards have passed again, and I for one am darned glad of it.
I admit I only saw a portion of the show, but that was really all I could stomach. I gave up on the Oscars roughly when Cary Grant retired. Okay, so I was two when Cary Grant retired, but you get the idea. Itís just not the same anymore.
They even make it a Conservative vs. Liberal thing these days. You know, the Red States and the Blue States, and tallying up who won the most.
Gimme a break. This is about entertainment, or at least it should be. Joe McCarthy would be proud. He was Red State, after all. Isnít that funny?
Did you know that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe grossed about as much as all five nominees for Best Picture combined? But because of the thinly veiled Christian slant, it only got a makeup nomination and win. Meanwhile Brokeback Mountain got three Oscars. What would C.S. Lewis think of that, I wonder?
What a rip-off. Jon Stewart is a funny guy, but he seemed to have forgotten his sense of humor on the set of The Daily Show or something; poor Lauren Bacall seemed not to be able to read the prompt screen, and what the heck was Ben Stiller thinking when he agreed to dress in green tights and act a fool?
Itís not about acting any more, anyway, like it was when Gone With the Wind racked up at the 1938 awards, knocking out The Wizard of Oz in all categories. In fact, Judy Garland wasnít given her Oscar until 1940 in a special presentation.
But take a look at what the competition was in 1939: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Gunga Din, Beau Geste, Stagecoach, Of Mice and Men, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dark Victory, Destry Rides Again.
They just donít have years like that at the Academy anymore. They donít have writers, directors, actors, producers, you name it, like that anymore.
Come on. Name me one actor today that can hold a candle to Clark Gable. Nope, you canít do it, sorry. George Clooney is no Gary Cooper, much as he tries to be and while Tom Hanks may be a funny guy, heíll never make me laugh like Bob Hope did if he lives to be as old as Bob.
While I appreciated Peter Jacksonís King Kong remake for the special effects, was it really a superior telling of the 1933 Merian Cooper epic? No, not really, it was just more glitzy. Was Syriana anything more than a puddle of water at the feet of Gunga Din? Of course not.
Oh, sure, thereís plenty of tough guys in the movies now, but the Duke could have whupped any of Ďem with his bare knuckles, and let me tell you another thing, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson would send Sean Penn, Joe Pesci and Brad Pitt running for the hills just by showing up.
Fight Club, my eye.
Funny, you wanna talk about funny? When Groucho and Chico Marx went over their singerís contract in Night at the Opera you could plan on a hernia. When Hope and Crosby took to the road, any road, you could plan on needing the oxygen tank.
Whoís funny like that anymore? Can they make us laugh without shocking us with some foul language or explicit material? When Cary Grant first saw his hideously plastic-surgery goofed brother, played by Raymond Massey, in Arsenic and Old Lace and yelled, "Good Lord! Whatís that?" was there anything else we could do but howl?
Oh, sure, Narnia got snubbed, but so did The Ten Commandments, and thatís just how it goes, I guess. You canít be too sad being in the company of Cecil B. DeMille, Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. Though when Edward G. Robinson in the role of the scoundrel Dathan said, "Whereís your Moses now?" it almost sounded like he was still playing Johnny Rocko in Key Largo.
And animation. Oh, letís talk animation! Weíve had some good stuff in the last few years, Shrek and the like, but when it takes a 90-minute feature film to equal the laughs and thrills of one Bugs and Elmer adventure, or one Road Runner and Wile E. fiasco, well, I guess thatís just what we have to accept and make the best of it.
I know Iím a relic. So sue me. Good movies in the recent past, as far as Iím concerned, include Master and Commander, Secondhand Lions, Last of the Dogmen, and, yes, all three installments of The Lord of the Rings. I donít need to go spend twenty bucks to go to the movies to see a chick flick disguised as a cowboy flick, even if it does involve sheep, when I can rent The Sons of Katie Elder and imagine the pistol whipping John Wayne would have administered to the first sheep herder who put down his sleeping bag too close to the Dukeís.
Old fashioned, yes, I guess so. Iím going to stop and pick up a rental tonight. Maybe On Golden Pond. Or Midway. Or maybe Iíll just watch King of the Hill and call it a day.