The Oscar (1966)

119 mins | Melodrama | 15 February 1966

Director:

Russell Rouse

Producer:

Clarence Greene

Cinematographer:

Joseph Ruttenberg

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Arthur Lonergan

Production Company:

Greene--Rouse Productions
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HISTORY

The 30 Oct 1964 DV reported the hiring of writer Harlan Ellison to adapt Richard Sales’s 1963 novel, The Oscar, for the screen. Producer Clarence Greene and director Russell Rouse assured the 25 Feb 1965 DV that the film would be considerably less sordid than the source novel. The 23 Mar 1965 issue noted that Embassy Pictures president Joseph E. Levine added $1 million to the production budget, which was later estimated at $2.5 million in the 5 May 1965 Var. By the time filming was underway, the 2 Aug 1965 DV approximated the budget at $3 million.
       The 1 Apr 1965 DV reported that Greene and Rouse attended a press briefing at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA, where the Academy Awards presentation was held four days later. Although the team claimed they had clearance to film portions of the ceremony, the next day’s issue stated that permission was withdrawn by sponsors of the event.
       The 30 Apr 1965 DV announced Rita Hayworth for the role of “Sophie Cantaro.” She left the project two months later “by mutual consent of all parties,” according to the 24 Jun 1965 edition. The 17 Jul 1965 LAT stated that Jennifer Jones was a candidate for the role before it went to Eleanor Parker.
       Joseph E. Levine told the 22 May 1965 LAT that he was hoping to cast Jean Seberg as “Kay Bergdahl,” Jason Robards, Jr., as “Hymie Kelly,” Edie Adams as “Laurel Scott,” and Henry Fonda as ... More Less

The 30 Oct 1964 DV reported the hiring of writer Harlan Ellison to adapt Richard Sales’s 1963 novel, The Oscar, for the screen. Producer Clarence Greene and director Russell Rouse assured the 25 Feb 1965 DV that the film would be considerably less sordid than the source novel. The 23 Mar 1965 issue noted that Embassy Pictures president Joseph E. Levine added $1 million to the production budget, which was later estimated at $2.5 million in the 5 May 1965 Var. By the time filming was underway, the 2 Aug 1965 DV approximated the budget at $3 million.
       The 1 Apr 1965 DV reported that Greene and Rouse attended a press briefing at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA, where the Academy Awards presentation was held four days later. Although the team claimed they had clearance to film portions of the ceremony, the next day’s issue stated that permission was withdrawn by sponsors of the event.
       The 30 Apr 1965 DV announced Rita Hayworth for the role of “Sophie Cantaro.” She left the project two months later “by mutual consent of all parties,” according to the 24 Jun 1965 edition. The 17 Jul 1965 LAT stated that Jennifer Jones was a candidate for the role before it went to Eleanor Parker.
       Joseph E. Levine told the 22 May 1965 LAT that he was hoping to cast Jean Seberg as “Kay Bergdahl,” Jason Robards, Jr., as “Hymie Kelly,” Edie Adams as “Laurel Scott,” and Henry Fonda as “Kenneth H. Regan.” Only Adams appeared in the film, but in the role of “Trina Yale.” Comedian Dick Shawn was also under consideration, as noted in the 11 Jun 1965 DV.
       According to the 20 Jul 1965 DV, cast member Tony Bennett informed comedian Bob Hope during a transcontinental flight that Greene and Rouse were seeking his services. The 26 Aug 1965 DV confirmed Hope’s participation, along with that of actor-singer Frank Sinatra. Both planned to donate their salaries to charity.
       Principal photography began 19 Jul 1965, as stated in a 23 Jul 1965 DV production chart. Actress Jill St. John told the 21 Jul 1965 DV that she was shaking with fright during her initial scene, in which she was required to do a striptease. Other cast members included Larry Barton (19 Jul 1965 DV) ; Benedit Bryson and Nancy Lewis (22 Jul 1965 DV) ; Rex Holman (5 Aug 1965 DV) ; Chance Gentry (6 Aug 1965 DV) ; Ross Ford, Joel Price, Cordy Clark, Katie Regan, Norma Clark, Katie McKee, Jackie Mitchell, Bobby Whitby, Sherri Davis, Stacy King, Carol Anderson, Gege Michelle, Dawn Villere, Mei-Ling Leung, and Sylvia Sands (10 Aug 1965 DV) ; Jerry James (17 Aug 1965 LAT) ; Jan Merlin (18 Aug 1965 DV) ; Jeff Brown (23 Aug 1965 DV) ; Allegra Varron and Moki Demarco (30 Aug 1965 DV) ; radio personality and honorary “Mayor of Hollywood” Johnny Grant (13 Sep 1965 LAT) ; entertainment reporters Army Archerd, James Bacon, Dick Kleiner, and Neil Raul (15 Sep 1965 Var). The picture marked the screen debut of singer Tony Bennett, and the final screen appearance by actress and columnist Hedda Hopper. The 30 Jun 1965 DV credited Ann Del Valle as publicist.
       The 10 Aug 1965 DV announced that the debut episode of The Steve Lawrence Show (CBS, 13 Sep--13 Dec 1965) would feature a videotaped segment from the set of The Oscar, with stars Stephen Boyd, Elke Sommer, and Tony Bennett.
       The 12 Sep 1965 LAT identified locations as “the corner of Roxbury Drive and Benedict Canyon” in Beverly Hills, CA; North Formosa Avenue in Los Angeles, CA; and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, where producer Clarence Greene hoped to stage the premiere, followed by a “governor’s ball.” He also intended to duplicate the event at various openings around the U.S. Greene commended the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for its assistance with the film. The cast and crew included sixty-nine Academy Award nominees, twenty of whom were also winners. Neither Greene nor Rouse would say whether characters in the screenplay were based actual members of the entertainment industry.
       Hedda Hopper ruined the film’s surprise ending in her 17 Sep 1965 LAT column by revealing that Frank Sinatra, rather than Stephen Boyd’s character “Frank Fane,” won the “Oscar” in the final sequence. The 3 Feb 1966 LAT claimed that Boyd hoped the picture would “take him to the top level of stardom.” The end of production was reported in the 4 Oct 1965 DV.
       The Oscar premiered 15 Feb 1966 at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. Academy Award winners Janet Gaynor, Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Lila Kebrova, and Peter Ustinov were invited to attend, as noted in the 9 Feb 1966 LAT. The 3 Feb 1966 DV reported plans for an 18 Feb 1966 gala opening at the Showcase Circle Theatre in Levine’s hometown of Boston, MA. In addition to Levine, cast members Jill St. John, Stephen Boyd, Tony Bennett, Milton Berle, Joseph Cotton, Edie Adams, Ernest Borgnine, and Edith Head were expected. Sumner Redstone, president of the Redstone theater circuit, added a portrait of Levine to the theater’s gallery of famous filmmakers. The picture debuted in New York City on 2 Mar 1966 with an “invitational” screening at Loew’s State Theatre.
       Reviews were mixed: While the 15 Feb 1966 DV noted the picture’s commercial aspects, the 5 Mar 1966 NYT considered it a case of “Hollywood fouling its nest.” According to the 23 Feb 1966 Var, the Dallas, TX, Feature Film Classification Board declared the picture unsuitable for children under the age of sixteen. Canadian critic Clyde Gilmour listed The Oscar among the worst releases of 1966, as noted in the 11 Jan 1967 Var.
       Regardless, Levine predicted gross receipts of $14 million in the 31 Mar 1966 DV , while the 6 Apr 1966 Var listed the film as the eighth highest-earning release of the previous month. An item in the 18 Jan 1967 Var estimated 1966 rentals at $1.3 million. The picture received Academy Award nominations for Production Design and Costume Design.
       Although filming took place at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, the 10 Nov 1965 Var stated that the company only handled foreign distribution, while Levine’s Embassy Pictures retained domestic distribution rights. On 28 Sep 1966, Var reported that television rights reverted to Levine, along with those of four other Embassy-Paramount co-productions.
       Tony Bennett recorded the title song for his 1966 Columbia Records release, The Movie Song Album. Columbia also released the soundtrack album. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Mar 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Apr 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 May 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1965
p. 1.
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Jun 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1965
p. 10.
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1965
p. 6.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1965
p. 11.
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1965
p. 11.
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1965
p. 4, 8.
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Jan 1966
p. 16.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1966
p. 30.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1966
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1965
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1965
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1965
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
12 Sep 1965
Section N, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 1965
Section C, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1965
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jan 1966
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1966
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
9 Feb 1966
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
16 Feb 1966
Section D, p. 9.
New York Times
5 Mar 1966
p. 14.
Variety
5 May 1965
p. 62.
Variety
15 Sep 1965
p. 28.
Variety
10 Nov 1965
p. 18.
Variety
16 Feb 1966
p. 44.
Variety
23 Feb 1966
p. 7, 13.
Variety
2 Mar 1966
p. 7, 42.
Variety
6 Apr 1966
p. 7.
Variety
28 Sep 1966
p. 3.
Variety
11 Jan 1967
p. 24.
Variety
18 Jan 1967
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Mr. Boyd's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus supv
Orch
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Dial coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Oscar by Richard Sale (New York, 1963).
SONGS
"Thanks for the Memory," words by Leo Robin, music by Ralph Rainger
"All the Way," words by Sammy Cahn, music by James Van Heusen
"Carmen Carmelo," traditional.
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 February 1966
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 February 1966
New York opening: 4 March 1966
Production Date:
19 July--early-October 1966
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
PathéColor
Duration(in mins):
119
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On Oscar night, nominee Frank Fane anticipates he will be the winner of the award for best actor. His longtime friend, Hymie Kelly, reflects on Fane's rise to fame. In flashback, Fane's career unrolls from its tawdry beginnings: Small-time cabaret performers Frank Fane, Hymie Kelly, and Laurel Scott run afoul of the law and are falsely arrested. They drift to New York, where the ruthlessly ambitious Frank rejects Laurel for a beautiful dress designer, Kay Bergdahl, unaware that Laurel is pregnant by him. Frank's good looks and fast temper arouse the interest of drama coach Sophie Cantaro, who gets him a small acting part and offers to help launch his career. Persuading her agent, Kappy Kapstetter, to take Frank as a client, she manages to get Frank a Hollywood contract with producer Kenneth H. Regan. Frank plunges into a life of extravagance and publicity seeking. He sends for his old friend Hymie to serve as companion and public relations man and asks him about Laurel. Hymie tells him that he married her and she died. During his drive for fame, Frank pauses long enough to arrange for Kay's promotion to studio designer and then to marry her in Tijuana. Before long, Frank's behavior has made him countless enemies and has caused him to become a boxoffice failure despite the critical acclaim given his most recent picture. Dropped by Regan, Frank is promoted by Kapstetter for a TV pilot but walks out on the project when he learns that he has been nominated for an Oscar. Determined to win the award, Frank hires a private detective, Barney Yale, to leak the story of his past arrest to the press, in ... +


On Oscar night, nominee Frank Fane anticipates he will be the winner of the award for best actor. His longtime friend, Hymie Kelly, reflects on Fane's rise to fame. In flashback, Fane's career unrolls from its tawdry beginnings: Small-time cabaret performers Frank Fane, Hymie Kelly, and Laurel Scott run afoul of the law and are falsely arrested. They drift to New York, where the ruthlessly ambitious Frank rejects Laurel for a beautiful dress designer, Kay Bergdahl, unaware that Laurel is pregnant by him. Frank's good looks and fast temper arouse the interest of drama coach Sophie Cantaro, who gets him a small acting part and offers to help launch his career. Persuading her agent, Kappy Kapstetter, to take Frank as a client, she manages to get Frank a Hollywood contract with producer Kenneth H. Regan. Frank plunges into a life of extravagance and publicity seeking. He sends for his old friend Hymie to serve as companion and public relations man and asks him about Laurel. Hymie tells him that he married her and she died. During his drive for fame, Frank pauses long enough to arrange for Kay's promotion to studio designer and then to marry her in Tijuana. Before long, Frank's behavior has made him countless enemies and has caused him to become a boxoffice failure despite the critical acclaim given his most recent picture. Dropped by Regan, Frank is promoted by Kapstetter for a TV pilot but walks out on the project when he learns that he has been nominated for an Oscar. Determined to win the award, Frank hires a private detective, Barney Yale, to leak the story of his past arrest to the press, in hopes of turning Academy voter sympathy to himself; but his scheme backfires as Yale tries to blackmail him. Abandoned by everyone, Frank attends the ceremonies alone. Emcee Bob Hope calls Merle Oberon to present the best actor award. Shattered, Frank rises from his seat when the actress reads the name of Frank Sinatra as the winner. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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