the men at the Post: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jason Robards, Jack Warden and Martin Balsam in All the President's Men (1976)

My Top 20:

  1. All the President’s Men
  2. Network
  3. Taxi Driver
  4. Solyaris
  5. The Outlaw Josey Wales
  6. Face to Face
  7. Carrie
  8. Seven Beauties
  9. The Front
  10. Voyage of the Damned
  11. Marathon Man
  12. Rocky
  13. Spirit of the Beehive
  14. Bound for Glory
  15. Cousin Cousine
  16. The Shootist
  17. Silver Streak
  18. The Last Tycoon
  19. Heart of Glass
  20. The Tenant

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Rocky
  • Best Director:  John G. Avildsen  (Rocky)
  • Best Actor:  Peter Finch  (Network)
  • Best Actress:  Faye Dunaway  (Network)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jason Robards  (All the President’s Men)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Beatrice Straight  (Network)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  All the President’s Men
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Network
  • Best Foreign Film:  Black and White in Color

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  All the President’s Men
  • Best Director:  Alan J. Pakula  (All the President’s Men)
  • Best Actor:  Robert De Niro  (Taxi Driver)
  • Best Actress:  Liv Ullmann  (Face to Face)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jason Robards  (All the President’s Men)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Jodie Foster  (Taxi Driver)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  All the President’s Men
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Network
  • Best Foreign Film:  Black and White in Color

a pair of Oscar nominees and Nighthawk winners: Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976)

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Taxi Driver –  #28
  2. Spirit of the Beehive –  #194
  3. Solyaris –  #225
  4. In the Realm of the Senses –  #257
  5. Kings of the Road –  #268
  6. Network –  #283
  7. Carrie –  #316
  8. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie –  #368
  9. Fellini’s Casanova –  #442
  10. The Man Who Fell to Earth –  #482

Top 5 Films  (1976 Best Picture Awards):

  1. All the President’s Men
  2. Rocky
  3. Network
  4. Taxi Driver
  5. Bound for Glory

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points)

  1. Network –  1613
  2. All the President’s Men –  1551
  3. Rocky –  1229
  4. Taxi Driver –  930
  5. Bound for Glory –  491
  6. Bugsy Malone –  433
  7. Face to Face –  411
  8. A Star is Born –  403
  9. Marathon Man –  294
  10. Voyage of the Damned –  283

AFI Top 100:

  • Taxi Driver –  #47  (1998)  /  #52  (2007)
  • Network –  #66  (1998)  /  #64  (2007)
  • Rocky –  #78  (1998)  /  #57  (2007)
  • All the President’s Men –  #77  (2007)

Ebert Great Films:

  • Network
  • Solyaris
  • Taxi Driver

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Picture:  All the President’s Men
  • Director:  Alan J. Pakula  (All the President’s Men)
  • Actor:  Robert De Niro  (Taxi Driver)
  • Actress:  Faye Dunaway  (Network)
  • Supporting Actor:  Jason Robards  (All the President’s Men)
  • Supporting Actress:  Jodie Foster  (Taxi Driver)
  • Adapted Screenplay:  All the President’s Men
  • Original Screenplay:  Network

Comedy / Musical:

  • Picture:  Seven Beauties
  • Director:  Hal Ashby  (Bound for Glory)
  • Actor:  Giancarlo Giannini  (Seven Beauties)
  • Actress:  Marie-Christine Barrault  (Cousin Cousine)
  • Supporting Actor:  Richard Pryor  (Silver Streak)
  • Adapted Screenplay:  Bound for Glory
  • Original Screenplay:  Cousin Cousine

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Picture:  All the President’s Men
  • Director:  Alan J. Pakula (All the President’s Men)
  • Actor:  Robert De Niro  (Taxi Driver)
  • Actress:  Faye Dunaway  (Network)
  • Supporting Actor:  Jason Robards  (All the President’s Men)
  • Supporting Actress:  Jodie Foster  (Taxi Driver)
  • Adapted Screenplay:  All the President’s Men
  • Original Screenplay:  Network
  • Editing:  All the President’s Men
  • Cinematography:  All the President’s Men
  • Original Score:  Taxi Driver
  • Sound:  All the President’s Men
  • Art Direction:  All the President’s Men
  • Visual Effects:  King Kong
  • Sound Editing:  The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • Costume Design:  The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • Makeup:  Carrie
  • Original Song:  “Gonna Fly Now”  (Rocky)
  • Foreign Film:  Face to Face

She wins the Oscar, the Nighthawk and gets the Nighthawk Notable for Sexiest Performance of 1976: Faye Dunaway in Network

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Silver Streak
  • Best Line:  “You talkin to me?”  (Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver)
  • Best Ending:  The Front
  • Best Scene:  trying to stop the train in Silver Streak
  • Best Ensemble:  All the President’s Men
  • Sexiest Performance:  Faye Dunaway in Network
  • Coolest Performance:  Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • See the Film, SKIP the Book:  Carrie
  • Worst Film:  Harry and Walter Go to New York

Film History: Paramount announces it will release films in its library to Betamax.  Michael Eisner becomes CEO at Paramount.  Rocky becomes the first major film to use a handheld Steadicam.  The filming of Apocalypse Now begins.  John Wayne stars in The Shootist, his final film.  Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians wins the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.  Taxi Driver wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  Fritz Lang dies on 2 April.  Audrey Hepburn stars in Robin and Marian, her first film in nine years.  The first Cesar Awards are held in April.

Academy Awards: Lina Wertmuller becomes the first female ever nominated for Best Director.  Peter Finch becomes the first actor to win an Oscar posthumously.  Rocky becomes the first non-musical to win Best Picture but not Screenplay since 1962.  It also becomes the first Best Picture winner to get nominated for Best Song since 1958 and the first Best Picture winner to lose Best Song (and only one to do it until 2002).  Seven Beauties becomes the third consecutive Foreign Film to get nominated for Director and Screenplay but not Picture.  Network becomes the first film since 1967 to get nominated in all four acting categories, the second (and last) film to win three acting Oscars and the last film to receive 5 acting nominations.  Black and White in Color becomes the second African film nominated for Best Foreign Film and the second to win (after Z).  For the first time, two of the nominated Foreign Films also compete in major categories (Cousin Cousine and Seven Beauties which are both nominated for Original Screenplay), though both of them lose in the Best Foreign Film category.  Two of the Best Director nominees, Lina Wertmuller and Ingmar Bergman, are nominated for directing Foreign films.  Federico Fellini is nominated for Screenplay for the eighth and final time, establishing the record for most nominations without a win.  Beatrice Straight becomes the Oscar winner with the shortest amount of screen time for a performance taking up just under five minutes in Network.

They do the same thing for a second year in a row: they take the hottest young director, the one who has just shown them how to make a director’s film and they nominate the film but not the director.  Spielberg would only have to wait 2 years for an actual nomination and 18 for his Oscar.  For Scorsese, it would be 4 years for the first nomination and an astounding 30 before he would actually take home the Oscar for Best Director.  The Academy goes with populism, handing Best Picture and Director to Rocky in spite of the 4 major Oscars for Network.  They would give Bergman his second nomination and finally nominate Liv Ullmann for a Bergman film.  The Cinematography branch would once again be the weak link, going for King Kong, Logan’s Run and A Star is Born rather than All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver or CarrieHalf a House, an impossible to find film, is the most recent film nominated for anything other than Best Foreign Film that I have yet to see.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Original Song for “Evergreen” from A Star is Born
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Screenplay Based on Material From Another Medium for Fellini’s Casanova
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Director for Martin Scorsese from Taxi Driver
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Fellini’s Casanova
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Heart of Glass  (if Solyaris and Spirit of the Beehive aren’t eligible)
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Cinematography
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Supporting Actress
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Actress, Supporting Actor, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects (King Kong only)

Golden Globes: Rocky becomes the first film since 1960 to win Best Picture – Drama without winning any other awards.  On the other end of the scale, Network wins Director, Screenplay and both lead acting awards in Drama but loses Best Picture while A Star is Born goes a perfect 5 for 5, winning Best Picture, Actor, Actress (all Comedy / Musical), Score and Song.  All the President’s Men and Bound for Glory both get nominated for Picture and Director, but go a combined 0 for 7.  Marathon Man wins Supporting Actor and is nominated for 6 awards including Director and Screenplay, but is passed over for Best Picture for Voyage of the Damned.  It is the first film eligible for Picture to earn Director and Screenplay nominations but not Picture since 1950.

Awards: In their second year the L.A. Film Critics decide to go first instead of last.  But they repeat themselves in giving a tie for Best Picture (Network and Rocky) and by going against the grain of the other three critics groups who all give Best Picture to All the President’s Men (the first American film not directed by Robert Altman to ever win the National Society of Film Critics Award).  Many of the same winners show up among the groups: Robert De Niro for Best Actor for Taxi Driver (LAFC, NYFC, NSFC), Liv Ullmann for Best Actress for Face to Face (LAFC, NBR, NYFC), Jason Robards for Best Supporting Actor for All the President’s Men (NBR, NYFC, NSFC), Alan J. Pakula for Best Director for All the President’s Men (NBR, NYFC), Network for Screenplay (LAFC, NYFC), Bound for Glory for Best Cinematography (LAFC, NSFC) and Talia Shire for Best Supporting Actress for Rocky (NBR, NYFC).  The single winners are Sidney Lumet for Best Director for Network (LAFC), Martin Scorsese for Best Director for Taxi Driver (NSFC), David Carradine for Best Actor for Bound for Glory (NBR) and Sissy Spacek for Best Actress for Carrie (NSFC).

Of the five films nominated at the DGA, three are nominated for Picture and Director at the Oscars (Network, All the President’s Men and winner Rocky), one is nominated for Picture (Taxi Driver) and one for Director (Seven Beauties).  Rocky wins the ACE over All the President’s Men and Network, but the latter two films both win WGA awards while Rocky does not.  The other two winners at the WGA are The Bad News Bears and The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a year after sweeping the Oscars, almost does the same thing at the BAFTAs, winning Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Editing, but losing Screenplay to Bugsy MaloneBugsy Malone is nominated for Picture and Director among its 8 total noms and wins Supporting Actress, Sound and Art Direction as well as Screenplay.  All the President’s Men manages 10 nominations, including Picture, Director and Screenplay but only ends up tying Women in Love and Ryan’s Daughter as the biggest loser in BAFTA history.  The final nominee for Picture and Director is Taxi Driver, which goes 2 for 6, taking home Score and Supporting Actress (the award to Jodie Foster for both Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone).

Best Supporting Actress: It becomes an incredibly strange race.  The LA Film Critics are the first group, but don’t give out supporting awards.  Both the NBR and the NSFC give their award to Talia Shire for Rocky, but the Golden Globes and Oscars both end up placing her in the lead actress race.  The final critics award (NSFC) goes to Jodie Foster for Taxi Driver.  But then Foster fails to get nominated at the Globes (though she is nominated for Best Actress – Comedy for Freaky Friday).  The winner at the Globes is Katharine Ross for Voyage of the Damned but she fails to get nominated at the Oscars.  The winner at the Oscars ends up being Beatrice Straight from Network, the shortest Oscar winning performance ever (less than 5 minutes) and Straight had failed to be nominated at the Globes.  Foster would win at the BAFTAs, but for both Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone, leaving her the clear cut consensus winner, but without much of an overall consensus.

a generation finally gets heard in The Front (1976)

Under-rated Film of 1976:

The Front (dir. Martin Ritt)

“The collective memory of a community is often preserved in tales passed on from one generation to the next.  But during the blacklist years many – though not all – preferred not to talk about it.  As a result, a generation was almost robbed of its history.  The ways in which the story of the blacklist was and wasn’t passed on may be one of the more depressing indicators of the community’s passage from cohesion to confusion.”

Naming Names (Victor S. Navasky) – p. 360

A woman and her mother come out of a film.  The mother is crying.  She begins to talk to her daughter about what her husband (who has recently died) went through at work, how he had never talked about it, but how she suddenly understood.  She understands all the bitterness he had, how mad he was at an industry that was his work and that suddenly turned on him.

I imagine that scene could have happened to numerous people.  It did happen to Dannie Mainwaring and her mother leaving The Front.  Mainwaring’s father, Daniel Mainwaring, the screenwriter who gave us Out of the Past and Invasion of the Body Snatchers had been blacklisted in the 50’s.  She can remember what it was like to constantly put the house up for sale because it was getting harder for writers to get jobs.  Her sister, Deborah, remembers a very nice letter from Alvah Bessie, one of the Hollywood 10, to whom Mainwaring offered the use of his name to keep him employed.  They can talk about seeing Adrian Scott, another of the Hollywood 10, driving a summercamp bus or Joseph Losey fleeing to Europe.  Deborah remembers her friend Gary Parks, whose father Larry died of a heart attack after he was hounded by HUAC.  At one point, in 1959, one writer called Mainwaring a communist in argument over a writing credit, an awkward situation, since the writer’s daughter was a classmate of Dannie’s.

When The Front was first released, Roger Ebert criticized it for failing to tell a cohesive story about the blacklist.  But that wasn’t what the film was designed to do.  It was to give a comic look at a very dark moment in time – to look at this poor schmuck, desperate for money, willing to push the boundaries, and when finally forced to confront the crisis of his conscience, chooses to do the right thing.  But it also, in a very real way, shows the human cost of the blacklist.  It does an excellent job of showing the writers, so smart, so passionate, not only about what they do, but about what they believe in, and unable to work, unable to do what they were born to do.  Sometimes the work isn’t the greatest – sometimes it is just the ridiculous jokes for a silly television show.  But it is their work nonetheless and it is being stripped from them.  They are desperate for anything and they will do whatever this jerk of a deli clerk and small-time bookie will ask of them so they can keep working and feed their kids, because they have their work and they have their pride.

The Front is a smart and funny film.  It does what is always so hard to do – it takes something that in no way should be funny and it somehow manages to humanize it and bring out the humor in it at the same time (another example of this kind of thing would be Jeffrey and it is the same kind of thing that Life is Beautiful tries to do, but in its desperation to be funny, it loses the humanism).  It contains a good performance from Woody Allen, but much stronger performances from Michael Murphy (one of the most under-rated actors in film – he never gets talked about like he should) and Zero Mostel.  Mostel’s performance is so perfectly poised on the edge of farce and tragedy and the desperate way that he approaches Allen, but then is unable to do anything is heart-breaking.  It is well-directed by Martin Ritt, especially Mostel’s final scene and the sad, slow way it proceeds and then moves around the room to the inevitable conclusion.

But most of all, this movie gives a satisfying sense of righteousness to those who lived through those times.  There were many of them and my description barely scratches the surface of what these talented people went through during those years.  It wasn’t just HUAC – it was their own industry that turned on them, with claims that a blacklist didn’t exist at the same times that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had rules that stated no one could be nominated for an Oscar who had admitted Communist Party membership and had not renounced it, if they had refused to testify before a Congressional Committee or if they had refused to respond to a subpoena from such a committee.  Happily, by 1976, no such rules existed and Walter Bernstein’s script was rightfully nominated.  His is just one of a number of names that come up in the end credits with the word BLACKLISTED after it.  It’s not a surprise that Bernstein gives Allen’s character the words that so many of them wish they could have said to all those committees, all those who were willing to prey on people for what they believed and would keep them from working: “I don’t recognize the right of this committee to ask me these kind of questions.  And furthermore, you can all go fuck yourselves.”

 

Note: This is the second piece I have written that owes a debt to the information provided to me by Dannie and Deborah Mainwaring, the daughters of Daniel Mainwaring.  The first piece, about Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and a longer look at his career, can be found here.  I have been fascinated with the blacklist since I first saw Guilty by Suspicion, a vastly over-looked film that I will write about when I get to 1991.  That they were willing to answer my questions about their father and his work was gracious enough.  But the extra information that they provided, and especially the anecdote that Dannie related about leaving the theater with her mother inspired me to watch The Front again.  And it was Dannie who first pointed me to Naming Names, the wonderful and insightful book about the blacklist.

Advertisements