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‘The Godfather’ Wins Best Picture; Brando a No-Show

'The Godfather' Wins Best Picture; Brando

But ‘Cabaret’ Leads With 8 Including Minnelli, Grey, Fosse

Marlon Brando’s spurning of the 1972 Best Actor Academy Award for “The Godfather,” winner also of the Best Picture Oscar, momentarily stunned the world and the film industry last night. But not to be obscured is the fact that “Cabaret” copped eight of its 10 nominations, a near sweep of the 45th annual Oscar derby of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, held at the Pavilion of the L.A. Music Center.

“Godfather” won a total of three Oscars—the third for best adapted screenplay, with Francis Ford Coppola (who lost to Bob Fosse for the Best Director Oscar) sharing the writing award with book author Mario Puzo.

Liza Minnelli copped the Best Actress Oscar for “Cabaret,” and Joel Grey’s Best Supporting Actor nod also came from that ABC Pictures Corp. production, produced by Cy Feuer, and released domestically by Allied Artists. (In foreign markets, 20th-Fox is releasing the film, which is considered a major turning point in the filmusical genre—being more a drama-with-music than the prototype extravaganza).

Francis Ford Coppola and Dorothy Puzo won the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay. Photo courtesy of AMPAS

Two For Columbia

Eileen Heckart won Best Supporting Actress award for “Butterflies Are Free,” one of Columbia Pictures’ two wins. The other was for best original dramatic score in “Limelight,” a 20-yearslate tribute to Charles Chaplin, the late Ray Rasch and Larry Russell.

Jeremy Lamer won the other writing award for his original screenplay for “The Candidate,” the sole Warner Bros. win.

AA Big Winner

On the corporate level, Allied Artists led the results with eight Oscars, followed by Paramount’s trio for “Godfather.” Besides Col, 20th also won two—best foreign language film (Luis Bunuel’s “The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie”) and best song (“The Poseidon Adventure”). In addition, “Poseidon” got a special nonvoting award for special visual effects, handed out by the board of governors, not the general membership in wide balloting.

Until Brando’s proxy turndown of his Oscar (his second win in six nominations), the main pervading theme of the evening was nostalgia.

It ran the spectrum from the “Cabaret” plot environment, the special award to retiring AMPTP vice chairman Charles S. Boren, the “Limelight” musical win, to a production number tribute to Walt Disney Prods, on its 50th anni, Frank Sinatra’s tasteful and eloquent intro of Rosalind Russell for her Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, Jack Lemmon’s appropriate nod to the memory of the just-deceased Noel Coward, two songwriters’ thanks to Happy Goday (a vet music biz song plugger), and by no means least, the special posthumous tribute to Edward G. Robinson.

Robinson Tribute

With James Cagney’s voiceover introducing a long series of Robinson clips, the memorial was climaxed by the warmly received acceptance of the award by his widow. Robinson, who had been notified of his special award before his death, had prepared some remarks which his widow read:

“It couldn’t have come at a better time in a man’s life. Had it come earlier, it would have aroused deep feelings in me, still not so deep as now. I’m so very grateful to my rich, warm, creative, talented, intimate colleagues who have been my life’s association. How much richer can you be?”

Howard W Koch produced, and Marty Pasetta directed the Oscar show, which featured a consistent decor of sound stage props, first seen when Angela Lansbury opened with Billy Barnes’ “Make A Little Magic,” choreographed (as was the whole show) by Carl Jablonski.

Fosse Breaks Tradition

Fosse’s directorial Oscar (on his second film) proved a rare exception to the rule that the Directors Guild of America award normally telegraphs the Oscar victor in that category. (Coppola, who won the top DGA award, made a facetious reference to having lost the directorial Oscar when accepting his writing award. He said he had not prepared a speech, but then got some remarks together, later wondering if he’d ever get a chance to deliver them).

But two traditional Oscar-jinx rules remained largely unbroken: The triple best supporting actor nominations for “Godfather,” and dual best actor nominations for “Sleuth.”

Acad president Daniel Taradash’s opening remarks noted the revitalization of the film industry, the widespread interest in films by young people in burgeoning cinema courses, and the attention of critics. But, he noted, in the Oscar results, “The professionals are the reviewers.”

Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey took the award for Best Actress and Supporting Actor for Cabaret. photo courtesy of AMPAS

Show’s opening was a combination of fumbling and some questionable taste. Charlton Heston, one of the m.c.s, was late and Clint Eastwood began Heston’s turn. That consisted of a parody on Genesis and other Biblical references. Okay for a closed BevHills banquet, perhaps, but the Oscar show is for millions worldwide.

“The Candidate” was a Capralike backstage political expose of the modern era, and Lamer’s tongue-in-cheek acceptance speech included the crack that politicians’ use of words like “honor” lent “inspiration” to the characterizations of his script and likely to others in the future.

Some boos but more cheers greeted the Brando Oscar nix, after which a stunned m.c. Rock Hudson appeared to have been cut off by the next film montage as he seemed on the verge of making a comment. Later, Raquel Welch, a presenter of the best actress Oscar, asided that she hoped the winner “doesn’t have a cause.”

Brando’s spurn of his Oscar involved somewhat more personal reasons than those of George C. Scott, who in the 1970 win for his title- role performance in “Patton” walked away from it on grounds of disapproval of the whole procedure.

From The Heart

Miss Russell, herself a longtime arthritis victim as well as a careerlong activist in various industry and outside charities, matched Sinatra’s introduction with a most gracious and heartfelt speech of thanks.

While the Oscar leading “Cabaret” seems far removed from Brando’s stated reasons for not accepting his award, there is some philosophical linkage. “Cabaret” was a most compelling drama of people cavorting for escapist purposes while their country was being absorbed by brutal politics involving in part abuse of a minority group. Brando’s Oscar nix was on the basis that the film industry has not yet properly portrayed the American Indian, one of his longtime causes in behalf of this country’s original oppressed minority.

In a somewhat sobering sense, the popularity of “Cabaret” among the Academy voters and for over a year among the filmgoing public looms too much a parable of today rather than its superficial though grim nostalgia. Its success is a fitting finale for ABC Pictures Corp., as well as the breath of life to Allied Artist*. “Auf Wiedersehen, a bientot……”