Tag Archives: Oscars

“Now, Voyager” Revised

My wife is a huge Bette Davis fan and years ago she introduced me to one of Bette’s best films: Now, Voyager.

Based on the popular romantic novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, Now, Voyager was released in 1942. Mega-star Bette Davis was Oscar-nominated for her performance in the film, which was selected in 2007 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. Like all the great movies accorded that honor, Now, Voyager was deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Now Voyager may be a timeless classic – but there’s one central aspect of the film that has not aged very well: all that smoking.

Of course, until the last 20 years or so, everybody smoked in the movies – and in the 40’s and 50’s, cigarette smoke filled nearly every romantic drama, gangster movie, western and film noir frame. But Now, Voyager made smoking a central character.

In the film’s signature moment, Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes in his mouth at the same time and hands one to Bette. Henreid’s ultra-romantic two-cigarette move was first used ten years earlier in the film, The Rich Are Always With Us – but when Paul Henreid did it in Now, Voyager — it caused a sensation. For years afterward, Henreid couldn’t go anywhere without women begging him to pop two cigarettes in his mouth and fire them up.

Back then — unlike Bette and Paul’s relatively chaste and unrequited lovers — Hollywood and the cigarette companies were in bed together. Check out this fine article for some eye-opening details on this unhealthy alliance, including Bette’s contract with Lucky Strikes – and Paul Henreid’s own radio promotion, using his role in Now, Voyager to flog cigarettes.

68 years later, Now, Voyager’s smoky and sensual signature bit of dramatic business just wouldn’t fly in today’s more health conscious, socially and politically correct Hollywood.

So, while we were working on “The Vic & Paul Show” early this year, we asked ourselves, “What would happen if Now Voyager was re-made in 2010?”

Here’s our answer to that question, performed puff by puff at the Push Lounge in Woodland Hills in June 2010.

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Filed under Art, History

Oscar Night Highs & Lows: A Poll

The 2010 Academy Awards, celebrating the film industry’s best and the brightest, have been doled out to the winners and, for the most part, I can’t argue with the choices made by the Academy voters.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that I won last night’s Oscar Party poll. Because even though I managed to watch “The Hurt Locker” the day before the awards ceremony – and I knew at once that Kathryn Bigelow’s film deserved all the Oscar buzz it was getting – I still couldn’t resist voting for “Avatar” and the amazing world James Cameron created.

As it turned out, Cameron’s $300 million dollar film was amply rewarded for the stunning world it created with Oscars for Visual Effects, Art Direction, and Cinematography. But Bigelow’s much smaller budget war movie about an American bomb disposal unit working the shattered, nervous streets of Baghdad won for Best Picture, and not even James Cameron seemed to mind.

Who would've imagined that the first woman to win Best Director would win it for a war movie?

Aside from a couple of unnecessary lines of dialogue in a couple of scenes toward the end of the film, “The Hurt Locker” is a contemporary classic: something that every American should see. And now that it’s picked up a slew of Oscars, millions more will see the film in this country and around the world.

Think about it. What would a Best Picture Oscar have meant to “Avatar”, which has already earned $2.6 billion dollars worldwide? That’s more than 120 times what “The Hurt Locker” has done at the box office so far.

It can’t hurt to have more Americans watch Jeremy Renner and his fellow cast members portray heroic young soldiers risking their lives to protect their fellow soldiers — and an ambivalent, if not openly hostile Iraqi populace — from sudden, ultra-violent death. There’s no glorious war to be seen in this movie. Just serial carnage.

Bravo, Bravo Company!

As for the rest of the awards and the ceremony itself, the good far outweighed the bad. It was great to see one of my all-time favorite actors, Jeff Bridges, take home the gold.

And everyone in my family knew I’d be pulling for my cinematic sweetheart, Sandra Bullock – in a successful sports movie, no less! (That’s a two-fer!)

Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were the kind of hosts for a major TV event we haven’t seen since the golden days when Bing Crosby and Bob Hope casually knocked out vaudeville one-liners with effortless comic precision and old school show biz bonhomie.

Bob and Bing show us how it used to be done, Back in the day, you had to be triple threat to be a star.

And who didn’t love the brilliant, recently-discovered Cristoph Waltz in “Inglorious Basterds” — playing the most loveably entertaining yet thoroughly evil Nazi we’ve seen since TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes”. This award was never in doubt. They could have handed Waltz his golden statuette right after Quentin Tarantino’s offbeat World War Two revenge fantasy opened last summer.

And did anyone seriously think that any animated feature film other than “Up” was a contender? Personally, I was happy to see “Up” win two major awards, just so they could keep cutting back to Ed Asner – which, I’m sure, gave right-wingers a conniption all evening. (Come to think of it, just about everything on Oscar night gives conservatives a pain.)

But, among the generally satisfying symphony of elegance and good taste on Oscar night, there were, alas, a few discordant notes. If you saw the show – you know what they were. But what was the most sour note of all? You may not have gotten a chance to vote for the Academy Awards, but you are welcome to vote in our poll…

And just so we’re not dwelling unduly on the negative, I also invite you to cast your vote on a positive note…

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Filed under Polls, Random Commentary