The Oscar (1966)

Genres - Drama  |   Release Date - Mar 4, 1966 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The Oscar is one of those so-bad-it's-good movies beloved by camp aficionados. Intended as a sordid little melodrama, The Oscar is an unintentionally hilarious comedy. How can it not be, with dialogue like "Here you sit on top of the glass mountain called success," "I'm not some sort of garbage pail you can slide a lid on and walk away," and "It's the village locksmith. It sounds like he wants to turn the key on you"? This kind of over-ripe, deliciously horrible dialogue is scattered throughout the film; indeed, it's hard to go for more than a few moments without some improbably memorable line working its way out of the mouth of one unfortunate actor or other. Of course, one shouldn't ignore the clich├ęd situations that produce these little gems, nor the outrageous characters to whom they are assigned: bad, very bad even, but undeniably entertaining. None of this is redeemed by the actors. Despite the big-name talent that was involved (many of the biggest names being relegated, thankfully for their reputations, to cameos), there's precious little here that can be called acting. But there's a whale of lot that can be called indicating, posturing, over-emoting, and just plain hamming it up. Stephen Boyd is charmless and charisma-free, a good looking hunk of meat with no flavor. Tony Bennett, Elke Sommer, and Milton Berle are even worse -- but much more enjoyable. It's not fair to blame the actors, since the material would be unbearable played any other way, and director Russell Rouse was clearly no help to them. There are a few aspects of Oscar -- its costumes and sets -- that actually are good. But it's the over-the-top qualities of the film that give it its distinction and make it one of those car-wrecks-of-a-film that are so much fun.