For 1973, we have “The Sting,” the 46th movie to be awarded the Best Picture Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). With this show, we move into the second half of our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy project to view and review each Best Picture. This is the second half because we won’t finish until 2018 when the 90th Best Picture will be selected.
In The Sting, Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) and Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) are grifters who con mob boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) out of a suitcase full of money. The mark, Doyle, never knows that he’s been the victim of a sting. He just knows that he just lost a lot of money.
The likes and dislikes of our EFMO audience are summarized in this 100-word sentence:
This is Robert Redford and Paul Newman’s picture and almost everyone singled them out and the general acting of the supporting cast as the big like of the film; the whimsical, fun, humorous story and the wonderful music of Marvin Hamlisch (Best Score and Song) were the next likes; there were only a few dislikes, e.g. crooked cops, the strip show; and although some thought the ending a bit abrupt and the progress somewhat confusing, the film’s overall average rating of 8.33 (out of 10) places the movie solidly in the top 50% of the 46 Best Pictures reviewed to date. (101 words)
An entertaining romp through the Chicago of 1936, the one derivative word assigned to the film was: FUN.
With this first film of the second half, the EFMO survey included a new question:
A friend orders an ice cream cone for you. You take the cone, look down and see this movie as the ice cream in the cone. What flavor is the ice cream? Circle one: CHOCOLATE VANILLA STRAWBERRY MINT-CHOCOLATE-CHIP
The predominant flavor selected for The Sting was MINT-CHOCOLATE-CHIP. The movie was FUN!
For 1974, the winner of the 47th Best Picture Oscar is “The Godfather Part II.”
The sentence for this second Godfather is:
The acting, especially of Robert De Niro (the young Vito Corleone) and Al Pacino (the surviving son of Vito Corleone), was the big “like” for the film; the violence (killings, revenge, abortion, ruthlessness) was the big “dislike”; some found the movie deep, profound and amazingly entertaining, others saw the show as dark, dysfunctional and hard to watch; one liked the flashbacks, one disliked the flashbacks; perhaps a revealing comment made by one viewer was that this show does not have the “class” of Godfather 1; without that added class (those good manners), Godfather 2 managed only an 8.07 rating, far less than the 9.08 of the first Godfather, and this difference in manners appears to have caused the film to finish lower, at the midpoint of the first 47 Best Pictures, #24 of 47. (134 Words)
The one word for Godfather II: MIXED.
An emerging purpose of EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy is to try to identify those elements that compose a Best Picture. We have presented that ENTERTAINMENT value and ARTISTIC worth appear to be criteria components necessary to the emergence of a Best Picture. Another element may be MANNERS: Good manners seem to lift the rating of a film, bad manners seem to sink a picture lower in the standings. As good as it is, the second Godfather might have performed better with another rub to polish off the bleak sulking and moody pouting. Bad manners do not picture well.
Our run of great actors and actresses continues. Following Redford and Newman in The Sting, and Pacino and De Niro in The Godfather Part II, we have Jack Nicholson (Randall McMurphy) and Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched) in Oregon in a hospital for the mentally ill in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” the 1975 Oscar winner and the 48th Best Picture, with Best Actor and Actress awards to Nicholson and Fletcher.
With the Cuckoo’s Nest, the summarized words of our EFMO reviewers grow longer:
A intricate, serious, complex and humorous movie that bluntly and brutally displays the difficulties of mental illness and the challenges of caring for those with the disease and its various manifestations; the cruel and dishonest Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) was disliked, the faking and fun-loving Randal McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) was liked, and the other patients were uniformly viewed as funny and sad, as was the show itself and its ending; one thought the film the best movie ever, one couldn’t believe it got best picture, and another reflected on the darkness of the show with the telling observation, “Mental illness is dark”; faced with an expose’ of the dark depression gripping the mentally ill, we may all have a certain unconscious connection and silent prayer for distance; perhaps those concerns contributed to this movie – so highly rated by others – meriting only a 7.63 EthnoFamiyMovieOgraphy rating, which places the film 2/3rds of way to the bottom of the first 48 Best Pictures, #32 of 48. (166 Words)
This film is one of only 3 of the first 48 to have votes in all categories of all EFMO questions, except one: No one voted for the ice cream flavor “VANILLA.” This is not a vanilla show. It is, I believe, one of the great American films and one of the more challenging, and it is not vanilla.
The one word for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: SANITY.
With Cuckoo’s Nest, we begin to see another possible criteria linking the audience to the film: CONNECTION. We are each different with different experiences, and who we are influences how we connect with a film and how we rate and evaluate the film. Perhaps CONNECTION is another necessary factor, with ENTERTAINMENT, ART and MANNERS, in the selection of the nominees and the determination of the Best Picture. More needs be said here, but this must be enough for now.
We are back in the 70’s again, and it is I think a good place to be.
Until the next show and the next year,