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A young Rex Reed gives his tips for the 1969 Academy Awards
07:09 pm

A young Rex Reed gives his tips for 1969’s Academy Awards on The Dick Cavett Show.

This is classic Rex Reed and encapsulates what is good, bad and brilliant about the eminent film critic and writer.

I like Mr Reed, and admire the quality of some of his journalism, particularly his lively celebrity profiles which kicked-off in the sixties and the seventies that influenced oh so many magazine writers thereafter. I also think Rex has been a large and unacknowledged influence on bloggers, as his film reviews epitomize the essence of what makes for a good blog—sharp, witty, harsh, informative, insightful, and very personal, where material is reviewed through the prism of the writer.

Here Reed begins with some information about the Oscar itself.

“Did you know that an Academy Award only costs $60?

“The actors used to hock them all the time, because as soon as they would win, they’d run out of bread or something and they’d hock the Academy Award.

“But now they’ve made that illegal.

“You can’t hock your Oscar anymore; the Academy will buy it back for $10.”

As for his hot picks, well, Mr. Reed thought Anne of a Thousand Days would win the Oscar for Best Film—though it was his preferred choice Midnight Cowboy that won it, becoming the first “X” rated movie to win an Academy Award.

He also felt Maggie Smith deserved to win Best Actress (she did) though he thought it would be split between Jane Fonda and Liza Minelli.

But it’s the Oscar for Best Actor that disturbed dear Mr. Reed.

“I really have the terrible, lurking, poisonous suspicion that John Wayne will win the Academy Award.”

A nicely piquant hors d’oeuvre to start the evening for tonight’s Academy Awards.

Part II after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
07:09 pm
The Zabriskie Point Fallout (With Mel Brooks)

A few weeks back, regarding Jacques Demy’s Model Shop, I wrote about my fascination with the great European directors crossing the Atlantic to reign in and make sense of ‘60s America.  Resigning himself to merely making a film called Made In U.S.A., Jean-Luc Godard resisted the impulse.  Michelangelo Antonioni, most spectacularly with Zabriskie Point, did not.
As hatched by a team of writers that included Sam Shepard, and wife of Bernardo Bertolucci, Clare Peploe, the plot of Zabriskie Point wasn’t terribly complex.  Rebel Angelenos (my favorite kind!) Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette (who go, in the film, by their real names), hook up in the desert, have sex in the sand, then separate to meet their own explosive ends.

More complex, though, was the anger and confusion the film provoked at the time.  Typically gorgeous cinematography aside, cineasts looking for a worthy philosophical successor to Blow-Up were left disappointed by Zabriskie’s relatively unnuanced take on capitalism.  Hollywood watchers were appalled that Antonioni squandered so much time and money ($7 million in 1970 dollars) on something that, despite it’s notorious “desert orgy” sequence, managed to rake in barely a million hippie-box-office dollars.

Fortunately, 5 years later, Antonioni secured cinematic redemption with The Passenger.  Daria Halprin acted in only a handful of films, but went on to become, briefly, Mrs. Dennis Hopper.  After her marriage to Hopper fizzled, Halprin developed an interest in art therapy, and now, with her mother, runs Marin County’s Tampala Institute.

The future was far less kind to Mark Frechette.  You can read the Rolling Stone article about his “sorry life and death” here, but the shorthand goes like this:

He was the apparent victim of a bizarre accident in a recreation room at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk, where Frechette had been serving a six- to 15-year sentence for his participation in a 1973 Boston bank robbery.

Frechette’s body was discovered by a fellow inmate early on the morning of September 27th pinned beneath a 150-pound set of weights, the bar resting on his throat.  An autopsy revealed he had died of asphyxiation and the official explanation is that the weights slipped from his hands while he was trying to bench press them, killing him instantly.

What the above leaves out, though, is that prior to his incarceration, Frechette was living in a commune run by American cult leader Mel Lyman.  The entirety of Frechette’s Zabriskie earnings were tithed to Lyman’s “Family,” and it’s presumed that whatever money Frechette hoped to abscond with post-robbery would have wound up there as well.

Before all this, though, back when television talk show guests could still indulge in a cigarette, Halprin and Frechette found themselves—along with Mel Brooks and Rex Reed—on The Dick Cavett Show.

As you can watch below, Cavett had yet to see Zabriskie Point—and Frechette makes him pay for it.  In defending Lyman, Frechette also goes on to argue the fine line between “commune,” and “community.”

Trailer for Zabriskie Point: Where A Boy And A Girl Meet And Touch And Blow Their Minds!

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
03:22 pm