Rock the Oscars 2019: THE ALAMO

One of the early settlers in Little Rock was a man from Tennessee named Davy Crockett.  He did not stay in Little Rock very long. He and several others ventured to the Republic of Texas.  His final days are depicted (with more liberties than the original Texans had under Mexican control), in the film The Alamo.

(While Stephen F. Austin does not appear in the movie, he was actually one of Little Rock’s founding fathers before becoming a founder of Texas.)

The very fictionalized, grandiose, and jingoistic movie starred John Wayne as Crockett, Richard Widmark as Col Jim Bowie (another Arkansas traveler who left his impact on the state), Laurence Harvey as Col. William Travis, along with Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Chill Wills, Ken Curtis, and Denver Pyle.

Though one of the top grossing films of the year, it was still a financial flop due to its excessive cost.  However, when Oscar time came around, the film received seven nominations. They were Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Wills), Cinematography-Color, Film Editing, Sound, Song, and Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

Wills took out an ad claiming that his fellow Alamo actors were praying for him to win even harder than the original Alamo soldier had prayed for victory.  There was much backlash.  It was felt that this may have affected award chances in all categories.  It only won the Award for Best Sound – which went to Gordon Sawyer and Fred Hynes.

The remake/new version of The Alamo received no Oscar nominations.

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Rock the Oscars: THE ALAMO

One of the early settlers in Little Rock was a man from Tennessee named Davy Crockett.  He did not stay in Little Rock very long. He and several others ventured to the Republic of Texas.  His final days are depicted (with more liberties than the original Texans had under Mexican control), in the film The Alamo.  (While Stephen F. Austin does not appear in the movie, he was actually one of Little Rock’s founding fathers before becoming a founder of Texas.)

The very fictionalized, grandiose, and jingoistic movie starred John Wayne as Crockett, Richard Widmark and Col Jim Bowie, Laurence Harvey as Col. William Travis, along with Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Chill Wills, Ken Curtis, and Denver Pyle.

Though one of the top grossing films of the year, it was still a financial flop due to its excessive cost.  However, when Oscar time came around, the film received seven nominations. They were Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Wills), Cinematography-Color, Film Editing, Sound, Song, and Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

Wills took out an ad claiming that his fellow Alamo actors were praying for him to win even harder than the original Alamo soldier had prayed for victory.  There was much backlash.  It was felt that this may have affected award chances in all categories.  It only won the Award for Best Sound – which went to Gordon Sawyer and Fred Hynes.

The remake/new version of The Alamo received no Oscar nominations.

Back to School Cinema: GREASE

greaseGrease is the word! This 1978 film rode the wave of 1950s nostalgia and became a cultural phenomenon.  Based on the long-running Broadway musical, the film version capitalized on the success of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John by pairing them and making film history.

The film was directed by Randal Kleiser based on the original play by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.  The cast included 23 year old Travolta, 28 year old Newton-John, 26 year old Jeff Conaway, 33 year old Stockard Channing and cast members ranging from 20 to 31 including Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Kelly Ward, Didi Conn, Jamie Donnelly, Eddie Deezen and Annette Charles.  Only Lorenzo Lamas and Dinah Manoff were teenagers, at 19, from the principal cast.

A dash of old Hollywood – or at least TV from the 1950s rounded out the adult cast with Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Dodie Goodman, Alice Ghostley and Joan Blondell. Frankie Avalon had a cameo as the very contemporary looking Teen Angel.

Because of the success of Saturday Night Fever, a BeeGees written title song was added.  Other songs were written for Newton-John by John Farrar, her main songwriter.  One of those, “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” nabbed the film’s only Oscar nomination.  Sha-Na-Na was added to perform 1950s standards and Grease songs at the school dance in the film.

Though the film has its flaws, it was wildly successful and stands up today as still a very fun film.  Just hearing the opening strains of “Summer Nights” is likely to send people into singing “Tell me more, tell me more….”  In the 1970s, Grease was evocative of a simpler time.  Now, 37 years after its initial release, the film stands as a reminder of a simpler time – the summer it came out.