February 5, 2011

The Ruling Class/The Eye Altering Alters All

New this week at The Moving Picture Writes

I don't often feel huge enthusiasm for the film that wins best picture at the Oscars.They seem to me mostly such timid and compromised choices.

I'm rarely quite so pissed at them as I was in 1972, when I thought it scandolous that The Ruling Class didn't sweep every major category.

Best adapted screenplay? There certainly wasn't one that year--few any year--so brilliant and incisive as Peter Barnes' adaptation of his own stage play--just as there've been few plays in English that come close to the wit intelligence emotional-philosophical range of The Ruling Class--and five at least of those that did were written by Peter Barnes.

(A couple were even written by Shakespeare.)

Best lead actress? Coral Browne, hands down. Lead actor? Peter O'Toole. Supporting actress? Carolyn Seymour. Supporting actor--Alastair Sim and Arthur Lowe would have to duke that one out.

(Nigel Greene as the Electric Messiah, Harry Andrews as the 13th Earl and Graham Crowden as the Master in Lunacy were each brilliant in their turn, but in a single scene only. And while you could also make a case for William Merwin as Uncle Charles, Michael Bryant as Dr. Herder and James Villiers as Dinsdale, even if all five best support actor noms had come from the same film, which would be somewhat unusual, only one could win.)

Direction? Editing? Soundtrack? Cinematrography? Set design, costume design?

Nothing else that year came anywhere near The Ruling Class in any of these categories and I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting. But I was angry at a larger injustice than an Academy snub: the loss to a wide popular audience of a genuinely great popular classic.

Also new this week, in the Video thread of About Us ("The Eye Altering Alters All"

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