Sunday, 24 February 2013

And the winner is...Academy Awards in the sixties

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, are the western cinema industry's big night out (I know, some of you are fans of European film but, let's face it, the Oscars are bigger than the Palme D'Or, the Golden Bear, the BAFTAs and all the rest put together).

Surprisingly - perhaps less so now Les Miserables has staked its claim - four of the awards for Best Picture in the sixties went to musicals. In 1961, it was West Side Story:

A modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with music by Leonard Bernstein, words by Stephen Sondheim and fabulous, hormone-driven choreography by Jerome Robbins, the stars of the film were Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood:
The good looking actors had their singing voices dubbed (by Jimmy Bryant and Marni Nixon, respectively). Marni was also the mother of Andrew Gold, by the way.

Three years on and the award for Best Picture went to My Fair Lady. Another adaptation from a stage play (this time George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion), Marni Nixon was once more the off-screen (though not exactly unsung) heroine, this time dubbing a singing voice for Audrey Hepburn.
Rex Harrison playing the irascible Professor Higgins to Hepburn's Eliza Dolittle, carried off the Oscar for Best Actor.
The very next year, 1965, saw The Sound of Music (yep, that's right) sweep up the Best Picture award.

We could be boring and bring you an ever so familiar clip from the movie, but we thought you might prefer this instead. (If you can watch without smiling, let us know!):

The final musical to run off with the Best Picture Oscar in the sixties was Lionel Bart's adaptation of a classic Charles Dickens story:
Starring, among others, that little known musical heavyweight, Oliver Reed (no relation to the eponymous hero), the musical also won Best Director award for Sir Carol Reed (with a name like that, bet he didn't go to the local Secondary Modern!) Reed also directed The Agony and the Ecstasy and The Third Man.

So, which one will you be singing in the shower tomorrow morning?

Post below and let us know.

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