By Alan Caruba
First off, let me say that I did not watch the 81st Academy Awards. I watched “Patton” for the 172nd time because George C. Scott gave a great performance in a movie that clearly acknowledged the barbarity of war while also acknowledging that it is often the only way to defeat an evil, totalitarian regime.
I didn’t watch for another reason, a personal one. I went to high school with Frank Langela in the 1950s and can recall the skinny kid who was a member of the Parnassian Club along with other aspiring actors. In our 1955 yearbook, Frank was remembered for “his ability to make people laugh, his love for Italian lasagna, and those adlibs that livened up Senior Play rehearsals.” I remember Frank because I was the student stage manager at the time.
Frank was born to be an actor and his performance in “Frost/Nixon” deserved an Oscar. I think that among the reasons he didn’t receive it was that he was portraying one of the Left’s favorite bogymen. I guarantee you that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not have just been in China if Nixon had not opened up that nation to its potential as a trading partner.
Instead the Best Actor award went to Sean Penn who portrayed the slain openly gay mayor of San Francisco. Sean Penn who could not run fast enough to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to defend that psychopath or down to Venezuela to embrace Hugo Chavez. Penn is the quintessential Hollywood Leftist and that is why he got the award. I am pretty sure it wasn’t because “Milk” was a box office blockbuster because it wasn’t. Penn did get one thing right when he addressed the audience saying, "You Commie homo-loving sons of guns."
I used to do PR for Actors Equity and it is a tough profession. Most of that union’s members are out of work on any given day. I came to know quite a few actors, many famous faces from former times and, while there were surely some who were intelligent and would have been successful in any job, the fact is that people become actors in order to escape their own lives and enter into the make believe of fictional ones. Occasionally, between the screenwriter, the director, and the actor, we get films that inspire us; nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong is turning an event like the Academy Awards into a political or social platform. If I want politics, I can turn on the news. I don’t need it, nor want it in a film.
A case in point is HBO’s “Taking Chance”, a film based on the true story of a Marine Lt. Colonel who sees the name of a lance corporal killed in action in Iraq who came from the same town where he grew up. He volunteers to escort the body from Dover Air Force Base to where he is to be buried in Idaho.
What we witness is the deep regard and respect rendered to each casualty of war by both the military and by civilians, some of them veterans, along the journey. It is not a polemic about whether the war was right or wrong. It was about the sacrifice that warriors—mostly young men—make for their nation because they believe in what that nation stands for. It’s a superb film and cast led by Kevin Bacon. Don’t miss it.
The Academy Awards have become a farce. It’s sad because I loved going to the movies when I was growing up. I don’t go any more.