BEHIND THE OSCAR by Anthony Holden


The Secret History of the Academy Awards
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 Although Holden (Big Deal, 1990, etc.) in his subtitle promises some lip-smacking gossip, few readers will be shocked, while most will find consuming this overrich table of Oscar-lore like trying to swallow the dessert board on the QE II. Steadily entertaining, Holden's narrative history bulks itself out with the usual Oscar facts and figures, but differs from the leader in its field, Mason Wiley and Damien Bona's voluminous Inside Oscar (1987), by hewing to anecdote. Part of the wacky suspense that the author keeps up hangs from the temper of the country and of the Academy each year (say, toward British nominees), and from studying the predictables and past winning percentages in whatever voting category he talks about, although many readers already will have recalled the winners. Holden begins with the making of the statuette itself, taking us through every step of its casting and burnishing and laminating, with other choice information offered about its brass inscriptions, delivery anywhere in the world, etc. Regarding awards for artistic merit, one of the big thoughts that arises from this study of the 5,000- plus Oscar electorate is, as one (unnamed) director puts it: ``Institutions aren't the best judges of a work of art, just like the AcadÇmie des Beaux Arts rejected the Impressionists.'' Even better are Peter Bogdanovich's words after losing as Best Director to William Friedkin in 1971: ``The way I see it, there's only one place that does it right. Every year in Barcelona they give awards for poetry. The third prize is a silver rose. The second prize is a gold one. The first prize, the one for best poem of all, is a real rose.'' Brain-sogging, so bring digestif. (Over 100 b&w photographs- -not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-70129-0
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993


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