The motion picture academy has a top-notch YouTube channel that numbers over 1,000 clips. Among these are many of the greatest moments in recent Oscarcasts. However, those from decades gone by are sadly MIA.
Back in 1991, the academy produced a VHS tape entitled “Oscar’s Greatest Moments (1971-1991)” which showcased the highlights and lowpoints of two decades of Academy Award ceremonies. AMPAS president and Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden (“On the Waterfront”) hosted the 110-minute special.
Various segments reviewed the controversies — Best Actor champs George C. Scott (“Patton,” 1970) and Marlon Brando (“The Godfather,” 1972) just saying no — as well as the comedic highlights (Bette Midler resurrecting her career as she presented the 1981 Best Song award in her inimitable way), the fashion faux pas (hello Cher) and, yes, the actual winning moments such as Louise Fletcher’s (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” 1975) moving acceptance speech in sign language and Sally Field’s declaration of dependence in 1984 when she won her second Best Actress Oscar for “Places in the Heart.”
At the conclusion of this rapid walk down memory lane, Malden promised that the academy would unlock the vault and bring out more of these treasures for our enjoyment. We are still waiting.
The academy could put archival backstage interviews with the winners and presenters as well as behind-the-scenes footage on YouTube. Those would not require the rights clearances from various guilds and unions which complicated the release of the VHS tape.
Chief among these are the musical rights. But what a shame if this obstacle cannot be overcome.
Who doesn’t want to revisit that cringeworthy moment from 1977 when Debby Boone and those not-so-deaf children performed Best Song winner “You Light Up My Life.” It made it onto the “Greatest Moments” tape and needs to be seen to be believed. Likewise for Isaac Hayes raunchy rendition of 1971 Best Song champ “Shaft.”
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