This new hodgepodge of clips, which debuted at No. 1 on the video sales chart its first week out, promises the best Oscar snippets of the past 20 years (though it’s heavily weighted to the past 10). But the real achievement of Oscar’s Greatest Moments is that it manages to be as disorganized, embarrassing, tasteless, and loooong as the annual show.
The segments in this 110-minute videotape hurtle one upon the other, willy-nilly, fast then slow, like a novice skier out of control on the intermediate slope. There seems to be no rhyme or reason or theme, save that same underlying self-congratulatory tone that I’ve always thought undermines the Academy Awards.
There are some truly great moments: Charlie Chaplin overwhelmed by an adoring standing O from a generation eager to apologize for what the preceding generation had done to him. Louise Fletcher signing to her deaf parents after winning Best Actress for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Clint Eastwood trying to read lines meant for Charlton Heston. David Niven’s quick-witted response to a streaker. Bette Midler rearranging her dress. There are more, but I don’t want to build up your hopes and mislead you into thinking there are heaps of greatest moments.
Jack Nicholson appears in more reaction shots than any other Oscar attendee. We see Jack young, Jack middle-aged, Jack hunky, Jack fat, Jack pale, Jack tan, Jack without — or more often, with — sunglasses, Jack accepting, and always, always Jack smiling. Is there nothing that can bring this man down?
We also see a montage of Jane Fonda: Jane young, Jane not-so, Jane young again, Jane with and without boobs, Jane feared, Jane embraced, Jane of the beautiful face and the frowsy hairdos.
The production numbers, with the exception of Liza’s 1974 Oscar opening, are as vulgar, lengthy, and deadening as they are every year. Plan your kitchen and bathroom forays accordingly. Maybe the song and dance will be done by the time you come back, but I doubt it. C