"The Oscar" starring Stephen Boyd, Elke Sommer, Milton Berle and way too many other famous people to bother mentioning, is considered by many to be one of the worst movies ever made. (I would amend to that--"in color by a major studio" but many would disagree. And what the hell of it?) With every line a cliche, every performance pitched perfectly wrong, and a raging score to underline the various gaffes and missteps, the film is a disaster to behold and a joy to watch.
But what has this to do with our obsessive pursuit of good actors needing to prove themselves good singers? Well, in this case we have a reverse example of the syndrome we've been studying vis a vis Jerry Lewis and Jack Lemmon (with Robert Mitchum on the horizon). For among the many embarrassments found in "The Oscar" is the only screen performance (other than cameos) of one of the greatest singers of our time, Tony Bennett. He plays Hymie Kelley, whose name is explained by his having a Jewish mother and Irish father--this is typical of the film in that they managed to cast an Italian-American in the role and didn't bother to simply alter one of the nationalities and thus make sense of Bennett's incredibly Italian-Americanish looks and personality. Hymie is a loyal sidekick to movie star Frankie Fain (Stephen Boyd) but eventually realizes what a prick he is and has a meltdown renunciation scene which will leave you stunned by its...its...well lets just say that Tony does to acting what Jerry does "Get Happy" (or Jack does to "Try A Little Tenderness").To Tony's credit, he has often said that he hated the experience, thought he was no good at all and made certain never never NEVER to act again. In 1980s "Golden Turkey Award" book, Michael Medved and Harry Medved (Michael's father? brother? husband?) awarded Bennett "Worst Performance By a Popular Singer." Which makes me think that a similar award should be given out to our actor/singers, a la "Worst Record By a Popular Actor". I like it. I'm only sorry that the idea was Medveds, and not a critic anyone actually respects. Ladies and gentleman, click on the above link to witness Anthony Benedetto's debut and farewell performance in "The Oscar." Stinko!
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