Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Grouchos!

Best Supporting Actor - 1981.

It perhaps isn't any great stretch of the imagination to propose that, by this point in time, most people likely recognize the Academy Awards for what they have sadly become: a near-total farce. Whatsoever merit legitimately exists is all too often ignored in favor of politics which have nothing to do with the actual films themselves, or the behind-the-scenes talent therein.

However, it should also be noted that this series of articles is in no way intended to denigrate the work of those few truly deserving recipients - it's just that, sadly, those are usually the exceptions to an unfortunate norm.

That said, the Groucho for Best Supporting Actor - 1981 goes to Jack Albertson for Dead and Buried. As William G. Dobbs, his performance was nothing short of masterful.

Like most of my heroes, Albertson had every good reason to give up. Even as he was dying of cancer, he kept his condition a secret so that he could continue to work. He refused to make excuses - and Dead and Buried ended up being his final film. I submit to you now that it was also most probably his finest performance.

Yes - surpassing even the role for which he is perhaps best remembered: that of Grandpa Joe in 1969's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Even if he had actually been nominated for the award (hint: he wasn't), he sadly wouldn't live long enough to witness the same. Jack Albertson lost his three-year-long battle with cancer less than six months after Dead and Buried was released. But still, he deserves to be recognized for his efforts - no matter that it's only happening now, posthumously!

So this Groucho is for you, Mr. Albertson - as well as for those who knew you in life, and all of the fans who love you. Because without you, Dead and Buried wouldn't have been what it turned out to be: my all-time favorite movie.

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