And The Academy Award Goes To

Episodes

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It Happened One Night20190302

It happened one night in February 1935 that a film, that had been largely ignored by the critics, romped for the first time in Oscar history to all five top awards. In this final programme in the current series, Paul Gambaccini tells the story of the triumph of “It Happened One Night”. It was the ‘sleeper hit’ of 1934, that captured for its stars Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable the Oscars for best acting, and for its director, the soon-to-be legendary Frank Capra, the best director gong. The story of how and why Colbert almost missed the Tinseltown ceremony and Clark Gable only made the film because his boss wanted to punish him are two of the surprising twists in the story of this Depression-era classic romantic comedy.

Producer: Simon Elmes

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

Moonlight20190223

And the Academy Award Goes to...Moonlight. Except on the night, in one of the biggest mix ups in the history of the Oscars, La La Land was announced as Best Picture.
Once the mistake was rectified the rightful winners took to the stage, elated.

For the first time a film with an all black cast had won. There are many other firsts in this coming of age movie set in Miami. Critically acclaimed as a work of art, the story stems from the lives of both the director Barry Jenkins and the writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film drops in on three stages of the life of a boy called Chiron, challenging stereotypes and exploring sexuality and parenthood.

The independent, coming-of-age movie set in Miami and featuring an all black cast

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King20190216

Paul Gambaccini returns with the series which unpicks the social and political dynamics that the production grew out of.
Bring on the orcs!
How do you turn an unfilmable book, beloved of millions of fans, set in another world inhabited by strange, mythical creatures, into one of the most successful and loved adaptations ever?
Find yourself a young director with a lot of nerve - Peter Jackson - and let him loose.

The job of turning J.R.R.Tolkiens's novel, "The Lord Of The Rings" into an elaborate, no-holds barred, fantastically believable and enchanting piece of cinema makes for a fabulous story of its own.
With acting magic from Sir Ian McKellen, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, Andy Serkis, Bernard Hill, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett.... and a whole heap of orcs and hobbits besides; a bevy of assistant directors, and the astonishing cinematic tricks of WETA... a team of thousands... with one director to rule them all...
Paul Gambaccini hears from head of WETA workshops, whose visual effects gained him 5 Oscars, Richard Taylor, film - editor Jamie Selkirk, and Mark Ordeksy, who was involved from the start with New Line who stumped up the funding when Miramax pulled out, Peter Jackson and screen writer Phillipa Boyens.
Ian Nathan, author of “Peter Jackson - and the Creation of Middle Earth”, and critics David Thomson, Larushka Ivan Zadeh, and Professor Toby Miller, pass their judgements of the record breaking 11 out of 11 Oscars the final film won - tying with Ben Hur and Titanic.
Find out the real production story behind the epic trilogy, which unusually for a fantasy film, swept the board at the 2004 Oscars.
New Zealand would never be the same again.
Other Best Pictures in this series: "It Happened One Night" and " Moonlight".

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Bring on the Orcs! New Zealand would never be the same again.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0101Lawrence Of Arabia2008020220170307 (BBC7)
20170308 (BBC7)

Gambaccini discovers how David Lean's epic won the Best Picture Award in 1963.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0102One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest2008020920170314 (BBC7)
20170315 (BBC7)

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind award-winning films.

Director Milos Foreman recalls how the film reflected his views on the Iron Curtain and how the script came to influence mental healthcare in America. Louise Fletcher recalls the experience of acting alongside the mixed cast of amateurs and professionals including Jack Nicholson.

Paul Gambaccini examines the first post-war winner to sweep five major Academy awards.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0103The Silence Of The Lambs2008021620170321 (BBC7)
20170322 (BBC7)

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the stories behind award-winning films.

Jodie Foster recalls the experience of working with Anthony Hopkins and director Jonathan Demme. Screenwriter Ted Tally considers the extent to which The Silence of the Lambs reveals more about celebrity culture than serial killers.

Paul Gambaccini talks about the winner of 1992's Best Picture Award. With Jodie Foster.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0104The English Patient2008022320170328 (BBC7)

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the stories behind award-winning films.

4/4. The English Patient

Paul talks to author Michael Ondaatje about the adaptation of his novel. Publicist Tony Angelloti recalls how he ran the campaign to persuade the Academy that this film was a winner.

Paul Gambaccini examines why the book considered unfilmable, won Best Picture of 1996.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0203Crash2009021420180306 (BBC7)
20180307 (BBC7)

And the Academy Award Goes to... Crash. For the third programme in the current series of Oscar-winning films and what they tell us of the time that gave rise to them, Paul Gambaccini tackles the film that was loved and reviled in equal measure by the very same LA society whose darker side the film set out to explore.

The controversial 2006 Oscar winner, a film that explores the tensions within LA society.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

06Slumdog Millionaire20160227

The little film that got lucky. How Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

06The French Connection20160220

Paul Gambaccini assesses the first R-rated movie to win the Best Picture Oscar.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

06The Last Emperor20160213

Paul Gambaccini explores the epic film that won all 9 Oscars it was nominated for in 1988.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0712 Years A Slave20170225

Why does it take an Englishman to tackle one of the most horrific chapters in the history of the United States? Described as stark, visceral and unrelenting, "12 Years A Slave" has been hailed as "brilliant - and quite possibly essential - cinema". and it became the first film with a black director (and producer) to win the Best Picture Oscar

Paul Gambaccini talks to key personnel behind the flim and hears from its stars (both behind and in front of the camera) to find out how the film was made, including editor Joe Walker, production designers Adam Stockhausen, stars Kelsey Scott and Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen. And with the help of critics David Thompson, Toby Miller and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh explores what it's success at the 2014 Oscars tells us about the concerns of society an d of the Academy which in the two years that followed failed to nominate a black person for its top awards.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

It takes an English director to tackle one the most horrific chapters in US history.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

07All About Eve20170218

Fasten your seat belts folks!
With 90 years of the Academy Awards to choose from, Paul Gambaccini is back with a swashbuckling, all singing, all dancing, behind the scenes new series of AND THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO... digging up the stories behind the greatest Best Picture Oscar winners - reflecting the world in which they were made.

With "La La Land" a hot favourite at this year's awards, with 14 nominations, Gambaccini takes as his first subject a similarly feted film from 1950.

"All About Eve" was Bette Davis's come back picture, as she took on the role of Margo Channing, a Broadway star on the wrong side of 40. Davis had been Hollywood divinity, but the previous year she had won Worst Actress of the Year from the San Francisco Critics Circle.

Even back then navel gazing was a favourite Hollywood obsession, and the Academy had to weigh up the merits of two films about show business - "All About Eve" and "Sunset Boulevard".

With 14 nominations and 6 wins, "All About Eve" carried the day - but the night was a keen disappointment for Davis, who was hoping for a third Oscar, as her co-star, Anne Baxter, would cancel out her chances of winning Best Actress.

Michael Merrill, Davis's son, recalls her bitter disappointment, but it's still his favourite film - "Because it was how my mother and father met each other".
Gary Merrill, Davis's on screen love interest, would become her 3rd husband.

Paul also hears from Cheryl Bray Lower - biographer of director Joseph L Mankiewicz, Ed Sikov - author of "Dark Victory - The Life Of Bette Davies", film writer David Thomson, critic Larushka Ivan Zadeh, and Professor Toby Miller.

Is it all about Eve, or all about Bette Davies?

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

The first film to get 14 Oscar nominations - Paul Gambaccini on the bitchiest movie ever.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

07Schindler's List20170304

Rena Finder was just 10 years old when she first came into contact with Oskar Schindler. "He would put his hand on my head and ask me, how are you little one?"
Finder is one of a handful of those who were on Schindler's List, still alive to share her story - which she does with Paul Gambaccini, as he tells the story behind the film "Schindler's List".

In 1982 Steven Spielberg was best known for directing films about sharks and aliens, in "Jaws" and "E.T.". When he read Thomas Keneally's Booker Prize winning novel about the life of the 'good Nazi', who saved 1,300 Jews from the gas chambers in Auschwitz, he was determined to see the film made. But he wasn't even sure if he was the director to do it.

It would be ten years until he found himself filming in Poland, outside the death camp gates, with extras dressed in striped prisoner uniforms, acting alongside the almost unknown British actors Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson and Caroline Goodall.

With 12 nominations in 1993, the film won 7 Oscars, including cinematography for Janusz Kaminski, and art direction for Allan Starski - two of the Polish Crew - who recall their confrontations with the evils that happened in their homeland, whilst shooting the movie.

For Spielberg, it won him Best Director and Best Picture for the first time.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

The biggest director in Hollywood takes on the most difficult challenge of his life.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

08Argo20180303

From real-life events that had been classified for 17 years to Oscar success in 2013 - Paul Gambaccini tells the story of 'Argo'

Actually based on an article in 'Wired' magazine,'Argo' tells the fantastical story of how a CIA agent used Hollywood to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, during the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis - under the guise of filming a science fiction film. Acclaimed by the critics as both "tense, exciting and often darkly comic" and "a movie from an earlier era - less frenetic, less showy, more focused on narrative than sensation". Nominated for seven Oscars, though controversially no nomination for director Ben Affleck, the film walked away with three statuettes, including the coveted Best Picture Award.

With the help of writer Chris Terrio and editor Billy Goldenberg (winners of the two other Oscars for the film), as well as director (and star) Ben Affleck, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, actor Clea DuVall and the real-life diplomat she portrayed, Paul Gambaccini hears how the facts behind a fantastical story were turned into a tense but believable plot.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

From real-life events that had been classified for 17 years to Oscar success in 2013: Argo

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

08Casablanca20180217

"Casablanca is a perfect story about American mistrust of the rest of the world, about American isolation, so it was a wonderful fantasy for Americans as they got deeper into the war. "
Film critic - David Thomson.

Oscar night approaches; what will Paul Gambaccini be wearing as he sits back on the sofa to predict the winners and losers?

In the new series of "And The Academy Award Goes To..." he takes time to look back at three of the best - "Casablanca", "Titanic ", and "Argo" - Ben Affleck's drama about the US Embassy Siege.

Would he have predicted "Casablanca" as Best Picture back in 1944? Probably, because even now, 75 years later, this classic film-noir retains every inch of its power, and even seems to reflect on todays' world.

Packaged as a love story, underneath the Bogart and Bergman romance lies a hard hitting political thriller, a war story, a story of sacrifice. Gambaccini takes us deep into the heart of 'Rick's Café Americain' - a meeting place for refugees and exiles, vultures preying on those desperate to escape, and those damaged by war.
"I still my neck out for no-one", claims Rick - Humphrey Bogart - who presides over his bar, immaculate and cynical in white jacket and black bow tie, feigning indifference to the war tearing Europe apart, reflecting the "America First" attitude of non-intervention which dominated popular thinking in the USA, right up until the attack on Pearl Harbour. It was a remarkable piece of good timing that the original play, "Everyone Comes to Ricks", landed in the post room at Warner Brothers, just days after.

From that day on, Hollywood saw its role as helping to turn the tide of opinion, and "Casablanca" was immediately recognised as the perfect vehicle to influence public opinion to move towards supporting the war effort.

Paul talks to film-noir expert Alan K Rode, author of the very first biography about Casablanca's under recognised director, "Michael Curtiz - A Life in Pictures". Like many of the cast members he too was a refugee, going on to direct many great studio movies, including "Angels With Dirty Faces", "Robin Hood" and "White Christmas".

Noah Isenberg discusses his book "We'll Always Have Casablanca", re-examining the original drama on which the film was based, and the team of seven writers who helped create one of the finest scripts in Hollywood history. While Historian Nick Rankin notes the perfect timing of the films inception and release as the war progressed.

Paul is also joined by regular contributors Larushka Ivan Zadeh and David Thomson.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

75 years since murder, refugees, music and love reached peak perfection in Hollywood.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

08Titanic20180224

Paul Gambaccini nears some of the tears and triumphs that surrounded the production of what was the most expensive film ever made.

Diving to the wreck of Titanic, 12,000 feet under the North Atlantic, became an obsession for director James Cameron.
Over many dives Cameron came to know every detail of the celebrated catastrophe. He visited the wreck more times than any other human being, and the moviemaker felt a compulsion to tell the tale of those on board the first and final voyage in 1912.

But to make a new film about a familiar tragedy on the scale he wanted required a very big budget.
When the production hit the $200 million mark, the studios that back it feared ruin - but ended up with the biggest grossing film of all time.
Titanic, in every sense. was a work of extraordinary scale and wonder.
The passion of director James Cameron for the real ship wreck drove the production, but how was it for cast and crew?
We hear of arguments and walk outs, but also the work of consummate professionals working together.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

How Titanic, the disaster movie to end all disaster movies, nearly ended up a disaster.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0901Chicago20200207

It was a heady combination of the seedy side of a city, jazz and murder, and memorable performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere that scooped the musical film "Chicago" 6 Academy Awards., including one for Best Picture. The 2002 movie was based on the 1975 stage musical created by Bob Fosse, but the story of murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart had been told in several forms before that. The first was in 1926 by Chicago Tribune reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, based on two actual 1924 murder cases.

Paul Gambaccini traces the origin of the film and hears why it triumphed so spectacularly at the Oscars. There are contributions from the film's Musical Supervisor Maureen Crowe who recalls the way the music was recorded and put together in London, Toronto and Los Angeles and how difficult it was to get the opening horn lick in the first few bars just right.
We also hear from film critics Toby Miller and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and there are interviews recorded at the time of the film's release with starring actor Richard Gere and director Rob Marshall.

Producer: Emma Kingsley

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

Paul Gambaccini traces the origin of the film and hears why it triumphed so spectacularly at the Oscars. There are contributions from the film's Musical Supervisor Maureen Crowe who recalls the way the music was recorded and put together in London, Toronto and Los Angeles and how difficult it was to get the opening horn lick in the first few bars just right.
We also hear from film critics Toby Miller and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and there are interviews recorded at the time of the film's release with starring actor Richard Gere and director Rob Marshall.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0902Gone With The Wind20200214

It’s amongst Tinseltown’s curious ironies that in February 1940, as war raged across Europe, a turbulent love story, played out against America’s national tragedy of the Civil War, carried all before at the 12th Academy Awards ceremony, winning nine statuettes for Gone With the Wind.

This week, Paul Gambaccini tells the story of ‘GWTW’, one of cinema’s most famous creations and in which British acting talent was surprisingly prominent. For this quintessentially American story of the Old South, English heartthrob Leslie Howard turned in a rather stiff performance as Ashley Wilkes, husband to Olivia de Havilland’s somewhat milk-and-water Melanie Hamilton. But it was, of course, the dashing Vivien Leigh, as the coquettish, headstrong Scarlett O’Hara, who took the Best Actress Oscar – a part she landed after almost all Hollywood’s leading actresses had screentested for the coveted part. “Sshh, she’s the Scarlett dark horse ? David O Selznick, GWTW’s producer wrote to his wife.

With film historians David Thomson and Toby Miller, Clark Gable’s biographer Chrystopher Spicer and critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, as well as archival contributions from Olivia de Havilland, co-star Evelyn Keyes and the film’s Academy Award winner for Best Editing, Hal Kern.

Producer: Simon Elmes

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

This week, Paul Gambaccini tells the story of ‘GWTW’, one of cinema’s most famous creations and in which British acting talent was surprisingly prominent. For this quintessentially American story of the Old South, English heartthrob Leslie Howard turned in a rather stiff performance as Ashley Wilkes, husband to Olivia de Havilland’s somewhat milk-and-water Melanie Hamilton. But it was, of course, the dashing Vivien Leigh, as the coquettish, headstrong Scarlett O’Hara, who took the Best Actress Oscar – a part she landed after almost all Hollywood’s leading actresses had screentested for the coveted part. “Sshh, she’s the Scarlett dark horse” David O Selznick, GWTW’s producer wrote to his wife.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

0903Bridge On The River Kwai20200221

It’s 1957 and the damage, mentally and physically, of the Second World War, is still being counted across the world, including Britain.

David Leans first epics size film, “Bridge on The River Kwai ?, was released to a country victorious, but still suffering the aftershocks of war. Rationing had been lifted, but half the cinema audience may well have seen service, sometimes in conditions as brutal as the film portrayed.

The story is based on real events - the building of a railway line from Bangkok to Rangoon – under the command of the Japanese invaders. More than 100,000 soldiers and enslaved Asian labourers would die in the process.

Ostensibly portraying the POW’s internment and resistance to the Japanese - beaten, starved and humiliated, yet standing up to their Japanese oppressors - the films performs a more universal sleight of hand, portraying a British Army Captain lost in the rules and narrow ideals of what constituted ‘good form’ - Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, played by a ram-rod straight Alec Guinness.

The screen play was written by two blacklisted writers – victims of the McCarthy Communist Witch Hunt of the 1950’s. Initially scripted by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson - both of whom had to flee to the UK to escape their persecution in the USA - Pierre Boulle, who had written the original book, and who barely spoke any English, had to appear on Oscar night to pick up the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

6 more Oscars guaranteed its place in film history, and that of David Lean, the film’s director, and Alex Guinness, who would take the coveted trophy for Best Actor, that night in 1958 in Hollywood.

Hero or fool - who can keep their heads when pushed to the edge?

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films

David Leans first epics size film, “Bridge on The River Kwai”, was released to a country victorious, but still suffering the aftershocks of war. Rationing had been lifted, but half the cinema audience may well have seen service, sometimes in conditions as brutal as the film portrayed.

Ostensibly portraying the POW’s internment and resistance to the Japanese - beaten, starved and humiliated, yet standing up to their Japanese oppressors - the films performs a more universal sleight of hand, portraying a British Army Captain lost in the rules and narrow ideals of what constituted ‘good form’ - Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, played by a ram-rod straight Alec Guinness.

Paul Gambaccini traces the history of the Oscars and tells the story behind winning films