And The Academy Award Goes To ...

Episodes

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0201The Godfather And The Godfather, Part Ii20100412
0202Shakespeare In Love20100413

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0203Crash20100414

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0204 LASTWest Side Story20090221
0301The Deer Hunter20100419

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0302Gigi20100420

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. Paul Gambaccini discovers how Gallic charm won Gigi the Best Picture Oscar in 1959.

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0303Unforgiven"

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033 LASTUnforgiven20100421"

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0401On The Waterfront20130202Paul Gambaccini returns with the series about how some of the greatest Best Picture Oscar winning films were made, and what they tell us about the history of the time.

The 27th Academy Awards, for the films released in 1954, were dominated by ON THE WATERFRONT, a gritty, black and white masterpiece, which takes us down to the highly unionised New Jersey docks, then controlled by the mob.

A real tale of corruption and murder on the waterfront is transformed into a fiction - as a simple minded ex-boxer, played by Marlon Brando, wrestles with his conscience as he turns informer to win the girl he loves.

ON THE WATERFRONT not only gives us the most famous scene ever to take place in the back of a taxi, (I coulda been a contender!), it also showcases the talents of director Elia Kazan, and an astonishingly strong support cast - Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb and newcomer Eva Marie Saint- Method Acting at its height.

It also marks the end of the powerful team of director Elia Kazan and Method actor Marlon Brando - blown apart by Brando's horror at Kazan's decision to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, HUAC - then investigating the red-scare in Hollywood.

Is it a coincidence that ON THE WATERFRONT tells the story of a man who informs - snitches on his friends - but holds the moral high ground?

With a rich mix of archive and original interviews with actors, screen writers and film critics, and a revelatory interview with Thomas Hanley, a real life longshoreman who played Brando's young friend Tommy back in 1954, Paul Gambaccini presents And The Academy Award Goes to... On The Waterfront.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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0402In The Heat Of The Night20130209It makes for uncomfortable viewing. A Southern policeman insolently challenges Sidney Poitier, a detective from 'up North'.

So, boy, what do they call you in Philadelphia?

They call me Mister Tibbs!

It's one of the great movie lines in history, from Sidney Poitier's favourite of all his films. But was In The Heat of the Night a worthy winner of the Best Picture?

Up against tough competition, including The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde, it has been suggested that this might have been an Oscar vote carried on a tidal wave of outrage during the peak years of the Civil Rights movement.

In 1967, In The Heat of the Night seemed to speak out against an America riven with racial tensions. The Watts Riots had just devastated Los Angeles, close to Hollywood. The film was set in Mississippi, but the crew were forced to choose Illinois in the North as a safer location. The murder of Martin Luther King, and his subsequent funeral, delayed the Oscar ceremony in 1968 by several days - enabling the cast and crew of In The Heat of the Night to attend his funeral.

All these stories and more are told to Paul Gambaccini, in the second in the Oscar series And The Academy Award Goes To., by veteran director - Norman Jewison, and he also hears from his legendary producer - Walter Mirisch - a man who at the age of 91, still makes his way to his film studios in Hollywood, and takes lunch as Spagos. He also hears from one of the world's great cinematographer's Haskell Wexler - who was the first to devise lighting especially for darker skin tones - and sets the scene for Norman Jewison's dramatic reconstruction of a country divided along racial lines that has echoes today.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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0403Amadeus2013021620130218In the third episode of And The Academy Award Goes To. Paul Gambaccini talks to the team behind the rich, musical extravaganza Amadeus - which you may remember for its brilliant interpretation of the life and genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or for the shrill giggle of Tom Hulce and the cleavage of his wife.

Director Milos Forman, who had left Czechoslovakia as a political refugee, chose Prague as the best 'double' for Vienna - only to find himself followed by spies for his former homeland as a suspected anti-communist.

Forman recalls how he first met Sir Peter Shaffer backstage at the National Theatre in London where, Sir Peter confirms, Forman promised there and then, to make a film out of Shaffer's masterpiece of the stage.

Simon Callow who played Mozart in the original London stage production was the only actor to appear in the Hollywood version - but probably enjoyed himself more because of it. Gambaccini also talks to Sir Neville Mariner, choreographer Twyla Tharp, producer Ken Tuohy and the actor Elizabeth Berridge, who was told she'd got the part as Mozart's wife as she most resembled an 'landlady's daughter'.

Cold War mystery and the greatest composer on earth - how they brought to screen a musical and cinematic masterpiece.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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0404 LASTAmerican Beauty20130223On the eve of this year's Academy Awards, Paul Gambaccini explores a Best Picture Oscar film to find out how and why it won and see what it tells us about society at the time - this week American Beauty.

The black comedy American Beauty swept the board at the 2000 Oscars ceremony, pushing aside The Sixth Sense and The Green Mile. It was an unexpected hit for the studio - Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks - and went on to become a popular, critical and commercial success around the world.

Telling a story of dysfunction in suburbia it tackled many taboo themes head on: homophobia, drugs, blackmail, infidelity and domestic abuse. Kevin Spacey won an Oscar for Best Actor after giving a landmark performance as suburban everyman who's had enough and embraces his midlife crisis. Annette Benning, who memorably plays his wife, holds onto the facades that make up her world whilst inside she's falling apart.

For the director, Sam Mendes, it was his first movie and he picked up an Oscar. He's come a long way in Hollywood since then, having just finished the new James Bond blockbuster Skyfall. Paul talks to Mendes about his vision and the evolution of American Beauty on and off set and reflects on cultural event it soon became. He recalls his Oscar night and the tribute to his hero Billy Wilder. He talks to the producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, who went on to produce Milk, about casting the movie and getting it made. Thomas Newman, of the Hollywood composing dynasty wrote the score and tells him how close to the wire the iconic opening music sequence was. And the young actors in the film Thora Birch and Wes Bentley discuss how, at the start of their careers, they immersed themselves in roles which resonated with their lives at the time.

American Beauty still stands out as a bold, classic movie but Paul hears how its legacy is felt more in the cable tv series of the past decade rather than in Hollywood, where it was created.

Producer Neil McCarthy.

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0501Mrs Miniver2015020720150831 (R4)"Paul Gambaccini returns with the series that takes a long hard look behind the scenes of three classic films which have scooped the Best Picture Award. He reports on the artistic, political and personal decisions that lie behind the winners, laced with some pretty good gossip too.

First up, Mrs Miniver, from 1942, a war time classic.

During the filming, star Greer Garson insisted on tea every afternoon at four o'clock, whilst director William Wyler hated the chocolate box set of rose-strewn villages he was forced to work with. Despite these restrictions Mrs Miniver turned out to be a film that helped change history - credited by many, including Churchill, with helping to turn popular opinion in America away from isolationism and towards whole hearted support for the Allied Forces in Europe.

It portrays a family living a safe life in the Garden of England, Kent - a world where Mrs Miniver worries more about a hat than the approaching conflict. But as her world falls apart, she changes and becomes more resilient, as the people of Britain bravely face up to the task of defending this island, whatever the cost.

So did Mrs Miniver deserve Best Picture for 1942?

Veteran film critic Philip French believes that it hasn't lasted, though he recalls from his own childhood in Liverpool how it touched the hearts of British cinema goers.

And behind this patriotic movie lies a darker story - did Hollywood studios protect their sales in Germany by going softly, softly on the Nazi regime, until the tide of public opinion finally turned against the Germans?

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

Nazis and Hollywood combine for the first in the new series of And The Academy Award Goes To...

As the city of celluloid gears up for Oscar time, Paul Gambaccini returns with the series that takes a long hard look behind the scenes of three classic films which have scooped the Best Picture Award. He reports on the artistic, political and personal decisions that lie behind the winners, laced with some pretty good gossip too.

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0502Midnight Cowboy2015021420150907 (R4)"An X-rated picture winning the Oscar for Best Picture?

It was a shock, but not a surprise when 'Midnight Cowboy' won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1969 - not to mention gongs for the director, John Schlesinger, and screen writer, Waldo Salt.

But take a fresh look at this film, 45 years later, and it's obvious why it blasted its way passed the opposition at the Academy Awards. The film was rife with acting talent; a young Dustin Hoffman, messing up his clean cut reputation by taking on the role of a down at heel New York bum; Jon Voight as a na´ve but optimistic hustler; Brenda Vaccaro as a lush, fur-coated party girl and Sylvia Miles hilarious in a short but lauded sex scene. .

It also brought one of the most extraordinary scriptwriters, Waldo Salt, and one of the first 'out' directors, John Schlesinger, together with one of the least experienced, but adventurous cinematographers, Adam Holender - a moment of production chemistry.

With fresh interviews with Adam Holender, Sylvia Miles, producer Jerome Hellman, Brenda Vacaro, Waldo Salt's daughter Jennifer, and Schlesinger's long-term partner Michael Childers, Paul Gambaccini presents And The Academy Award Goes To... Midnight Cowboy.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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0503Chariots Of Fire2015022120150914 (R4)Paul Gambaccini explores Oscar-winning films.
06Slumdog Millionaire20160227

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Somewhere between Bollywood and Hollywood, 'Slumdog Millionaire', the low budget independent production captured the heart of the world, and 8 Oscars in 2009 .

Paul Gambaccini tells the gripping story of the little film that got lucky, talking to some of those central to its creation, from Vikas Swarup, the Indian Diplomat who wrote the original novel, co-director Loveleen Tandem, who helped persuade the studios to let the child actors speak Hindi, and Resul Pookerty, whose magical soundscape of India won him an Oscar and changed his life for ever.

It was a film which took a city, a child of the slums, and a game show - and turned it into a star-crossed romance; a film which snuck past the infamous Foreign Language category and into the mainstream Best Picture category at the 81st Academy Awards - despite at least 20% Hindi.

Winning 8 Oscars, the film had no star actors, but a cast of millions - the city of Mumbai. The real star name was Danny Boyle, a director who, according to screen writer Simon Beaufoy, discovered in Mumbai a city 'like the inside of his head' - vibrant, frenetic, dazzling, and full of extremes.

This was also an independent film which nearly went straight to DVD, but rose again to take Oscar after Oscar, from under the noses of studio films.

Paul Smith of Celador Productions, describes how his company, who invented the game show, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", got lucky a second time - winning a Best Picture Oscar.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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06The French Connection20160220

Continuing with his look at Oscar-winning films and what they tell us about the society that gave birth to them, Paul Gambaccini turns to the first R-rated movie to win the Best Picture Oscar and one of the earliest to show the newly complete World trade towers. An early example of the new wave in American Films, The French Connection went on to win 5 Oscars and set both its leading man (Gene Hackman) and its young director (William Friedkin) on what were to become glittering careers.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

06The Last Emperor20160213

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Paul Gambaccini returns with the series that takes a long hard look behind the scenes of three classic films which have scooped the Best Picture Award. He reports on the artistic, political and personal decisions that lie behind the winners, laced with some pretty good gossip too.

In Episode 1 Paul hears from the director, producer, cinematographer and composer of the epic which opened up the recent history of China to the West and swept the Oscars in 1988.

Producer: Marya Burgess.

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0712 Years A Slave20170225

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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.

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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.

The following week, Gambaccini investigates the success story behind the 2013 winner, "12 years A Slave" - a film made by Steve McQueen, the first ever black director to win a Best Picture Oscar. An unflinchingly brutal film which takes us to the heart of American slavery, hailed as "brilliant-and quite possibly essential-cinema."

"Schindler's List" completes the trio of programmes to celebrate the Oscars, with a look back, 25 years later, to one of the most complex productions, created by a crew and cast committed to retelling one of the most astonishing and horrifying stories of the Holocaust. Gambaccini talks to one of the survivors saved by Schindler, Rena Finder, who recalls the evils of concentration camp sadist Amon Goeth first hand, and remarks that Ralph Fiennes's portrayal, although good, could never truly encompass a man who was so wholly evil.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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07Schindler's List20170304

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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.

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