Screen writer Carl Foreman was nominated for five Academy Awards, for scripts of such films as "High Noon," "The Guns of Navarone" and "The Men," but he never won -- until this year, when the Academy will honor him with a posthumous award for the screenplay of "The Bridge on the River Kwai." The odd thing about this award is that "Bridge" won the Best Screenplay Oscar in 1958, but Foreman, a victim of the Joseph McCarthy-inspired Hollywood blacklist at the time, couldn't accept it. The film's cowriter, Michael Wilson, likewise blacklisted (though he later won for writing "A Place in the Sun"), will also receive a posthumous award.
Twenty-seven years ago the Oscar was accepted by Pierre Boule, the only author who was then considered acceptable by the film industry and who was therefore given sole credit for the script. The Academy, though, isn't going to right the wrong on national television. The awards to Foreman and Wilson, which will be accepted by their widows, are being presented in a private ceremony at Academy headquarters Saturday night . . .
"There's not much sword and sorcery in our movie," producer Lauren Schuler hastens to say of "Ladyhawke," a forthcoming adventure tale and love story set in the Middle Ages. She is quick to make the distinction because the most heralded Middle Ages film of recent years, "Excalibur," was a big, expensive flop. After spending five years convincing the studios that her movie wouldn't prove similarly costly, Schuler doesn't want any misconceptions hurting "Ladyhawke" at the box office.
Besides, she says, the lesson of "Excalibur" was not that films set in the Middle Ages don't sell. "It was a flop," she says, "but it opened huge. There were lines around the block, and what that said to me was that there was an audience ready to show up if you gave them the right film. I think 'Excalibur' took itself" -- she pauses, says she doesn't want to bad-mouth that film, then decides to go ahead anyway -- "took itself very seriously."
Her film, starring "WarGames" lead Matthew Broderick and directed by Richard Donner ("Superman II"), faced a lot of initial skepticism from the studios, but she's used to that. Before she began producing features, Schuler was the first woman ever admitted to the television camera operators union. "In 1980, when I started trying to sell 'Ladyhawke,' there weren't any other movies like it, and the studios were afraid it was too different, afraid of the cost -- they thought it was going to cost $30- or $40 million -- and they were afraid of the period, et cetera. But as the years went by they got a lot more welcoming."
It couldn't have hurt that in the meantime Schuler met with director John Hughes, cooked up the idea for a film about a husband who takes over the housework, signed up star Michael Keaton and in a matter of months produced "Mr. Mom" . . .
Schuler's next film also has identity problems. "St. Elmo's Fire," described in some circles as " 'The Breakfast Club' plus five years," is about seven kids who have just graduated from college and their freshman year of life -- first jobs, first apartments and what happens to their friendships. "We have three of the same actors as 'Breakfast Club,' " Schuler says, naming Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez, "but that's where the comparison ends" . . .
"Liberally laced with schmaltz" is the way one critic has described Cannon Films' forthcoming "The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley." Something of a pet project for star Katharine Hepburn, it's become a crucial film for Cannon, which would like to lose its reputation as an outfit specializing in low-budget exploitation fare. But not all that schmaltz was present in the first version of "Grace Quigley," an Anthony Harvey-directed film featuring Hepburn as an elderly wowan who hires hit man Nick Nolte to ease some ailing friends into the afterlife. At first it ended with Nolte and Hepburn dying. When that was deemed too depressing, Harvey and Hepburn filmed new footage -- long after the movie's presumed wrap date -- and came up with a story that now ends with a laugh . . .