Hollywood discovered Mozart and gave old Wolfgang a big sloppy kiss last night. "Amadeus," a gaudy fantasia based on Mozart's life and career, won eight Oscars including Best Picture at the 57th Annual Academy Awards, televised live from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles by ABC.
The film, based on a Broadway play, also won awards for best direction (Milos Forman), best actor (F. Murray Abraham), best adapted screenplay (Peter Shaffer) and best costumes, makeup, sound and art direction. The next biggest winners were "The Killing Fields," which won three awards, and "A Passage to India" and "Places in the Heart," which each won two.
As acceptance speeches go, the gushiest of the night was from Sally Field, who won the Best Actress Oscar for playing one of the year's several valiant farm women in "Places in the Heart." Field, who won for "Norma Rae" in 1979, told the audience, "This means so much more to me this time. I don't know why. I think the first time I felt it less because it was so new." Semi-tearfully, she laid a self-realization trip on the crowd. "I can't deny the fact that you like me! Right now! You like me!" she exclaimed.
They liked her, it seemed.
They also liked a slightly unlikely winner who had never acted in a movie before. "It's unbelievable -- but so is my entire life," said Dr. Haing S. Ngor, the 34-year-old Cambodian refugee, as he clutched the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "The Killing Fields." It was one of the most emotional moments of the program -- indeed, one of the few moments that might by any stretch have been termed remotely emotional.
Ngor became the first nonprofessional actor in nearly 40 years to win an acting Oscar; the last was Harold Russell, the double amputee who played a wounded World War II veteran in "The Best Years of Our Lives." Like Dith Pran, the journalist he plays in the film, Ngor was tortured by the Khmer Rouge during the worst days of the Cambodian holocaust.
The film is helping "let the world know what happened in my country," Ngor said, but backstage, after winning, he told reporters "a movie is not enough" to convey the anguish of the communist takeover of his country. "It's cruel, but it's not cruel enough," Ngor said. On stage, he concluded his remarks by saying, "I thank God -- Buddha -- that I am even here tonight."
International politics figured in many of the awards and acceptance speeches, even more than usual. In accepting the Best Director Oscar, for "Amadeus," Czech-born Forman cited the fact that many Czechoslovakian technicians and artists had worked with American colleagues on the film, something he said was "very encouraging for more than artistic or box office reasons." Stevie Wonder, who won for Best Song ("I Just Called to Say I Loved You" from "The Woman in Red"), dedicated the award to South African activist Nelson Mandela, imprisoned leader of the black underground there.
Wonder also said of his Oscar, "I cannot believe it. I really cannot believe it." Despite dreams of awards ceremonies he had while touring Europe, Wonder said, "I never thought this would happen."
Among the nonsurprises of the evening was the Oscar for Best Actor to F. Murray Abraham, who played the infamous musical sorehead Antonio Salieri to Tom Hulce's bubbly and giggly Mozart in "Amadeus," the night's most fulsomely honored film. Abraham, previously most widely seen to the national audience as one of the Fruit of the Loom guys in an underwear commercial, said to fairly thunderous applause, "There's only one thing missing for me tonight, and that is to have Tom Hulce standing by my side."
Dame Peggy Ashcroft, as predicted, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for playing the optimistic and then disillusioned Mrs. Moore, a British citizen in India, in the grand-scale epic "A Passage to India," but the actress, who also played a major role in public television's "The Jewel in the Crown," another saga set in India, could not be present because she was in England attending the funeral of Sir Michael Redgrave, who died late last week. Her Oscar was accepted by Angela Lansbury.
In citing Forman as Best Director, the Academy passed over veteran filmmaker David Lean, whose "Passage to India" had been considered a distinguished career capper and who had been thought by some insiders to be a sentimental favorite for the award. "Passage" and "Amadeus" had led the nominations with 11 each.
High on the list of moving moments, such as they were, was the Academy's honorary Oscar to 76-year-old James Stewart, presented to him by fellow golden-age superstar Cary Grant. The award went to Stewart "for his 50 years of memorable performances," recalled briefly in a montage of clips. Stewart thanked Frank Capra and other directors who he said guided him "through the no-man's-land of my own good intentions to more meaningful performances," and he also expressed his gratitude to the viewing audience. "Thank you for being so kind to me over the years," Stewart said. "You've given me a wonderful life. God bless you."
Stewart got one of the night's two standing ovations. The other was for Laurence Olivier, who presented the Oscar for Best Picture. "For such a perfectly wonderful reception, I thank you so much," Olivier said. Then he forgot to read the nominations and simply announced that "Amadeus" was the winner.
After a near debacle last year, when the Oscar show ran a physically and spiritually exhausting 3 hours 51 minutes and -- more ominously to the Motion Picture Academy -- suffered its lowest ratings in years (1984's show reached 6.2 million fewer homes than 1983's), producers of the program announced intentions to streamline it and zip it along. Acceptance speeches were to be limited to 45 seconds per acceptor, and by and large, most winners were briskly succinct last night. Six awards had been presented by the end of the show's first hour, which may be a record.
The program ran only about 10 minutes beyond its three-hour scheduled time. Even with the hyped pace, the sad fact remained that it was conspicuously lacking in scintillation. There was a lot of glitter and very little sparkle. The big accomplishment seemed to be getting the whole awful thing over with and going home.
An American tradition -- falling asleep during the Academy Awards -- was certainly not threatened with extinction by last night's dreary show.
Acceptors had been warned that "exit music" would begin if they failed to heed warning lights and wrap up their remarks. But even when Theodor Pistek, winner for his "Amadeus" costumes, rambled on and on, there was no nudging Mozart from the pit to get him off.
Jack Lemmon, who replaced Johnny Carson this year as the host, told the audience at the outset that because "excellence has a way of speaking for itself," it would hear about each film "more than just two words -- but not a lot more." Production numbers were still tackily grandiose, but less arduously prolonged. The usual overstaged-and-uninspired standard was upheld.
The award for Best Cinematography went to Scottish-born Chris Menges for "The Killing Fields," which also won for Best Editing. "Dangerous Moves," an obscure Swiss import, was chosen Best Foreign Language Film. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," one of the year's top-grossing films, won only one tiny award, for visual effects.
One of the early Oscars honored a film made in Washington and shown on this city's public TV station, Channel 26, last October. "The Stone Carvers," an account of the continuing work being done on the facade of the Washington Cathedral, was made by Marjorie Hunt, a folklore specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, and Paul Wagner, a Washington-based independent filmmaker. A public television spokesman said last night that the film would be shown to a national audience via the Public Broadcasting Service later this year.
Both Hunt and Wagner accepted the award, citing the stone carvers themselves as among those deserving credit.
The award for Best Documentary Feature went to "The Times of Harvey Milk," a film about the San Francisco city supervisor who was murdered in his office in 1978 and who became a martyr to the gay rights movement. One of the producers praised Milk for "his pride in being gay" and the other included in his thanks "my partner in life," and then mentioned the name of another man.
There was another somber moment when cohost Michael Douglas took note of the fact that three members of the advance production crew for his forthcoming film "Jewel of the Nile" were killed recently in an airplane crash while scouting locations for the film in Morocco. "The show can go on, but it does exact a price," Douglas said.
Later his father Kirk Douglas teamed with Burt Lancaster for one of the show's more gratifyingly lively interludes. After a clip of the two cavorting at a previous Oscarcast, old pro Douglas asked, "Can you believe we were ever that age?" and old pro Lancaster replied, "I can't believe I'm this one."
They presented the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, won by Robert Benton for his "Places in the Heart," the only commercial success of last year's three imperiled-farmer movies. Benton, who also directed "Heart," broke into movies by writing the hugely successful "Bonnie and Clyde" with David Newman.
The Oscar for best screenplay based on material from another medium went to Peter Shaffer for adapting his own play "Amadeus." Shaffer, the author of "Equus," thanked director Milos Forman. "His contribution in the transference of my play to the screen was gigantic," Shaffer said.
He was wearing a purple bow tie with his tuxedo.
Maurice Jarre, who won the Oscar for Best Original Score for "A Passage to India" (beating out John Williams, who had two nominations), said in his acceptance, "I was lucky Mozart was not eligible this year." Jarre won previously for his scores for "Dr. Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia," both also directed by "India" director David Lean.
This was immediately followed by rock star Prince, who was cited for Best Original Song Score for his movie "Purple Rain." Prince slinked to the stage in the company of two spangly women; "This is Lisa, and this is Wendy," he murmured to the crowd. "This is very unbelievable," he said of the award. "I could never imagine this in my wildest dreams." His wildest dreams have to be pips.
Then he thanked a series of producers and associates, ending his thank-yous with, "And most of all, God."
Awards are not given for Oscar night outfits, but if they were, this year's winners might be those compatible peacocks Prince and Apollonia, his leading lady in "Purple Rain." Prince's ensemble included a long sequined cloak complete with attached hood; in some reaction shots from the audience, he appeared to be nibbling on an orchid.
Apollonia wore a revealing halter top of shiniest purple. It was a purple kind of night; cohost Amy Irving's maternity dress was purple as well. Prince arrived at the ceremony, it was reported, in a purple limousine.
The Oscars were not just presented but were, said the network announcer, "proudly shared with you" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 4,100 of whose members voted in this year's balloting. With China added to the list of countries that either carried the show live by satellite or will air a mercifully truncated 90-minute version of it, the worldwide audience for the program was estimated at either 600 million or 1 billion people, depending on whose estimate one accepts.
The winners at the 57th annual Academy Awards ceremony:
Actor: F. Murray Abraham, "Amadeus."
Actress: Sally Field, "Places in the Heart."
Director: Milos Forman, "Amadeus."
Supporting Actor: Haing S. Ngor, "The Killing Fields."
Supporting Actress: Dame Peggy Ashcroft, "A Passage to India."
Foreign Language Film: "Dangerous Moves" (Switzerland).
Original Song: "I Just Called to Say I Love You" ("The Woman in Red").
Original Screenplay: Robert Benton, "Places in the Heart."
Screenplay Adaptation: Peter Shaffer, "Amadeus."
Documentary Short Subject: "The Stone Carvers."
Documentary Feature: "The Times of Harvey Milk."
Cinematography: Chris Menges, "The Killing Fields."
Art Direction: "Amadeus."
Visual Effects: "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Original Score: Maurice Jarre, "A Passage to India."
Original Song Score or Adaptation Score: Prince, "Purple Rain."
Costume Design: "Amadeus."
Film Editing: "The Killing Fields."
Animated Short Film: "Charade."
Live Action Short Film: "Up."
Jean Hersholt Award: Producer David Wolper.
Special Achievement, Sound Effects Editing: Kay Rose, "The River."
Gordon E. Sawyer Technical Award: Linwood G. Dunn, special effects cameraman.
Honorary Award: James Stewart.
Honorary Award: National Endowment for the Arts.