John Huston's "Prizzi's Honor" is one of the clear front-runners in the competition for Academy Award nominations because it did surprisingly good business and was almost universally praised for the black humor in its tale of love and strife between hit man Jack Nicholson and hit woman Kathleen Turner. And nowhere was the blackness more evident than at the end of the film, when . . . well, let's just say that at the end of the movie, things get a bit shocking.
Just don't try comparing notes on "Prizzi's Honor" with someone who's watched it during one of its recent showings on airline flights. 20th Century-Fox edited the movie to make it fit for airborne viewing -- as studios are prone to do -- but in the process of taking out potentially offensive material, the studio also removed the film's ending. All of it.
Understandably, Huston isn't too pleased about gaining a captive audience at the expense of his story. In London to act in a TV movie, the veteran director told a Los Angeles Times reporter that the studio called him about the cuts; his reaction: "They're awful, and I want nothing to do with it."
Maybe the airline prints ought to come equipped with new credits: "Directed by John Huston. Edited behind his back." Box-Office Nightmares --------
Last week, a surprise entry turned up on Daily Variety's list of the weekend's top-grossing films: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge." The film did terrific business everywhere it was open, but since it only debuted in a few markets -- Washington/Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and Texas/Oklahoma -- its reputed $3.9 million weekend gross and second-place showing on the box-office charts was truly startling.
Now it turns out that the $3.9 million figure was inaccurate. It seems that an overzealous employe of New Line Cinema, "Nightmare's" studio, took the first weekend's total, projected its average take for the entire first week and mistakenly reported that as the three-day sum. The film still made $3.2 million, but that wasn't enough to put it ahead of "To Live and Die in L.A." -- which took in $3.6 million, but was, after all, in more than twice as many theaters.
And now that all that's straightened out, where is "Nightmare on Elm Street" on this week's box-office charts? Down at No. 8 . . .
"Nightmare" wasn't the only one of last week's leaders to slip: "Krush Groove" and "Commando" both fell severely over the weekend, with only the pack-leading "Death Wish III," "Jagged Edge" and "To Live and Die in L.A." holding their own. The Gene Hackman/Matt Dillon film, "Target," the horror spoof "Transylvania 6-5000" and Emilio Estevez's first screenplay, "That Was Then . . . This Is Now," made the most noise among the newcomers. Speaking Oscar's Language
To qualify for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award, a movie needs to meet a few regulations: It must be released in its own country by Oct. 31; officially nominated by that country; and in that country's language. Italy's entry this year is "Macaroni," the Jack Lemmon/Marcello Mastroianni comedy that's already been released both in its own country and in America, where Paramount put it into 12 cities last week and plans to add lots more shortly. But those prints are in English, not Italian, so shouldn't that disqualify "Macaroni" from consideration? Not quite: It turns out that the film will qualify as long as Italy submits an Italian language print -- with English subtitles -- to the Academy's foreign-language committee . . .
The selection of "Macaroni" caused a flurry of criticism from within the Italian film community, many members of which would have preferred a more substantial entry, such as Lina Wertmuller's "Camorra -- The Back Alley of Naples" or Fellini's "Ginger and Fred," which just missed the end-of-October deadline . . . Holland's official entry in the Academy sweepstakes has its own language problem: "De Droom" ("The Dream") is a hit in Amsterdam, but even there it features subtitles. It seems that the film is the first Dutch movie ever shot in the regional dialect of Frisian, a dialect substantially different from standard Dutch . . . Akira Kurosawa's "Ran," by the way, is still considered the front-runner for the Oscar.