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'Last Emperor' Reigns Over Oscar Ceremonies : Best Picture Winner Adds Eight Other Awards; Cher and Douglas Take Top Prizes for Acting

April 12, 1988|MICHAEL CIEPLY | Times Staff Writer

Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" all but swept the 60th Academy Awards on Monday night, winning best picture and all eight other Oscars for which it was nominated in an evening that was heavily dominated by expected winners.

It was the most victories since "West Side Story" won 10 Oscars in the 1962 awards. "Ben-Hur" captured 11 Oscars in its 12 nominations in the 1960 awards, the academy record for one picture.

The 47-year-old Italian film maker, who had never previously won an Oscar, was named best director and shared a statuette for best adapted screenplay with writer Mark Peploe.

The Columbia Pictures production also was honored for art direction, costume design, sound editing, film editing, original score, and cinematography.

"Moonstruck," a Norman Jewison-directed comedy about the travails of a Brooklyn-Italian family, won three statuettes--including Cher for best actress, Olympia Dukakis for best supporting actress, and best screenplay.

But "Broadcast News," directed by James Brooks; "Hope and Glory," directed by John Boorman; "Fatal Attraction," directed by Adrian Lyne, and "Empire of the Sun," directed by Steven Spielberg, were all shut out despite multiple nominations.

Cher, who had been a heavy favorite, was honored for her portrayal of a widowed career woman whose loves threw the fictional Castorini family into turmoil. The 42-year-old rock star-turned-actress had not previously won an Oscar. She was nominated for her supporting role in the 1983 film "Silkwood."

"I want to really say something," she said. "When I was little my mother said, 'I want you to be something,' and I guess this represents 23 or 24 years of my work, and I've never won anything before from my peers. I'm really, really happy."

Michael Douglas won the best actor award for his portrayal of corrupt financier Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street." The 43-year-old actor had been an expected winner, even though the film--written and directed by previous Oscar-winner Oliver Stone--did not receive any other nominations.

Douglas won a statuette for producing "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1975's best picture. But he had never previously been nominated as an actor. His father, Kirk Douglas, has not received an acting award, despite three nominations.

Thanks to Father

The younger Douglas thanked his father "for helping a son step out from his shadow."

Sean Connery, a sentimental favorite, won for best supporting actor for his portrayal of a hardened beat cop-turned-gangster buster in "The Untouchables."

An epic in the mold of past winners "Amadeus" (1985) and "Out of Africa" (1986), "The Last Emperor" followed the life of Chinese emperor Pu Yi from the time he assumed the throne in 1908 at the age of 3, through his years in a prison camp, until his death as an obscure private citizen in 1967.

Bertolucci had previously been nominated for directing "Last Tango in Paris" in 1973, and for writing "The Conformist" in 1971.

He said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was something that he, as a European, "really didn't belong to" in the past. When he received the nominations, however, "everything changed immediately. I started to learn the rules of the game. To check the odds."

A Sweet Victory

The film's success was a particularly sweet victory for David Puttnam, who resigned last year after a stormy tenure as head of Columbia.

Reached Monday night in Toronto, where he is teaching before returning to independent movie production, Puttnam said: "I joined Columbia to get (corporate parent) Coca-Cola a studio it could be proud of. The job is half done. The other half will be finished when 'The Old Gringo,' 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,' 'The Beast,' and the rest of our films come out in the next year."

Despite Connery's work in 44 films, including the lead in seven James Bond movies, the 57-year-old actor had never been nominated.

"If such a thing as a wish accompanied this award, mine would be that we ended the writers strike," Connery said.

Connery told reporters backstage that the month-long strike by the Writers Guild of America had caused "almost irreparable" damage to his movie plans. He said he was to begin work on the next Indiana Jones film, scheduled for release by Paramount in the summer of 1989, but could not proceed, because the script needed work.

Television Coverage

The three-hour, 33-minute Oscar show, broadcast on ABC, went smoothly despite earlier fears that the strike and a change of venue to the Shrine Auditorium from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of The Music Center might cause disruption.

But the writers' walkout clearly put a nervous edge on the proceedings.

Oscar host Chevy Chase, a guild member, and other presenters quipped about strike rules that barred guild members and others from writing new material for the show after the strike was declared March 7.

"My entire monologue was generously donated by five Teamsters," Chase quipped at one point.

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