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'Silence of the Lambs' Sweeps 5 Major Oscars : Movies: Thriller is only the third film to take all key categories. Palance, Ruehl win for supporting roles.

March 31, 1992|TERRY PRISTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Mediterraneo," Gabriele Salvatores' comedy about a band of Italian soldiers stranded on a Greek island during World War II, was named best foreign-language film.

"In the Shadow of the Stars," a film by Irving Saraf and Allie Light about the chorus singers of the San Francisco Opera, received the award for best documentary. Selected as the best short documentary was Debra Chasnoff's "Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and Our Environment."

"Boycott GE!" Chasnoff exhorted the audience in one of several political messages of the evening. Actor Richard Gere, wearing a red ribbon in his lapel to show sympathy for people with AIDS, recommended that public funds spent on defense be diverted to fight the deadly disease.

Winner for best original score--in "Beauty and the Beast"--was composer Alan Menken, who won an Oscar in the same category for "The Little Mermaid" in 1989. Paying tribute to his partner, lyricist Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS in March, 1991, he said:

"Howard, I wish you could have seen the finished product. I wish you could have heard the completed score. I know you would have been proud." When Menken and Ashman later won the Oscar for best original song for the movie's title song, Ashman's companion, Bill Lauch, accepted the award with Menken.

Several awards had been announced in advance of Monday's ceremony.

"Star Wars" director George Lucas received the Irving G. Thalberg Award for consistently high standards of film production. The award was presented to him by his friend Steven Spielberg.

Satyajit Ray, revered director of such Indian classics as "Pather Panchali" and "The World of Apu," was awarded the lifetime achievement Oscar. Too ill to attend the program, he appeared on videotape from his hospital bed in Calcutta clutching an Oscar.

The Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technical achievement went to special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, whose films include "Clash of the Titans," "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad," "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" and "Jason and the Argonauts."

Filmmaker Hal Roach, who turned 100 in January, was given a special tribute and a standing ovation. When the television audience was unable to hear Roach's unmiked thank-you, host Billy Crystal quipped, "I think that's fitting because Mr. Roach started in silent films."

Among those arrested outside the Music Center were seven people who sat down in a crosswalk and refused police orders to disperse and two other people who tossed objects toward the hall's red-carpeted entrance.

As celebrities disembarked from limousines, the demonstrators stood across the street from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, blowing whistles, chanting slogans and waving signs that read "Stop Hollywood Homophobia" and "Make Queer Film."

They were complaining about what they saw as negative portrayals of homosexuals in such films as "The Silence of the Lambs" and "JFK" as well as the recently released movie "Basic Instinct," in which a bisexual killer uses an ice pick to slay her male lovers.

Times staff writer Robert W. Welkos contributed to this story.

* MORE OSCAR STORIES, PICTURES: F1-F4

The Top Oscars

Best Actress: Jodie Foster

Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins

Best Picture: The Silence of the Lambs

Best Director: Jonathan Demme

Best Supporting Actress: Mercedes Ruehl

Best Supporting Actor: Jack Palance

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