1970 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
"PATTON", "Airport", "Five Easy Pieces", "Love Story", "M*A*S*H"
GEORGE C. SCOTT in "Patton", Melvyn Douglas in "I Never Sang For My Father", James Earl Jones in "The Great White Hope", Jack Nicholson in "Five Easy Pieces", Ryan O'Neal in "Love Story"
GLENDA JACKSON in "Women in Love", Jane Alexander in "The Great White Hope", Ali MacGraw in "Love Story", Sarah Miles in "Ryan's Daughter", Carrie Snodgrass in "Diary of a Mad Housewife"
JOHN MILLS in "Ryan's Daughter", Richard Castellano in "Lovers and Other Strangers", Chief Dan George in "Little Big Man", Gene Hackman in "I Never Sang For My Father", John Marley in "Love Story"
HELEN HAYES in "Airport", Karen Black in "Five Easy Pieces", Lee Grant in "The Landlord", Sally Kellerman in "M*A*S*H", Maureen Stapleton in "Airport"
FRANKLIN SCHAFFNER for "Patton", Robert Altman for "M*A*S*H", Federico Fellini for "Fellini Satyricon", Arthur Hiller for "Love Story", Ken Russell for "Women in Love"
The films nominated for Best Picture in 1970 covered a wide range, reflecting the deep divides in society during the Vietnam era with its anti-war protests. There were two competing Best Picture nominees about wartime:
- director Franklin P. Schaffner's and 20th Century Fox's commercially-successful Patton (subtitled A Salute to a Rebel - to gain the youth market) - the great, multi-faceted film portrait or film biography of the controversial, complex, yet fascinating, flamboyant and temperamental, non-conformist World War II American commander. It took major honors with ten nominations and seven wins - Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay (co-writers Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North), Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing. [The big-budget Patton (at about $12 million) was the first war film to win Best Picture since 1962, when Lawrence of Arabia (1962) won the Best Picture award. It was also the first PG-rated film to win Best Picture since the institution of the MPAA rating system.]
- the outrageously-irreverent, subversive black comedy and bloody anti-war film satire by director Robert Altman - a pre-cursor to the popular TV series, titled M*A*S*H (with five nominations and one win - Best Screenplay Adaptation by Ring Lardner, Jr.) about a group of medical personnel at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.
[Veteran Ring Lardner, Jr.'s win for M*A*S*H, his second Oscar, came 28 years after his first Oscar win for Woman of the Year (1942). Earlier in 1965, Lardner - who had been blacklisted since 1947, was given credit for screenwriting The Cincinnati Kid (1965). His 1970 Oscar was generally regarded as a rectifying 'apology' for the many years that he was blacklisted as one of the original 'Hollywood Ten'. However, very little of his M*A*S*H script was actually used by Altman.]
The other three nominees included:
- the enormously-successful, manipulative tearjerker, Love Story (with seven nominations and only one win - Best Original Score) about a tragic love affair between a preppie, upper-crust Harvard student and a poor Catholic-Italian student at Radcliffe who succumbs to leukemia
- the trail-blazing disaster film Airport (with ten nominations - tying Patton! - and one win - Best Supporting Actress) - an old-fashioned smash, box-office hit with a large all-star cast about a doomed passenger airliner
- Five Easy Pieces (with four nominations and no wins!) - a dramatic and shattering character study of a talented, but alienated concert pianist who gave up his career for an oil rig job
Three of the five Best Picture directors were also nominated for Best Director honors. The award was presented to Franklin Schaffner (with his sole nomination and Best Director win) for Patton. He defeated Arthur Hiller (with his sole nomination) for Love Story, and maverick Robert Altman (with his first of five unsuccessful nominations as director) for his break-through film M*A*S*H. The additional two directors (whose films were not Best Picture nominees) included controversial Ken Russell (with his sole nomination) for Women in Love, an exploration of two destructive love affairs. And Federico Fellini was nominated for his visionary, grotesquely decadent interpretation of ancient Rome based on Petronius' novel Satyricon in Fellini Satyricon (the film's sole nomination), a film about two young men's adventures through decadence.
Actor George C. Scott (with a total of four career nominations), who had previously been nominated twice for Best Supporting Actor (for Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and The Hustler (1961)), finally won his first Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant performance as the eccentric, enigmatic, vain "Blood and Guts" George S. Patton, the victorious, genius, and uncompromising general in strategic campaigns in N. Africa and Europe (Anzio landings in 1943) in the panoramic World War II film, Patton. The film's pre-title sequence begins with his memorable, six-minute address to the troops, while standing in front of a large American flag. [However, Scott with his sole Oscar win, was AWOL and didn't attend the ceremony. He refused the award claiming that the competitiveness was demeaning to actors - "a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons." Some speculated that Scott, after twice losing the Best Supporting Actor Oscar previously - for Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and for The Hustler (1961) - didn't want to be embarrassed and lose again. This made Scott the first actor to deny the Oscar in the history of the Academy. Brando would follow suit, two years later for The Godfather (1972).]
The defeated co-nominees included:
- Jack Nicholson (with his second consecutive and unsuccessful nomination) in his equally impressive character study of drifter/exile Robert Eroica Dupea who makes a journey home after twenty years to his ailing father for a reconciliation in Five Easy Pieces
- Ryan O'Neal (with his sole career nomination) in his star-making role as the preppie Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV whose girlfriend Jenny (Ali MacGraw) dies in the weepy adaptation of Eric Segal's Love Story
- James Earl Jones (with his sole nomination) re-creating his Broadway role as boxer Jack Jefferson - the first black heavyweight champion of the world in 1910, based upon real-life Jack Johnson in Martin Ritt's emotional character study and semi-fictional biography The Great White Hope (with two nominations and no wins)
- Melvyn Douglas (with his second of three career nominations) as Tom Garrison - the aging, selfish and demanding father (of son Gene Hackman) in the powerful, yet depressing film adaptation of Robert Anderson's play, I Never Sang For My Father. [Douglas had already won a Supporting Actor award for Hud (1963) and would win a second Oscar in 1979.]
London stage actress Glenda Jackson won the Best Actress Award (with her first of four nominations and her first of two Oscar wins) as 1920s emancipated, free-thinking, and ill-fated sculptress/artist Gudrun Brangwen in Ken Russell's adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's novel Women In Love (with four nominations and one win - Best Actress) - the sister of teacher Ursula Brangwen (Jennie Linden) who both pursue passionate relationships with macho Oliver Reed and Alan Bates. Her win marked the fourth Best Actress Oscar (in seven years) for an English actress. It also was notable that she became the first actress to win a Best ActressOscar for a role in which she appeared nude. [The other three winners were Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins (1964), Julie Christie in Darling (1965), and Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Two wins by American actress Katharine Hepburn and one win by Elizabeth Taylor in the intervening years prevented the sweep.]
Another British actress nominated in the Best Actress category was Sarah Miles (with her sole nomination) as Rosy Ryan - the spoiled, lusting, flirtatious woman in David Lean's critically-assailed epic Ryan's Daughter (with four nominations and two wins - Best Supporting Actor and Best Cinematography). The other nominees were:
- Jane Alexander (with her first of four unsuccessful nominations and in her film debut) as Eleanor Bachman - Jack Jefferson's white lover/wife in The Great White Hope
- surprise nominee Ali MacGraw (with her sole nomination) as Jenny Cavalleri - the dying, terminally-ill Radcliffe musical student and star-crossed lover in Love Story
- Carrie Snodgrass (with her sole nomination and in her film debut) as Tina Balser - the 'mad', unfaithful housewife who is married to detestable Richard Benjamin in director Frank Perry's low-budget Diary of a Mad Housewife (the film's sole nomination)
John Mills (with his first and sole nomination - and only career Oscar) was a surprise winner in the Best Supporting Actor category. He won for his role as Michael - the mute, gentle, mis-shaped village idiot in Ryan's Daughter, who is saved from the Irish village's anger by the priest (Trevor Howard). It was Mills' fifth film for director David Lean (he appeared in Lean's In Which We Serve (1943, UK), Great Expectations (1947, UK), This Happy Breed (1947, UK) and Hobson's Choice (1953, UK)). His award was not so much for his performance in Lean's film but a 'career Oscar' for many fine, but un-nominated performances. [His daughter Hayley had received an Honorary Oscar award ten years before.] Mills' win made him the first 'silent' winner in the sound era - and he appropriately accepted his award in silence.
The other Best Supporting Actor nominees were:
- Richard Castellano (with his sole nomination) who reprised his Broadway role as Frank Vecchio in Cy Howard's comedy about love and marriage Lovers and Other Strangers (with three nominations and one win - Best Song)
- the favored nominee - Indian Chief Dan George (with his sole nomination) as Dustin Hoffman's wise patriarchal mentor Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man (the film's sole nomination). [Chief Dan George was the first Native-American to receive an Oscar nomination]
- Gene Hackman (with his second of five career nominations) as forty year-old Gene Garrison (Melvyn Douglas' son) in I Never Sang for My Father (with three nominations and no wins)
- John Marley (with his sole nomination) as working-class Italian Phil Cavalleri (Ali MacGraw's father) in Love Story
And the "First Lady" of the theatre, seventy year-old Helen Hayes (with her second nomination and second Oscar win) received the Best Supporting Actress award as Ada Quonsett - the aged, stowaway passenger onboard a mad bomber-threatened airliner flying in a snowstorm in Airport. Her Oscar has often been interpreted as a sentimental award for her 'last' performance. [It was a record Oscar win - she was the first performer to win Academy Awards in both the major and minor categories. Her previous win was as Best Actress for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931/2), thirty-eight years earlier. It was the longest stretch between performance Oscars, until being subsequently tied by Jack Palance - between Sudden Fear (1952) and City Slickers (1991), and then surpassed by Henry Fonda - with a 41 year gap between the films The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and On Golden Pond (1981). Coincidentally, Jack Lemmon won a similar victory to Hayes' in 1973 - a Best Actor win for Save the Tiger (1973) after a previous win as Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955).]
The other four Best Supporting Actress nominees included two who were denied awards for probably their best career performances ever:
- Karen Black (with her sole nomination) as waitress Rayette Dipesto (Jack Nicholson's witless girlfriend) in Five Easy Pieces
- Sally Kellerman (with her sole nomination) as chief nurse Maj. "Hot Lips" Houlihan in M*A*S*H, the target of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital's pranks while taking a shower in a make-shift tent and making love - over the PA system
- Lee Grant (with her second of four career nominations) as Mrs. Enders in Hal Ashby's The Landlord (the film's sole nomination)
- Maureen Stapleton (with her second of four career nominations, all for supporting roles) as frightened Inez Guerrero (the mad bomber's distraught and dim-witted wife) in Airport
This was the notable year in which the English pop group the Beatles received their sole Oscar win - Best Original Song Score for Let it Be (1970). However, they were not present at the awards ceremony.
In this year, Lillian Gish received an Honorary Oscar "for superlative artistry and for distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures") - it was her only Academy laurel. (She had received only one nomination during her entire career, a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Duel in the Sun (1946)).
In addition, enfant terrible film-maker Orson Welles also received an Honorary Oscar "for superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures." His only career nominations were for his debut film, Citizen Kane (1941) - as Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay (a co-win with Herman J. Mankiewicz). Many of his films were neglected by 'Oscar', such as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady From Shanghai (1948), and Touch of Evil (1958).
Iconic Swedish film-maker Ingmar Bergman received the Irving G. Thalberg award for his long career of making contemplative and oft-times bleak sagas set in his native land. During his career, he made 56 films, of which three won Best Foreign Language Film Oscars (The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), and Fanny and Alexander (1983)). He and his films received nine other nominations, including three for Best Director (Cries and Whispers (1973), Face to Face (1976) and Fanny and Alexander (1983)), four for Best Original Screenplay (Wild Strawberries (1959), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Autumn Sonata (1978), and Fanny and Alexander (1983)), one for Best Adapted Screenplay (Cries and Whispers (1973)), and one for Best Picture (Cries and Whispers (1973) - only the fourth foreign-language film to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture).
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
As in the previous year, two more westerns were ignored in virtually every awards category: Sam Peckinpah's The Ballad of Cable Hogue (with no nominations), and Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (with only one unsuccessful nomination for Best Supporting Actor). This was amazing, in a year when two of the five Best Picture nominees were the weakly inferior Airport and Love Story, both with a large number of nominations in many categories. Dustin Hoffman's lead performance as Jack Crabb in Little Big Man went unrecognized by the Academy, as did Richard Mulligan's role as arrogant Gen. George A. Custer, and Faye Dunaway as the beautiful, manipulative, and sexually-obsessed reverend's wife Mrs. Louise Pendrake. There was no recognition for Jason Robards as Cable Hogue and Stella Stevens as Hildy in The Ballad of Cable Hogue.
Director David Lean's Ryan's Daughter, his first film since Doctor Zhivago (1965) (and his second-to-last film in his career) was not nominated in the Best Picture or Best Director categories. Bob Rafelson, the director of Five Easy Pieces (with no wins!) was also not nominated as Best Director, nor was Susan Anspach nominated in a supporting role as the sister-in-law of self-loathing renegade Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson). Jennie Linden was not nominated for her role as Glenda Jackson's sister and schoolteacher Ursula Brangwen in Women in Love.
Neglected also were the acting performances of Ben Gazzara as Harry in director John Cassavetes' improvised, cinema verite Husbands (with no nominations), Tony Lo Bianco as criminal opportunist Ray Fernandez in the low-budget crime film The Honeymoon Killers (with no nominations), and George Segal as desperate young lawyer Gordon Hocheiser, the victim of a nagging, senile Jewish mother (un-nominated Ruth Gordon as Mrs. Hocheiser) in Carl Reiner's black comedy Where's Poppa? (with no nominations).