1973 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®
The 1973 Best Picture winner was a foregone conclusion - the entertaining, stylish, playful, charming, over-produced comedy-drama The Sting, that reunited the successful 'buddy-buddy' team of director George Roy Hill and stars Robert Redford and Paul Newman from a film four years earlier - the comic western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). The film had an entertaining, good-natured twisting-plot about two con artists (Newman and Redford) in 1930s, Depression-and Prohibition-Era Chicago who joined together for revenge (with an off-track horse betting trick) against a big-time racketeer (Robert Shaw).
The Best Picture winner had ten nominations and seven wins - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (David S. Ward), Best Art/Set Direction, Best Music Score Adaptation (Marvin Hamlisch, who adapted Scott Joplin's piano rag tunes), Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design (Edith Head with her 8th and final costuming Oscar). Producer Julia Phillips was both the first woman nominated for and awarded a Best Picture Oscar. [Universal Studios waited a record number of years for this Best Picture win - 43 years, from All Quiet on the Western Front (1929/30) to 1973.]
The four other nominees for Best Picture included:
The winner in the Best Director category was George Roy Hill for The Sting, a film that helped to revive interest in Scott Joplin's music, and solidified the trend toward 'buddy' films. Although Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial Last Tango in Paris (with two nominations and no wins) was not nominated for Best Picture in 1973, probably because of its sexually-explicit content, Bertolucci was nominated for Best Director of the film - about the short affair between a middle-aged American grieving about his wife's suicide and young 20 year-old French girl named Jeanne (unnominated actress Maria Schneider). [Bertolucci was nominated only twice for Best Director, winning with his second attempt for The Last Emperor (1987).]
The other three Best Director nominees included:
The Best Actor winner was Jack Lemmon (with his fifth of eight career nominations and his sole Best Actor Oscar win) as moralizing Harry Stoner - a disillusioned, unlucky, middle-aged, Los Angeles garment manufacturer who faces financial ruin and becomes depressed when considering pimping, cooking the books, and arson as the way to collect insurance money in John G. Avildsen's box-office failure Save the Tiger (with three nominations and one win - Best Actor). [Lemmon's win, his second Oscar, made him the first recipient of both a Best Actor and a Best Supporting Actor Award (which he earlier had received for Mister Roberts (1955)).] Lemmon appeared to have won this year's award for a lesser film role in a mediocre film - it was a small compensation for losing in so many other years in comedic roles (ie., Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960), Days of Wine and Roses (1962)), but his victory denied the award to more impressive roles by fellow actors/nominees.
Defeated Best Actor nominees included:
All of the actresses in the Best Actress category were accomplished actresses, but all of them appeared in flawed pictures. British actress Glenda Jackson (with her third of four career nominations) received the Best Actress award in a surprise victory - it was her second (and last) Best Actress Oscar in a short four year period for Melvin Frank's popular, screwball sex-war comedy A Touch of Class (with five nominations and one win - Best Actress). She won the award for her performance as divorcee Vicki Allessio who has an adulterous, fun (and short) affair with London insurance agent George Segal. [This was the first time that an actress won the Best Actress award for a major comedy role since Judy Holliday won the same award for Born Yesterday (1950), 23 years earlier.]
The other Best Actress nominees were:
In the two Best Supporting categories for Actor and Actress, there was an age gap of 61 years that separated the two winning nominees:
Tatum O'Neal defeated Paper Moon co-star nominee Madeline Kahn (with her first of two consecutive nominations) as Trixie Delight - a 1930s traveling floozy and belly dancer. Jack Gilford (with his sole nomination) was nominated for his role as Phil Greene (Jack Lemmon's partner) in Save the Tiger. Two other Best Supporting nominees were from The Exorcist:
The remaining two Best Supporting Actor nominees were Vincent Gardenia (with his first of two unsuccessful career nominations) as baseball team manager Dutch Schnell in director John Hancock's Bang the Drum Slowly (the film's sole nomination), and Randy Quaid (with his sole nomination) as Meadows SN - the bumbling, naive prisoner being escorted by hard-boiled but compassionate petty officers to imprisonment in The Last Detail.
The remaining two Best Supporting Actress nominees were Candy Clark (with her sole nomination) as Debbie - a ditzy, "experienced" blonde teenager in American Graffiti, and Sylvia Sidney (with her sole career nomination in a long film career) as co-star Joanne Woodward's mother in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams.
An Honorary Award was presented this year to wise-cracking Groucho Marx "in recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequaled achievements of the Marx Brothers in the art of motion-picture comedy." He had appeared with his brothers in original, un-nominated films, such as The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), A Night at the Opera (1935), and A Day at the Races (1937).
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
There were eleven films that might have been nominated for Best Picture - but weren't. The biggest omission was director Martin Scorsese's first major film Mean Streets, starring Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy and Harvey Keitel as Charlie, two hoods coming of age in their Little Italy neighborhood. It didn't receive even one nomination!
Although Bernardo Bertolucci's X-rated film of sexual obsession titled Last Tango in Paris was nominated for Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Director, it was also avoided in the Best Picture and Best Actress categories. The other nine films unexplainedly bypassed for a Best Picture nomination (among others) were:
Robert De Niro's and Michael Moriarty's performances in director John Hancock's baseball/sports film Bang the Drum Slowly were also ignored. Although Robert Redford was nominated as Best Actor for The Sting (and Paul Newman was NOT!), he was neglected for his equally-excellent role as WASP student Hubbell Gardiner in The Way We Were.