I don’t know if Francis Coppola (or Francis ‘Ford’ Coppola as he was still known in 1979) still scratches his face when he speaks in public, but he scratched his face enough while presenting the Best Director Oscar in 1979 to last him a lifetime. In this clip, Coppola and Ali McGraw present the Oscar to Michael Cimino for ‘The Deerhunter’. (Cimino is one of only three directors who bothered to show up for the ceremony, Hal Ashby and Woody Allen being the blow-offs). Cimino gives a solemn and dignified little acceptance speech and it’s strange and a bit haunting to know that only two years later this young and sincere filmmaker would be responsible for a cinematic debacle that destroyed a studio–his humility and soberness seem earnest and responsible. (Or perhaps that’s the very nature of somebody whose decisiveness and self-confidence are capable of running amok.) Add to that the ignominy of his death last year–he was largely (and unfairly) remembered as the weird older director-guy who may or may not have been a pre-op transsexual before that was, like, okay–and one sees the truth; the Oscar is a terribly temporary form of glory. I wonder where Cimino’s award is nowadays. Is there a home for old Oscars?
But the real treat here is the face-scratching Coppola’s very astute and visionary speech. He pretty much predicts the future–an entertainment world filled with digital/audio/sattelite/computerized/mass information/cross-sectional media stuff. Ironic that it all came true–and that the man who predicted it wound up being a wine salesman once that prophesized day came along.