March 27, 1973 in Hollywood, temple of American cinema. Tonight, the top of the world cinema is gathered at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the annual high mass of the 7th art: the 45th Oscars ceremony.
Among the big favorites of the evening there are two films: Cabaret, which will earn Liza Minelli the Oscar for Best Actress, and The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola, who broke all box office records. And 18 years after his first consecration, Marlon brando therefore won the Oscar for best actor, for his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather in which the sex symbol of the time was metamorphosed, it is almost unrecognizable. His performance is unanimously hailed. Corn, the star is not there.
To everyone’s amazement, a young woman gets up: Sacheen Littlefeather, a young Apache. By asking him to represent her in the temple of Hollywood, Marlon Brando points the finger treatment of peers by American cinema.
“Politically, this is the first coup. There are a lot of political interventions over the years during the Oscars ceremony later, but this was really the first time and everyone was taken aback “, starts François Forestier, journalist and author ofSuch a beautiful monster at the microphone of D-Day. “It was at both a scandal and a success “, he adds.
This is not how it was planned
“It was done beautifully. I found that this young woman who takes everyone by surprise, who comes in, who makes a speech extremely short. We have the impression that the assembly was taken hostage that evening, “adds Flavie Flament.
“Yes and no. I’m sorry to contradict you (…) This is not how it was intended. Usually, Brando should have come to be rewarded for his performance in The Godfather. As he is a bizarre man, it can be said, complicated, he was not sure of winning. He wanted to come, but he didn’t want to come … He has a reputation for pain in the ass, for films he puts up late, for having whims, etc … “reveals François Forestier.
Maria Cruz improvised on stage
“Since he didn’t really want to come, he delegated this young woman, Sacheen Littlefeather. She is a half-Indian and her real name is Maria Cruz. And she’s a girl who hung out in connection families, who has an alcoholic father, an absent mother and who accepted to play this role because at the time she was an actress “, he continues.
“She came with an 8 page text from Brando (…) And the Oscar show producer grabbed her before she walked in and said, ‘You have 60 seconds, no more. ‘. So she decided to put Brando’s text in the trash and get a little speech cracked which was well received “, details François Forestier.
Marlon Brando took a risk here when he was not in a period when he was popular in the cinema. “He is a man who has always been incoherent. He was delighted with her fame and at the same time he hated her. He was delighted to be an actor considered a genius and at the same time it bothered him deeply (…) He is a man who was steeped in paradox and we could not pull the right thread “, concludes the journalist.
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Oscars: how Marlon Brando created Hollywood’s first stunt