Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 22
April 15, 1971
George C. Scott Snubs Oscar

On this day in 1971, George C. Scott thumbed his nose at the movie establishment by turning down the Academy Award for Best Actor for his universally lauded performance as General George S. Patton in Patton. Though Marlon Brando sent a (fake) native American to turn down the Best Actor award the following year, Scott was the first person to say no to the golden fellow. The snub was not, however, a massive surprise as a decade earlier Scott had asked the Academy to rescind a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in The Hustler, and prior to the Oscar ceremony honoring the films of 1970 he had been vocal about his lack of respect for the award in question. When Scott’s name was read out by an excited Goldie Hawn, the actor was not at the award show but at his New York home with his wife, actress Colleen Dewhurst, and their two sons. Scott once referred to the ceremony as a “goddam meat parade,” yet the telegram he’d sent to the Academy when nominated for Patton was at least a little more polite: “I respectfully request that you withdraw my name from the list of nominees. My request is in no way intended to denigrate my colleagues. Furthermore, peculiar as it may seem, I mean no offense to the Academy. I simply do not wish to be involved.” Scott was filming The Hospital at the time of writing and, ironically, was Oscar-nominated for Best Actor for his role in that film. He did not, however, win nor was he ever nominated again for an Academy Award.


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November 22, 1963
The Film Seen Round the World

On November 22, 1963, an accidental filmmaker made what became the most obsessed over film of the twentieth century. Standing on a concrete overpass in Dallas, women’s clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder raised his Bell and Howell 8mm camera and tracked the motorcade that carried president John F. Kennedy through Dealy Plaza. Zapruder’s 27 seconds of footage shot from a clear, elevated vantage point are the only complete recording of Kennedy’s assassination and a focal point for government investigators and conspiracy theorists alike. The film also became the object of one of the stranger ownership tussles in modern cinema. Zapruder gave copies of his film to the Secret Service and, three days after the shooting, sold the negative and all rights to Life Magazine. Zapruder’s heirs later disputed the sale, and the film was eventually returned to them by Life owner Time Inc. for $1 dollar. In 1992, however, the U.S. declared the film an “assassination record” and the property of the government. A lengthy dispute ensued over the amount Zapruder’s heirs should be paid. The government proposed paying the family $3 to $5 million; the Zapruders argued that the film should be valued similarly to recent sales of a Van Gogh painting and an Andy Warhol silk screen of Marilyn Monroe. Finally, arbitrators worked out a value of $16 million. Shortly thereafter, Zapruder’s heirs donated one of the original copies of the film and its copyright to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which now oversees all rights requests.

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