In 1969, all these men were stars, nigh untouchable - the newcomer was Jon Voight, winner of the Most Promising Male Golden Globe. The rest were legends, heartthrobs, cover stars, and even though they each courted their fair share of controversy, their status was unquestionable. Members of the public may object to the politics of one, the treatment of women by another, but we shrugged and said, "That's Hollywood!"
Fast forward 50 years. Voight, who finally won an Oscar for the anti-war film Coming Home, is a divisive figure politically, and while he currently enjoys a regular job on Ray Donovan, it's hard to imagine him being embraced again by the Academy. In 2017, Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexual misconduct by seven different women whose experiences crossed decades. John Wayne, who had plenty of critics during his lifetime, was recently blasted on social media for racist and white supremacist opinions he gave during a 1971 Playboy interview. Richard Burton comes off reasonably well, if mostly best-known for being Mr. Liz Taylor, while Peter O'Toole...actually, I think we're good with Peter O'Toole - I think it helps that both men's main troubles were rooted in their alcoholism, and each sobered up.
The point being, our perceptions of people and the standards to which we hold our stars have changed significantly since The Duke was crowned king - or at least, people are more careful about who they publicly praise. Yesterday's idols are today's unmentionables. That's what I see when I take a look at this lineup: either dead, canceled, or both.
But have the performances held up? Let's take a look!
Anne of the Thousand Days
second of seven nominations; BAFTA Award winner for Best Actor; Golden Globe nominee for Best Actor in a Drama, NYFCC runner-up for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
fourth of eight nominations; Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, National Board of Review's Best Actor of 1968; NSFC nominee for Best Actor
first of four nominations; NYFCC winner for Best Actor; Golden Globe nominee for Best Actor in a Drama
Just the right mix of naiveté and cockiness to make his fish-out-of-water wannabe-gigolo routine stick. He also gives the right amount of ambiguity, even to himself, to sell the developing intimacy with Ratso. What horrifies him at the movie theater: what he's doing, or that it's fairly easy for him?
second and final nomination in this category; Golden Globe winner for Best Actor in a Drama
Naturally, the eventual winner is my least favorite (though not hated!) of the nominees. But I surprise myself by awarding my own vote - once again - to...
GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS
Tomorrow, the nominees for Adapted Screenplay: Anne of the Thousand Days, Goodbye, Columbus, Midnight Cowboy, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Z.