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Ebert's 15th Annual Movie Disaster Awards

Bo Derek accepts an award on behalf of "Bolero."

Can it possibly be that time again? Can 12 months have passed since the last ceremony? Are the crowds gathering, ready to boo and hiss and sit on their hands? Then let’s bring out the 15th annual Movie Disaster Awards! May I have the envelope, please? (The one marked “Postage Due.”)

Does anybody here remember these movies, all of which were released in 1984? “Reckless,” “Frightmare.” “Ice Pirates,” “Misunderstood,” “Purple Hearts,” “Alphabet City,” “Finders Keepers,” “They’re Playing with Fire,” “Flashpoint.”

An’ I would like to say thankshh to my bartender:

Four of the five 1984 Oscar nominees for best actor played drunks. The exception was Albert Finney, who is expected to be nominated again this year, for his performance as the drunk in “Under the Volcano.”

With directors like this, who needs friends?

Asked if Finney was actually drunk during some of his drunk scenes in “Under the Volcano,” director John Huston told a Cannes press conference, “No, he always waited until after the shooting was over to get drunk.”

The 1984 Pia Zadora Award is given in honor of the apocryphal story that Zadora once played the role of Anne Frank so badly that when the Nazis arrived, the audience shouted, “She’s upstairs!”

This year’s winner is Robby Benson, for “Harry and Son,” in which he played Paul Newman’s son as so much of a wimp that I got the impression that Newman died at the end out of embarrassment.

The funniest movie story of the year:

Unfortunately, it isn’t funny in print, only when you say it out loud. So sound it out and then tell it to a friend. The story: A foreign tourist walked up to a candy counter in a Loop theater, looked at the display, and asked, “How much are the Mmmmmmmmm’s?”

The Golden D’Or Award, given in honor of the film festival least likely to challenge the supremacy of Cannes:

To the first Insect Fear Film Festival, held in March at the University of Illinois, with cockroaches as special guest stars.

For this one, can we re-impose the import quotas?

The Japanese are remaking “Godzilla.”

Well, I’ll be a son of a Brown:

Fired from “City Heat,” director Blake Edwards changed his name on the screenplay credit to “Sam O. Brown.”

The Vazak you say!

Fired from “Greystoke,” Robert Towne changed his name on the screenplay to “P. H. Vazak.” Spelled backwards, it’s ka-zavhp!”

No wonder the porno boom is over:

In "Where the Boys Are" four college girls practice foreplay with an inflatable doll, which explodes during an experiment in nipple biting.

Some people could learn a lesson from Vazak and Brown:

The press release for the remake of “Where the Boys Are '84” said the screenplay was “based on an original story idea by Allan Carr, Jeff Burkhart and Stu Krieger.”

The first Gene Shalit Prize, given to the television show that figures out the best way to avoid showing a film clip every time a movie star plugs a film:

To NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman,” which often substitutes a clip of a scene in an obscure porno movie, showing anonymous actors making small talk around a barbecue grill.

Maybe he was just happy they finally got his order right:

Shirley MacLaine told the Oscar audience that she had wanted to work with Jack Nicholson ever since his chicken-salad scene in “Five Easy Pieces,” and now, she gushed, “to have him in bed with such middle-aged joy!”

Sometimes you can just push a guy too far:

After filming a documentary under fire in Nicaragua, famed German director Werner Herzog (who was honored in last year’s Disaster Awards for vowing “I would go down into hell itself and wrestle a film away from the devil, if necessary”) elaborated on his policy of non-violence: “If we had been directly attacked by bayonets, we would have shot back.”

Another promising youngster gets his start in Chicago before moving on to Tinseltown:

Shabba-Doo Quinones, star of “Breakin'’” and “Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" was arrested in 1970 for street dancing in Old Town.

All kidding aside, was the year’s worst movie really “Dune”?

Well, yes and no: Yes, if you didn’t see “Windy City.”

Leave it to Arthur C. Clarke, father of the space satellite, to come up with the year’s best title for an unproduced “B” movie:

“Attack of the Killer Dentures.”

Sounds like a script for Dr. Ruth:

In “Bolero,” advertised as a steamy sex picture, Bo Derek falls in love with a bullfighter who is quickly wounded in that part of the anatomy no actor in a sex picture should be without.

So much for the TV dinner:

Reviewing “Bolero” on Channel 2, Gene Siskel said that when Bo Derek licked honey off her lover’s body, it looked like snot.

Come on, Harry, lighten up! At least you’re working steady:

Harry Dean Stanton complained, “I am sick of playing trash, and negative characters, and heavies and killers and scum bags.”

With stars like these, who needs a movie?

Hollywood insiders called the casting of Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone in “Rhinestone” a masterstroke.

She’s a real all-around actress. Versatile. She can play anything. Total Showmanship. No, really: a fantastic human being!

In 1984, Shirley MacLaine won the Academy Award for “Terms of Endearment,” and played a fake nun who flirted with Burt Reynolds in “Cannonball Run II.”

Would you say Shirley has the movie industry surrounded?

MacLaine thus appeared in 1983’s second-best picture, and 1984’s third-worst.

Some people don’t know how lucky they are:

Sting refused to give interviews about “Dune” because he was upset by how little time his character was on the screen.

How about "Sheena" meets "Bolero"?

It could have a great plot. Bo Derek falls in love with a man who rides a horse painted like a zebra, and Tanya Roberts plays a bullfighter who… oh, the hell with it.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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