It was a cultural mash-up, a love connection, and a be-in of epic proportion as Billy Crystal, at the request of honoree Sophia Loren, hosted a fabulous and hilarious tribute to the screen love goddess Wednesday night at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
They laughed, they cried, and then they cried again. That is, the Italians did everything to demonstrate their extreme humanity. Loren’s son, Eduordo choked up when speaking of his mother. Then his mother cried when referring to Eduordo’s father, Carlo Ponti.
Comic Billy Crystal didn’t cry, but he garbled pretty good fake Italian and converted every Italian joke into a Jewish one. He was extremely funny. His Osama Bin Laden schtick, impeccable. How many of you burn your own garbage? he demanded of the audience.
In a frightening indication of the state of Hollywood today, honoring this doe-eyed Venus de Milo were Tom Hanks and John Travolta. Blecch. That’s who we have to trot out anymore. But to the rescue came Lina Wertmuller, Giancarlo Giannini and Roberto Benigni, via video, from Italia.
And we got to see film clips, thank god, of the olive-skinned, full-lipped, voluptuous sex bomb making love on screen with the likes of Gregory Peck, Cary Grant (the sight of these two gorgeous human beings side-by-side almost startling), Marcello Mastroianni (exceeding Cary Grant) and the vastly underrated Anthony Perkins.
More on La Loren to come…