Lawrence Olivier's Oscar acceptance speech

Over on his blog, Roger Ebert has a postabout the Biden-Palin debate where he compares one of her responses to Olivier’s acceptance speech for his honorary award.

Here is the Youtube videoand here is the transcript.

It is one of the funniest things I have ever seen and Voight’s reaction is priceless.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Sir Lawrence speak out of character before. I guess I should’ve known he really talked like that, but didn’t. And yes, Voight’s reaction was priceless.

Well, it’s not that bad, right? I mean, he’s just trying to say how much it means to him and is taking his time with his words.

I can imagine saying about the same thing and being embarrassed later.

It meant a lot to him and it showed.

It is that bad IMO in a legendary, larger-than-life kind of way. It says something about Olivier that he could not only get away with it but bring the house down.
Particularly this sentence:

This must rank among the most absurd sentences ever spoken at a major occasion. I love the way Olivier says “beautiful star” glancing upwards and wagging his finger.

The lesson for Palin: she needs to take acting lessons and put on a posh British accent.

They liked him, they really, really liked him!

It’s not bad at all. It’s a perfectly coherent thought and a lovely show of gratitude and humility from a brilliant actor and speaker.

I don’t understand why anyone finds it funny, or embarrassing. We should all speak so well.


Does anyone have Warren Beatty’s speech when he got the Lifetime Achievement award? He rambled on and on as well, making little or no sense.

So, was Jon Voight impressed or confused with his reaction?

Olivier was just thrown by the streaker who happened to blaze across the stage before he walked out. lol.

I particularly liked Diane Keaton’s non-reaction. She was so stunned she even forgot to clap; she looked as if she’d just seen a drive-by shooting.

I like to think that if I had had the opportunity to invite Lord Larry over for dinner, he would have been similarly eloquent about my cooking.

I agree. Take the sentence Lantern quotes. Purple, maybe, but not absurd.

Absurdly purple, even.

I agree it says something about him, but I actually don’t think it says anything good about him. As someone who has studied acting I have a deep respect for Mr. Olivier but there is a line between revering someone and drinking their Kool Aid, and I think it was crossed that night, and the joke’s on the crowd because I think Olivier knew it was crossed.

I googled around on Olivier’s speech and found some interesting stuff. This is a rather amusing articlewritten earlier this year on how to give an Oscar acceptance speech. About Olivier’s speech: " That’s two firmaments in one sentence, which is at least two firmaments too many."

This WaPo piece from 1999 says: "But then there’s poor Laurence Olivier, remembered for holding forth on the “great firmament of your nation’s generosities,” moving on to the “prodigal, pure human kindness of it,” coming round the turn with “a beautiful star in that firmament which shines on me at this moment,” before wrapping it up with “the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow.” "

OTOH this websiteliked the speech and says “In 1978, Olivier delivered perhaps the most eloquent Oscar acceptance speech in the academy’s history. With no paper in hand, Olivier impressed his audience with his unmatched ability to graciously and gracefully articulate his thoughts.”

One of the great things about Youtube and the Internet in general is how they keep these obscure moments of cultural history alive.

You’re thinking of David Niven in 1974.

Crap! Now I’m dying to know what Johnny Carson had to say about that.

[del]Who the f&ck invited Robert Stack to the f&cking Oscars?[/del]

OMFG, Robert Stack was nominated for best supporting actor in 1957!

Reminiscent of the beginning of Ch. 4 of Twain’s A Double Barreled Detective Story.

Hey, it was just like that this morning in Cleveland!

Except for the lilacs, laburnums, fairy bridges, larches, pomegranates, deciduous flowers, swooning, solitary œsophagus, and the peace of God.

We got the October part.