The Shining Knights

The Shining Knights

Best of Academy Award Winners Collection, 5-DVD box set,Shemaroo,Rs 999

Two days to go for the big night at the Kodak Theatre,and we can’t resist serving two more of our all-time favourite Oscar winners: The Graduate and A River Runs Through It,part of a just-out DVD collection. Neither was Best Picture,though both deserved it. The first got a Best Director (it had multiple nods for Best Picture,Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman,Best Actress for Anne Bancroft,Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Katharine Ross,as well as cinematography and editing); the second had to be content with a Best Cinematography award,but is indubitably one of director Robert Redford’s best efforts.

Was there ever a more bored-with-it-all graduate than Hoffman,in his first major starring role? This is 1967,and young Ben is back from college,back to his parents in their comfortable Californian existence — well-appointed homes,well dressed people and a swimming pool “out back” — just ripe for the picking. He falls into Mrs Robinson’s (Bancroft) lap. Was there ever a sexier older woman,whose legs could rival someone 20 years younger? And when he tries to get together with someone more age-appropriate and when she turns out to be Mrs Robinson’s pretty daughter Elaine (Ross),all hell breaks loose.

The DVD blurs the passionate bedroom scenes between the young man and the older woman,but the Indian censor board has let in a topless bar scene a little later in the film. But more than the nudity,shocking for its time,it is the performances that stay with you. And a schmaltzy Bollywood ending that involves Ben doing a last-minute rescue of Elaine. From the altar,no less.

A River Runs Through It (1992) also has a huge Hollywood star in one of his first big roles. Before this,Brad Pitt was noticed as the hot hitchhiker in Thelma and Louise,but in that all attention was on the two female leads,Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. In River,his looks are parlayed into a character who is supposed to act: the younger son of a Presbyterian minister,a rebel with roots,one who loves his world “that is touched with dew”. His older brother Norman,played by Craig Sheffer,has the bigger part,and Tom Skerritt as the stern but loving father is very good. But you remember Pitt the most,Pitt with his reckless smile and the bleached hair,and the way he whirls the fishing line over his head and sinks it into the river that runs through it.

The collection also has Driving Miss Daisy,Murder On The Orient Express and The Lion In Winter.