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The Movie "Hurricane" Was Shut Out of the 1999 Academy Awards
After last year’s farce “Shakespeare in Love” won the Oscar for best picture over “Saving Private Ryan” in 1999, Academy Awards voters finally got it right. Kevin Spacey won the Best Actor Oscar for “American Beauty” at the awards ceremony held in Tinsleytown on the night of March 26. And for his portrayal of Rubin Hurricane Carter in “Hurricane,” Denzel Washington didn’t.
In the words of that old song, “Hooray for Hollywood.”
Right, let me say that Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors on this or any other planet. We both come from the mean streets of New York City, and man can act with the best of them. Still, I was rooting hard for Washington to lose the Best Actor Oscar, just as I was rooting hard for any fighter to beat Mike Tyson or any prosecutor to put Don King in jail.
Washington was nominated for his role as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a former middleweight contender and man convicted not once, but twice, of a brutal 1966 double homicide in New Jersey.
In the film, and I quote the words of an old friend, Wally Matthews, from the New York Post:
a) Rubin Hurricane Carter was an upstanding citizen railroaded by a racist justice system in general and a racist detective in particular;
b) Carter’s “confirmation” was obtained through the efforts of some crackpot Canadians and
c) Carter was the victim of a racist, hometown decision against Joey Giardello and should have left Convention Hall in Philadelphia with the middleweight title.
All three of these statements have as much truth as the deceptive words of Bob Arum, who once said, “Yesterday I was lying. Today I’m telling the truth.”
Rubin Carter was never an upstanding citizen. He was a pitiful scale from the day he was born, and would remain so until the grave diggers planted him six feet into the ground. Carter was released from prison after being convicted of two murders because he was not presumed innocent, while some crackpot, liberal, Lenin-of-Lenin judge decided that the district attorney’s summation to the jury in the second Carter trail was racist. Carter was then released on a writ of habeas corpus, perhaps thinking he had won the Powerball lottery without a ticket.
Like Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam,” the Italian-American was torn to shreds in “Hurricane.”
Director/producer/screenwriter Norman Jewson invented the villain; A white, racist Italian-American cop who stalks Carter for years and then rails against him for false murder. In fact, this man never existed.
As for the Giardello fight, in the film, the champion Giardello looks like he was spit out by Carter, in fact in the actual fight in 1965, Giardello easily won by consensus at ringside.
The truth is, Carter wasn’t much of a fighter in the first place.
The first time I personally went to a professional fight was when Joey Archer fought Carter in Madison Square Garden in the early 60s. Archer, a nice boxer who couldn’t punch at all, outboxed Carter in the ring for most of the 10 rounds and won by a 9-1 tally on all the judges’ scorecards. Famed sports columnist Dick Young wrote in the New York Daily News the next day, “Sure Archer can dance. But Arthur Murray and Murray can punch harder.”
Carter’s entire reputation was built on a first-round TKO over welterweight champion Emile Griffith in a non-title fight. Carter outweighed Griffith by 10 pounds that night. A minute into the fight, Carter got lucky with a right hand, knocking Griffith by the seat of his pants. The next two knockdowns were more results from a dazed Griffith tripping over his own feet. The three knockdown rule applied and Carter was declared the winner. Lucky him.
The fact is, in 40 pro fights, Carter lost 12 times, a 30 percent losing percentage. Hardly the stuff bigtime fighters are made of.
In summary, the movie “Hurricane” was a colossal hoax and Denzel Washington lost the Oscar voting just as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was whipped 12 times in the ring.
In the end, folks, justice prevails.
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