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March 27, 1977 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1977-03-27
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March 1., 197 /

The Oscar orgy

(Continued from' Page 5)
particularly events t h a t have
touched us all so profoundly
that we can scrutinize them on
screen with the jaded, bitter
sophistication, to know a cine-
matic phony when we see one.
And President's Men is no
In wisely concentrating on the
detective rather than the politi-
cal side of the Woodward-Bern-
stein unraveling, director Paku-
la successfully walked an ar-
tistic tighttrope throughout, cir-
cumnavigating the pitfalls of
lurid sensationalism on the one
hand and t e d i o u s, timorous
civics lessons on the other.
Perhaps the picture's most
surprising quality is the genuine
excitement it projects through-
out, considering we all know
which side won. Director Pakula
pulls no punches, yet maintains
the film's grace and dignity
throughout. While President's
Men may lack the sheer crea-
ti_ thrust of a Taxi- Driver, it
is quietly magnificent.
Which leaves us with the two
p r e s u m e d heavyweights for
Academy honors, Network and
Rocky. Of the two, the latter
seems to have succeded in spite
of an overkill of media hype,
while the former seems to have
prospered solely because of it.
Why all the fuss about Net-

work? Does it contain a single
moment of insight not previous-
ly imparted to us in far more
socially cogent and artistically
stimulating ways? Paddy- Cha-
yefsky's cut-rate polemic about
a race of New American Zom-
bies mesmerized by the great
mediocre god television is the
product incarnate of the ° very
genre he pontifically tries to de-
bunk; it is sophomoric, super-
ficial and dull. In other words,
a perfect made-for-TV movie.
CIIAYEFSKY'S "outrageous"
tale of a TV news anchor-
man who cracks up on the air
and is subsequently converted
into a "mad prophet" by cynical
executives, suffers from a dual
terminal case of schizophrenia
and atrophy. At one moment
it's pure black comedy and the
next it's a ponderous and pom-
pous Chayefsky sermon, then
back again. And even if director
Sidney Lumet appears to have
done nothing to .assist his
writer's literary murders, he
must at least be held an acces-
sory to the crime. An undistin-
guished and rambling director
who was bailed out in films like
Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon
by strong scripts and superb
acting, Lumet seems to have
simply capitulated all authority'.
in Network to Chayefsky. There

isn't a single visual in the film
that's even remotely memor-
The unfortunate acting lumi-
naries involved in this arch
mess work dutifully and hard at
c eating meaningful characters
C of the stick figures Chayef-
sky has t h r u s t upon them
through which to sandblast his
hackneyed speeches. But their
efforts are doomed. The poor
souls o b v i o u s l y don't know
whether they were meant to be
Jeremiahs,. tragedians, or buf-
fons, so they simply wander
through the film like marionettes
dangled from the spastic fingers
of their turgid creator.
But as least there's Rocky, the
perfect antidote to pomposity.
There's been a tendency among
critics to say, almost embar-
rassedly, "Well, I like it even
if it was pretty corny." I fear
this as an elistist reversal of
the Hollywood moguls' fear of
"negative" pictures; in other
words, if a film "makes you
feel good." it must automatical-
ly be qiute maudlin and of little
"true" artistic value. Bullshit.
I found little in Rocky that
wa , "corny"; Sylvester Stal-
lone's story of a punk fighter
cheated by life, who finally finds
his place in the sun seemed real-
istic and believable scene after
scene. Director John Avildson's

seedy depiction of Philadephia
lowlife p r o v e s unexpectedly
brilliant (considering his past
work), and Stallone's perform-
ance of his loser-hero is as vi-
brant as his script.
It's true that Rocky isn't all
that originally (stylistically bor-
rowing-ironically-from Paddy
Chayefsky's "Marty"), but yes,
it does make you feel good. Like
doing cartwheels afterward, in
SOUR OF THE five nominees
make an interesting contrast:
Network laments that it's too
late to change society, Taxi
Driver says it's too late to
change the individual; converse-
ly, Rocky asserts the individual
can carve out his niche in life,
while All The President's Men
ringingly affirms the optional
for changing The System, how-
ever feted and entrenched.
This is the year of the upbeat;
and there's little doubt in my
mind the Oscar contest lies be-
tween Rocky and President's
Men. The groundswell for the
former has been awesome -
crowds line up across the coun-
try for it, the film's dual theme
songs blare constantly over in-
numerable radios. And yet I'm
going out on an extremely thin
limb to pick All The President's
Men by a whisker. I'm just not

ready to believe the forgetful-
ness syndrome has been so per-
vasive as to discard the most
crucial event of our time; Rocky
depicts the salvation of one
character-All The President's.
Men the probable redemption of
all of us.
The following are my intrepid
predictions for the remaining
'major awards of the evening:
Best Actor: Robert De Niro
(Taxi Driver)
(T o p challenger: Sylvester
Best A c t r e s s: Liv Ullman
(Face to Face)
(Top challenger: Sissy Spacek,
Best Stpporting Actor: Jason
Robards (All The President's
(Top challenger: Burgess Mer-
edith, Rocky)
Best Supporting Actress: Jodie
Foster (Taxi Driver)
(Top challenger: Jane Alex-
ander, All The President's Men)
Best Director: Alan Pakula
(All The President's Men) '
(T o p challenger: J o h n G.
Avildson, Rocky)
Best Original Screenplay: Syl-
vester Stallone (Rocky)
(Top challenger: Paddy Cher
yefsky, Network)
Be sure and pay up Tuesday
morning, you bums.


Downtown transit

(Continued from Page 7)
BUT OCCASIONAL use of pub-
lic transit is not at all the
same thing as regular use, and
does little to reduce the likeli-
hood of an imminent traffic/
parking crunch downtown. Two
AATA programs designed to
help meet the needs of down-
town workers and alleivate the
present parking shortage have
had disappointing results.
One, the Authority's "Bus
Pool" scheme, has been a lim-
ited success; it could point the
way to greater use of mass
transit by employes of down-
town businesses. Under the pro-
gram, employers offer their
workers free bus passes as an
alternative to free parking. Only
two downtown businesses - Ja-
cobson's department store and
Huron Valley National Bank -
have taken advantage of the
plan. Both businesses have en-
listed a respectable percentage
of their employes in the Bus
Pool venture.
But many other employers in
the central business district
have either refused outright to
participate or have claimed that
workers would r a t h e r drive
downtown than take the bus. In
cases w h e r e employes have
voted on the issue, they have
always rejected the Bus Pool
alternative, largely out of fear
of being deprived of parking
spaces in the future.
The other attempt, a plan for
"peripheral parking" in which
Jacobson's participated, was a
dreary failure. Jacobson's em-
ployes were asked to park their
cars at a lot located some dis-
tance from the downtown area
and take a Dial-A-Ride shuttle
from the lot to the store. But bus
service was so undependable
that most employes, disgusted
with the program, went back to
driving the rest of the way into
The Downtown Plan drawn up
by the city Planning Department
and approved by City Council
last year includes several pro-
visions for downtown bus serv-
ice: a passenger circulator to
carry shoppers from one loca-
tion to another, a transit "cor-
,.cam r" oi1pl Waehimntonn S t

and a series of shuttles to carry
passengers from outlying park-
ing structures into the business
district. Other proposals, such
as an intensive grid of fixed-line
buses within the district and a
downtown AATA terminal, have
been put forward and received
some support.
BUT MOST OF these proposals
suffer from the same draw-
backs that defeated the peri-
pheral parking scheme and have
plagued the Bus Pool program
since its inception.
The most obvious of these is
the inefficiency and infrequency
of bus service-both regular and
Dial-A-Ride-in Ann Arbor. The
wait between fixed-line buses is
;enerally a half-hour or more-
io fun min cold or wet weather-
mnv anybody who owns a car is
umlikely to stand around outside
for that length of time. And the
iynredictability of the Dial-A-
Ride system is practically pro-
verbial: persons who need to get
somewhere in a hurry cannot
rely on 'the system to deliver
them on time.
Many city leaders, including
some members of AATA's ruling
Board, feel this situation can be
improved by scuttling or reduc-
ing Dial-A-Ride to elderly and
handicapped residents and ex-
panding the fixed-line system to
make it more frequent and more
On the other hand, many
other leaders see this as a short-
sighted approach to the prob-
lem, sipce a great many Ann
Arborites depend on Dial-A-Ride
to meet their transportation
needs. Both systems,they argue,
have a right to exist side-by-
side in a balanced transit sys-
AATA HAS prepared a set of
six alternative systems us-
ing Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route
buses in greater or lesser
amounts; but it is unlikely that
any decision will be forthcoming
in the near future, given the at-.
mosphere of paralysis which
exists on the Transit Authority
Members of the Board are not
elected, which is unfortunate in
a public body with the powers

and financing of AATA. Instead,
they are appointed by the may-
or and City Council, and their
appointments thus r e f 1 e c t a
great deal of political accommo-
dation and compromise. The re-
sult has. been a six-member
structure incapable of taking
any kind of decisive action.
The only hope, says Mayor
Wheeler, is that positions can be
filled with energetic people as
they become vacant. The term
of Chairwoman Joyce Ches-
brough, described by critics as
a woman who "hates to make
decisions;" expires this coming
"About the only thing we can
do is select replacements that
don't have to have a bomb go
off before they start moving,"
says Wheeler. He would like to
see, he adds, a series of rapid
express lines leading into the
downtown areas during peak
rush-hour periods.
But no matter what kind of
Board administers the Author-

ity, and no matter what kind of
transit system it finally decides
to promote, the problem still
remains of persuading car-own-
ing Ann Arborites to take the
bus to work instead of using
their private autos.-.
There seem to be, two ways
to change the image of public
transit as something used only
by children and poor people,
and to encourage the general
public, even those with cars, to
take advantage of the service.
The first of these is to per-
suade community and business
leaders to use the mass transit
system, and to make AATA
well-known through an aggres-
sive and positive public rela-
tions campaign. Most observers
feel the Authority has failed to
promote itself as thoroughly as
possible, largely because several
Board members still consider
mass transit "a social service
like food stamps."
The other method is to cut off
the supply of off-street parking
downtown abruptly, making auto

use downtown less and less pref-
erable to an effortless bus ride
to the store or office.
"It's like getting your child
to stop eating candy," says Mc-
Gee. "You have to just stop giv-
ing it to him. And of course
you're going to have to listen
to a lot of screaming for a
Other factors independent of
the city's control--the price of
gasoline, for instance-may con-
tribute to making the mass
transit system a more attractive
alternative to the private auto.
But any attempt to push mass
transit still holds the potential
to bring proponents of the bus
system into direct conflict with
those who advocate increased
downtown parking in city-owned
carports.wAnd the resulting con-
flict not likely to be resolved
Mike Norton is a Daily Man-
aging editor.


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