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Burning Question: Why 'The Godfather' and 4 Others Had Their Oscar Noms Revoked

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Burning Question: Why 'The Godfather' and 4 Others Had Their Oscar Noms Revoked

Salvatore Corsitto, James Caan, and Marlon Brando in 'The Godfather' (Photo: Everett)

The Academy has rescinded the Best Original Song nod for "Alone Yet Not Alone" over campaign violations. How rare is it for the Oscar folks to take away a nomination?

Rare, but not unheard of. According to Oscar historians, this snub of snubs by cinema’s snobbiest snobs has happened at least five times before.

The Academy has been in the take-backs business since at least 1942, when the film "Dive Bomber" got fragged for reasons now lost to history. "Bomber" was, however, replaced by a film with the equally derring-do title of "The Sea Wolf."

From left: Fred MacMurray, Alexis Smith, and Errol Flynn in 1941's 'Dive Bomber' (Photo: Everett)

And of course writers have gotten their fair share of freeze-outs; this is the movie industry, after all. The years 1954 and 1956 both saw scribes booted from the Best Writing category, for "Hondo" and "High Society," respectively. The former film lost its status after the nominee, Louis L'Amour, pointed out that the script derived from his own previously published short story, a fact not noted in the credits, a fact that cost L'Amour L'nomination.

[Related: Oscar Stunner: Academy Revokes Controversial Nomination]

But the "High Society" story is just really sad. In 1956, there were two movies by that name. The Academy nominated the version starring the comedy troublemakers The Bowery Boys as a bunch of grease monkeys getting into japes with rich people. If that doesn’t sound like your typical Oscar nomination, that’s because it wasn't. As the film's own writers gracefully pointed out, the Oscar folks probably meant to honor the highfalutin musical starring Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby. So the writers lobbied against themselves until they got taken off the ballot.

Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby in 1956's 'High Society' (Photo: Everett)

Even "The Godfather," that, um, godfather of family dramas, has suffered an Academy-borne slight. Even worse, it was the original "Godfather," sin of of all sins. Back in 1972, Nino Rota’s now-famous score got nominated for all of a New York minute before the Academy "withdrew" the nomination, which, by all accounts, is the same thing as rescinding, just gentler. You know, the kind of term that won't spur somebody to put a horse head in your bed. The offense: The music already had been used in another movie — 1958 Italian comedy "Fortunella."

Lastly, let's talk foreigners. The Academy jettisoned the 1992 Spanish-language film "A Place in the World" after learning that its submitting country, Uruguay, didn’t really have all that much control over the production.

Argentina did, but Argentina was already championing another film for Oscar consideration. I’ll let you guess whether that film went anywhere with the Academy.

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Leslie Gornstein is an entertainment writer and the host of the weekly Hollywood gossip podcast The Fame Fatale.