The pre-internet knowledge abyss

Listening to The Film Experience’s rundown of the Best Supporting Actresses of 1977 (Mark Harris contributes, which means you should download it for your lunch break), the panel made a point of reminding audiences of the difficulty of finding trivia before the internet. For those who saw Annie Hall before, say, 1994 (i.e. me), you didn’t need to understand every reference, according to Nathaniel Rogers, because you knew that you would eventually; if you were really curious, you went to the library and consulted an almanac or something. Until Damien Bona’s catty Inside Oscar, books of award data were scarce. In an early 1989 issue of TV Guide, I cut out a list of Best Actor, Actress, and Picture winners from 1977 back to the Wings era, and I carried that glossy page around for years. I have a distinct memory of browsing through my boss’ father’s set of Encyclopedia Britannica at the office which contained an Oscar appendix; that’s how I learned that Anne Baxter won her Oscar for The Razor’s Edge. Michael Gebert’s essential The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards published in 1996 broke down the winners of every awards group (New York, L.A., National Soociety of Film Critics before each city got its own) and film festivals (Venice, et. al). Coupled with Gebert’s acerbic commentary and who and what he would’ve chosen, Movie Awards remains among my most thumbed-through books.

Kids, you got it easy. If you want to know The Goodbye Girl’s budget and box office returns, Google. Me, I still plotz when Wikipedia compiles lists like this.

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2 Responses to The pre-internet knowledge abyss

  1. jerfairall says:

    The existence and wide availability of such data is still less amazing, to me, than Kentucky Fried Movie managing a week in the top spot at the box office in the year of Star Wars.

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