Films in Review – March 1981
1980 David Wark Griffith Awards
The Second Presentation
Monday afternoon, January 26th, the National Board of Review and Films in Review, its membership publication, presented the Second Annual David Wark Griffith Awards at Luchow’s on Fourteenth Street in New York City, a few steps from where Griffith had his Biograph Studio and where he frequently dined. Lillian Gish and NBA Director, Blanche Sweet, who were Griffith stars, were some of the glittering stars of motion pictures and television who were a part of the Awards Ceremony.
Robert Giroux, President of the National Board, told how the NBA began in 1909 to fight censorship … “We fought that good fight, and we won it. Today we are fighting for a more elusive cause, the cause of quality – professional excellence, the one thing every intelligent audience, and certainly every real artist, wants … the one thing we never get enough of, neither on television screens nor in movie theatres.” He then introduced Dina Merrill who charmingly directed the short ceremony. Governor Hugh Carey sent a message to the winners and to Gloria Swanson through his Director of the New York State Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, Mrs. Elizabeth Forsling Harris.
New York City Mayor Edward Koch sent similar messages through his Director, Nancy Littlefield. When Miss Merrill introduced Lillian Gish, the star-studded audience rose to greet her, as the television cameras of both NBC and CBS recorded the event for later broadcast.
Miss Gish reminded the group that when she first started with Griffith, there were signs in the hotels reading “No Dogs or Actors Allowed”. But, she noted, ” progress has indeed been made … Princess Grace in Monaco and now, we have a President”. In Robert Redford’s absence, Ron Schwary, producer of Ordinary People, accepted Mr. Redford’s awards for Best Picture and Best Director.
Myrna Loy prefaced her introduction of Sissy Spacek, Best Actress for Coal Miner’s Daughter, with the note that her Career Achievement Award last year, was ” one of the few awards that really touched me and I thank you”. After which she read a congratulatory telegram to Sissy Spacek from Loretta Lynn. In accepting her plaque, Miss Spacek whispered, ” I’ve forgotten everything I was going to say, but the icing on the cake is being in the company of Miss Loy, Miss Swanson and Miss Gish; it makes me proud to be an actress”.