I myself have denied or dismissed the reality of what led to the bizarre Best Picture win of Around The World in 80 Days (‘56). And I think it’s time to come clean.

It wasn’t the meager cinematic merits of that Mike Todd film — a ten-ton, elephantine, all-star travelogue spectacle with Shirley MacLaine as an Indian princess — as much as the impact it had & the money it made — its success as an enormous, eye-filling, big-scale, reserved-seat Todd-AO event film that TV couldn’t hope to compete with — that’s what Academy members voted for.

The realization that TV had to be fought tooth and nail had only sunk in five or six years earlier — This Is Cinerama (‘52) was the first costly attempt to win back audiences along these lines, followed by the CinemaScope (‘53) and VistaVision (‘54) processes, not to mention the flim-flam attempt to impose fake widescreen images with 1.85 aperture plates (April ‘53).

The massive competition of TV, and the possibly permanent diminishment of Hollywood’s share of the entertainment dollar —that’s what the industry had been facing since TV began to catch on in ‘48 or ‘49 and what it was still was facing in ‘56.