“The Resurrection of Broncho Billy” was a successful short film by any reasonable measure. Its one-week Oscar-qualifying theatrical run wound up running for two whole years. And of course, it won the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Subject, even though only the film’s producer, John Longenecker, who also had a co-writing credit actually took home a statue. That’s pretty good for a class project that, according to Longenecker’s acceptance speech, only earned him a “B” from USC Film School.
The Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Subject hails back from the early days of the ceremony, when short films screened in between many theatrical features, and were a regular part of any filmgoer’s experience. Nowadays the short subjects nominated for the Oscars aren’t nearly as ubiquitous, but the award has still given many prominent filmmakers a valuable career boost, including Taylor Hackford (“Ray”), Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Andrea Arnold (“American Honey”), Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”), and John D. Hancock (“Bang the Drum Slowly”). Other well-known winners in the category include actors Peter Capaldi, Riz Ahmed, and Christine Lahti, as well as stand-up comic Steven Wright, and famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
So while John Carpenter didn’t need an Oscar to have a long, celebrated, influential career — even though, come on, not even a nomination for the “Halloween” score? come on — at least he knew, right off the bat, along with all the other young filmmakers who worked on “The Resurrection of Broncho Billy,” that his work was Oscar-worthy.