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Supporting Actress Smackdown '52: Colette, Jean, Gloria, Terry, and Thelma

Presenting the Return of Stinky Lulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown now in its new home at The Film Experience. The Year is... 1952 and our panelists are allowed 52 words per actress!


Gloria Grahame, Jean Hagen, Colette Marchand, Terry Moore, and the perennial Thelma Ritter!


Matt Mazur (Pop Matters) is a New York-based publicist who works on campaigns for independent, foreign language, and documentary films. His vast archive of actress interviews (including Sissy Spacek and Courtney Love) can be found here. Follow him @Matt_Mazur 

Nathaniel R (The Film Experience) is the founder of The Film Experience, a Gurus of Gold and CNN International Oscar pundit, and the internet's actressexual ringleader. Also loves cats. Follow him @NathanielR

Nick Davis (Nicks Flick Picks) tweets, blogs, and writes reviews and is a professor of film, literature, and gender studies at Northwestern University. His first book "The Desiring Image" was recently published. Follow him @NicksFlickPicks

Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu) convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty before shuttering the series in 2009. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. Follow him @stinkylulu

And You! We also factored averages from reader ballots sent by e-mail!

Oh, hurry up!!!"

... get to the smackdown already. Geez. Okay Okay, here we go...




GLORIA GRAHAME as "Rosemary" in The Bad and the Beautiful
Synopsis: A southern wife accompanies her writer husband to corrupting Hollywood
Stats: 29 yrs old. 14th film. 2nd nom. 10 Minutes of Screen Time (8.4% of Running Time)

Matt: No disrespect to Grahame, one of this era’s finest actress, but she got the gold for the wrong movie; like many women before and after. This performance is a weird fit. While other directors gave her the space to explode, Minnelli tried to contain her sexual force. It's not Rosemary you remember... ♥♥  

Nathaniel: Grahame underlines the frisson of excitement in this marriage, suggesting that it comes from the playful mix of this woman’s outer propriety and inner friskiness. She even nails a tricky final scene moving from accusatory abandoned wife to complicit partner in failure. Yet the role is slight and the voice too chirpy. ♥♥♥ 

Nick: The first Grahame performance I haven’t loved. Admittedly, the role’s scope and nature constrain it.  I admire her against-type playing, and the character invites stiff attitudes and overdeliberate gestures. Still, however tiny, the part feels underexplored.  Her win feels like recognition of prior feats and her eclectic body of work in 1952 ♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "A truly bizarre winner, though not undeserving: beautiful, quiet work in shading this restless social butterfly. I wanted much more of her.." - Sean D. (Gloria average ♥♥½) .

StinkyLulu: If I were evaluating The Bad and the Beautiful on "Top Chef" or "Chopped", I might praise Gloria Grahame’s Rosemary for bringing a much needed brightness to the dish. Grahame plays this soon-to-be-sainted flibbertigibbet with easy verve but I fear Grahame’s work here is as glancing as the character:

Gloria wins 10½ ❤s 

JEAN HAGEN as "Lina Lamont" in Singin' in the Rain
Synopsis: A silent star attempts to make it in talkies by stealing another woman's voice
Stats: 29 yrs old. 8th film. 1st nomination. 31 Minutes (30% of Running Time)

Matt: She does it all: vocal work, physical comedy, unlikability, stupidity, scheming, hiliariously failing at everything. Flawlessly.  Bonus points go to any actress playing an actress, let alone the kind of woman who has the cojones to poke fun at not only herself, but really her entire profession. How she did not win this Oscar…? ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Nathaniel: Her vocal comic invention is so thorough you can even hear the diction training sloshing around its agonizing surface but never sinking in. Lina’s silent “ACTING” is delicious, too but Jean’s is even better. Her Lina is always off-tempo, playing catch up, waiting for a line no one has written for her. ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Nick: Pretending to hate Gene Kelly requires three-star acting at least. And Hagen’s vocal ingenuity is obviously beyond.  She’s also a savvy modulator, underplaying annoyance throughout Kelly’s opening interview, deferring her delicious explosions of resentment until character-appropriate moments.  Once she gets going, she steals some of the very best scenes in American movies: ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "Lina Lamont was robbed, just as Lina's soul sister Norma Cassady (Lesley Ann Warren) was exactly 30 years later." - Paul Outlaw. (Hagen average ♥♥♥♥♥ ) 

StinkyLulu: In what might have easily been a single (nasal) note of a “dumb” role, Jean Hagen deftly surprises with clever twists to unsuspecting vowels, syllables and studio executives alike. Yet, even with few glimpses into Lina’s heart, Hagen’s skill permits our delight in always knowing exactly who Miss Lina Lamont truly is.  ♥♥♥♥♥

Jean wins 25 ❤s, a perfect score 


COLETTE MARCHAND as "Marie Chalet" in Moulin Rouge
Synopsis: a street-walker moves in with the famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec but just can't settle down
Stats: Debut Film. 27 yrs old. Debut Film. 1st Nom. 27.5 Minutes (23% of Running Time)

Matt: Too many clichés: hooker with a heart of gold, scheming hooker with weak john, French slut, tragic waif… but Marchand does a decent job of navigating complicated waters and still managing to be memorable in a Moulin Rouge full of oddballs. But she's no Nicole Kidman, let me put it that way. ♥♥ 

Nathaniel: She had me at “monsieur!”, all gangly swinging arms, restless body, and giraffe-with-attitude neck. Marchand’s physicality is so heady it almost doesn’t matter that her scenes are but moodswings on loop. Her pride in poverty and self-consciousness with wealth is insightfully rendered. Like Henri we pine for her when she’s gone: ♥♥♥ 

Nick: To its credit—and not much is—Huston’s film acknowledges an essential garishness in the Moulin Rouge and Toulouse-Lautrec’s depictions. This context somewhat justifies Marchand’s frequently coarse performance; her drunken truth-telling scene with Henri and Babare thrives on that quality.  Too often, though, she’s simply rigid and off-putting.  I prefer Suzanne Flon  ♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "This film is a little slow in spots, but the best scenes are the ones with Marchand and Jose Ferrer together. You feel for her prostitute character, a common role but Marchand adds her own spin." - Sean T. (Marchand average ♥♥)

StinkyLulu: Feral, frightening and sometimes quite funny. Colette Marchand’s Marie Charlet remains a more presence than a person. (Katherine Kath does much more with much less as La Goulue.) While her palpable emotion does reliably energize this frequently languid film, Marchand’s performance lacks the precision needed to stir and sustain a deepening investment: ♥♥♥

Colette wins 12 ❤s  


TERRY MOORE as "Marie" in Come Back Little Sheba
Synopsis: a flirtatious college girl rents a room from an unhappy couple while struggling with fidelity to her longdistance boyfriend
Stats: 23 yrs old. 14th film. 1st nomination. 28 Minutes (28% of Running Time)

Matt: Let’s have a moment of real talk: there is no one on earth paying attention to anyone other than mesmerizing Queen Shirley Booth in ...Little Sheba. Moore does what she is asked: be pretty enough to drive Lancaster into a mad rage. But there’s not much character there so she’s left struggling. ♥ 

Nathaniel: She does engaging work as a cock-tease testing her boundaries with a local stud. She’s smart, too, about how the young switch on and off with adults in a room. I like the way Marie sizes up her strange landlady (less so her landlord). But the character never feels fully explored or resonant. ♥♥ 

Nick: Between Booth’s asphyxiating affectations and Lancaster’s stolidity, Moore’s relaxed effervescence is a welcome mediator. Her richest scene comes when that aplomb gets tested by Richard Jaeckel’s abruptly aggressive advances; her panicked response is clearly to him, not to sex itself.  Nonetheless, this isn’t complicated acting.  Standard for Moore and bordering on generic ♥♥

Reader Write-In Votes: "I can't remember many movies from the 50s that had a young sexually-active character and performed well by Moore. I certainly can't see the negative of the performance" - Travis. (Moore average ♥♥).

StinkyLulu: Marie feels more plot device than character, an inciting incident taken to human form. Yet Terry Moore animates her catalytic presence with startling believability. Her Marie is a simple, smart, capable girl who fully enjoys playing at being bad — and who (unlike those around her) somehow knows when to say when.  ♥♥♥♥ 

Terry wins 11❤s

THELMA RITTER as "Clancy" in With a Song in My Heart
Synopsis: a nurse accompanies a famous singer on a USO Tour in World War II
Stats: 50 yrs old. 9th film. 3rd of 4 Consecutive Noms (2 More Followed). 28 Minutes (24% of Running Time)

Matt: One dynamic performance hidden within a limp noodle film makes it a little more al dente. Her stalwart nurse ("Clancy" -- how perfect is that name?), is not afraid to tell it like it t-i-is. As is Ritter’s custom, she packs in an astounding amount of detail, using the tiniest bits of dialog to reveal something key. ♥♥♥♥ 

Nathaniel: Gold from dross! Though half her role consists of gazing admirably at Hayward’s lipsynching (blech), Ritter seizes every opportunity to make the other half dance, managing heaps of personality while narrating and offering sly subtext like  embarrassment at her friend/ patient’s self-pity. I live for that improv dancing… “I’m more the type!” ♥♥♥♥ 

Nick: Ritter hews to type as a wisecracking helpmeet whose humor and lucid counsel profit the other characters. Still, she’s the Dijon mustard this ham sandwich needs, her candor and tangy delivery tempering all the sanctification.  Ritter presents a prickly, compassionate, occasionally reproachful nurse, not a blandly colorful worshiper in a biopic pew: ♥♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "Ritter fills the role with emotion, and - more importantly compared to Grahame and Moore - feels like a necessary and irreplaceable role/performance for the film. " -PoliVamp (Thelma average ♥♥♥) 

StinkyLulu: As “Flatbush Florence Nightingale” Clancy, Thelma Ritter gets to do Thelma Ritter. Always cracking wise as the film’s in-house heckler and audience surrogate. Stalwart. Salt-of-the-earth. With just that dash of saltiness. But even with costume changes and a couple of tiny tearful moments, there’s no arc or special insight here. Just Ritter. ♥♥

Thelma wins 16 ❤s  


The Academy pied Jean Hagen right in the kisser and handed the coveted Best Supporting Actress statue to Gloria Grahame as "Rosemary" in The Bad and the Beautiful. As Matt notes: 

In 1952, it made all-too-terrible sense for Grahame to win given her solid work in three other films besides this Minnelli classic: The Greatest Show on Earth, Macao, and Sudden Fear. She worked with literally everyone that year. She is fantastic in Fear and Macao, moreso than in Beautiful.

 But our panelists "cannnn'stann'it!" and rewrite Oscar history to hand a landslide win to that 'shimmering star in the foimament' Lina Lamont.

Soak it up, Jean!

Thank you for attending the Smackdown!  Throw pies, shade or applause at your favorites. (If you're new to the Smackdown, here's the old archives at StinkyLulu)

Previous Smackdown Goodies
Stinky's Preliminary Thoughts, Introducing... the 5, and The Oscar Ceremony Itself

The Supporting Actresses of 1980 
Brennan, Le Galliene, Moriarty, Scarwid, and Steenburgen comin' atcha!
Panelists TBA

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Reader Comments (48)

is jean's perfect score a first for the smackdown? throughly deserved

(poor thelma - always the bridesmaid)

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Great 1980 a rarely discussed year,I love my Charlotte Rampling most in Woody's Stardust Memories but would give the win to Eva La Galliene of the 5.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

i love how you frame the entire film through our lovely supporting ladies in the synopsis! Wonderful to read as always, I'm OVERJOYED to have the smackdown back.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

Par - Mo'nique also had a perfect score in 2009 but that's the only 1 I know of

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

rita moreno got a perfect score too.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom

We love you Lina!

1980? Not my favorite year, but that means I'll be voting for a comedic performance again and I like that.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I remember mo'nique receiving one 4... just checked, she got seven 5's and one 4, a total of 39 hearts.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I'm sure it stung at the time, but I wonder if being the best thing in the best musical ever and living on in perpetuity isn't the greater "award" than the little gold man? Every casual film fan knows Lina Lamont, while only the most serious film fans can even recall which movie gave Gloria her win. But of course, congrats to all.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

This was heaven! Thanks everyone. As Sean said, seeing these films re-evaluated through the filter of Supporting Actress is just amazing. Any thoughts of Smackdowns of another variety?

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal

LOVE that StinkyLulu is back and at TFE!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

I should get 3 stars for my acting because I cannot stand Gene Kelly. I think he's smug, arrogant and irritating. In my version, Lina Lamont comes back with a tommy gun and mows down Gene, Debbie and Donald and gets taken off by the police, laughing maniacally.

Although I will admit, Jean Hagen is the best part of the film. Maybe voters thought that she would get another chance to win, whereas Gloria Grahame might not.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Monique got one four-star rating.

I've only seen two of these movies but I'm still so thrilled the Smackdown is back. Thanks to all the contributors and can't wait to see the next one. :)

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Dijon mustard/ham. God, but this made my day... thank you, panel!!!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterzig

Such fun, and so glad to be on our way to 1980.
Thanks, Nathaniel!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStinkyLulu

Love this feature then and love it now. So glad it's back!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

What a treat to finally have the smackdowns back!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFritz

I like this feature a lot... I have seen all 5 of the movies...

The order I would have put them: Jean Hagen

Thelma Ritter ( really for Pickup on South Street )

Gloria Grahame ( I love her, but for other movies )

Colette Marchand

Terry Moore ( also a cock teaser a couple of years later in Peyton PLace )

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Rick: Pickup on South Street is '53.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I knew Jean would rightfully win but I was glad to see my preferences for second and third agreed with the panel.

Maybe I'm just a sloppy sentimentalist but I love With a Song in My Heart apparently far more than most. Not just Thelma, loved all the songs including the rousing finale and I'm a big fan of Susan Hayward. I thought her lip synching was quite seamless and precise, she worked hard on it and studied Jane Froman while she recorded the songs so it wasn't just the voice but the movements when she sang that matched. Usually I think musicals should have actors who sing but here the subject was well known and her voice familiar to the public at the time and at least the timbre of her voice and Hayward's speaking voice were similar unlike say The Helen Morgan Story where they dubbed Ann Blyth and not even with Helen Morgan's voice!!

Look forward to the next Smackdown. I've seen all the films although for some it's been some time but I know who my winner would be without reviewing,

Eva Le Gallienne's beautiful, haunting work in Resurrection was heads above the rest then in the following order Eileen Brennan, Cathy Moriarty, Mary Steenburgen and Diana Scarwid.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

i really want a Smackdown for 1995, 1995, 1997, and 2010

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertom

joel6 -- i am not that well versed in 1980 actually (my film awakening starting in the mid 80s and at the time when I wasn't going to new releases i was more concerned with classics than movies that were a few years old) I wonder if that's true across the board with film buffs. that they're totally into the now and the before their time but not necessarily all that excited about the stuff JUST before they were paying attention ;) I think WITH A SONG.... has its moments inbetween snores (I love both the RJ scenes and all of Thelma's bits) and I even like Haywards first audition scene but man it's repetitive. crazy repetitive.

zig -- nick always has such great zingers

Dave -- the answer i'm sure is yes.

Sean D -- i loved thinking of the movies that way in terms of "plot" ;)

August 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This is such a treat. Thanks to StinkyLulu for the comeback and thanks to all the participants.

My vote would've gone to Jean Hagen too. Just looking at that gif makes me giggle.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Just seen on Wikipedia that Gloria Graham and Jean Hagen were the same age. Obviously it came down to the fact that Gloria's films were better received than Jean's.

I still don't like Gene Kelly though. Sorry Nathaniel.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Volvagia I know... what I meant was that the Oscar needed to hers for that performance!!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

So happy that the Smackdown series has returned! Wonderful job, everyone.

I hope to see 1989 profiled one day. Three fantastic performances, a really good one, and a total stinker, plus a range of character types.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I hope the 89 stinker isn't Julia cos she hs gr8 moments as well as a little amateur but hey she was a real rookie and she learned and fast.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

You. Guys!
That was lovely! I'm ashamed but also excited that I don't know who Gloria Grahame is. Now I get to meet her! Any suggestions on where I should start?

And though I don't like Singing in the Rain, yes, Jean Hagen was great in it.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I really enjoyed this too. I've only seen Grahame and Hagen from '52, but it's great to see the return of the Supporting Actress Smackdown. More please!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

James T: The worst thing I can really say about Singin' in the Rain is that it's VERY SLIGHTLY overrated. It's visually well constructed and dizzyingly paced and certainly in my top 100, but I don't get why it and Some Like it Hot are clearly valued FAR more than thematically rich dark comedies like Kind Hearts and Coronets and Sunset Boulevard.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Even though I haven't seen all the performances this was still a lot of fun to read.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Leah -- ooh 89 is a realy good idea. i'm weirded out that it wasn't on my list of "must do" years. It could be my aversion to steel magnolias (which i used to love but which, through the boyfriend's monthly screenings, i now cannot stomach)

James T -- i will share your "need to meet more Grahame" since i was also not that familiar with her though i know cinephiles love.

August 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I added a few stats to the post cuz i have OCD with the tinkering. I didn't realize all the women (save Thelma) were in their 20s!

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I've never loved Grahame in the way a film buff is meant to love her. And maybe this is the reason. Bitch stole Hagen's Oscar!!

I kid, I kid. But I love that Lina Lamont got a perfect score at least in this TFE universe.

This was all kinds of fun. Looking forward to the next Smackdown

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Circumstances kept me away from my computer all day - silly earning a living circumstances.
So I'm just now getting my chance to enjoy this eagerly awaited new Smackdown. To all concerned - fine job!
Among my favorite quotes:
Nathaniel on Terry Moore; "She's smart, too, about how the young switch on and off with adults in the room"
Nick on Thelma Ritter: "She's the Dijon mustard this ham sandwich needs."
StinkyLulu on Terry Moore: "(unlike those around her)... knows when to say when."
The performances re-blossom when watered with penetrating comments like these.
Inspired by the Second Coming of the Smackdowns, I've been celebrating the ladies of 1952 on my own blog ( all month. But you've created the real gala here. In the words of Gloria Grahame as she hurtled by the podium," Thank you very much".

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen

James T- The best place to start with Gloria Grahame is The Big Heat, her best performance though ignored by the academy, and In a Lonely Place. After that Sudden Fear, Macao, Human Desire or A Woman's Secret, she's even very good in that goo fest It's a Wonderful Life. She's an odd one of a kind actress, and her messy private life made her time at the top brief but she was always interesting no matter how big or small her role was.

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I just spent an hour looking up the rest of the Supporting Actress Smackdowns over at stinkylulu's. Most of them are what I would have expected, though there were quite a few surprises. I never would have expected Katherine Ross to win the Smackdown for The Graduate in 1967 (what was written about her convinced me it was the right call) and I never would have imagined that Toni Collette would win the smackdown for The Sixth Sense in 1999 (a performance that is often easy to forget about, and yet you remember how great she is once you remember her). I wish it wasn't Collette's only nomination to date (she's always a standout). It's also interesting that Barbara Hershey won for The Portrait of a Lady in 1996 and Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine in 2006 (that was a very divisive year for you guys). Those are just some results I found interesting. I would love to see what the smackdown would look like for the last three years (the overwhelming consensus with AMPAS from 2007-2009 is also fascinating, though not unexpected considering they also won the Film Bitch awards), I do wonder if Melissa Leo (maybe), Octavia Spencer (doubtful) and Anne Hathaway (very likely) would win your smackdowns. It's also great to see so many differing opinions on so many performances. All great reads. Hope you can keep them up....

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Great smackdown (and thanks for the inclusion)! REALLY looking forward to 1980, as I only familiar with two of the performances.

And Oklahoma! is essential Gloria Grahame viewing.

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Thanks, joel6!

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Oops. Thanks Paul, too! I've seen a clip or two from Oklahoma! but I know I should see the whole thing at some point.

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Bless you all for doing the Lord's work and spreading the gospel of actressing at the edges. This was good fun and such a great read - and the fact that the right gal won, well... that's just gravy! Seriously, Hagen is so freaking perfect in Singin in the Rain - and in such unexpected ways - that it's near-impossible for me to fathom just how she lost. I'd like to say that were the film released today she would have had this category on lockdown, but you never know with Oscar. He's a tricky bastard, that one.

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Great job, guys. So marvelous.

Oscar doesn't like musicals for acting awards. That's what did Hagen in. I mean, how could the Academy not nom Kay Thompson for Funny Face?

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Oh Jean Hagen. You brought a little joy into my humdrum life. I hope this Smackdown makes you feel as though your hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you girl.

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I think one of the impressive things about Hagen's SITR work that we didn't even mention is how utterly unrecognizable she is from her other roles in the period, or at least from the ones I've seen. You could never, ever have convinced me that the proficient, somewhat nondescript, and brunette-if-I-recall Jean Hagen in The Asphalt Jungle could possibly be the same actress, much less give the same two performances. Even her hissable role in <I>Adam's Rib doesn't prepare you for Lina. So from what I know, this isn't one of those cases where someone did their best-ever version of a type they always handled successfully. This is still a "Where did THAT come from??" joy for me.

Eager for '80! Have never seen Scarwid's movie, and have dim-ish recollections of many of the nominees. So as opposed to this month, I'm heading in having almost no idea of what I'll say... which is great!

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

brookesboy -- but she doesn't even sing in it, really l;)

September 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan, I take it you are not a fan of Kay the vocal omnivore LOL! I really adore her in this; Think Pink is one of my anthems hehe. I wish I could march like that!

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy


Not only am I so happy with Hagen's perfect score, but 1980 Supporting Actress!!! Why couldn't Winger have been a nominee?!?!?! I weep!

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

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September 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiesel Jeans

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February 15, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterدستگاه تصفیه آب

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