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« Posterized: Angelina Jolie | Main | Tim's Toons: On Marc Davis, father of Maleficent »
Friday
May302014

If We Had Oscar Ballots... a 1941 Extra

Tomorrow when the Supporting Actress Smackdown 1941 hits, we'll just be discussing the five nominees (24 more hours to get your ballots in for the reader's section of the vote!). As it should be. But for the first time in a Smackdown I polled my fellow panelists as to who they would have nominated if, uh, they'd have been alive in 1941 and if, uh, they'd been AMPAS members.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde lust after Lana Turner & Ingrid Bergman. And so does our panel.

Angelica and I didn't vote (I haven't seen enough 1941 pictures, I confess) but our other three panelists have recommendations for you outside the Oscar shortlist. In fact, all three of them only co-signed 2 of Oscar's 5 choices... different ones mostly so the Smackdown should be interesting (I'm not telling you which as the critiques come tomorrow!). So here are some For Your Considerations for your rental queues or your own assessments of that film year...

ANNE MARIE writes: 

Two of the nominations stay but otherwise I'd mix things up. First things first: Justice for Dorothy! Dorothy Comingore should have been nominated for playing Kane's second wife in Citizen Kane, but she was buried under bad publicity by the vengeful William Randolph Hearst. Comingore's performance was so good that her character continues to overshadow the real story of Marion Davies (who was neither bitter, nor talentless, nor married to Hearst). It's not fair that one ticked-off media mogul could kill a promising career. On a lighter note, I'd definitely add Lana Turner to my ballot for a solid year of supporting actress-ing in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeZiegfeld Follies, and Johnny Eager (which would wait two years to be Oscar eligible). 1941 was the year that proved The Sweater Girl could act, and sparkle even in overheated melodramas like these three.

However, since How Green Was My Valley was clearly the Oscar magnet of 1941, a Supporting Actress nomination seems inevitable, so I'd cast my vote for Maureen O'Hara in another solid newcomer performance. Mostly though, I just want Maureen O'Hara to have an Oscar nomination. Just one.

Brian (aka StinkyLulu)

Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Warrick from Citizen Kane.  

And for a stirring glimpse of a potentially great comedic actress not yet fully shackled by the Hollywood machine, see Carmen Miranda in Week End in Havana or That Night in Rio

Nick Davis
He's trying to cheat! He knows how I feel about ties but he has trouble narrowing down his three remaining slots so he sneaks in an unofficial tie, sly one that he is...

My ballot would certainly include Theresa Harris (the veiled subject of Lynn Nottage's recent play By the Way, Meet Vera Stark), who is so spry and witty in what could have been a simple "maid" part in René Clair's The Flame of New Orleans, with Marlene Dietrich.  I also love Beulah Bondi in Penny Serenade, where she eschews the usual Bondi-isms that Margaret Wycherly so embraces in Sergeant York and plays a warm, fully dimensional adoption agent trying to bring happiness to Cary Grant and Irene Dunne while also managing their expectations, and treading her own line between public official and private sympathizer. 

Marlene Dietrich and Theresa Harris in "The Flame of New Orleans"

Ingrid Bergman comes on hot and heavy in the 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, out Lana Turner-ing Lana Turner in her own movie.  But then Marjorie Rambeau is a complete hoot in John Ford's much-maligned Tobacco Road, where she merits recognition much more than she does in the two movies that actually got her nominated.  She'd beat Bergman in a tug-of-war for that last spot, unless Bergman's sensuality burned up the rope.

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Reader Comments (16)

I can never make up my mind as to whether I love or loathe Dorothy Comingore's performance in Kane (usually I lean towards love), but I'd definitely nominate Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Warrick from the same film.

Nick's write-up though has definitely made me curious to check out The Flame of New Orleans. And that play too, if I ever get the chance.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

My Fab Five for 1941:
SPRING BYINGTON "The Devil and Miss Jones"
DOROTHY COMINGORE "Citizen Kane"
ISOBEL ELSOM "Ladies in Retirement"
JOAN LESLIE "High Sierra"
AGNES MOOREHEAD "Citizen Kane"

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKen

What great fun! A chance to correct many oversights. One of the actual nominees still made my list but for a different film.

My nominees in alphabetical order would be:

Mary Astor-The Maltese Falcon-She's very good in The Great Lie but her Brigid O'Shaughnessy is an intricate part of a complex puzzle and she plays it expertly.

Ingrid Bergman-Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-She and Lana Turner were originally cast in the opposite roles but she was canny enough to see the opportunities in Ivy, asked to switch and it changed the direction of her Hollywood career after a couple of lackluster pictures. She's cunning and kittenish, sly and vulnerable, you can see why she brought the devil out in Jekyll.

Susan Hayward-Adam Had Four Sons-Ironically in a picture that turned Ingrid Bergman into a dull doormat Susie sweeps in and brings the only life to the picture as the devious tramp Hester. Emerging from the rank and file in '41 with this and the intriguingly bizarre Among the Living co-starring Frances Farmer in one of her last pictures(available on Youtube) she alternates between overly sweet and vicious with only stalwart Ingrid having her number. She's gloriously venal and covered in stardust.

Rita Hayworth-The Strawberry Blonde-Stepping in at the last minute, when Ann Sheridan got into a fight with Jack Warner, this along with Blood and Sand the same year took Rita from promising ingenue to star. Put up as an almost unattainable ideal woman before we even see her she seems just that when she appears, coquettish, piquant and charming as well as breathtakingly beautiful she takes the viewers breath away. Of course when she reappears later and her flightiness has turned into a brittle shrewish hardness it's not really a surprise but Rita plays all the notes beautifully.

Ida Lupino-The Sea Wolf-one of the most underappreciated of all golden age actresses, never even one single Oscar nomination despite years of worthy work! 1941 was a good year for her with this, High Sierra and Ladies in Retirement. Holding her own as the only woman in this acting firestorm between Edward G, Robinson, Alexander Knox and John Garfield she is at different points timid, guarded and feral and a strong enough presence to stay in your memory. A lesser actress would have vanished among those giants but Ida stands out with no problem.

Honorable mentions-Patricia Collinge-The Little Foxes, Veronica Lake-Sullivan's Travels, Dorothy Comingore-Citizen Kane

And the winner still would have been Mary Astor but for The Maltese Falcon.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Dorothy Comingore in Citizen Kane for sure, but like Nathaniel and Angelica I haven't seen enough of the nominees. Nick Davis can make you want to see almost any movie, though, so now I'm all about seeing Penny Serenade and The Flame of New Orleans.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

No love for Ida Lupino from your fellow panelists? Her performance in 'High Sierra' would be my hands down favorite supporting actress performance of the year (from the thirty-something films I've seen from 1941, that is). I'd also sneak in a nomination for Martha Raye in 'Hellzapoppin', as well, if I could.

(On a side note: I will never understand why Ida Lupino never gets the credit she deserves. A great actress and a pioneer for women directors. Where's her biopic? Heck, where's at least a decent biography about her?)

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Citizen Kane's Dorothy Commingore, Ruth Warrick and Agnes Moorehead, Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon) and Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

MrW, ever since The Grifters I've been saying that Annette Bening should play Ida Lupino, but I fear that ship has sailed.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I'd probably make my Supporting Actress line up for 1941 look like this:

Dorothy Comingore - Citizen Kane
Joan Davis - Hold That Ghost
Maris Ouspenskaya - The Wolf Man
Lee Patrick - The Maltese Falcon
Margaret Wycherly - Sergeant York

And you can tell to whom I gave the Oscar if you look closely. As for who I'd pick as the best of these five, I think I'd take Lee Patrick. There's something about her feisty attitude as Sam Spade's secretary that always stood out to me.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

@Sean
Yes! Lee Patrick was so fun and arresting. It's weird how she never seemed to stand out in any other movie.

Meantime we know she's brilliant, but is Mary Astor in Falcon lead or supporting? Ditto Lupino in High Sierra? Well, apart from the brilliant part. Much as I admire the woman I rarely find her all that convincing in her 40s performances

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

@MrW

I agree Ida Lupino is amazing in High Sierra but she's really the lead with Joan Leslie in the supporting role that's why I went with her for The Sea Wolf. She was worthy of a best actress nomination for Sierra as well as Ladies in Retirement but that's the problem with always being superior, when excellence is expected it's hard to gain acknowledgement.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Wow totally forgot Maria Ouspenskaya in The Wolfman. I'd nominate her but would still hand Mary Astor the plaque for The Maltese Falcon.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Elsa Lanchester in Ladies in Retirement !

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commentero.s.

"I'd cast my vote for Maureen O'Hara in another solid newcomer performance. Mostly though, I just want Maureen O'Hara to have an Oscar nomination. Just one."

I couldn't agree more

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Of all the supporting atresses i have seen, i would rank it in that way:

1. Patricia Collinge in „THE LITTLE FOXES“ (USA)
2. Simone Simon in „THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER“ (USA)
3. Ona Munson in „THE SHANGHAI GESTURE“ (USA) 
4. Marjorie Rambeau in „TOBACCO ROAD“ (USA)
5. Marie Lohr in „MAJOR BARBARA“ (Great Britain) 

6. Beulah Bondi in „PENNY SERENADE“ (USA)
7. Theresa Harris in „THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS“ (USA)
8. Teresa Wright in „THE LITTLE FOXES“ (USA)
9. Dorothy Comingore in „CITIZEN KANE“ (USA)
10. Gladys Cooper in „THAT HAMILTON WOMAN“ (Great Britain) 

11. Ingrid Bergman in „DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE“ (USA)
12. Agnes Moorehead in „CITIZEN KANE“ (USA)
13. Ayako Katsuragi in „TODAKE NO KYODAI“ (Japan)
14. Isobel Elsom in „LADIES IN RETIREMENT“ (USA)
15. Paulette Goddard in „HOLD BACK THE DAWN“ (USA)

16. Ada Dondini in „PICCOLO MONDO ANTICO“ (Italy)
17. Mieko Takamine in „GENROKU CHÛSHINGURA“ (Japan)
18. Lee Patrick in „THE MALTESE FALCON“ (USA)
19. Mary Astor in „THE GREAT LIE“ (USA)
20. Elsa Lanchester in „LADIES IN RETIREMENT“ (USA)

21. Rita Hayworth in „BLOOD AND SAND“ (USA)
22. Héléna Manson in „L'ASSASSINAT DU PÈRE NOËL“ (France)
23. Diana Wynyard in „KIPPS“ (Great Britain)
24. Maria Ouspenskaya in „THE WOLF MAN“ (USA)
25. Marjorie Main in „A WOMAN'S FACE“ (USA)

26. Edith Barrett in „LADIES IN RETIREMENT“ (USA)
27. Marie-Hélène Dasté in „L'ASSASSINAT DU PÈRE NOËL“ (France)
28. Sara Allgood in „HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY“ (USA)
29. Ruth Hussey in „H. M. PULHAM, ESQ.“ (USA)
30. Veronica Lake in „I WANTED WINGS“ (USA)

31. Shizue Yamagishi in „GENROKU CHÛSHINGURA“ (Japan)
32. Sara Allgood in „THAT HAMILTON WOMAN“ (Great Britain)
33. Mitsuko Yoshikawa in „TODAKE NO KYODAI“ (Japan)
34. Mitsuko Miura in „GENROKU CHÛSHINGURA“ (Japan)
35. Kuniko Miyake in „TODAKE NO KYODAI“ (Japan)

36. Phyllis Calvert in „KIPPS“ (Great Britain)
37. Anna Magnani in „TERESA VENERDÌ“ (Italy)
38. Susan Hayward in „AMONG THE LIVING“ (USA)
39. Martha Raye in „HELLZAPOPPIN“ (USA)
40. Yuiko Nomura in „MIKAHERI NO TOU“(Japan)

41. Hiroko Kawasaki in „KANZASHI“ (Japan)

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthomas

Thomas - IMPRESSIVE. that's a lot of ladies to consider.

May 31, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I am a big cheater!

I am so bowled over by Thomas I can barely speak. But:

Comingore would definitely be in the conversation for my Supporting Actress ballot, too. I should have mentioned her.

I have a weird relationship to The Maltese Falcon: it puts me to sleep. Every time. I always make it about 15 minutes in. The one time I made it through, I did think it was great, though maybe not as great as its reputation had led me to believe. But that was a while ago. Anyway, can't speak to any of the women in it because it's been so long, though I do think of Astor as a lead (I imagine category confusion might have helped to explain her nomination and win for The Great Lie instead).

Not too huge a fan of High Sierra myself, but I agree in general about Lupino. My favorite of her performances is in The Man I Love, but I haven't seen Ladies in Retirement. Getting on that!

Thanks, everyone for playing.

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

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