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.
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. Hyde, Ziegfeld 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.
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.
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.
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.