You've met the panelists and this Monday (June 30th) the Smackdown arrives. So, let's meet the characters we'll be discussing.
As is our Smackdown tradition we begin by showing you how the performances begin. Do their introductions scream "shower me with gold statues!"? Do the filmmakers prepare us for what's ahead? Here's how the five nominees we'll be discussing are introduced (in the order of how quickly they arrive in their movies). Do any of these introductions make you want to see the movie?
7 minutes in. Meet "Judith Fellowes" (Grayson Hall in The Night of the Iguana)
After a prologue where Dr Shannon (Richard Burton) appears to have some sort of loss of faith mental breakdown in a church where he preaches, we see that he's now giving tours of Mexico. Enter Judith Fellowes with a gaggle of old women, immediately questioning his fees. Her gaze is direct (he doesn't return it) and they enter the bus where she leads her women in a sing-along. Dr Shannon doesn't appear to like her. At all. More friction is surely ahead on their travels.
The Lions are calling for a Christian."
9½ minutes in. Meet "Mrs. St. Maugham" (Dame Edith Evans in The Chalk Garden)
The Chalk Garden makes by far the biggest deal of its venerated supporting actress introduction. We literally spend the first long scene of the movie waiting for Dame Edith to appear. Our protagonist Miss Madrigal (Deborah Kerr) has arrived to Mrs St Maugham's enormous home to be interviewed for a governess position to her tempestuous granddaughter (Hayley Mills). Regarding the plot setup - StinkyLulu aptly tweeted...
Anyway... The bell offscreen rings and the butler says to Miss Madrigal "The lions are calling for a Christian" (funny). Cut to: Mrs. St. Maugham writing at her desk, pretending to be oblivious/surprised that someone has entered her chamber even though she rang the bell for them. The immediate impression: She likes to rigidly control every situation, she thinks quite highly of herself, and she's probably as difficult to deal with as her granddaughter.
[non subtitled shouting.]
16½ minutes in. Meet "Madame Hortense" (Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek)
The introduction of this old widowed hotelier, which only shows your hands, gives you nothing of her character or personality except perhaps "excitability". But it's already signalling her importance to the plot because the camera shifts quickly to her point of view, the first time we've gone outside the reality of the two leading men. She watches them arrive in her village through a telescope and shouts out an unsubtitled bit of dialogue to a villager below her window. We'll get a proper very lengthy introduction shortly thereafter.
Sure had yourself a good time today, didn't you Missy?
19½ minutes in. Meet "Velma Cruthers" (Agnes Moorehead, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte)
After a grisly 1920s prologue wherein teenage Charlotte's married lover is murdered with a meat cleaver (presumably by Charlotte) we jump ahead 40 years and old/crazy Charlotte (Bette Davis) is terrorizing city laborers who want to tear down her house. Cut to: Velma in the shadows of the mansion hearing the ruckus and running to the veranda. Who is this? This instant familiarity, teasing Charlotte about her temper with admonishment and comfort, signals her as the person who runs things... including Charlotte. Her outfit signals that she's the housekeeper. What's with the lurking and placating ... concern for or manipulation of her volatile employer?
Henry, what a disagreeable surprise!
1 hr and 24 minutes in. Meet "Mrs. Higgins" (Gladys Cooper, My Fair Lady)
Just after the intermission of this super-sized musical, at the glorious Ascot Gavotte setpiece, we meet Henry's mother. She's given a full star's entrance, costumed in a different color than all other woman in the scene, back to camera so she can turn into frame for her reveal. Her face immediately falls and we see where Professor Higgins got his rude streak from. Like mother, like son.