Oscar History

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Introducing Pt 2... Blair and Candy

Previously on "Introducing"Tatum, Sylvia & Madeline

It's just 3 days until the Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1973. Bless StinkyLulu for dreaming up this event years ago because it's still so fun. But first some unfinished introductions: how do Candy Clark and Linda Blair enter their movies. If you hadn't yet seen the movie would you be expecting an Oscar nomination from these first scenes? What do the scenes telegraph for first time viewing? 

Sure do love you.

Hi, Mom!

11½ minutes in. Meet "Regan" (Linda Blair in The Exorcist)
How fitting that she first appears in bed, since she'll spend the bulk of the movie in one albeit it under far more horrific circumstances than a good night's sleep. As the scene begins her mother Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) has heard noises in her Georgetown rental and checks on her daughter first. Sound asleep. But there's a telling pan left to the open window, curtains blowing, and despite the maternal warmth and blissful lack of scoring or over-done sound design at this moment (it does sound plausibly like a rat or racoon in the attic) the scene is subtly chilling. The Exorcist understands the slow build and modulation and starts pianisssimo.  Chris kisses her daughter and pulls the covers up. When we see Regan again five minutes later she's just a typical bouncy teenager who talks pretty horses and steals cookies. If you'd never heard of The Exorcist before you first saw it (fat chance) you could safely assume that both the mom and the daughter might soon be in peril, but nothing else. The Exorcist establishes home life normalcy first before demonic insanity betrays its fragility.

Babe. What a bitchin' babe!

30¾ minutes in. Meet "Debbie" (Candy Clark in American Graffiti)
American Graffiti is about four friends after high school graduation but by the half hour mark they've all split up and the film becomes four parallel films as they cruise around the strip in different cars or on foot. We meet so many characters, first spotted from car windows, including one previous blonde fantasy girl that Debbie's entrance doesn't seem major... at first. Initially Debbie is presented in completely objectified fashion as Terry (Charles Martin Smith) calls her a Babe (to himself) and hears other men cat call her. He follows her in the car and she's getting nervous in this neighborhood and walks faster. But after a minute of fruitless one-sided conversation from his car he tells her she looks like Connie Stevens. Her temperature changes and she beelines straight for him, suddenly a different person. It's a special entrance just from Clark's offkilter switch. She's the one suddenly objectifying... only its the car she's lustfully eyeing and possibly more compliments, too.

She'd get the ultimate compliment with an Oscar nomination.

Be here on Thursday afternoon when our awesome panel discusses these five nominated performances in the monthly Smackdown event. This is your last day to vote on the 1973 supporting actress shortlist by sending me heart ratings -- for only the ones you've seen -- on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being unimproveable feats of acting. (Reminder: Next month is 1989)

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Reader Comments (8)

i hardly think "charles nelson reilly" called her anything...

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbutton holed

LOL. what a weird mistake. I blame all people with three names. thanks for the point-out

July 28, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan, a great writeup. The Exorcist is one of my all-time favorites, and I never get tired of reading people's impressions of how masterfully this film is paced and mounted. Friedkin says he knew from the moment he read the book how he would make the movie, and he DID. Yay, smackdown's a comin!

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Linda Blair is excellent in The Exorcist, but I still feel that if there was ever a time to do a co-nomination for a performance, that was it. Mercedes McCambridge deserves almost equal credit for the overall effect of that role.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

I always love the performances way more after reading your writeups.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

peggy sue - i consider that a huge compliment, so thank you.

July 28, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

one of my favorite parts of the smackdown is reading everyone's opinion of the performances. Sometimes i am surprised to see how uniformly everyone sees the actor- even using the same words and phrases to describe it. I also enjoy reading it after I have seen it for myself for the first time.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom

I'm looking forward to it too, not least because I want to hear the merits of that piece of effective crap known as "The Exorcist" and the rather noxious sentimentality of "American Graffiti (i.e. boomers reclaiming their past)

July 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

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