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Meet the Panelists for 1948's Smackdown

The next supporting actress smackdown is just one week away. UPDATE 06/28: HERE IT IS The panelists are watching John Huston's Key Largo, the immigrant drama I Remember Mama, and best picture contenders Johnny Belinda and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. 

Here's a little bit about our panel to prep you for our conversation as they finish up their screenings...

First Timers

ABDI NAZEMIAN (Screenwriter / Novelist)
Abdi Nazemian is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Beautiful Girl, Celeste in the City, and the short film Revolution. His first novel The Walk-In Closet recently received the Lambda Literary Award for Best Debut. He and his children live in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @Abdaddy.

What do you cherish about 1948?

In my 1948 fantasy, I am dancing at the Mocambo with Rita Hayworth to Ella Fitzgerald's How High the Moon, then going home to my private screening room to watch Ava Gardner in One Touch of Venus before retiring to bed (next to Gary Cooper, obviously) to read Truman Capote's debut novel on my Kindle. Wait, what year is it?".


A librarian and professional film obsessive living in Providence, Catherine is best known for her in-depth Top Ten By Year project which can be found at her site Cinema Enthusiast (active since 2010). Contributor to Criterion Cast & Verite Magazine. Idols include Louise Brooks, Leonard Cohen, Joanna Newsom, Jim Henson, Isabelle Huppert, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, and drag queens. 
[Follow Catherine on Twitter

What do you cherish about 1948?

To take the minute approach; little Bobby Henrey adorably saying 'Baines' and 'MacGregor' over and over in The Fallen Idol; varying degrees of homoeroticism in Rope and Red River; Joan Bennett narrating in the Freudian-laced Gothic melodrama Secret Beyond the Door... ("this is no time for me to talk of danger; this is my wedding day"); Laurence Olivier making a hot blonde Hamlet. And most of all, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Max Ophüls's unparalleled story of unrequited love, in which Joan Fontaine's Lisa reflects on her life through the romanticized facade of fate.'

Returning Panelists

JOE REID (Freelance)
Joe Reid never went to film school, unless you count the film school of hard knocks, which he also didn't go to. That hasn't stopped him from writing about movies (and TV, but don't think less of him) for places like The AtlanticGrantlandSlate, and more. One day, he'll have written about his love for The HoursGo, and Mermaids enough that he can finally close his laptop, satisfied that his work is done. You can experience the best (and worst) of him via his Twitter. 

What do you cherish about 1948?

1948 brings back so many memories; the Marshall Plan, the London Olympics, the Alger Hiss hearings, the Costa Rican Civil War. What a time to be alive. Or so I've heard. In reality, it would be one more year before my father was born, and while if I ever have a kid, I'll be certain to make sure he watches Kramer vs. Kramer, the shameful reality is that before this Smackdown, I'd only seen one film released in 1948. Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. It's too bad that one isn't reflected in the Oscar nominations of 1948, but part of the reason I wanted to participate in this particular year was to beef up my 1940s film vocabulary. Maybe I can move on from Olivier's Hamlet to Welles' Macbeth....


TIM ROBEY (Film Critic)
Tim Robey has been reviewing films for the Daily Telegraph since 2000, alongside a few interviews, book reviews, and more or less whatever else they throw at him. He turns up periodically on Radio 4's The Film Programme and Front Row, Monocle FM radio, and BBC Film Twenty-Whatever, as long as he has a new jacket to wear on it. His writing is mostly here. His recommendations series is here. A picture of a half-grown labrador squishing a cat is here
Follow him on Twitter] 

What do you cherish about 1948?

1948 is the year my mum, Wendy, was born, so I'm trying to imagine her early years in filmgoing and immediately skipping a decade. She told me once she used to be a great fan of Lee Remick, which makes sense, as this is ten years before her big breaks in movies; ditto James Garner, a favourite of her late sister Jill. They would have been right there for Mary Poppins and Darling and The Graduate, if they weren't out rocking the new Dusty Springfield look, with a strict curfew from my grandfather. I can't imagine them having an iota of time for Star Wars, the year before I was born – mum's always been allergic to science-fiction films, horror, or anything not set in a plausible version of the real world. These days, if we go to films together, it'll be for Milk, or a Christmas screener-viewing of Philomena. I think she started to watch Under the Skin on a holiday flight and practically had to call the attendants to come and switch it off. Here's to mum and our barely-overlapping movie tastes! Love her loads.


And your host...

Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but mostly blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner & Michelle Pfeiffer. Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What do you cherish about 1948?

True fact: I cannot live without Montgomery Clift in Red River. I did not exist before seeing it. Or, rather, him. '48 also marks the technicolor reunion of my two favorite musical stars (Judy Garland and Gene Kelly) in The Pirate. Finally, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and Vittoria de Sica's The Bicycle Thief were important discoveries on VHS when I was trying to learn about the movies as a teen cinephile. And now a shameful confession: I chose this year because it's the only one we've ever done, to my recollection, from which I'd previously seen none of the movies involved. No, not even Hamlet. Not sure how that happened but now my shame is public!

What does 1948 mean to you dear readers?

 Perhaps you have a favorite film or a movie you are ashamed to say you've never seen?



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Reader Comments (17)

I love 40's cinema. It's probably my favorite era of film. 1948 had many wonderful films, however only one of the five involved in the Smackdown would make my top ten for the year and only two of the performances are ones I think are nomination worthy although all the actresses involved are very talented it's just their roles don't offer them much in the way of opportunity.

These are my top 10 favorites from '48 more or less in order:

Romance on the High Seas
The Velvet Touch-This one is a particular favorite. A tidy murder mystery with Rosalind Russell .. and Claire Trevor (and their New Look wardrobes) as Broadway actresses and .. Sydney Greenstreet as the investigating officer.
State of the Union
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Key Largo
June Bride
Unfaithfully Yours
Road House
Letter from an Unknown Woman

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I saw "I Remember Mama" recently. I should have been watching the supporting actresses carefully, but how could I when Irene Dunne is the one true star of that movie.

I like Claire Trevor in "Key Largo," but my memory of that is a little hazier. I'm guessing her boozy singing scene won her the Oscar.

I haven't seen Lawrence Olivier's "Hamlet," but I have seen three other versions and it's not even close to my favorite Shakespeare play so it's hard to work up enthusiasm for it.

And Agnes Moorehead is always good. I'm excited for the smackdown.

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercash

1948: Montgomery Clift.......................
Laurence Olivier's Hamlet; Marlon Brando performing on Broadway in Streetcar; Judy Garland singing "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" (Easter Parade); the first Kinsey Report published; Kiss Me Kate Broadway premiere; Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; Rope; The Snake Pit...

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Nathaniel, I love Red River and Clift in it too. Was that an important moment for you just in terms of your love of film or in terms of your sexuality? For me it was a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJase

1948 means absolutely nothing to me. I don't think I've seen any film from this year.

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Finally completed watching ALL the Best Supporting Actress nominees 1936-2014.

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

And I also must mention Miss What's My Line herself, Arlene Francis. Fine turn in All My Sons. Should have been in there.

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Looking forward to it!

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

1948 is all about Red River for me. Well acted, directed, and super gay. Is Monty the most stylish cowboy ever? I dare say yes. He doesn't look like he could kill anyone, unless he could manage to sex them to death. All the great elements aside, what really cemented my love for the movie is the completely ridiculous ending. It's completely tone deaf to the rest of the movie. It disapates the genuine tension that's been built up, and basically renders the entire plot moot. But it works, somehow. I guess that's mostly due to Joanne Dru managing to sell, but it's still pretty dumb (even if it somehow works).

June 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVal

I've seen all of these! Trevor should take it by a mile, the Oscars really did right by honoring that character actress for a superlative example of what was always so great: comedy with ample amounts of despair threatening to overtake at any moment. Almost like a Catherine O'Hara!

The I REMEMBER MAMA ladies would be my next two preferences, Ellen Corby's adorable and Barbara Bel Geddes makes her familiar frame narrative role far more emotional than it could have been.

June 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

Argh, would so love to join this cause it's happening right on my birthday but I can't find a copy of I Remember Mama anywhere! ;_;

June 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

Santy - you can still vote on the others. :) the ballots are weighted so it doesn't hurt the films with fewer votes.

June 22, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I like Joel6's top 10 list: shout out for including Romance on the High Seas, featuring a very confident debut by Doris Day and featuring the always perfect Jack Carson and Janis Paige. Road House is an underrated Noir; Unfaithfully Yours is one of the best black comedies.

Other movies I love from this year are:
Raw Deal - a great poverty-row Noir with 2 very interesting female characters
Summer Holiday- a beautiful, pensive MGM musical
The Treasure of Sierra Madre- Bogie at his most hard-bitten in an uncompromising film
The Pirate- A great MGM musical satire romp
Act of Violence- morally ambiguous heroes and villains

Here would be my picks for supporting Actresses (based off of what I've seen)

Barbara Lawrence - Unfaithfully Yours
Claire Trevor – Key Largo
Mary Astor – Act of Violence
Janet Leigh - Act of Violence

Alt. Elsa Lanchester - The Big Clock
Rita Johnson - The Big Clock
Marilyn Maxwell – Summer Holiday

June 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Tawfik

Good year with three films especially hitting greatness for me: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Rope and Red River. Each so different and each so wonderful. Sierra Madre is one of the best explorations of madness in men, Rope one of the most interesting murder mysteries and Red River the western that is probably the most complementary oft the entire genre. Of the nominees for supporting actress that year only Simmons and Trevor are nominees I feel were deserving. Other ladies I think deserved consideration were Beatrice Pearson (Force of Evil), Mady Christians (All My Sons) & Joanne Dru (Red River).

1948's version of Hamlet is my personal favourite because Olivier is the perfect Hamlet and really in adapting the text he made this play much more fascinating then it reads on the page to me.

June 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

How about a Tim's Toon taking a look at 1948's Wet Blanket Policy, the only animated short film to get a nomination for Best Original Song?

June 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterajnrules

A wonderful year. Favorites are Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Red River, The Snake Pit and Letter From an Unknown Woman. But my No. 1 pick is Portrait of Jennie, a haunting ghost story one critic called probably the most romantic movie ever made. Yep.

Jennifer Jones. Joseph Cotten. David Selznick. Debussy.


June 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Letter From an Unknown Woman. Joan Fontaine & Louis Jourdan in turn of the century Vienna, with classical music. Brilliantly directed by Max Ophuls. Seen it a dozen times. Sumptuous!

August 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames

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