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« Box Office Possible - Fallout | Main | Harlots (S2:E3-4) Raging and Conspiring in the Pleasure Gardens »
Sunday
Jul292018

Smackdown 1943: Gladys, Paulette, Lucille, Anne, and Katina

Presenting Oscar's Chosen Supporting Actresses of the Films of 1943.

A cruel nun, a flirtatious nurse, a gypsy rebel, a harried mother, and a wealthy hostess. It's not the elaborate start of a joke, but the nominated characters from the Best Supporting Actress race of 1943.  There was only one returning nominee (Gladys Cooper) but in the 1940s all newbie lists were common since the supporting categories had been around less than a decade! Anne Revere and Cooper would eventually become three time Supporting Actress nominees (Only 23 women in history have accomplished that feat, Octavia Spencer the most recent to join the list just last season) but for Paulette Goddard, Katina Paxinou, and Lucille Watson this was their one and only time in Oscar's golden embrace. 

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS   

Here to talk about these five nominated turns and either agree with the Academy or crown a new retrospective winner are, in alpha order: Yaseen Ali (cinephile), Kristen Lopez (critic), Rebecca Pahle (critic), Kieran Scarlett (screenwriter) and Nathaniel R (your host here at TFE). Readers (hey, that means you!!!) form the collective final panelist each month. Okay, time for the main event... 

1943
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN  

 

Gladys Cooper as "Sister Marie Therese Vauzous" in The Song of Bernadette
Synopsis: A hard-hearted nun refuses to believe that a poor girl who hasn't studied in her class has seen heavenly visions.
Stats: Then 55 yrs old, 20th film, 5th billed. 2nd of 3 nominations. 16 minutes of screen time (or 10% of the running time) 

Yaseen Ali: From my notes upon her introduction: “Her stoic delivery and precise stillness are commanding, but hopefully these pay off later?” In contrast to Bernadette’s other nay-sayers, Cooper easily cuts the most imposing figure as a gatekeeper to credibility. And while she never overplays her resentment of the girl, I did hope that this steely countenance would eventually flicker and let us in. I needn’t have worried: a medical diagnosis late into the film allows Cooper to gloriously melt into shame. This shift from tightly controlled distrust to remorseful sentimentality is a welcome release for her (and us). 

Kristen Lopez: I blame Cooper for splitting the vote leaving the film without a win at all. Cooper’s role as the nun who disbelieves Bernadette is good, but it’s not the best performance in the movie by a long shot. Cooper is the cynic, whose belief in Bernadette is the entirety of her arc, though it’s pointless in the grand scheme of the film. Cooper was a legendary performer and this plays like a “we should have nominated you already” role. 

Rebecca Pahle: Gladys Cooper sneaks into the Best Supporting Actress category with the coveted “one really good monlogue” move. Her character begins as a sort of ecclesiastical Nurse Ratchet—an eeeevil nun who doubts pure, sweet Jennifer Jones’ visions. Her redemption comes when she tearfully admits that her resentment comes from being jealous that she wasn’t the one chosen for a spiritual visitation. Honestly, kudos for pulling focus from the luminous Jennifer Jones for about 90 seconds. That’s worthy of an Oscar nomination. 

Kieran Scarlett: She fires off both some great one-liners and some long-winded verbal undressings that are fun to watch. One can't help but laugh as Cooper puts a button of “good night” at the end of a long diatribe where she accuses Bernadette of exposing her soul to evil. And even when she eventually comes to empathize with Bernadette's circumstances, Cooper doesn't overplay the emotional evolution. However, it still ends up feeling like serviceable, but not particularly interesting or deep work. ♥♥

Nathaniel RThe Oscars weren't televised until the 1950s so the idea of the "Oscar clip," as selling point is younger than the awards themselves. That said, her 'clip,' is obvious and all it takes to define a supporting performance is one expertly acted scene. Hers is a real whammy as Sister Vazous finally reveals her own sadomasochistic hand. That monologue allows Cooper to dig up this nun's self inflicted miserabilism, her eyes 'burning like the fires of hell,' and explain her purposeful cruelty. I went from hating the otherwise one-note performance to respecting it, with this one magnificent chord. Is that too generous? Better to err on the side of generosity than suffer guilt for the lack of it a la Sister Vauzous.  

Reader Write-Ins: "She was so skilled at playing characters we initially dislike, but in the end their acknowledgement of their own failures are so powerful we can relate to them. " - James (Reader average: ¼)

Actress earns 16¼  ❤s 


 

Paulette Goddard as "Lieutenant Joan O'Doul" in Proudly We Hail
Synopsis: A sassy popular nurse finds enormous reserves of stamina and strength in a war zone. She also finds love with a soldier despite, uh, multiple fiancees back home. 
Stats: Then 33 yrs old, 19th film, 2nd billed. Her 1st and only nomination. 44 minutes of screentime (or 35% of the running time) 

Yaseen Ali: Goddard’s gifts for physical comedy and facial wizardry register instantly – she’s mesmerizing as she stumbles into one faux pas after another, though always landing gamely on her feet. My favourite moment comes during a seemingly innocuous card game: when a suitor makes his case, she balances amusement and indifference, and then exits in a small huff when he receives more attention from her fellow players… but partly because she’s been charmed, too. Despite the episodic nature of the film, Goddard sells the character’s carefree, flirtatious nature without needing to steep her in caricature. Moreover, the offering of her love letters to the doomed men in the infirmary as reading material packs a wallop.

Kristen Lopez: I’m biased about this movie in general. It should have been Veronica Lake who was nominated, dammit! Goddard is actually fantastic in the role as the feisty nurse who doesn’t want to fall in love, but does anyway. Goddard had a long road in Hollywood, and like other performers here it seems they had to give her a nomination at some point. It helped that her character is so patriotic. She’s a ball of fun in an otherwise dour feature. 

Rebecca Pahle: Apologies to Paulette, but this nomination should have gone to Veronica Lake. Lake has far less screentime—spoiler alert, she dies fairly early in the film—but her performance is more interesting and has more impact, and her character arc is more well-defined. Goddard's peformance provides a bit of lightness to this otherwise dour war drama, and she's an engaging screen presence, providing a necessary counterpart to Claudette Colbert's more downbeat character. Still, it's not a particularly original character, and her performance, though serviceable, does nothing unexpected to make it stand out. ♥♥

Kieran Scarlett: Goddard definitely has an advantage over her co-nominees in that she almost feels like a co-lead, particularly during the ensemble film's first half. There's a cumulative effect to Goddard's work in this admittedly shapeless outing. She's a winning presence and seems to have actual ideas about her character beyond what's on the page. I love the way she plays off Veronica Lake in the first half, who probably would have been the nominee were this made today (it never would be). The film's episodic nature doesn't exactly give her a cohesive arc to convey, but it's a charming turn

Nathaniel RThough her first real scene is presented as nervous comedy, there's something quite self-possessed and physically expressive about this performance that I really responded to; Lt. O'Doul can take care of herself, however many men are offering to do that for her. This would be an easy character to perform too broadly or judge, but Goddard takes O'Doul's frivolity seriously -- Isn't that one of the things we're fighting for? What sealed the deal for me was that backward wave, as she leaves a room of wounded, probably doomed, soldiers behind. Moving. Specific. Just right. 

Reader Write-Ins: "Goddard’s comic sensibilities sometimes made me forget what kind of film I was watching.  (What kind of film was I watching?)  But it’s hard not to acknowledge the ease of her charisma and her ability to move beyond the role’s limp call for a shallow, flighty flirt who only needs to find the Right Guy.  Smart, magnetic, funny, and an immediate standout. " - Manuel (Reader average: )

Actress earns 19  ❤s 

 

 

Katina Paxinou as "Pilar" in For Whom the Bell Tolls
Synopsis: A strong-willed gypsy woman leads a pack of guerilla fighters, when her treacherous man isn't up to the task. She teams up with an American soldier on an operation to blow up a bridge.
Stats: Then 43 yrs old, debut film, 10th billed (but with an "and introducing..." tag to set her apart). First and only nomination.  49 minutes of screen time (or 29% of running time). 

Yaseen AliIt’s a small miracle that this gigantic black hole of a film doesn’t swallow up Paxinou’s Pilar along with all its other victims. While we are ostensibly meant to swoon at Cooper and Bergman’s ill-fated romance, Paxinou serves all the political and emotional stakes here. And though the shouting matches between Pilar and her faded glory husband might seem meaty on paper, her naked jealousy of Bergman’s Maria is the showstopper. As she takes delight in knowing Maria will eventually age like her, it’s a moment of epiphany that spurs her on. Not to mention: that boisterous laugh channels much-needed life into this otherwise total bore of a picture

Kristen Lopez: I tried to understand why THIS was the performance that won and I just don’t see it. Paxinou is definitely feisty, and in 1944 when women were dying in the war effort, her character is willing to sacrifice herself for a cause. But it’s a loud, garish performance - not helped by the makeup used to darken the Greek-born Paxinou up. It’s a showy “newcomer” win that didn’t work for me. 

Rebecca Pahle: It takes real talent to make Gary Cooper look like a chump. That’s just what Katina Paxinou does here. As one of the band of revolutionaries Cooper’s character enlists to blow a bridge in Civil War-era Spain, Paxinou brings a level of energy to For Whom the Bell Tolls that makes everyone else look positively wooden. Her performance is angry in a way that sets it apart from her more staid Oscar competitors. For Whom the Bell Tolls comes to life every time she’s onscreen. ♥♥

Kieran Scarlett: Pilar feels like the spiritual ancestor to Zellweger's Ruby Thewes—a plucky, rough-around-the-edges supporting player designed to liven up a ponderous war epic. And similarly, the film housing her performance does her few favors and an Oscar is overstating the case. There is a sly, almost playful quality to this performance that I admire—as though Paxinou is aware of what a chore this movie is and she's mercifully trying to give the viewers something interesting to grasp onto. But, she ultimately can't overcome the film's limitations, both in terms of its narrative potency and how it narrowly envisions her character. ♥♥

Nathaniel R: You can tell she's a stage giant making the jump to screen from how broadly she leans into cartoonishly expressive faces and physical posturing. SO BIG! On the other hand, the film badly needs her feral conviction and performative energy and her heightened acting is a good fit for the character. Plus, I believed her in the action sequences that she knew her way around guns and grenades. An uneven performance but the highs are high. 

Reader Write-Ins: "It's hard to believe this was her film debut as she overpowers the more timid Bergman. A strong performance from the way she hunches her body to the way she takes a drag from a cigarette." - Eoin (Reader average: ½)

Actress earns 17½  ❤s 

 

 

Anne Revere as "Louise Soubirous" in The Song of Bernadette
Synopsis: The mother of a poverty-stricken family is horrified but then fiercely loyal when her daughter claims to have seen a heavenly vision.
Stats: Then 40 yrs old, 15th film, 6th billed1st of 3 nominations. 20½ 
minutes of screentime (or 13% of running time.)

Yaseen Ali: Louise’s brutal, violent interactions with her children make a lasting impression in this sleepy affair… but that relentless exasperation doesn’t leave her with anywhere else to go. There are just as many moments where she simply throws up her hands and recites a line about how much there is to do around the house. Revere has an electric outburst midway through where she mourns a burnt dinner and strikes Bernadette. Past the hour mark, she’s largely relegated to the background (and disappointingly conflated with her daughter’s anonymous crowd of spellbound admirers). 

Kristen Lopez: This is the performance that should have won, hands down. Revere’s character is heartfelt, beautifully understated, and quiet. In a movie about the power of faith, Revere’s character exudes that in every scene without saying a word; she shows the faith of love for her children, especially her tormented daughter, Bernadette. It’s a performance that epitomizes support as she’s there for the main character. Every scene Revere has is lovely and I think the Academy failed to see that. 

Rebecca Pahle: I mean….. sure? Anne Revere plays Bernadette’s mother, at turns supportive of her child and sort of gruffly wishing she’d just get over it and stop causing their family so much drama. It’s a semi-understated performance in a very not understated movie—has Vincent Price, playing the Imperial Prosecutor, ever been in an understated movie?—and as such it doesn’t do much. Her chemistry with Jones is good. It’s a pretty boring role.

Kieran Scarlett: Mother characters and the Supporting Actress category often go hand-in-hand. Like many mother roles before and after, this gives Revere a lot of opportunities for scenery chewing as she expresses both frustration with and protectiveness of her embattled daughter. It's not the most unique character arc or characterization and she often dips into melodrama, which feels unavoidable given the nature of the film. However, in quieter moments—like comforting a weeping Bernadette in the middle of the night—we see glimpses of a subtle warmth that might have been more foregrounded in more emotionally complicated film. She doesn't reach greatness, but she's fine. 

Nathaniel R: Immediately grounding, doing more than the rest to sell years of desperate poverty with her harried business and overall fussing. Her quick temper and anger at Bernadette's imagination - forbidding her to pursue the visions - feels authentic and earned. But once Louise loses her resolve and chooses loyalty over discipline, the performance has literally nowhere else to go. She'll just be there to the side of the frame, fretting while vaguely admiring her stubborn daughter. You can count on her for that. 

Reader Write-Ins: "She has so much conviction protecting her daughter from the town’s ridicule.  Her face says so much without saying a word." - Tom F. (Reader average: ♥♥½)

Actress earns 15½  ❤s 

 

 

Lucille Watson as "Fannie Farrelly" in Watch on the Rhine
Synopsis: The generous grandmother of a wealthy family welcomes her daughter and son-in-law into her home after a long absence. Her sheltered American life is in for a quick awakening as they've been anti-fascists fighting Nazis all over Europe.
Stats: Then 64 yrs old, 17th film, 4th billed. 1st and only nomination. 46 minutes of screentime (or 40% of the running time).

Yaseen Ali: Minutes in, Watson doesn't instil much confidence; preparing the household for visitors, she barrels through each line with nary a beat. Whether shouting at the beleaguered help or calling herself dried cork, I feared the performance would soon stagnate. But at a key reveal midway through, Watson’s Fanny is rendered near speechless. The furrowing of her brow and sombre reactions etch the inner crumbling of a matriarch, who, for the first time, is powerless to protect her family from certain downfall. Though the "magnolias" line is canon, a full extra star for how she draws her hand away from an offering of comfort from Paul Lukas – not so much a rejection, but a stunned realization of her complicity in a third-act twist. 

Kristen Lopez: Bette Davis has the supporting role in this, but it’s just not true because she overshadows everyone in this movie. Watson is a grand dame who is fun to watch, and her transformation towards realizing what is happening in Europe is beautifully conveyed. But it’s a performance that’s just there to be “supportive.” There’s little color to it because the other characters are worth watching. It seems like Watson was just brought along for the ride considering Paul Lukas’ nomination. 

Rebecca Pahle: Every time I try to think about this movie, I forget A) what the title is and B) who was nominated for it… which tells you just about all you need to know. Coming out as it did in the middle of World War II, it’s easy to see why its message was powerful at the time. Now it just comes across as snoozy and over-the-top. Her performance is workmanlike--competent, but more or less unmemorable. There are no little nuances that make you want to know more about this character. I genuinely don’t get why she got a nomination. 

Kieran Scarlett: Of all the performances nominated, this one surprised me the most in that it started off rote. I felt very convinced in the film's early moments that all we were getting was the eloquently sharp-tongued grandmother archetype—one whose well-constructed shade purposely doesn't fully register until moments after she's majestically glided out of the room. But, she manages to organically build in true maternal chemistry with Bette Davis' and a well-conveyed ethical compass that doesn't feel overly moralizing. It's solid, entertaining and funny work.  

Nathaniel R: Though Watson doesn't convince me that her character was once a great desired beauty, despite frequent references to her glory years, she ably hits other details the screenplay suggests about her, especially the affectionate/annoyed responses of her family. This is a simplistic bossy matriarch role but I dug that Watson knew when to pull back even though Fanny never does. Note the way she goes quieter / stiller when she's having a moment where she's really taking in a conversation or someone's character rather than talking at them. She's amusing but I wish there was more shading, especially given all that camera time, and I wish there was more differentiation in her comic line readings.  

Reader Write-Ins: "Her pleasantly bossy and perky aristocrat is a joy to watch. But then the drama kicks in and she handles it by just... frowning a bit." - Jacob (Reader average: ♥♥¾)

Actress earns 13¾  ❤s 

 

Katina Paxinou took the Oscar for the year's most popular film 
but in a tight race with split opinions and limited enthusiasm...
Paulette Goddard surprises, winning the Smackdown!

 

 

We hope you enjoyed this event.

Want more? Listen to the Podcast conversation.

Previous Smackdowns: 1941, 194419481952, 1954, 196319641968, 19701973, 197719791980, 1984, 19851989, 199419952003, 2016, and 2017 (prior to those 30+ Smackdowns were hosted @ StinkyLulu's old site)

NEXT UP? 1972 on August 26th. So watch those five movies (Butterflies are Free, The Heartbreak Kid, Fat City, Pete n' Tillie, and The Poseidon Adventure) and join us for the discussion at the end of the month. 

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Reader Comments (37)

Yay for Goddard! Easily my favorite. And now I'll pretend she won this for Modern Times and The Great Dictator.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

“limited enthusiasm” is right

the smackdowners deserve an award themselves for slogging their way through these films/performances


[we sorely could’ve used professor nick this time around]

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

This was truly a struggle of a lineup for me even if I ended up finding one positive thing which was another great Veronica Lake performance. If I were scorer from the 1943 films I’ve seen I would’ve nominated:

Jean Brooks, The Seventh Victim
Patricia Collinge, Shadow of a Doubt
Lena Horne, Cabin in the Sky
Veronica Lake, So Proudly We Hail!
Anna Svierkier, Day of Wrath

Excited for 72 as I’ve only seen two features but the winner Hecksrt was a great choice I think many believe.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

I knew Paulette Goddard would win. Like Angela Lansbury in 1944. Isn't wonderful that movies like For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Song of Bernadette had become what we call today blockbusters? This must be true because Hollywood kept on doing this kind of film till the "new Hollywood" in the 1970s. The reaction of today moviegoers to this (what the h-!?) is always amusing. And how nice when the dedicated panelists disagree. This session of this blog - a recent discovery, the best thing happening to me in a leisure time - is becoming one of my favorites.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames Gunn

Goddard was my top pick as well, although I couldn't make myself finish "For Whom The Bell Etcetera" so my ballot was even more limited. Goddard was immensely appealing, and the role itself surprised me. I was expecting a Judy Benjamin arc, but she was actually pretty competent right from the start! She becomes more focused on duty as the film progresses but they also seem willing to let her personality coexist with all that, and I don't feel she was ever shamed for her past. It was a refreshing performance with unexpected shading.

I would also award Lucille Watson added difficulty points for managing to act charmed by those insufferable grandchildren. Yeesh.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

I've seen none of these movies and have no immediate plans to do so, but I'm totally glad Paulette Goddard won the Smackdown. I've always had a little gayboy crush on her and wonder why she wasn't a bigger star in her day. She was so beautiful, vivacious and alive on screen.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Though she wouldn't have been my choice it would have been nice to see the underrated Paulette Goddard win the prize so I'm glad she came out on top here. Interesting to see a race where there was really no definite favorite and all were duking it out until the reveal.

My ballot:

Let me start off by saying I think both Anne Revere and Gladys Cooper were great actresses but for the life of me I don’t understand either’s nomination. It pains me to give them such low marks but their roles don’t rate better. Quite frankly I found Blanche Yurka’s small vignette as Aunt Bernarde more varied and interesting than either of these two, not that I’d nominate her either.

Gladys Cooper-Song of Bernadette-Gladys’s role allows for slightly more variety than Anne Revere’s but she is hindered by necessity with a voluminous costume allowing only her face to tell us about her character. Again like Revere for most of her screen time she is saddled with only one expression, sour bitterness, but at least she is able to use her eyes to convey her internal struggle. She uses them powerfully a time or two but the role is so small it doesn’t provide her with much opportunity. The film was an enormous hit and apparently then as now tagalong nominations were easily given. 2 hearts.

Paulette Goddard-So Proudly We Hail-Her film is heavy going and she is obviously there to provide some humor as well as glamour and flirtatiousness. On those grounds she performs well but it’s a very actressy performance not among Paulette’s best (Kitty, Modern Times, Hold Back the Dawn etc.). She’s compassionate but glib and even in her most tense moments I never felt a great deal of depth of feeling. As with Song of Bernadette I felt there was a stronger candidate for a nomination among the actresses. Veronica Lake made a more powerful impact in her brief screen time than any of the other performers. 2 ½ hearts.

Katina Paxinou-For Whom the Bells Tolls-Though the film surrounding her is a labored overlong bore Paxinou is vivid, impassioned and alive as freedom fighter Pilar. She employs her entire physicality to convey Pilar’s zest for life and impatience with anything or anyone who impedes her from doing what she feels needs to be done. 3 ½ hearts.

Anne Revere-Song of Bernadette-Is a consistently benign expression with a momentary collapse into tears great acting worthy of an Oscar nomination? I don’t think so. A life of patient forbearance is etched across Revere’s face but it doesn’t impart much into the character. 1 ½ hearts.

Lucile Watson-Watch on the Rhine-Watson’s Fanny Farrelly is a sheltered but commanding dynamo when we meet her, in charge of her world and sure of the rightness of her decisions for herself and everyone around her. But as the film progresses and she’s “shaken out of the magnolias” in small increments the actress is always careful never to get ahead of her character in her reactions or body language. She guides us though Fanny’s enlightenment from pampered doyenne to shaken but resolute participant in the struggle her family is facing with surety. 4 ½ hearts.

If I’d had my way the ballot would have run like this:

Anne Baxter-Five Graves to Cairo
Jane Darwell-The Ox-Bow Incident
Veronica Lake-So Proudly We Hail
Gene Tierney-Heaven Can Wait (though she skirts lead in which case it would be Patricia Collinge in Shadow of a Doubt)
Lucile Watson-Watch on the Rhine-Winner

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

So the one performance I skipped was the best performance?!

Of the other four, I thought Paxinou was probably the correct winner - Gladys Cooper was the only other really memorable performance for me. The other two were fine, but they basically faded into their respective films.

Oh well, I am really looking forward to next month. I have not seen any of the films, but several of them have been on my watchlist.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

James -- how did you find the site? I like to know how people discover it these days with all the noise on the internet. It used to be so much easier for people when there were fewer sites doing oscar stuff :)

joel - i'll have to check some of those out. I haven't seen enough 1943 films to have a real ballot yet but I'd definitely include Goddard, Collinge, and maybe even Paxinou if the competition isn't tough

suzanne -- from next month i've only seen The Poseidon adventure so i'm excited for all the fresh films.

par -- trust that the running times were a trial (although i had no problems with So Proudly We Hail which I actually liked.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

1983 would be a good lineup to feature. Alfre Woodard's lone Oscar nod and a never would happen today nomination and win for Linda Hunt.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

/3rtful - 1983 was already done at Stinkylulu's with a huge panel. a tie between Cher & Linda Hunt.

July 29, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My two cents...

Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail! (four hearts)

Much like the other Claudette Colbert WWII soap, Since You Went Away, I have quite the soft spot for this film. With that said, much I wholeheartedly support her nomination, I'm a bit surprised the Academy singled out Goddard over Colbert and especially Veronica Lake, who has the heavy, heartbreaking arc in the picture. Goddard is fabulous but spends most of the proceedings flirting with all of the troops, until she finally falls head over heels for one of them. It's an irresistibly sexy performance, if one I'm amazed voters went for.

Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls (three hearts)

Early on in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Paxinou's Pilar is described as a larger-than-life force of nature, setting expectations sky-high for her arrival. When she does finally enter the picture, Paxinou more than delivers, at once painting that domineering, seemingly unconquerable figure promised to us but also a woman of great humility. So, it's kind of a shame Paxinou is 1) pushed off to the sidelines for most of the last 90 minutes and 2) stuck in a bloated film that seems destined to never end.

Lucille Watson, Watch on the Rhine (three hearts)

I'm that one film buff in existence who believes Watch on the Rhine deserved Best Picture over Casablanca. With that said, Watson isn't really one of the more memorable parts of the picture. She's at her best when chowing down on Dashiell Hammett's deliciously sly dialogue but less compelling when we're shown Fanny's softer side. Not that Bette Davis ever would have allowed herself to be campaigned here but, given her surprisingly modest screen time, I would actually make the case for Davis deserving this nomination.

Gladys Cooper, The Song of Bernadette (three hearts)

If there aren't many surprises to be found in Cooper's performance today - how many times in cinema have we seen the crusty mother superior evolve and ultimately end up with a heart of gold - she's still plenty watchable and outperforms Jennifer Jones with ease. It's not, however, a scene-stealing turn on the level of Now, Voyager from the year prior.

Anne Revere, The Song of Bernadette (two hearts)

This is virtually the same performance she delivers in National Velvet, which inexplicably landed her the Oscar two years later - warm and unaffected but otherwise not noteworthy in the slightest. She disappears into the scenery.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

BTW, totally excited for the 1972 Smackdown next month: I've seen all of the films, and I'm in the midst of rewatching each of them to refresh my memory. They're all good (or at least interesting enough), and the nominated performances are a varied lot w/o any outright bewildering choices amongst them. All-in-all, a fascinating crop, and I'm super-curious to see who the panelists will choose as their rightful winner.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Re 1983 - I actually just rewatched The Year of Living Dangerously (it is a favorite of mine), and while Linda Hunt would never be cast today, it is amazing how convincing she is in that part. If I didn't know, I never would have guessed a Caucasian woman were playing Billy Kwan. But of course I love Cher in Silkwood as well.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

My take-aways on this Smackdown:

Gladys Cooper is one scary-ass nun. If she'd taught in a boarding school, you'd be learning your multiplication tables pronto. My theory: she's still alive and was last seen in movies robbing banks with Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner in "The Town." But she was the only one NOT wearing a scary-ass nun's mask. To echo Nathaniel's take on Lucille Watson: It's hard to believe Cooper was considered a beauty--but Great Britain started her out as a model, and later a pin-up girl.

The general quality of American movies seemed to dip during WWII. Of course some wonderful movies surfaced and later became acknowledged as classics (especially in 1944), but this period in cinema has always struck me as bland and too earnest, perhaps because Hollywood was churning out war films and focused on rousing (and reassuring) audiences with sanctimoniousness and nationalism. Of course, we had Preston Sturges and the Marx Brothers subverting all that cinematic nobility--not to mention film noir adding some excitement, style, and pulse--but it's hard for me to get excited about most of the movies in the period.

So it makes sense to me that a lot of people find these nominees lacking. In my mind, the Oscar goes to Goddard, Paxinou, or Revere. Goddard's effervescent, but the performance doesn't really (to borrow Nathaniel's idea from his Paxinou review) have any high points to it. Paxinou, to be sure, hams things up, but she's also entertaining and fairly skillful. I revere Revere, but she gives the same (albeit wonderful) performance in all three of her nominated roles, so honoring her once, for "National Velvet," is enough.

My apologies for playing the contrarian, but Veronica Lake is terrible in "So Proudly We Hail": unfeelingly awkward in a part that, if played half-way decently, would have guaranteed her at least a nomination.

But I think all the Smackdowners did very good work. Really thoughtful comments!

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt L.

I love the Smackdowns, even in years like this where I haven't seen any of the nominees. Always a great panel of judges, always with something interesting to say.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

My ballot:
Lucille Watson- Watch on the Rhine- Watson plays the family matriarch who gets caught up in a covert mission against the Nazis. At first, Watson seems like any other grand dame, puttering about her stately mansion and ordering the servants and her family about almost equally. But I could tell she seemed for formidable. During the climax, instead of going the Billie Burke way of flustering around making the situation worse, she completely takes charge, assessing the situation with Nazis like she would with a catering service she was dissatisfied with. Watson has steel in her backbone, but the part is still small. If nothing else, it convinced us that the war could be won at home with people like Watson watching over us. 3 hearts

Anne Revere- Song of Bernadette- Revere plays Louise Soubirous, the mother of the titular character. Louise is a hardworking mother of a large, poor, and often sick family. She does odd jobs as a midwife and maid to keep the family afloat. When Bernadette starts seeing a mysterious lady, Louise treats it as annoyance first- she has too many things to worry about. Revere's stern expression showcases all her day to day frustrations. But her expression change to anger, embarrassment, puzzlement, and then concern when Bernadette continues to see the lady, defying both her parents and the local clergy. Again, Revere's face captures a mother at her wit's end. Louise cannot understand what is going on. I give Revere credit for making Louise look human and not saintly. Her anger, then embarrassment, and then guilt for having felt the first two emotions feels realistic. Again strong mothers defending the home. But Rever is a little stronger. 3.5 hearts

Katina Paxinou- For Whom the Bell Tolls- Watching the climax of this movie, I legit had a Game of Thrones fanboy moment and was screaming at the TV for Pilar to survive. At this point, I did not care for anyone else, but I wanted Pilar to live so I could have more Paxinou on my screen. That is how great her performance is. If I was in the audience during the Oscars, I would have been screaming too. Give her the hearts. All the hearts!! 5 Heats (although it is too low)

Gladys Cooper- Song of Bernadette- I may write more about Dame Cooper since I know and have experienced people similar to the character she plays. Cooper is a nun in Bernadette's village and acts as a teacher to the young students. She is not just stern, But instead seems to encourage bullying and belittling of students struggling. Her non-condemnation of mass mobbing the students in the minority is troubling but Cooper's sister is encased in her amour of virtue. She sees nothing wrong with what she is doing. After Bernadette has her visions and they are confirmed by the church to be believable, Bernadette enters the convent under Cooper's supervision. Her treatment of Bernadette doesn't change and at first, we think she is just continuing the bullying behavior. However, in what was surely her Oscar clip scene, Cooper explains to Bernadette that she cannot believe the story of Mary appearing. Why would the Virgin Mary appear to an unkempt stupid child, when she has slaved away and devoted her life to Mary? In this scene, Cooper's eyes burn and then begin to cry, but I don't think she blinks. She fully conveys the nun's fanaticism. This ultimately debilitating self-assurance that HER way is the only way, and therefore God must have made a mistake. People like that are real and they are scary, and Cooper was scary in this scene. But afterward, When she discovers that Bernadette has suffered and that she was right all along, she literally collapses under the weight of her guilt. Cooper's voice shatters with despair and in her final scene, she literally carries Bernadette around, trying to make up for her sins. But her face is hollow; her eyes swollen. She knows she is damned. That her whole life has essentially been a waste as hse went about her religion and spirituality the wrong way. It is an extraordinary performance and if not for Paxinou I would be voiting for her 100%. 4.5 hearts

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

This feels like a very Trumpian smackdown result, since Paxinou actually won the popular vote (reader's write-in), but lost the electoral college, once the panelists were factored in (especially that one heart review from Kristen Lopez).

In Goddard's defense, she had much better hair and probably would have looked great even with a comb-over.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Great read! I had little interest in watching theses movies, but the 1972 line-up looks exciting though, so I’ll make sure to watch those.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGab

Matt L, I'm with you on Lake. Never a fan in general but I thought she was awful in So Proudly We Hail. Goddard gave the best perf of the movie.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Katina Paxinou wins this one hands down as far as I'm concerned. The only actress who comes close is Jane Darwell for The Ox-Bow Incident. My other three would be Patricia Collinge (Shadow of a Doubt), Carmen Miranda (The Gang's All Here) and Kay Walsh (In Which We Serve) but I'm sure there are more deserving performances out there waiting to be discovered.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

eurocheese & matt -- i haven't seen enough of Lake's work to know how this stacks up with her other performances but i thought she was really uneven. great in some scenes. bad in others. so a mixed bag for me. I'm watching a few of the suggested performances from readers so eventually i'll have a ballot but i'd rank these ones like so.

1. Goddard (who i'm certain would make my ballot)
2. Paxinou (will make my ballot IF the year proves weak once i see a few more pictures)
3. Cooper (won't make it though that one late film scene is a true corker)
4. Revere (won't make it though I liked her well enough)
5. Watson (won't make it - the only performance i really loved in that movie was Lukas who won best actor)

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Contrary to the present Smackdown, it's going to be difficult to choose only one actress for 1972. I've seen all the performances and they are really very deserving! Eileen Heckart (the winner) is a big favorite of mine, she's great, and I was so glad to see her win. Geraldine Page was absolutely delicious. Just sit and enjoy her hilarious performance in a scene that takes place in a police station. Susan Tyrrell is heart-breaking and Jeannie Berlin is living proof of the disappointment we feel when very good actors fade into the background as far their careers are concerned. Shelley Winters was good, but more of the same.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Excellent choice. Goddard is really great in Proudly We Hail (even if the movie is a little dated). I love love love reading this series. I vote for more! Can we do it every week?

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Goddard is a very good choice here, even though I was pulling for Cooper. Maybe it was all the Viola Davis talk for Doubt a few years ago, but I've grown much more appreciative of the cameo role in my viewing habits. I like having my imagination ignited by considering whether or not a star of lower wattage would excel in exactly the same part. StinkyLulu's take on Hermione Baddeley's 1959 nom for Room at the Top made me really think about how no part is ever small--I think that review is still up on the old site.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterzig

NATHANIEL - Someone mentioned The Film Experience in the comments of Awards Daily. That's why it's so important to comment on something we like. Someone may be paying attention.

July 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames Gunn

James -- thanks! Glad you're enjoying. Email me if you get a chance at filmexperience (at) gmail (dot) com

July 29, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Glad for the sensationally beautiful and charming Goddard, it's always a pleasure reading about her work and career

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermirko

Thank goodness Goddard won! I really like that performance and movie a lot, though I have some affection for Cooper in Bernadette, too. So great seeing Yaseen and Kieran in this mix!

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Condragulations joel6, you are the winner of this weeks challenge.

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKirk

I haven't seen any of these nominated performances, but my impression even before I read the smackdown was that this was a not so great category this year. I like that there are ranges of 1 heart to 5 heart for any given performance.

I agree with the ken s, Carmen Miranda was perfect in The Gang's All Here. She was hilariously fiesty, especially where she "seduces" Edward Everitt Horton's character, and played a key role in foiling the film's minimal plot (which is not a problem in a Busby Berkley film). Who doesn't love The Lady in the Tutti Fruttty Hat.

It's a small part, but Marjorie Main is a hoot in Heaven Can Wait as a sourpuss wife in a loveless marriage. She's a little crustier than usual. It was a perfect cast all around. Spring Byrington played a character she often plays, but in a weak year maybe she should have gotten in too.

I remember liking Marsha Hunt, Joan Blondell and Ann Sothern in Cry Havoc (they were tough, no nonsense broads), an all female war propaganda flick. Everybody was good apart from Margaret Sullivan.

I agree with others who put forward Patricia Collinge and Jane Darwell. Apparently, Collinge rewrote the dialogue between Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey in the garage.

Esther Dale in Old Acquaintance, Joan Leslie and Gladys George in The Hard Way were good, not sure if Oscar worthy.

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Tawfik

Nat, how are you finding Pete 'n Tillie and The Heartbreak Kid? I can't get them on Amazon Prime, Netflix (DVD, haven't checked streaming yet) or my library. Do I have to buy the DVD's or is there another option I'm missing?

July 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Pete n' tillie i had to buy. but shhhhh you can watch the other one here.

July 31, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

o no, you didn't have to buy Pete n Tillie: I watched the whole thing here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JES1JQMODFU

August 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

@Nat and Rob - thank you both! I never even think to check YouTube (not my favorite way to watch movies) but I will for these.

August 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Nathaniel, I have two requests: would you use the images of "The Heartbreak Kid"'s Jeannie Berlin with sunscreen on her face and egg salad on her face as two of her Smackdown screen shots?

August 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt L.

Paxinou is clearly the winner for me. That 1 heart review #&*#

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Katina Paxinou - For Whom the Bell Tolls***
Lucile Watson - Watch on the Rhine
Patricia Collinge - Shadow of a Doubt
Paulette Goddard - So Proudly We Hail!
Anna Svierkier - Day of Wrath

August 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterManos

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