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Smackdown 1960 is Coming. Get your votes in.

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1960 is coming on Sunday July 21st. MEET THE PANELISTS HERE. The readers (that's you!), collectively, are the final panelist each month. If you want to participate please email in your votes by Saturday, July 20th at 4:00 PM EST

  • Glynis Johns, The Sundowners
  • Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry
  • Shirley Knight, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
  • Janet Leigh, Psycho
  • Mary Ure, Sons and Lovers

How it's done? You grade each nominee on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (absolute perfection) hearts... vote only on the performances you've seen, please, as votes are weighted so no performance is rewarded or punished for being abundantly seen or underseen. 

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Reader Comments (33)

Lol these are quintuplets

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAllen

Is this the only time in history all BSA candidates are all blonde / all lookalike? Btw - I’m anxiously awaiting your comments on the “Judy” trailer?????

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy

Was this the youngest set of nominees ever? 3 in their 20s and 2 in their 30s.

Can’t wait to read this and listen to your comments. It’s quite a mix of films and apart from Ure (who of course died young, so there wasn’t much work for me to see) these are all actresses I’ve enjoyed a great deal at one time or another.

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Where did you find “dark at the top of the stairs,” it’s 1 of only 2 best supporting actress movies I haven’t seen yet?

July 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrezz

Scott C -- i haven't done the research but it's got to be close.

Jimmy -- blonde being the Hollywood default for decades i'm guessing it's not the only time but it is shocking to see them all lined up like that (though I dont think Leigh and Johns look anything like the other three (both had quite distinctice faces)

July 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I couldn't find The Dark at the Top of the Stairs anywhere, so I kinda slacked on watching the movies. Still looking forward to the Smackdown! Even when I haven't seen the films I love reading everyone's thoughts

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

Janet Leigh was superb and should have won.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMissy

Three superb performances and two who robbed their co-stars. Fun year to discuss!

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Leigh- 5
Ure- 4
Johns- 3
Jones- 3

Have not seen Knight

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

Mary Ure is my definite winner.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

The year that Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower) won all the nominees in this category were blondes in their movies (Dyan Cannon, Sylvia Miles, Susannah York, Catherine Burns)

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterharmodio

Leigh is easily my favourite performance of the lineup, however rewatching it for the smackdown I have to consider her as much a leading performer as Perkins. I'll look forward to the smackdown and the unknown panel's thoughts on these actresses.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

Eoin Daly: Over the years I've come to think of Leigh as a lead too.

Looking forward to the smackdown!

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I've been lucky to watch the very elusive Dark at the Top of the Stairs last year, and all I have to say is... I wish Angela Lansbury got the nomination instead of Shirley Knight.

As much as I like Knight, I think she became more interesting as an actress by the end of the decade, with her lead roles in Dutchman and The Rain People. Mind you, she's perfectly fine in her nominated supporting turns in Stairs and Sweet Bird of Youth, but I'm far more captivated by other performers in those movies.

On the other hand, I am always astonished to discover how incredible is Lansbury in everything she does, and especially in this movie. I'm actually considering handing her my own prize for this, and giving Shelley Winters, whom I usually can't stand, the 1962 award for Lolita, but that's another story.

The trouble with 1960 is that I'm absolutely unable to decide if Leigh is lead or supporting. It's such a peculiar role. When I'm in the mood of awarding her, I consider her supporting, but everytime I think about Psycho, I can't help but thinking she's too important for the story to be supporting.

I like the other nominees too and I'm waiting for the results!

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPalazzo Pitti

Where is everyone finding Dark at the Top of the Stairs? Is this streaming somewhere I’m unaware of?

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Big Little Lies 1960 version:
Glynis Johns - Renata
Shirley Jones - Jane
Shirley Knight - Madeline
Janet Leigh - Celeste
Mary Ure - Bonnie

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDoodie

Like all of you, I have not seen Knight's performance either because I can't find the movie anywhere.

This smackdown makes me salty because Jean Simmons should have been nominated for Elmer Gantry. Simmons makes that move work, not Shirley Jones. Oy vey.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Having two nominees with the same first name can be a guarantee of embarrassing moments.

When Frank Capra was nominated for Lady for a Day (1933), presenter Will Rogers merely opened the envelope and said: "Come and get it, Frank!". Already halfway to the stage, Capra realized that Rogers wasn't referring to him, but to Frank Lloyd, who was getting the award for Cavalcade (1933).

At the Oscars for 1977, Richard Burton (for Equus) was halfway out of his seat when Sylvester Stallone said: "Richard... Dreyfuss".

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSamuel

I watched Dark at the Top of the Stairs by googling "Dark at the Top of the Stairs 1960", clicking on "Videos" then I was able to watch it on I'm sure they follow all the rules regarding copyright laws and royalty payments. The important thing is I got to see it!

Mary Ure all the way!

Shirley Jones has to be one of the dumbest choices ever.

Favorite MIA: Liz Fraser in I'm All Right Jack (another blonde, BTW!)

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I completely agree with CharlieG regarding Jean Simmons. She was such an underrated actress.

Samuel - ...and then there was 2001, when Sean Connery announced the Supporting Actress winner as "Catherine." Kathy Bates gave him major side-eye.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Like all of you, I have not seen Knight's performance either because I can't find the movie anywhere.

But, I am bitter over Jones' win because ... Jean Simmons should have been nominated for Elmer Gantry. Simmons makes that move work, not Shirley Jones. Oy.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Wow, as much as I love Simmons and agree she should have been nominated (but in lead), I thought Shirley Jones was pretty great in her role. Totally agree that Lansbury is the only one doing great work in The Dark at the Top... but I also thought Wendy Hiller was the absolute stand out in Sons and Lovers, so I'm surprised to see the Ure defenses. I need to give that film another look before voting, I guess.

As for Leigh being lead - the film certainly sets her up as the lead at first, but I feel like that's part of the brilliance of its misdirection. Given her screen time, I'd definitely keep her in supporting.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

eurocheese - I agree, Wendy Hiller is superb in Sons and Lovers. However, I consider her a lead in Sons and Lovers (as well as Jean Simmons in Elmer Gantry)

One factor we have to keep in mind is that in those days the studios determined who was Leading or Supporting and the Academy members had to follow suit, unlike today where the voters themselves decide. I don't know when they changed the rules. There was also a sort of "caste system" in Hollywood, and a lot of category placement depended as much on who was billed "above the title" or "below the title" regardless of the size of the role.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

It's idiotic to get upset over a lead. or at the time completely accepted and campaigned as lead by all (Simmons), not taking a worthy Jones spot.

I'm absolutely of the opinion that Janet Leigh in Psycho is supporting, not lead. Yes, she is onscreen constantly for the first 45 minutes but then she's long gone for the entire second half of the movie. Her performance is part of the deliberate misdirection of the plot and it's a very important role, but it's still not the focus point of the entirety. This is one of those times the academy got it right in a somewhat tricky situation.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Sometimes they win because of the character. I believe Mira Sorvino won because of her character. People wanted to take care of her. All the other nominees had a support system or were the system. Jones was the bombastic blonde. Glynis had her business, Mary was not over her ex, Shirley was going through moody puberty, and Janet will steal from under your nose. Lulu had many faults, but you would have a good time with her.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

I found Knight pretty dull and one note in "Stairs". Totally agree w/ whoever said Landsbury should have been nominated instead. and not just b/c she's a name now. Her performance was much more interesting and emotional.

July 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSFOTroy

On Dark's availability -- to Ken S, in my best Olympia Dukakis Moonstruck voice: Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterzig


July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLola

@ Lola- there was a 1995 smackdown and Sorvino did not win. I was kind of surprised down low she scored- I was more impressed with her then most apparently.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

Having seen Dark too I was personally attracted to Eve Arden's performance over Lansbury and Knight. Arden an actress I always trust to be great proved that with her work in this 60 film. Previous winner Jo Van Fleet was worthy of a nomination for Wild River and unfortunately this great film is seriously overlooked in the Elia Kazan canon.

July 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

Honestly if the nominees were:

Eve Arden- The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Angela Lansbury- The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Vera Miles- Psycho
Heather Sears- Sons and Lovers
Jean Simmons- Elmer Gantry

Would anyone complain?

July 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

Eager for the 1960 Smackdown, although this has to be one of the weakest slates in this category. Johns and Ure aren't memorable, and Jones is downright terrible. I'm not a fan of Janet Leigh's acting in general, and most of her success in "Psycho" is due to Hitchcock, not her. I'm a huge, huge Shirley Knight fan, so I'd vote for her here, even though I think this particular performance is a little ragged in places. I love Jean Simmons in "Elmer Gantry," but she's a lead.

I think that all the movies in question are interesting, if not entirely successful in their intentions,

In response to Samuel's comment about Richard Burton: I watched the clip on YouTube, and it looks as if he stayed firmly seated when Richard Dreyfuss' name is called.

July 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatt L.

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