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« Marvel Studios: The Next Three Years | Main | The Lion King's Leftovers »
Sunday
Jul212019

Smackdown '60: Glynis Johns, Janet Leigh, one Mary and two Shirleys

A lusty bar owner, a vengeful hooker, a teenage wallflower, a doomed secretary, and a sexually liberated suffragette made up the Best Supporting Actress quintet for 1960.

That shortlist found room for two established Hollywood stars (Glynis Johns and Janet Leigh), both overdue for their first nominations, two rising starlets named Shirley (Jones & Knight) and an acclaimed Scottish import (Mary Ure). They all caught Oscar's attention and it didn't hurt that their films were so popular (all but Dark at the Top of the Stairs were major contenders in multiple categories, and Dark surely intended to be, being a prestige transfer from Broadway). This resulted in one of the most homogenous lineups ever -- all blondes (though Glynis was a redhead for her role) and from their early 20s to mid 30s (average age: 29).

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS    

Here to talk about these five nominated turns and the movies that housed them (Psycho, The Sundowners, Sons and Lovers, Dark at the Top of the Stairs, and Elmer Gantry) are writer/director Leslye Headland (Russian Doll, Bachelorette), theater and screenwriter Peter Duchan (Dogfight), freelance critic Kyle Turner, and your Film Experience co-hosts Murtada Elfadl  and Nathaniel R

1960
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN + PODCAST  
The podcast can be downloaded at the bottom of the article or just visit the iTunes page.

 

Glynis Johns as "Mrs Firth" in The Sundowners
Synopsis: A flirtatious bar manager in the Outback, becomes close to a visiting family and dates their drover companion who doesn't want to be pinned down.
Stats: Then 37 yrs old, 39th film, 4th billed ("co-starring Glynis Johns"). First and only nomination. 9 minutes of screen time (or 7% of the running time) 

Peter Duchan: Huge Glynis Johns fan here. “Mary Poppins” (obvi) but also “Miranda” and “The Card”—and “A Little Night Music” on stage. This performance feels like it doesn’t dip far into her talent well. She’s bright and bubbly and bawdy, using her big eyes to good effect. I hate to dismiss the warmth she’s capable of portraying. But it all feels one-note, even ungrounded, in this outing. She’s good here but she can do so much more when given the opportunity.  ♥♥♥

Leslye Headland: Lord this movie was boring. I love that only good stuff is Australian B-roll shot by Nicholas Roeg. Johns is great as usual. Always reliably funny. Always slightly heart-breaking. Always a sly feminist twist. But this is a cameo not supporting. ♥♥

Kyle Turner: I had nightmares of Johns’ screechy, cacophonous Australian “accent”, which really sounds little different from her accent in Mary Poppins, for a couple days. It makes that she was nominated inasmuch as she’s very showy, but it’s both a nothing character and a nothing performance.  

Murtada Elfadl: The Sundowners is a dull movie about dull people with dull problems. So I was grateful for Glynis Johns. She comes in loud, talking a mile a minute and gives this dull show a jolt of life. It’s a turn rather than a performance. A very fussy turn. Johns adopts an unnatural affected voice, never relaxes her face and flaps her arms around constantly. Yet she’s the reason I didn't fall asleep. Her and the close ups of the sheep. ♥♥

Nathaniel RGlynis Johns was certainly worthy of Oscar recognition in her career -- we wish they'd proceed with an Honorary, in point of fact. This role is essentially an extended cameo for comic relief but she almost brings a full character. Watch the way her body language stiffens and calculates with a control that's present in no other scenes when two of her suitors are eyeing each other suspiciously. Or the unexpectedly light way she handles getting dumped, as if its little more than spilt beer to clean up. She reassuringly pats the clumsy baby who spilled it (aka the man who just dumped her). "We've had a lot of fun, no harm done." This woman has been in all of these scenarios before with men just like him; it rolls right off her. ♥♥♥

Reader Write-Ins: "A delightfully fruity performance, bursting through her scenes like a gust of wind while staying as attuned to characterization as her co-stars. " - Nick T (Reader average: ♥♥¾)

Actress earns 13¾  ❤s 

 

 

Shirley Jones as "Lulu Bains" in Elmer Gantry
Synopsis: A hooker seeks to either reunite with or take vengeance on a preacher she once slept with. She isn't sure which she'll choose just yet.
Stats: Then 26 yrs old, 6th film, 5th billed. Her first and only nomination.  16 minutes of screentime (or 11% of the running time) 

Peter Duchan: Good girl plays bad but she still seems kinda good. Very Donna Reed in “From Here to Eternity.” Jones hits all the beats in her scenes but it never feels authentic or lived in to me. The rooms around her feel suspiciously like scenery. I kept thinking about her contract with the studio. It’s not a particularly satisfying performance, despite her presence and competence. The role feels as small as it is in her hands.   ♥♥♥

Leslye Headland: The polar opposite of Leigh. Stunt casting that nearly sinks the movie. Her floundering performance drags what was a compelling morally ambiguous narrrative into schlock. I love Jones’ work but she is wildly out of place here. Even her intro is shot like Laurey in Oklahoma only in a brothel. Her win is Hollywood rewarding the “good girl” for play-acting “sex work”. 

Kyle Turner: Jones is best when she recognizes that she’s another side of the same coin that Elmer himself is: exploiting human weakness for capital gain. Her role as a sex worker is not so much different in its desire to channel a very human experience and funnel it into a means of business. Desire and faith aren’t so far apart. She’s best when she’s scheming against Elmer, though her reversal as someone who backs away from calling a spade a spade is disappointing. ♥♥♥♥

Murtada Elfadl: Her character might be a cliche whose actions don’t always make sense, but Shirley Jones finds the truth in the small gestures. The way she determinedly brushes her hair, the way she puts on her robe, instead of taking it off, to seduce Elmer. Even in implausible situations, like her scene with Jean Simmons, the conviction and force of her delivery carries us through. Jones is an example of a great actress saving a bad character. ♥♥♥♥

Nathaniel R: My feelings on this performance are as hard to pin down as Lulu's feelings about Elmer Gantry. Jones is dazzlingly irreverent in her first scene -- Jones lets you see that she slips into "performance" mode as often as Gantry himself, which might explain her fixation -- but the performance isn't consistent, usually only selling one emotion at a time. Still, she's good enough that I always wish she were actually deserving of the Oscar she probably sailed to. Her best and most complicated scene is the entrapment scene with Gantry, but even then the emotions aren't so much multi-faceted as multiple. She turns on a dime. ♥♥♥

Reader Write-Ins: "Of course the casting against type helped her win the prize. As for the performance itself she’s saucy, sexy and relishes her spitefulness lacing her scenes with a tough interior manipulation" - James N. (Reader average: ♥♥♥)

Actress earns 18 ❤s 

 

Shirley Knight as "Reenie Flood" in Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Synopsis: A shy young girl experiences love and heartbreak for the first time with a Jewish boy from a neighboring boarding school, all while her parent's marriage is coming undone.
Stats: Then 24 yrs old, 3rd film, 5th billed. First of two nominations. 36
 minutes of screen time (or 29% of the running time). 

Peter Duchan: Why oh why would the Academy nominate this sniveling performance when Angela Lansbury (dignified, proud) and Eve Arden (prickly, loquacious) both turn in much more persuasive performances in the same film? Not that Knight is untalented. (I quite like her work in “Petulia” and “Sweet Bird of Youth.”) But she’s not given anything interesting to play here. Shy, innocent, somewhat ethereal teenager. Truly the least engaging performance in her film—and in the whole category.  ♥♥

Leslye Headland: This film is so dispassionately shot I couldn’t get a good look at this performance to be honest. But my impression is that Knight is sort of lost here. She’s compelling but she doesn’t have much to do beyond being virginal and overwhelmed. Angela Lansbury had an infinitely more interesting role/performance here. ♥♥

Kyle Turner: Knight is given a little bit of a thankless role as the daughter of two sexually frustrated Depression-era parents. She is anxious about her own viability as an object of love and desire until she falls for a Jewish guy, who faces anti-Semintism. She’s a teenager. She is a teenager in a melodrama. The complexities of her situation are less about her and more about her boyfriend, Sam. She’s fine, and yet somehow the least interesting performance in the film.  ♥♥

Murtada Elfadl: What magic spell did Shirley Knight cast on Oscar voters to notice her and ignore both Angela Lansbury and Eve Arden in the same film? She’s listless for most of her screen time, and merely serviceable in the big emotional moments. Probably the worst performance in a film that has many good ones. WTF, Academy? 

Nathaniel R: Shy and naive doesn't have to read as mentally slow, Shirley! I've enjoyed Knight in other films but though she sells the virginal goodheartedness of Reenie, there's not much to any of her scenes beyond downcast eyes, boy-crush nervousness, and a few childish tears. It's the kind of performance people might say "so pure!" about with patronizing affection, but the themes and events surrounding Reenie's journey call for a more complex characterization.  

Reader Write-Ins: "Pretty and soft. I just wanted more from her. Movie resolves so easily by sending her away. Could have been more interesting having her refract some of her parents’ tensions." - Pat (Reader average: ♥♥¼)

Actress earns 10¼ ❤s 

Janet Leigh as "Marion Crane" in Psycho
Synopsis: A secretary who impulsively steals money from her boss gets the hell out of town. Filled with guilt, she stops at a remote motel to collect herself.
Stats: Then 33 yrs old, 22nd film, 13th billed but she gets her own title card ("and Janet Leigh as Marion Crane")First and only nomination.  42 
minutes of screentime (or 39% of the running time.)

Peter Duchan: A fascinating performance. She rarely seems all that human but she’s kinda perfect in the role. She’s cold and withdrawn but the camera is right in her face, she can’t escape it. She’s anxious, we’re anxious. I had never seen this movie (but knew all the major plot points) and I absolutely loved it. The photography, the exquisite tension, the score. It’s so terrific. And Leigh’s portion is the highlight.  ♥♥♥♥

Leslye Headland: The best kind of movie star performance. All face. Even the rotating post shower-murder single is a glamour shot. It’s just perfection. Leigh takes a blank slate, shades in just enough character work and let’s your psyche do the rest. ♥♥♥♥♥

Kyle Turner: She’s shifty, devious, presented as the object of the gaze, and she dies. It could be argued that it isn’t Janet Leigh who’s punished by murder not even halfway into the film, but maybe the audience for being entranced in the first place. For being a little bit complicit. Perhaps the greatness of the performance is that it’s sort of blank; Leigh must only betray a modicum of interiority, so that she can leave room for the audience to unwittingly identify with her.  ♥♥♥♥

Murtada Elfadl: Despite being in unquestionally the best film of the five nominated in this category - perhaps the only good one - I find myself struggling to write about Leigh. Perhaps because the classic film is not about its performances per se but about its mise en scène and the effect it puts on us. Leigh probably secured this nomination with her brilliant reaction shots to Anthony Perkins talking about his mother being his best friend. ♥♥♥

Nathaniel RThe first time I saw Leigh in this movie I thought she was wooden. Oh how young and foolish, I was. Now I can't imagine any better calibration for this role. Her stylized line readings, the stiff posture, the emotional opaqueness around her peculiar impulses (relationship ultimatums, then the money, then the car trade-in whaaa?). It all works to make Marion as mysterious as Norman, minus the body count. This time through I particularly loved the minimalism of her emotional shifts with Norman (despite all the warning signs) paired with the maximalism of her anxiety in the car; she's so inside her own head, that her radar for danger is topsy-turvy. ♥♥♥♥♥

Reader Write-Ins: "So much of Leigh in this film is iconic even long before the shower scene. Without this performance Psycho would not be the same film. Janet Leigh in that car walked so Nicole Kidman at the opera in Birth could run... and many other closeups of actresses in films could also run. Leigh like everything in Psycho is perfect.​" -Eoin D (Reader average: ♥♥♥♥

Actress earns 25 ❤s 

 

Mary Ure as "Clara Daws" in Sons and Lovers
Synopsis: A suffragette who wants all the freedom begins a love affair with a moody co-worker only to realize she still loves her husband.
Stats: Then 27 yrs old, 4th film, 4th billed. First and only nomination.  24 minutes of screentime (or 23% of the running time).

Peter Duchan: This one surprised me. I expected something stodgy and put on. Instead, Ure is sexy, mature, confident. And she doesn’t give away the game. She plays her cards close enough to her chest and keeps us curious. I never quite felt I understood her—in a good way. She felt human in her contradictions and stubbornness.  ♥♥♥♥

Leslye Headland: Great example of a solid “supporting” performance. This is a beautifully shot and written film that is all about intersecting relationships. So Ure nicely underplays her part: “Eve cowering out of paradise”. She doesn’t pull focus and she doesn’t disappoint. ♥♥♥

Kyle Turner: I, for one, love a movie about sons who want to fuck their mothers. Ure is good, as the femininst worker who encourages Paul to get over himself, maybe seek therapy. She’s good at playing vacant, in terms of addressing how Paul is disappointing in bed even though he ostensibly has more to offer her than her ex husband. But she’s more a tool to solidify just how dysfunctional his relationship with his mother is, and ironically, has little agency in her own right  ♥♥♥

Murtada Elfadl: In the fucked-up-about-sex-world of Sons and Lovers; Mary Ure’s Clara Dawes is the lone sane and rational character. She’s forthright, has the courage of her convictions while everyone else is utterly confused. Ure imbues Clara with a calm serenity that gravitates the eye towards her. I found myself nodding at all of Clara’s arguments about why Paul is into her. Not because they made sense but because the performance did. However she's supposed to bring the sex to these unsexy rural folk, and that never quite happens. ♥♥♥

Nathaniel RSons and Lovers plays a lot of anguished lip-service to the dangers of romantic love, and the need and difficulty of giving all of yourself to someone else. Ure nails the aspects of Clara that are meant to riff on these questions. She fascinates intermittently but never quite unnerves (which I think she's supposed to?) and her more overtly feminist scenes underwhelm (how does she feel about the other women she marches with or her co-workers?)  Is the actress holding back a little or is it the disappointing arc of the role, her complexities reduced by love, that keeps this performance in the very-good but not-quite great range? ♥♥♥♥

Reader Write-Ins: " Wise, weary and aware, Ure gives a caustic performance as the divorced suffragette who clings to a precarious sense of freedom, which, initially seems cold and cynical. Slowly her contradictions, allegiances and muddled humanity reveal a woman who is as vulnerable and confused as the protagonist, sans the mommy issues." - John V (Reader average: ♥♥♥¼)

Actress earns 20¼  ❤s 

 

Shirley Jones won the Oscar with the advantage of a very popular film (which also took Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay) and what was then a traditionally awards-bait style role (hooker with a heart of gold). But the Smackdown disagrees and chooses Janet Leigh with a very comfortable margin of victory...

 

THE PODCAST CONVERSATION
Download and listen to the companion podcast right here at the bottom of the post, or on iTunes for a more in-depth discussion with our panelists about these five movies and the women who co-starred in them. 

Other Smackdowns: 1941, 1943194419481952, 1954, 196319641968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 197719791980, 1984, 19851989, 19941995, 2001, 2003, 2016, 2017, and 2018 (prior to those 30+ Smackdowns were hosted @ StinkyLulu's old site)

NEXT UP? The 1957 Oscar race is coming soon. Watch: Peyton Place, Sayonara, Witness for the Prosecution, and The Bachelor Party before then to maximize your fun!

Smackdown 1960: Psycho, Elmer Gantry, and More...

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Reader Comments (35)

Yes, it had to be Janet Leigh, no doubt about that. We all know it is an important performance, but we tend to forget it is also a great (and brave) one. The last shot where she cannot blink but still has the water running on her face was surely difficult to film.
Of course the fact that Anthony Perkins was not even nominated is appalling, although it's one of these historical performances that transcends any award. And about Psycho... Tim Brayton says it's the film that divides classical and modern cinema, and I agree completely.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWimsey

Not the least surprised here, though this does get me intrigued about Mary Ure. Like Lynn Carlin in 1968’s Faces, it sounds like a well-deserved but under appreciated nomination.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterzig

Janet Leigh should've won, but I feel like the fact that she was even nominated for that movie might've been a victory in itself.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Glynis Johns- The Sundowners- Johns plays the proprietress of a tavern and hotel in Australia. She is kind of bawdy and flirty with Peter Ustinov's character. And that is all I remember about her. I had to look up her character name I forgot it. That is probably not a good thing. Johns is a good actress, but this performance was barely memorable. 2 hearts

Mary Ure- Sons and Lovers- Ure is Clara Dawes; MRS. Clara Dawes if you please. She still isn't over her ex. But she still gets involved with a younger man and then gets upset that he won't give all of himself to her. Probably because she isn't over her ex. Ure gets to cast longing glances at various men in her romantic circles but the performance was just ok. Average. But slightly more memorable than Johns. 2.5 hearts

Shirley Knight- The Dark at the Top of the Stairs- I feel like my statements are unfair to Knight. She is not a bad actress but literally every other person who could be nominated from the movie in this category (understated and sensitive Angela Lansbury, Eve Arden and her juggling act of balancing humor, sadness, and bigotry, and even perky Penny Parke as the aptly named Flirt) are all giving better performances with something memorable or unique. It doesn't help that Knight has a dull mopey character or that her romantic screen partner, Lee Kinsolving, is giving a sit up/take notice/who is that? performance. Knight does the best she can but so many factors are against her. That being said, blonde schoolgirls in important family dramas got nominated, like Barbara Bel Geddes and Diane Varsi before her, even if other performances deserved more attention. 2.5hearts

Shirley Jones- Elmer Gantry- Jones is Lulu, and in 1960 if that was your name you were a prostitute. She is part of the brothel that Burt Lancaster tries to kick out in a fit of religious fury. Unfortunately, they have a history together. Also unfortunately for Jones, her character is inconsistent. She loves him! She hates him! She wants to help! She wants to hurt! It's a wonder she didn't get whiplash from this part. Jones seems to understand what her character wants in isolated scenes. If you only watch one clip of the long movie it looks like she is giving a fabulous performance. But when you look at the entire performance it is like a messy quilt with different patterns sewn together in wrong places with mismatched colors. The interesting parts do not add up to a great sum of a performance. It's not so much her fault, she is doing what she can. How I wish we were talking about Jean Simmons. What a performance she gave! 2.5 hearts

Janet Leigh- Pyscho- I never really thought much of Leigh as an actress. I believed she was limited in her talents. This movie doesn't really change that opinion. I was more mesmerized by the determined Vera Miles as her sister. Leigh's voice and expressions don't really change or after the beginning of the film, even though her character is going through several moral crises. However, to give her credit, she understands that she is in the presence of greatness during her scenes with Anthony Perkins. He is giving the performance of a lifetime and Leigh seems to appreciate acting with him. This may be her best performance but is still just average. I might have voted for it simply because I liked her movie the best. 2.5 hearts

Overall, this was a limp lineup. I would have preferred:


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

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

I figured that Janet Leigh would win this and while she wouldn’t be my choice I don’t object to her placing first either.

Happily there was no head scratcher of a nomination this year though there are a couple where you had to wonder how other actresses in their films didn’t receive those nods instead. How great is it considering this was 59 years ago that three of these ladies are still with us and the two Shirleys are working on a semi regular basis.

Glynis Johns-A welcome breathe of levity in this flock of heavy dramatics. She is as ever a sassy delight full of brio and snap but with her wonderfully animated face and that jewel of a voice she infuses Mrs. Firth with a wide variety of emotions that keep her in your mind even when she’s off-screen. 4 ½ hearts.

Shirley Jones-Of course the casting against type helped her to the prize however it also adds an extra layer to her performance. Her background as the innocent and pure Laurey from Oklahoma and Julie Jordan in Carousel is there in the audience minds as she traipses around as the wanton Lulu and it helps you image how Gantry could corrupt her, how she could then fall into the life she leads and the bitterness she carries. As for the performance itself she’s saucy, sexy and relishes her spitefulness lacing her scenes with a tough interior manipulation. 4 hearts.

Shirley Knight-As with Mary Ure in Sons and Lovers Shirley Knight does very good work in this complicated brilliantly performed family drama. But in this case there are two other supporting actresses who make a stronger impression, Eve Arden and Angela Lansbury. However Shirley’s work as the naïve and sensitive Reenie is lovely and affecting slowly emerging from her shell only to have her heart broken. 3 ½ hearts.

Janet Leigh-For what is basically a truncated star turn she handles the limited demands of the role well. Since for most of her time on screen she’s in the commission of a felony her tightly coiled wariness and darting eyes convey her anxiety but she relaxes, as it turns out foolishly, in her scenes with Perkins. Interestingly enough Hitchcock considered fellow nominee Shirley Jones for Marian before settling on Leigh. 3 hearts.

Mary Ure-She gives Clara a great deal of depth but her character seems out of place in the story, not really her fault but when the film was over the female character that stayed in my memory was Wendy Hiller, not in a positive way but she was vivid. Still it’s fine work-3 ½ hearts.

All superb work but if it were up to me I’d have dropped all of them but Glynis and Shirley Jones and substituted Eve Arden in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Rachel Roberts in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Florence Eldridge in Inherit the Wind who would be my winner though it would be a hare’s breath in front of Rachel Roberts.

Other worthies:

Annie Girardot in Rocco & His Brothers

Wendy Hiller-Sons & Lovers

Angela Lansbury-The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

Myrna Loy-From the Terrace

Jean Simmons-The Grass is Greener-two great totally different performances in one year…..and zero nominations!

Alida Valli-Eyes Without a Face

On a separate note how the hell did Jean Simmon’s great work as Sister Sharon in Elmer Gantry miss out on a Best Actress nomination when they were showering the film with nods!? She would have been my winner this year. Some have mentioned her as supporting but she’s the female lead in the film.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Thanks for quoting me! Super psyched for Leigh, even if I’m not at all surprised she won this. I agree with Philip H, the fact that she even got nominated when Psycho somehow only got four nods total feels a little bit lucky. This was a fun collection of movies, I’m glad I got to play along this month

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

My votes:

Shirley Jones: 4 stars
Mary Ure: 3 stars
Glynis Johns: 3.5 stars
Shirley Knight: 1.5 stars (man that was a boring one-note TV daughter role. they really nominated the wrong supporting actress for that movie. Eve Arden was sooo much better! or even Angela L.)
Janet Leigh: 4 stars


until I finished the category with "The Dark at the Top...", i thought the theme was going to be sexually-liberated-and-proud-of-it women... until we got to virginal Shirley Knight. oh well.

also.. man, "Dark at the top..." and "The Sundowners" have not aged well at all. it was quite a slog to get thru those two (Patriarchy, the movie, parts 1 and 2). At least seeing Robert Preston right before The Music Man in a kinda similar role but that was dark and dramatic instead of comic/musical was entertaining. I thought for sure the movie was going to end with him breaking into song about how he got a new job as a traveling salesman selling kids' band equipment.

also.. that cutie pie Lee Kinsolving (The Dark at...) was quite a dishy discovery. too bad he can't act.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSFOTroy

also- 1960 was a great film year! I was just looking at my imdb rankings and found lots of favorites.. especially from Italy-

Psycho
The Apartment
Le Trou !!!
Rocco and His Brothers !!!
Breathless
Peeping Tom
L'Avventura
Two Women
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Zazie dans le Metro
Private Property
Adua e le compagne (Hungry for Love)- Italian ladies of the evening who have been turned out from their brothel and go into the restaurant biz! Check it out.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSFOTroy

Where can I get a copy of Dark at the top of the Stairs to watch - been searching for years!!

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTony

I skipped this Smackdown mostly because I've only seen Psycho & Elmer Gantry. But tipping on something brought up by joel6 mentioned - if the Academy were to reward the role of "Marion Crane' and if the Academy were to anoint 'Shirley Jones' as an Oscar winner, I'd almost prefer that perhaps Jones could've done something in Psycho.
Janet Leigh would've been my Smackdown winner - but imagine in a Vera Mile gets pregnant & is replaced by Kim Novak in Vertigo way if Leigh got pregnant (with Jamie Lee?) and got replaced my Jones. I'm not saying that Jones would've pulled it off, but my cinema mind is on overdrive thinking of the difference.
By 1960, movie audiences would've been Shocked to see their beloved Oklahoma/Carousel/April Love girl slaughtered in a shower. Imagine that 1st shot of my Laurie/Oklahoma in a bra after a hot lunch-hour of sex. She has the Hitchcock 'blonde' look (more so that Eva Marie Saint in NbyNW)-but to see Jones in black and white doing Marion's business would be truly startling. I can picture that Texas oilman hitting on pretty secretary Jones more than Leigh. I would be shocked to see Jones steal $40K (and she would be anything like ice queen Tippi because we Know that Jones' background are friendly girl next store roles). Even her scenes with Perkins - him spying on her through the peephole is like that creep Rod Steiger spying into Laurie's bedroom). I think that Jones could show some warmth & tenderness towards Norman.
Just food for thought on casting choices - guess 1960 voters had to chose 'cheap Hitchcock fanfare' versus an 'important' film about religion. Either way, Janet dazzles in her performance, but if Jones got the edgy from 'playing against type,' the role of Marion Crane would've been 'playing against type' as well.

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

love the old ceremony clips but, good lord, hugh griffith you old hambone, get on with it...

the nominees look as if they're waiting to hear a jury foreman pronounce them guilty or not

July 21, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Leigh is fascinating to me because it is an early case of "genre"! And I am so grateful for this nomination - in part, it helped the argument to why Drew Barrymore should have been nominated for "Scream".

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

Tom -- wasn't Shirley Jones considered for Psycho at one point?

Jakey -- yes!

Tony -- there's a bad print streaming online here which is the only place i've seen it available. This movie is truly obscure. It's hard to even find photos from it or promotional materials like posters.

SFOTroy -- i'm the weirdo who loves The Sundowners and I keep hearing this but it played well for me. Dark on the other hand... Lee Kinsolving was nominated for a Golden Globe!

July 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Good smackdown! Struck by the depth of underwhelm from the jurors on most of the performances. Glad Leigh won, as I suspected she might. I'm with Nathanial - originally thought she was wooden. Upon (many) rewatches realized how skillful Leigh played it, how fully she understood her role in Hitchcock's overall scheme. As for the rest of the nominees, still have only seen Psycho but def want to try to catch at least Elmer Gantry & Darkness, for sure.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

The first time I saw Psycho at the movies I was absolutely sure that it was the best movie ever made.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I still need to see quite a few 1960 movies before my own ballot is complete but I wanted to add, because we ran out of time on the podcast to share other favourites, that my lineup for supporting actress would currently include these three...

Wendy Hiller, Sons and Lovers (though maybe she's a lead. hmmm)
Angela Lansbury, Dark at the Top of the Stairs (can't believe how much she accomplishes in just two scenes. wow)
Janet Leigh, Psycho

July 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I fee I’m the only one completely underwhelmed by Mary Ure’s performance. To me, it didn’t register as unknowable so much as wooden. Glad others got something out of it, though!

I wanted to echo the appreciation for Jean Simmons in Elmer Gantry. I always thought that this was the movie she got her nomination for!

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

One great nominee for Supporting Actress would have been Joanne Woodward in The Fugitive Kind. All three core performances in that film are fantastic, but maybe it was too strange for awards bodies.

I'm surprised they nominated a horror performance. Leigh definitely should have won, but the nomination was her reward, given the era.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Listening to the podcast was a bit scary because you were almost reading my mind.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Enjoyed the podcast and discussion of this disappointing lineup (Leigh excluded). As with most smackdown's I took this opportunity to revisit and first time watch a lot of 1960 films. This was a year with a lot of first time watches but nothing came close to the brillance that is Psycho. Happy Leigh triumphed (happier to be the reader write-in mention) and while I consider her just as much a lead as Perkins I'm pleased my favourite performance won.

I'd replace this entire lineup and nominate
Eve Arden, The Dark at the Top of the Stars (The true star of the film in my opinion. She rules from her entrance until she leaves. The film cannot handle her talent)
Myrna Loy, From the Terrace (In a rather unstable film it's Loy who in the first section of the film is marvelous. The film quickly moves on from her narrative and yet I only connected with her work)
Vera Miles, Psycho (Miles like all actors in Psycho matches the Hitchock auteurship and she in a small amount of screentime is great)
Barbara Rush, Strangers When We Meet (Rush stands out in a film that suffers from major mediocrity)
Jo Van Fleet, Wild River (Fleet only every interacting with Oscar once will forever baffle me as she was so great so many more times than East of Eden. Just see this film and appreciate her work)

Now begins my 1957 revisit where yet again I have not seen a lot of the films included most of the supporting actress nominees.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

My first choice for Supporting Actress is Liz Fraser for I'm All Right Jack.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I always thought that the great Shirley MacLaine was the runner-up for The Apartment, but watching Deborah Kerr in The Sundowners -took me three days to finish it- made me doubt. It was her 6th (and final) nomination and she does everything: accent, deglam, baking... she also slaps Mitchum, kicks a sheep, washes her armpits on camera... take that, Meryl Streep!

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue -- reading your mind... which parts?

Eoin -- i clearly have lots of movies left I need to see!

July 22, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Yeah, this really is a slam dunk for Leigh, though Ure is also brilliant and I hardly have a hissy fit about the Jones win. I suppose I'm also more fond of Knight's turn than the underwhelmed consensus here.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Oh, so many things! Lansbury being the MVP, Knight giving us nothing, Preston being wooden in all his movies except in Victor/Victoria, Jones playing against type, Sons and Lovers being beautifully shot, Stockwell being beautiful (and well-endowed according to Ure), Howard not really a lead, The Sundowners as pure Oscar-bait, the importance of sex in all the movies...

Question: Is Eve Arden's husband closeted or just uninterested?

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Ugh, Hugh Griffith as presenter - what a total boor. Naturally he had to go back to the mic and say something stupid after Shirley Jones' acceptance.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Hugh Griffith almost seems like the first ‘presenter’ that you’d Want the orchestra to drone out.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

If you have a region-free DVD player, you can buy a CD-R on Ebay of The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

This is an especially interesting lineup, with two iconic performances that make me and probably many others wish for a tie and then three performances probably hardly anyone has ever seen. I just read up some on Mary Ure's sad life story, so now I really want to see her movie somehow. And even though Janet Leigh has also departed, all the three other nominees are still alive and deserve to be remembered for their Oscar caliber talent, and, sadly, all four of them risk having their final appearances being in relatively sub-par comedies. At least when Hot in Cleveland was around, the Shirleys had a little opportunity to show their chops. Oh, well. Hopefulyl TCM can rerun these movies for the 60th anniversary next year.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel

I'm not sure if this is mentioned on the smackdown, but I think it was important that Hitchcock cast a "star" and an older established one at that. In a way, he's killing off old traditional Hollywood and giving us something new. Something much grungier and icky, but there you go.

The audience expects to identify with Janet Leigh because they always have, and then HItchcock pulls out the rug and there is no one left to "love" except Anthony Hopkins. What a trick!

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

Er, Anthony Perkins! I need coffee...or an edit button.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

I thought this podcast was excellent. A really fascinating discussion of acting styles and of the films.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Edward -- thank you. we always hope people are getting into it and honestly i wish i could talk to the panelists for about an hour on each film ;)

July 23, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think Shirley Jones is pretty terrific and I’ve no problem with her Oscar win. She brings a tension and unpredictability to the movie that I love. I also love her movie. And totally co-sign that Jean Simmons should’ve been up for Best Actress. What a fascinating character.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

PS. Had to laugh when you guys spoke of a Music Man reunion. It showed here in Chicago's Grant Park last night, and I couldn't help but think of you all LOL. Damn, Robert and Shirl were marvelous in this!

July 24, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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