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SMACKDOWN 1954

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Entries in Agnes Moorehead (8)

Sunday
Jun282015

Smackdown 1948: Jean, Barbara, Claire, Ellen, and Agnes Moorehead

Presenting the Supporting Actresses of '48. A young writer, a drunken chanteuse, two spinster aunties, and a girl who never gets to the nunnery.

THE NOMINEES

1948 is so basic. A typical Best Supporting Actress shortlist looks almost exactly like this: an actress whose paid her dues finally getting a plum opportunity (hello usually uncredited Ellen Corby in I Remember Mama finally stepping into the limelight), a rapidly rising star (Jean Simmons in Hamlet, not her first attention grabbing role in the late 40s), a fresh ingenue in a popular picture (Meet Barbara Bel Geddes in I Remember Mama), and if you're lucky in a good year a couple of revered character actresses to class up the shortlist joint (Agnes Moorehead in Johnny Belinda and Claire Trevor in Key Largo). And within that mix you'll usually have a protagonist demoted to "supporting" and Best Picture heat helping at least a few of them find a seat at the table. All of that is true for 1948. What isn't so typical is a supporting actress winning on a picture's sole nomination and that happened here. Key Largo has aged well but Oscar didn't have any time for it back then outside of Trevor's drunk despair. The other three pictures had 24 nominations between them!

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Here to talk about these five turns are screenwriter/author Abdi Nazemian ("The Walk in Closet"), film blogger Catherine Stebbins (Cinema Enthusiast), freelance journalist Joe Reid, film critic Tim Robey (The Telegraph), and your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience). In addition to this write up we recorded a companion podcast  where we flesh out some of these thoughts and expound on the movies themselves.

Without further ado...

1948
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN 

 

BARBARA BEL GEDDES as "Katrin" in I Remember Mama
Synopsis: A teenager who dreams of being a writer finds source material in her immigrant mother
Stats: Then 26 yrs old, 2nd film, first and only nomination. 72 minutes of screen time (or 54% of running time). 

Abdi Nazemian: She carries much of the emotional life of the film, but I found the film unbearably sentimental (this from a man who loves Andy Hardy movies and Little Women). She lacks the unique quirks that young actors like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney brought to the same kinds of roles, and gives us a bland portrayal of adolescence. Of all the nominated actresses, she was given the most screen time, and did the least with it. 

Catherine Stebbins: One of these days I’ll figure out why I’m always so drawn to Bel Geddes. She has a lot of screen time as Katrin, given the unenviable task of holding up the film’s relentless episodic nostalgia. She is narrator, observer, worshiper, and an adult playing an adolescent. Katrin constantly looks at her mother, whether in the background or foreground, with reverent awe. Bel Geddes plays this with a partial cognizance that Katrin is in the gently reenacted memories of her past. ♥♥♥

Joe Reid: I can see how, if you were swept up in the homey charms of George Stevens' film, you'd want to throw accolades at Bel Geddes, who plays such an observant window onto the life of her saintly mother. Her hushed voice-over gets to the gauzy-memoir nature of the story effectively, but I'm not sure the performance ever gets much farther than doe-eyed wonderment.  ♥♥

Tim Robey: Saddled with just about the hoariest framing narration in film history, and doing little to lift it out of sanctified goo, Barbara has a near-impossible task here – making the terminally precious Katrin and her “gifted” (read: soporific) memoirs interesting. She can’t win, but we still need something more than a voice like tree sap to get us through this. In overegged close-ups she’s weirdly divorced from real-time engagement with her scenes, and every co-star seems faintly embarrassed about what to do with her. 

Nathaniel R: In the movie's crowded frames, you can often see just her hair or the back of her head; unfortunately her full closeups aren't that much more expressive, generally landing a single emotion. The narration is even stiffer like she's reading to a very small child from an immobile body cast. (The direction and screenplay all but force this stiff repetitiveness though, so it's not all on her) She aces warm awestruck looks at goddess Irene Dunne, but... I mean... who doesn't?  

Reader Write-Ins: "She is telling THEIR story, which she happens to be in. Therefore she is bland, quiet, blending to the background so others can showcase themselves." - Tom (Reader average: ♥♥¼)

Actress earns 10¼ ❤s 

four more actresses after the jump


Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun252015

Introducing... The Supporting Actresses of 1948

It's your last day to vote on the Smackdown! Send in those ballots

Since your collective interest in pre '70s film years is often less robust, consider this an attempt to pump up your excitement levels with a teaser for this weekend's Smackdown. How are our contestants introduced in their movies, how soon, and is it clear from scene one that they'll be Oscar-nominated?

We'll take them in the order in which they appear in their movies, starting with "The End." Wait, what? Oh never fear it's just an ol' hoary framing device for our first contender, who's just finished writing the stories we're about to see unfold onscreen at the very beginning of her movie. 

Meet...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul092014

Magnificent Moorehead, son

 

This post is brought to you by guilt at giving her such a poor rating in last week's Smackdown when she's such an eternal favorite.

Wednesday
Jul022014

Podcast Part 2: A Smackdown Conversation w/ Melanie Lynskey

ICYMI  Part One of this Podcast & The Smackdown Itself

Starring: Actress Melanie Lynskey, the original creator of the Smackdowns Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu), and your regulars Nathaniel R,  Joe Reid and Nick Davis

Smackdown 1964 - A Companion Conversation Pt. 2
00:01 Back From Intermission & Joe freaks out over Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte
04:05 Bette Davis and Baby Jane
07:30 Agnes Moorehead totally divides us
13:30 The Night of the Iguana and its repressed lesbian
16:30 Melanie talks subtext, chemistry and shares an acting pet peeve
20:50 Nathaniel demands a remake and we cast it
24:00 Ava Gardner and Richard Burton GIF-ables
31:20 Not Nominated: Glynis Johns, Irene Papas, and Gloria Foster
34:10 A parting question for Melanie Lynskey

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

THANKS AGAIN TO OUR GUEST MELANIE LYNSKEY 
Her new film Happy Christmas (co-starring Anna Kendrick, Joe Swanberg, and Lena Dunham) is currently available OnDemand and iTunes and opens in limited theatrical release at the end of July.

Anna Kendrick & Melanie Lynskey in Happy Christmas (2014)

(It's funny and endearing. Writer/Director Joe Swanberg really loves his characters and his actual baby son is one of the best babies you'll ever see in a movie -- so much personality!)

Smackdown 64 Companion. Part 2

Monday
Jun302014

Smackdown 1964: Agnes, Lila, Gladys, Grayson and Dame Edith

Behold the Oscar-nominated Supporting Actresses of 1964: two wealthy matriarchs with strained relations to their children, one desperate widow who would very much like relations of any kind, an irritable church group leader watching your every move and one sweaty possessive housekeeper lurking around the corner.

THE NOMINEES

Moorehead, Evans, Kedrova, Cooper, Hall 

1964's shortlist is one of the most senior in any acting category ever with an average age of 61. This 50 year old Oscar contest also acted as a finale for three enduring character actresses who Hollywood adored (Cooper, Evans, and Moorehead) but never quite enough at the right time to hand them the gold man. (In truth Dame Edith Evans, who did not attend the ceremony, was nominated one last time and quite deservedly for The Whisperers but that nomination is sadly almost as forgotten as the confused woman she masterfully played.) 

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

The actress Melanie Lynskey (Happy Christmas, Heavenly Creatures) joins returning panelists Joe Reid, Nick Davis, Nathaniel R, Stinkylulu and You! We also tabulate reader votes and quotes from those ballots appear.

Without further ado, the main event...

1964
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun232014

anything can happen in the woods... ♪ can i link you? 

LA Curbed Character actress extraordinaire Agnes Moorehead's was apparently a wealthy gal. Her former home is going for $19 million. Whoa!
Empire new stills from The Imitation Game which I'm hearing very positive buzz on
HuffPo remembers Batman (1989) with pictures from the original premiere. Such a blast from the past. Remember when Robert Downey Jr and Sarah Jessica Parker were a couple!? Glenn Close looks so young. Anybody know the unnamed woman with Tim Burton?
In Contention Kris Tapley also paid tribute to the film which he says he owes... a lot

Movie Mezzanine Lars von Trier was making movies about "rape culture" before it had a name. Discussion of Dogville & Breaking the Waves
/Film Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience (2009) is becoming a TV series. Lodge Kerrigan who made the disturbing indie Clean, Shaven (1993) and the actress Amy Seimetz are writing and directing.
VF Hollywood Katey Rich on Gary Oldman's angry comments defending Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin's language
Vulture Hollywood's leading men arranged by height with Kevin Hart and Daniel Radcliffe as the tiniest though weirdly they skip the very tallest ones like Hugh Jackman (6'2") and Chris Hemsworth (nearly 6'3") 
Buzzfeed Daniel Radcliffe sorts celebrities into Hogwarts houses. Streep for Gryffindor ("because she's awesome"), Jon Hamm for Hufflepuff, Benedict Cumberbatch for Ravenclaw, etcetera  
In Contention composer Alexandre Desplat to head the Venice Film Festival jury
Sir Ian McKellen he's now "Doctor" Sir Ian McKellen 

Corrections or Damage Control?
Stephen Sondheim has issued a clarifying statement about Into the Woods after all the negative reaction to the changes he said Disney made. Time has passed since he made the comment...

...I had not yet seen a full rough cut of the movie. Coincidentally, I saw it immediately after leaving the meeting and, having now seen it a couple of times, I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie.

And for those who care, as the teachers did, the Prince's dalliance is still in the movie, and so is "Any Moment."

I'm not sure I trust Sondheim to judge a movie. He also approved damaging changes to the film version of Sweeney Todd and just because you're a genius in one medium, doesn't mean you know what's best or even good in another.

Two Tweets
Yeah, yeah, I'm quoting myself but for those of you who aren't on twitter I'd thought you'd enjoy/relate...

 

 

 

And my favorite Tweet of the day because it's good lolz

 

 

Sunday
Feb172013

20 Musicals From Warner Bros

It would be incorrect to say that musicals were made to lift one's spirits since plenty of great musicals are as grim as any ruthless drama. But the genre lifts mine even through tears. So I was instantly in love with the new box set that Warner Bros sent. It's called Best of Warner Bros: 20 Film Collection Musicals (on sale now) and it will serve me well in March once I have time to settle in with some older movies again. I wish I had a copy to give away but I'm keeping this one all to myself - mine! mine! mine!

The collection consists of the following films, packaged in chronological order: The Jazz Singer (1927), The Broadway Melody (1929), 42nd Street (1933), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), An American in Paris (1951), Show Boat (1951), Singin' in the Rain (1952), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), A Star is Born (1954), The Music Man (1962), Viva Las Vegas (1964), Camelot (1967), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Cabaret (1972), That's Entertainment! (1974), Victor/Victoria (1982), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), and Hairspray (1988).

Wanna know which musical I watched the first time last night? Continue reading...

Click to read more ...