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Entries in Elmer Gantry (2)

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  

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Saturday
Nov022013

Happy Centenial, Burt Lancaster!

Anne Marie here to celebrate a Hollywood icon on his 100th birthday.

November 2nd is the centennial of that charismatic giant of an actor, Burt Lancaster. He had Clark Gable's charisma, Cary Grant's charm, The Grin, a mop of hair that couldn't be tamed, and a voice that dripped sweetness from every syllable. With all of these admirable qualities, Lancaster could have settled into a career as a leading man, however he chose to pursue challenging roles and a career directing and producing as well. I first saw him in The Rainmaker starring opposite Katharine Hepburn. It takes something special to tear my attention away from Kate The Great, but the minute Lancaster appeared I was starstruck.

But if we're going to talk about iconic Lancaster performances, we have to start here:

 

While this particularly sexy kiss is what we all remember the film for, it's worth mentioning that Lancaster's also very good in the film. As Sgt. Warden, Lancaster balances military bravado, empathy for his soldiers, passion, vulnerability, and steeliness on his well-muscled shoulders. He was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. [Trivia Note: From Here To Eternity is tied with 8 other pictures for "most acting nominations from one film" with 5 (!) an achievement that is now extremely rare, ending with Network (1976)] 

Lancaster wouldn't win the gold until Elmer Gantry in 1960...

Elmer Gantry is a role tailor-made for Lancaster's particular brand of charm. Gantry is a con man who starts starts evangelizing at revivals because he wants to get into the habit of Sister Sharon (Jean Simmons). Gantry is a bad man preaching the Good Book. But my goodness, I could listen to him read the phone book! It's impossible not to root for him or fall for him. Lancaster roars and cajoles and cries while he's preaching, but his quiet moments are equally powerful. One such quiet scene is between Gantry and a prostitute played by future Partridge Family matriarch Shirley Jones. Lancaster portrays Gantry's powerful personality with an equally potent physicality, so when the wordsmith is temporarily broken, you can see it in his shoulders as well as his eyes. Elmer Gantry is more a whirlwind than a simple performance.

Burt Lancaster's career was as long as it was diverse. He played pirates, preachers, thugs, Nazis, conmen, convicts, and cowboys. One thing's certain: he was definitely never dull. Happy Birthday, Burt!

What's your favorite Burt Lancaster movie?