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Entries in Oscars (40s) (35)

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.

Saturday
May312014

Smackdown 1941: Margaret, Mary, Sara, Patricia & Teresa

Behold the Supporting Actresses of 1941, two stalwart mothers, two helpless pawns, and one reckless diva. All but one of them, the diva and eventual winner, were in Best Picture nominees in this highly satisfying Oscar showdown.

THE NOMINEES

Allgood, Astor, Collinge, Wright, and Wycherley

Oscar had entered its teenage years by 1941, (14th annual Academy Awards) but it was still a green enough institution that all of its supporting actresses were first timers. Mary Astor, who won the Oscar, was the only star among the nominees and she was having a great year also starring in the noir classic The Maltese Falcon. Career momentum issues should never be underestimated with Oscar outcomes. Astor was joined in the shortlist by two sturdy character players in their 60s: the British stage actress Margaret Wycherley and the Irish screen actress Sara Allgood (who had been featured in some early Alfred Hitchcock movies). Rounding out the nominee list were two true finds making their charmed film debuts in the Best Picture nominee The Little Foxes, Patricia Collinge and Teresa Wright, the latter of whom was an instant darling in Hollywood and would win the Oscar the following year for Mrs Miniver. There's that momentum factor again.

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Angelica Jade Bastien, Anne Marie, Nick Davis, Nathaniel R, Stinkylulu and You - we tabulate reader votes and quotes from your ballots appear!

Without further ado, the main event...

1941
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN

Click to read more ...

Friday
May302014

If We Had Oscar Ballots... a 1941 Extra

Tomorrow when the Supporting Actress Smackdown 1941 hits, we'll just be discussing the five nominees (24 more hours to get your ballots in for the reader's section of the vote!). As it should be. But for the first time in a Smackdown I polled my fellow panelists as to who they would have nominated if, uh, they'd have been alive in 1941 and if, uh, they'd been AMPAS members.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde lust after Lana Turner & Ingrid Bergman. And so does our panel.

Angelica and I didn't vote (I haven't seen enough 1941 pictures, I confess) but our other three panelists have recommendations for you outside the Oscar shortlist. In fact, all three of them only co-signed 2 of Oscar's 5 choices... different ones mostly so the Smackdown should be interesting (I'm not telling you which as the critiques come tomorrow!). So here are some For Your Considerations for your rental queues or your own assessments of that film year...

ANNE MARIE writes: 

Two of the nominations stay but otherwise I'd mix things up. First things first: Justice for Dorothy! Dorothy Comingore should have been nominated for playing Kane's second wife in Citizen Kane, but she was buried under bad publicity by the vengeful William Randolph Hearst. Comingore's performance was so good that her character continues to overshadow the real story of Marion Davies (who was neither bitter, nor talentless, nor married to Hearst). It's not fair that one ticked-off media mogul could kill a promising career. On a lighter note, I'd definitely add Lana Turner to my ballot for a solid year of supporting actress-ing in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeZiegfeld Follies, and Johnny Eager (which would wait two years to be Oscar eligible). 1941 was the year that proved The Sweater Girl could act, and sparkle even in overheated melodramas like these three.

However, since How Green Was My Valley was clearly the Oscar magnet of 1941, a Supporting Actress nomination seems inevitable, so I'd cast my vote for Maureen O'Hara in another solid newcomer performance. Mostly though, I just want Maureen O'Hara to have an Oscar nomination. Just one.

Brian (aka StinkyLulu)

Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Warrick from Citizen Kane.  

And for a stirring glimpse of a potentially great comedic actress not yet fully shackled by the Hollywood machine, see Carmen Miranda in Week End in Havana or That Night in Rio

Nick Davis
He's trying to cheat! He knows how I feel about ties but he has trouble narrowing down his three remaining slots so he sneaks in an unofficial tie, sly one that he is...

My ballot would certainly include Theresa Harris (the veiled subject of Lynn Nottage's recent play By the Way, Meet Vera Stark), who is so spry and witty in what could have been a simple "maid" part in René Clair's The Flame of New Orleans, with Marlene Dietrich.  I also love Beulah Bondi in Penny Serenade, where she eschews the usual Bondi-isms that Margaret Wycherly so embraces in Sergeant York and plays a warm, fully dimensional adoption agent trying to bring happiness to Cary Grant and Irene Dunne while also managing their expectations, and treading her own line between public official and private sympathizer. 

Marlene Dietrich and Theresa Harris in "The Flame of New Orleans"

Ingrid Bergman comes on hot and heavy in the 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, out Lana Turner-ing Lana Turner in her own movie.  But then Marjorie Rambeau is a complete hoot in John Ford's much-maligned Tobacco Road, where she merits recognition much more than she does in the two movies that actually got her nominated.  She'd beat Bergman in a tug-of-war for that last spot, unless Bergman's sensuality burned up the rope.

Wednesday
May282014

Barbara Stanwyck: The Real Best Actress of 1941

It's unofficially 1941 Week. Here's Abstew on the year's greatest actress...

See anything you like?

Purrs Barbara Stanwyck's con artist Jean Harrington to Henry Fonda's smitten ale-heir-turned-Ophiologist Charles Pike in Preston Sturges' 1941 screwball classic, The Lady Eve. The question is asked as the contents of her wardrobe are on display (and the sultry delivery let's us know that Jean is hardly talking about the fuzzy slippers), but Stanwyck might have easily been asking movie-goers the same thing regarding her stellar body of work that year. In a quartet of successful films (The Lady Eve, Meet John Doe, You Belong to Me, and Ball of Fire), Stanwyck earned her second Oscar nomination, starred in a film Time magazine named one of the 100 greatest movies of all-time, and became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Unquestionably, 1941 would prove to be a peak Stanwyck year. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May272014

Visual Index ~ How Green Was My Valley 

In five seasons we've never done a Best Picture winner for Hit Me With Your Best Shot . But not intentionally. So, here's the first. I asked all willing participants to watch the chosen film - in this case John Ford's 1941 film How Green Was My Valley -  and choose what they think of as the Best Shot. (Next week we're looking at another major Oscar player Zorba the Greek to kick off June's "year of the month" which will be devoted to 1964 so please join us... especially if, like me, you've never seen it. Let's fill those gaps in our Oscar viewing, together!)

How Green Was My Valley is marvelous to look at. Though its reputation has been dulled by beating Citizen Kane to Best Picture that year it's easy to see why it won Best Cinematography for Arthur C Miller (not the playwright) among its 5 Oscars. 

"How Green Was My Valley" Best Shot(s)
click on the photo for the corresponding article at these 8 fine blogs

Doing their very best impression of 19th Century British landscape paintings. And yet, the future sneaks in...
-Antagony & Ecstasy

 

Ford later revisited a similar provincial landscape in "The Quiet Man" with vivid Technicolor results, but the black-and-white cinematography here is just as lush...
-Film Actually

The beauty of the early scenes makes the ravages of time seem all the more cruel... 
-We Recycle Movies 


I just looked at these images and couldn’t imagine them being photographed any other way…
-Coco Hits NY 

Pretty scenery? Check. Religion, singing, and coal mining all have something to do with this moment? Check...
-Allison Tooey 


- The Film Experience 


Capitalism vs. religion, new ways vs. old ways. These are the main tensions of the history of industrialization...
- The Entertainment Junkie 

An uphill battle against the smoke and ash that threaten to cover her town...
-Lam Chop Chop 

If you haven't yet seen it, do these shows make you want to?

Tuesday
May272014

Introducing... The Supporting Actresses of 1941

The next Supporting Actress Smackdown hits this coming Saturday and you can still vote as part of the panel. Your votes count toward the outcome since one of the panelists spots is for the readers! We'll look at How Green Was My Valley for Best Shot late tonight but for now, it's another edition of "Introducing..." How do we first meet these 1941 characters who will then grant their actresses the honor of becoming Academy Awards Nominees? Was the direction, music and lighting already helping to single these ladies out for honors?

Here's how they're introduced in their films...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May212014

What does 1941 mean to you? (The Smackdown Cometh!)

The Supporting Actress Smackdown, 1941 Edition, hits these parts on Saturday May 31st (here's the full summer calendar). This month we'll be discussing Mary Astor in The Great Lie, Sara Allgood in How Green Was My Valley, Margaret Wycherly in Sergeant York, Teresa Wright and Patricia Collinge, both in The Little Foxes

1941 winners: Gary Cooper, Joan Fontaine, Mary Astor & Donald Crisp. Note how the supporting actors used to win a plaque instead of a statue!

It's time to introduce our panel as we dive into that film year next week with little goodies strewn about the usual postings.

Remember YOU are part of the panel. So get your votes in by e-mailing Nathaniel with 1941 in the subject line and giving these supporting actresses their heart rankings (1 for awful to 5 for brilliant). Please only vote on the performances you've seen. The votes are averaged so it doesn't hurt a performance to be underseen.

MEET OUR PANEL FOR MAY

Angelica Jade Bastién
Angelica is a writer and southern dame living in Chicago prone to verbose discussions about 1940s women's pictures, Wonder Woman and beer. She is currently focusing on screenwriting including polishing her features Suicide Blonde and The Perversions of Quiet Girls.
[Follow her on Twitter / Tumblr]

What 1941 means to me...

I think of platinum blonde dames cast in shadows, copious cigarette smoke, and the contradictory nature of women's pictures. Three films usually come to mind when that year is mentioned: The Lady EveThe Maltese Falcon, and one of the few Hitchcock films I outright love, Suspicion. All films rife with fascinating gender politics, sharp dialogue, and dynamite performances. But ultimately my mind goes back to Bette Davis (doesn't it always?), in The Little Foxes. While her previous collaborations with William Wyler seem to be more talked about, I've always found this cold hearted, gem of a film the one I revisit most often. Maybe it's the southern setting or maybe it is the extra-textual aspect of what was going on between Wyler and Davis or maybe it's Gregg Toland's moody cinematography. Or perhaps it all comes down to seeing such a dynamic female character clawing for power in ways I always yearn to see more of

Anne Marie
TFE's resident classic movie geek is the author of our weekly series "A Year With Kate," screening Katharine Hepburn's 52 films in chronological order.  Anne Marie works in film preservation and posts non-Hepburn-related musings on her own blog "We Recycle Movies." [Follow her on Twitter.]

What 1941 means to me...

Citizen Kane. That's the answer I'm required to give by cinephile law, right? But 1941 is much more than one film, no matter that film's inflated place on AFI's Top 10. 1941 was the year of the last Garbo movie, the first cartoon naming Bugs Bunny, and film noir's "official" start. It's also the year of my favorite Barbara Stanwyck performance (The Lady Eve), my favorite Lana Turner performance (Ziegfeld Girl), and Bette Davis unequivocally greatest performance (The Little Foxes). Forget Charles Foster Kane. Regina Giddons rules 1941. 'I'm lucky, Horace. I've always been lucky. I'll be lucky again.' "

Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu)
Brian convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico.
[Follow him on Twitter]  

What 1941 means to me...

When I think of 1941 and the movies, I first think of the movie "1941". That legendary flop that, in retrospect, somehow cued that Stephen Spielberg was not just a popcorn-movie guy but also a filmmaker with big ideas about American history, American culture and the importance of Hollywood movies to the nation's understanding of itself. Looking at the supporting actresses of 1941, I'm beginning to think that 1941 might likewise be a year in which the Academy began to understand something similar about how the movies (and the Oscars) had the power to shape how America celebrated itself. And, not unlike Spielberg's 1941, Oscar's 1941 is sorta all over the place but, still, there seems to be something peculiarly prescient about this year's nominees...

Nathaniel R
Nathaniel, the founder and chief contributor of The Film Experience is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a famous Oscar blogger since the dawn of man. He is also a crazy cat lady.
[Follow him on Twitter

What 1941 means to me...

The canted angle. My first ever viewing of Citizen Kane was in my freshman year of college where the professor showed us Orson Welles classic and I learned, among other things, that Welles and his DP had pioneered the canted angle. (I thrilled to everything in the movie but later defected to The Magnificent Ambersons as my preferred Welles. ) I did not know then that I would come to groan at the canted angle which has long since become a parody of itself in the movies, signifying "Tension Goes Here!". But mostly 1941 makes me think of that 5 minute long close-up of Barbara Stanwyck seducing Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve and wishing all directors would have the nerve to continuous shot their nervy leading ladies that long. Let's run that into the ground until it's a parody of itself!

Nick Davis
Nick Davis the author of the film reviews and other sporadically posted material at www.NicksFlickPicks.com and a regular podcaster here at The Film Experience. He is also Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University. His first book "The Desiring-Image" was released last year.
[Follow him on Twitter]

What 1941 means to me...

I know that when I hear 1941, I should right away think "Pearl Harbor," and on my better, more worldly days, I do.  I could contemplate the finer points of the "four freedoms" that FDR described in a 1941 speech as inalienable rights of all global citizens: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  I recently learned I could think about Curious George and The Black Stallion, which made 1941 a banner year in children's book publishing, though I can't think of any major books for adults that debuted that year without looking them up.  Okay, Mildred Pierce.  Let's assume there were others.  But let's be honest: I think most quickly of Citizen Kane, and of Barbara Stanwyck's thrilling hat-trick of The Lady EveMeet John Doe, and Ball of Fire, and of Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland being nominated against each other, and of lesser-known movie favorites like The Flame of New Orleans with Marlene Dietrich and The Blood of Jesus by pioneering African American filmmaker Spencer Williams.  I am who I am, and I am sorry for that..

 

That's it folks. The only thing missing is you. When you hear "1941" what do you think of? Well, besides The Lady Eve which is apparently our communal brain candy.

Are you excited for the Smackdown? 
 

 Previously on the Smackdown: pie throwing 1952shady and sinister 1968warm and kooky 1980, and troubled histrionic 2003