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Entries in Ruth Gordon (5)

Wednesday
Oct302013

Supporting Smackdown '68: Lynn, Sondra, Kay, Estelle and Ruth

The revival of "StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown" now in its new home at The Film Experience continues. The year is... [cue: time travelling music] 1968.  Oscar skipped the Globe nominees in this category from For the Love of Ivy, The Lion in Winter and Finian's Rainbow and despite their love of Oliver! AND of women in musicals AND of prostitutes with hearts of gold they also skipped newcomer Shani Wallis. Instead they went with these five...

Tony Curtis presented the 1968 Best Supporting Actress Oscar

THE NOMINEES

Estelle Parsons, the previous year's winner in this category for Bonnie & Clyde returned for a victory lap (though she skipped the ceremony). She was joined by two showbiz veterans: Ruth Gordon, a three time nominee for screenwriting who was in the middle of a surprising golden years reinvention as a beloved character actress, and Kay Medford, who had previously experienced her greatest successes on stage. Filling out the shortlist were two fresh faces nominated for their film debuts: Sondra Locke (who would later partner up with Clint Eastwood both on and offscreen for 14 years) & Lynn Carlin (who would later vanish into a series of guest spots on television).

Who will win the Smackdown? Read on 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct262013

Introducing... Five Nominees 1968

I've hinted at it before but we're going to try "Introducing..." as a series, since we love contemplating how actors and filmmakers introduce us to key characters in the movies. There's a real specific art to it if you want the character to stick. So herewith, as prelude to Wednesday's Smackdown, is how the five Supporting Actress nominees of 1968 are introduced in their films. In future non-Smackdown episodes we'll just concentrate on one entrance. But for our purposes here, quintuplets!

I've listed the nominees by how soon they show up in their respective films.

8 minutes in... Estelle Parsons as "Calla" in Rachel Rachel
This entrance is smartly staged by first-time director Paul Newman. It has the clarity of a theatrical entrance albeit without any heightening or glamour. As Rachel (Joanne Woodard) leads her schoolchildren downstage right with some silly arm wavings, an atypically 'light' gesture from this uptight teacher, Calla descends stage left from a higher floor into view, with her own flock, as if conjured by that sudden shift in tone. You immediately sense that they're very different women but as Calla gets closer to the camera, her shift from screechy schoolmarm to close co-worker chum is complete; the women lean in together co-conspiratorially.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct312011

Oscar Horrors: Nosy Neighbor Finale

Editor's Note: This is the final entry in our Oscar Horrors miniseries. We really hope you enjoyed all 17 entries -- full index at the bottom of this post. Should we do it again next year? (Yes, there are more nominations afforded to the creepy-crawly films. The Oscars have been around for 84 years after all...) -Nathaniel

HERE LIES... Ruth Gordon's Oscar-winning turn in Rosemary's Baby who drugged her competition and dragged them to hell in 1968.

Robert here, with a look back at one of Oscar's best Best Supporting Actress decisions. You probably already know that Ruth Gordon was a real Hollywood veteran when she won her Oscar for Rosemary's Baby, having been in the showbiz business ever since appearing as a picture baby in 1915 and taking a stage role as one of Peter Pan's lost boys. Even if you didn't know that, it's the sort of thing that seems right. Or you may have deduced it after seeing footage of Ruth winning her Oscar and declaring "I can't tell ya' how encouraging a thing like this is" followed by a big audience laugh. It's a good laugh line and a silly thing to say after over fifty years in the business. But the laugh was on the audience because Ruth was right. At the time of her win, Ruth's career was going fine. She'd already been a nominee for Inside Daisy Clover a few years earlier. So it would be wrong to say that the Oscar raised her career from the dead... but it sure created a monster.
 
In the first 53 years of Ruth Gordon's career, the pre-Oscar years, Miss Ruth assembled 13 screen credits to her name. Not an insane amount. Not the hundreds you probably assumed from such an enduring actress. But hey, showbusiness is showbusiness. You take what you can get to put food on the table. In the final 19 years of her career, the post-Oscar years, Madam Ruth showed up on screen 28 times. If you take out TV roles the number still almost doubles post-Oscar. so between the ages of 72 and her passing at 88, Ruth Gordon worked twice as much onscreen as in the first 70 years of her life. You'd think she'd made a deal with the devil.

How'd she do that? Well, Ruth Gordon knew what she was doing. Her performance in Rosemary's Baby is the most memorable in the film. But it's not written that way. Consider the descriptive names given to all the characters in the film: the plain but still very pretty Rosemary, the generically masculine Guy, the ancient and powerful Roman, and Ruth Gordon plays Minnie. She's a tiny little thing. Okay, she's got some sass, but she doesn't have any big emotional stand-out Oscar scenes, except of course that she makes every scene she's in stand out.
 
She's a villain. She's evil. Really evil. Frustratingly, annoyingly evil. She's your grandmother's pestering friend, but evil. And the Oscars don't like their supporting actresses to be that evil. Even when they're villainous, like Tilda Swinton or Mo'Nique, they're multi-layered evil. They have human moments. Oscar like's his supporting ladies complex but his supporting men sociopathic. Ruth's Minnie Castevet is dangerous and remorseless. She has more in common with the Hannibal Lecters, Anton Chigurhs and Jokers of the world then her fellow supporting actresses. Then she followed it all up with Harold & Maude. Chances are, if you don't know Ruth as Minnie, you know her as Maude. From the malevolent to the benevolent. It was the one-two punch of her career and it proved that she could do anything. And that, is truly scary.

OSCAR HORRORS
The Swarm - Best Costume Design
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane -Best Actress in a Leading Role
The Fly -Best Makeup
Death Becomes Her -Best Effects, Visual Effects
The Exorcist -Best Actress in a Supporting Role 
The Birds - Best Effects, Special Visual Effects

The Birds - Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
Rosemary's Baby - Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Beetlejuice - Best Makeup
Carrie - Best Actress in a Leading Role
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Best Costume Design
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Best Actor in a Leading Role
King of the Zombies - Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

Poltergeist - Best Effects, Visual Effects
Hellboy II: The Golden Army -Achievement in Makeup
The Silence of the Lambs -Best Director
The Tell-Tale Heart -Best Short Subject, Cartoons

Wednesday
Oct262011

Oscar Horrors: Roman Polanski's Chalky Undertaste

In the Oscar Horrors series we're celebrating Oscar nominated or Oscar winning achievements of or related to the Horror genre. Daily through Halloween!

HERE LIES… Roman Polanski’s screenplay for Rosemary’s Baby, which he adapted from Ira Levin’s bestseller. It lost the statue for Best Adapted Screenplay to a tale of a very different plot – “There are plots against people, aren’t there?” in The Lion in Winter.

JA from MNPP here. When people ask me what my favorite movie is I tell them it’s a tie between Rosemary’s Baby and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. (I’ve always wished I could fall madly in love with another movie that starts with “R” just so I could make some lame comment about how I bide by “The 3 R’s” but it hasn’t happened yet. Yes I am a nerd.) Point being, since seeing Rosemary for the first time twenty years ago or so, I’ve managed to watch it at least once a year, sometimes more, so it’s one of those movies I know by heart.

One of my first activities upon signing up with a Twitter account was, much to my Twitter follower’s understandable exhaustion, a live tweeting of the film – I find exuberance in pretty much every line of dialogue, whether it be something small like the way Minnie (Ruth Gordon) gags out the words “THE CCCCAAARRRPPPETTT” as Roman (Sidney Blackmer) spills the vodka blush, or something big like Guy (John Cassavetes) telling Rosemary (Mia Farrow) that “ it was kinda fun, in a necrophile sorta way.” I consider the script a perfect thing, and a week (hell, a day) doesn’t go by where I don’t quote something from it.

“The name is an anagram.”

“Pain be gone, I will have no more of thee.”

“He has his father’s eyes.”

“It has a chalky undertaste.”

More on the brilliant screenplay and one of cinema's most iconic shots after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep022011

How Vintage! Natalie, Jane, Mike & Julie At Roddy's Place!

Thanks to Matt @ Boy Culture for pointing this abso-wow home movie out. A friend of the late actor Roddy McDowall has uploaded silent movies from the prominent social butterfly's beach house.

This one features Natalie Wood, Mike Nichols, Julie Andrews with toddler... (I hear that's Jane Fonda sticking her tongue out? But I maybe wouldn't have recognized her given the sunglasses and that she's SO young)

I'm not crazy. This is Elaine May with Mike Nichols, right? The timing would be right.

See how many other stars you can spot. (This reminded me of a certain Hollywood socializing passage during the Bonnie & Clyde chapters of "Pictures at a Revolution" and damnit, now I'm going to have to read that all over again.)

This video is rather kind of almost no totally jawdropping.

In this second one Jane Fonda (again sticking her tongue out -- what's that about?) and Julie Andrews (playing with her kids) are more prominent and this time Jane is unmistakably Jane. Plus Ruth Gordon even makes an appearance. Yay, Ruth Gordon. 

There are more of these videos at soapbxprod's youtube channel. These videos are such a scrapbook of who's who in 1960s Hollywood.