Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Closer Look: 1962 Supporting Actress

So I decided to take a look at the 1962 Supporting Actress race for the next installment of the ‘Closer Look’ series.  I, apparently, have a lot left to see from this year; and I actually thought I saw most of the important films.  Honestly, looking at the IMDB awards pages, there were a lot of films (especially Golden Globe nominated) that I missed entirely.  Still, I’ve seen all the Oscar films, and so I’ll give a rundown of my take on the Oscar ballot and my current top five (nothing is final till I see some more films).

So, for a refresher; here is Oscar’s lineup:


This is a rather easy pick for me, since I think that Angela Lansbury wipes the floor with literally EVERYONE this year.  It is such a brilliantly composed performance, and this is coming from someone that did not like the movie; at all.  I mean, my disgruntled feelings on the overrated classic aside, Lansbury seethes as the malicious mother of our film’s brainwashed pawn.  The way that she colors her evil intentions with manipulated motherly compassions is astonishing.  You never doubt her evil, but it doesn’t matter because she builds such a solid foundation for that evil.  She soaks it into her skin.  That scene, with the Queen of Diamonds…she’s just CHILLING, to the effing bone!

I really liked Patty Duke, a lot actually, and cannot fault her win despite the fact that Lansbury was a lot better overall, since technically Duke had a lot to handle and did so with an authenticy that must have been difficult to master, but there is one glaring issue with her win; she wasn’t supporting.  Seriously, how can anyone consider her supporting in this role?  She was the definition of a co-lead.  The film was ABOUT her.  She shared nearly every scene with Bancroft.  It’s as glaring a case of category fraud as Tatum O’Neal in ‘Paper Moon’.  Maybe because she’s a girl they think that they can demote her without the notice of anyone else, but seriously…this is just stupid.

One could argue that Badham is also lead in her film, but Peck’s performance and character is such a presence that one can understand to a degree her category placement, despite her lengthy screen time and obvious narration of events. 

Category aside, she was wonderful in the film.  It is a true star making ‘child performance’ and she nails the naivety of the character in a way that underscores the real point of the film itself.  Being a huge fan of the novel and the film and the subsequent stage productions, the character of Scout is one of my favorite in all of literature.  I think that Badham nails everything you would expect this wide-eyed young girl to be.  She finds the wonderment in Scout’s eyes and seeks out her curiosity in a manner that draws us into her world; and her innocence really shines through as she casts doubt on the ways of the world around her; questioning the reasoning of mankind in such an astonishingly astute way.

I don’t understand Ritter’s nomination; like at all.  It is just so dull and really does very little to deserve mention.  She’s merely there.  She has a scene or two where she emotes well, but she is not a big part of the film and her few scenes don’t leave as lasting an impression as they should have to garner such a mention.

I go back and forth with my feelings on Knight.  I think because Page and Newman are such dynamic forces in the film that she becomes swallowed up in their presence.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, and I recall that my initial response to her performance was very good, but as the years have gone by I find myself slightly apathetic.  It doesn’t stir any passion in me, and the bulk of her performance is merely window-dressing to be honest.  As the film closes out, she certainly hammers in the emotional dynamics, but as far as the supporting cast is concerned, Rip Torn is the only one who remains a consistent memory for me.

So, I’d rank them as follows:

1)      Lansbury

2)      Duke

3)      Badham

4)      Knight

5)      Ritter

As far as their careers are concerned, Thelma Ritter kind of owns, right?  I mean, her career was so rich with range and she appeared in so many great films and delivered so many great performances and, sadly, she remained OSCARLESS.  It’s rather gross when you think about it.  Lansbury also had a very nice career; especially in television (her Jessica Fletcher trumps all).  She had a lot of small hits, sweet films with little depth, especially as she got older, but she always held her own and delivered no matter the role.  Besides, her voice is just wonderful, which was a big reason why Beauty and the Beast was such a spellbinding film (yes, she can be thanked for that!). 

I love how Shirley Knight basically turned into Cathleen Turner, she was just never as talented (seriously, look at her now).  Like Lansbury, she also did a lot of television work, but she was never as successful (although she did guest star in a few episodes of Murder, She Wrote) and her film career itself wasn’t anything memorable, despite two Oscar nominations.  I happen to have this guilty pleasure type love for Patty Duke, despite her tackiness over the years.  It is funny how she practically lived on television too (LOL, so, like Ritter wins by default, right?) but she’ll always be Neely O’Hara to me (her Valley of the Dolls performance is legendary). 

And then we have Badham, who has only done six things with her career.  I’ve only seen one of them.  I loved it, mind you, but it’s just one thing (but honestly, she obviously wasn’t that concerned with a career).

So, I’d rank their careers (from what I’ve seen) as follows:

1)      Ritter

2)      Lansbury

3)      Duke

4)      Badham (on one performance alone)

5)      Knight

And so now we come to that part where I tell you the Fisti nominees and yet, I still have so much to see.  While I balk at Duke’s category fraud, I consider nominating both Badham and Janet Margolin (for David and Lisa) myself, and aren’t they both lead?  UGH, category fraud is so common (I do it myself, as you can see when peering over the Fistis) but I do generally try to avoid it.  Since I’m not finalizing anything I’ll throw these names out there:

Outside of these five, I also really liked both Patterson and Margolin from David and Lisa (I’d probably place Margolin in lead, to be honest) and I recently saw Requeim for a Heavyweight and loved Harris’s performance, so maybe she would replace Badham if I chose to promote her to the lead category (where she would sadly miss out on a nomination).

Oh yeah, and Lansbury is my winner, with Thulin and Winters my second and third!


  1. I've only seen Badham's, Duke's and Lansbury's performances, but I agree on Lansbury.

    Ritter's performance sounds just like her performance in All About Eve, which she also got nominated for.

    Can't argue with your Oscar/career rankings.

    YAY! Ingrid Thulin (my winner) at #2! I really need to sit down and make my ballots, but, at the moment, my lineup would be:

    1. Ingrid Thulin, WL
    2. Shelley Winters, Lolita
    3. Angela Lansbury, TMC
    4. Mary Badham, TKAM
    5. Audrey Meadows, That Touch of Mink

    1. Watch Sweet Bird of Youth at least. It is a marvelous film. The Birdman of Alcatraz is decent, but nothing really special, like at all. Lancaster wouldn't even touch my top twelve, and I haven't seen that much from this year apparently.

      Ritter's performance in All About Eve is far better than this one.

    2. I'll watch both films (because I actually own a copy of Birdman of Alcatraz). It's interesting that you didn't like Lancaster, since I've always heard great things about his performance.

    3. It wasn't a bad perf, just nowhere near strong enough to break into my top twelve. At the moment I've got:

      1) Bjornstrand/Winter Light
      2) Werner/Jules et Jim
      3) Mastrioanni/Divorce, Italian Style
      4) Peck/To Kill a Mockingbird
      5) Newman/Sweet Bird of Youth
      6) Quinn/Requiem for a Heavyweight
      7) Delon/L'Eclisse
      8) Burlyaev/Ivan's Childhood
      9) Mitchum/Cape Fear
      10) Belmondo/Le Doulos
      11) Mason/Lolita
      12) Serre/Jules et Jim

  2. Well, I've seen 1-4 and 11-12. That's a start at least. :)

    I suppose my lineup would be:

    1. Bjornstrand
    2. Lemmon (Days of Wine and Roses)
    3. Peck
    4. Mason
    5. Mastroianni

    1. I liked Lemmon, but I kind of hated that movie and especially Remmick. Lemmon grounded some of the film, but I was really underwhelmed, and I consider him one of the GREATEST actors of any generation.

    2. Hmm...I loved both his and Remick's performances, but the film could've been better. Actually, Remick is my current winner that year. Oh well. :)