Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1941

  • Sara Allgood in How Green Was My Valley
  • Mary Astor in The Great Lie
  • Patricia Collinge in The Little Foxes
  • Tersea Wright in The Little Foxes
  • Margaret Wycherly in Sergeant York
My Ranking:

5. Sara Allgood as Beth Morgan in How Green Was My Valley

- How Green Was My Valley is the shocking Best Picture winner that still causes a stir today, simply because it beat Citizen Kane. Frankly, I don't like either films for different reasons, and neither should have won Best Picture. Sara Allgood plays into the weepy, maudlin sentimentality of Valley playing the mother of the family who is always searching for the good in things and overlooking the bad. It's a consistently one note performance that goes absolutely nowhere - not to mention she is consistently annoying as well.

4. Margaret Wycherly as Mother York in Sergeant York

- Sergeant York laid as a vehicle for Gary Cooper, and even though he is incoherently terrible he still has to carry the movie, the supporting players are there to lay the cliches down for the film and Margaret Wycherly finds herself in that mix. Almost everytime she appears, she is looked at as a no-nonsense mother who knows her son is doing good and that the best thing to do is pray for him. It's a boring, lifeless part that becomes relatively exhausting after just seeing her for a very short time.

3. Patricia Collinge as Birdie Hubbard in The Little Foxes

The Little Foxes is a brilliant drama that shows the many sides to greed. While Bette Davis and her on-screen siblings show the evil side of greed, Patricia Collinge plays the exact opposite character: a faded, abused, alcoholic wife who lives in a distant world. She is the sympathetic edge of this story and she delicately handles herself through the story. Still, it's a sentimental performance that didn't hit me as hard as it should have. In her big moments, I feel a bit distant from her and couldn't connect. It's still a very good performance that she milks for all it's worth.

2. Tersea Wright as Alexandra Giddens in The Little Foxes

Collinge used to be my favorite of the two Fox ladies, but Tersea Wright now impresses in ways it's not easy to forget. She crafts the most important person in this story as a naive creature who knows what good and bad are, and Wright does it all convincingly, even charmingly. She can be manipulated, but she won't have it, at least not near the end. She uses all the right tricks, and her character ended up resonating with me longer then Collinge's Birdie.

1. Mary Astor as Sandra Kovak in The Great Lie

A delicious performance that is hard to ignore; Mary Astor takes the diva bitchiness of her character and turns it into gold, finding the right balance (at least for me) between drama and pure camp. She is a delight on-screen, showing the selfish side of her character as well as the tough bittersweet feelings of Sandra. It's easy to see why voters were swayed to vote for her, she totally controls the film and sticks out much largely then Bette Davis does. It's a largely terrific performance that has alot of wonderful and powerful moments found within.

Honorable Omissions: None.


Fritz said...

Well, you know my opinion of Astor... :-)

Louis Morgan said...

I must say I am surprised Wycherly received as high as you gave her. Although I also found Allgood unimpressive I found Wycherly to be really terrible.

What do you think of Astor in the Maltese Falcon?

Sage Slowdive said...

Ultimately, they both came REAL close to receiving a lower grade, but Wycherly managed to get 4th because I found her to be the most interesting character in that horrible film. Still, they are both pretty bad.

Astor could have made a worthy nominee for The Maltese Falcon too. Probably in leading though.

DistinguishedFlyer said...

One other factor in Astor winning was probably The Maltese Falcon - even though a nomination is only for one film, if the person was in more than one movie that year voters often take into account all of them (this helps to explain Kelly's win).
As a side note, what do you think of John Ford's movies in general? I don't care for many of them, but to my surprise I liked How Green Was My Valley.

Sage Slowdive said...

I'm on the same level, some are alright, but mostly, he is a one note director.

Jamie said...

I'd go with Astor too, although I'd prefer to give it to her for Maltese Falcon. I think Bogart was the only true lead there.

I'd switch Wright with Collinge however. The more I see of Wright, the less she appeals to me. With a few exceptions, I find her to be a little tiresome.

joe burns said...

I've seen Astor and the two L.F ladies, and I think I'd pick Wright. She delivered a strong, very captivating performance, Collinge is good, but can't deliver as strongly as she should because of the underwritten part.

Astor is good too, but the film's flaws keep her from really shining. What did you think of the film?

Sage Slowdive said...

The Great Lie is pretty terrible...