And the Academy selected:
- Carolyn Jones in The Bachelor Party
- Elsa Lanchester in Witness For The Prosecution
- Hope Lange in Peyton Place
- Miyoshi Umeki in Sayonara
- Diane Varsi in Peyton Place
5. Miyoshi Umeki as Katsumi Kelly in Sayonara
The audience gasped when surprise winner Miyoshi Umeki's name was announced and there was probably more then one reason why. Her very short, very unnoticeable performance as the Japanese wife of an American general is something odd the Academy decided to honor. Rarely does she ever have dialogue and rarely does she make herself worthwhile. I don't like the performance as much as I am not unmoved by it.
4. Elsa Lanchester as Miss Plimsoll in Witness For The Prosecution
Witness For The Prosecution is a silly, unrealistic 'suspense' film that is so awful, it's hard to believe it's revered as a classic. Also appearing a very small, unnoticeable role is Elsa Lanchester who plays the nurse to Charles Laughton. She is a witty, reasonable woman who likes her job and is in the movie to provide some comic relief. First of all, she is not funny and that's exactly what the filmmakers are reaching for - when she appears on-screen, it's all fuzzy and unreasonably bad. Just like Umeki, it's a huge failure of a performance for all the reasons imaginable.
3. Diane Varsi as Allison McKenzie in Peyton Place
Peyton Place tries to be an engaging drama, but it mostly feels way too overdone and inexplicably unrealistic. Diane Varsi plays the romantic daughter of Lana Turner's character who tries to rule over her with an iron fist. Varsi plays it with true emotion, lusting, suffering, and being rebellious all on-screen. Being in Peyton Place, she does feel a bit stale but her performance is certainly interesting and turns out to be quite good.
2. Hope Lange as Selena Cross in Peyton Place
In the film's most touching performance is Hope Lange, playing Selena Cross a good natured girl who is unfortunately poor and lives on the bad side of town. She is raped and must deal with the consequences of confessing of it. Lange still deals with the blandness of the material, but she is able to make her entire character and performance very touching and emotional. She handles the performance with the right kind of sympathy that makes her the complete standout of the performance.
1. Carolyn Jones as The Existentialist in The Bachelor Party
In the year's most uncompromising and best performance is Carolyn Jones showing a mountain of complex emotions in just 5 minutes. The Bachelor Party is not necessarily a great film, but when Jones enters the film takes on a whole new level and becomes a classic. The character is a sexy bohemian who appears to be quite rounded and independent, but quickly we learn the woman is much more then that, a desperate, rambling woman who is in need of love. She is deep thinking, intelligent, and full of passion that Jones blazes off the screen. It is a brilliantly magnificent creation and a beautiful performance.
Honorable Omissions: None.