Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1937

And the Academy selected:
  • Alice Brady in In Old Chicago
  • Andrea Leeds in Stage Door
  • Anne Shirley in Stella Dallas
  • Claire Trevor in Dead End
  • Dame May Whitty in Night Must Fall

My Ranking:

5. Andrea Leeds as Kay Hamilton in Stage Door

Andrea Leeds starts out very promising in her performance as Kay Hamilton, but soon she takes a wide left turn and her performance becomes unbelievably shrill and terrible. She is the only dead serious character in the film and her performance is clearly trying to make the film a more insightful experience. Not to mention Leeds like to exaggerate her emotional plays and expressions.

4. Alice Brady as Molly O'Leary in In Old Chicago

Few Oscars winners are as bland as Alice Brady is in In Old Chicago. She sinks in the film as a wise cracking, tough old lady who takes care of her sons no matter what. The problem is she is flat as a piece of wood and as boring as if she's ready to fall asleep. There is nothing interesting about the character, the film, or Alice Brady to make this an enjoyable piece of work. And does it help she overacts throughout? Not really.

3. Anne Shirley as Laurel Dallas in Stella Dallas

At first, Anne Shirley is playing Laurel as a annoying young girl, but eventually she becomes a reflective young woman and her performance improves vastly. She shows how the character hasn't changed that much since growing up, but she still has feelings for her mother. Shirley may not keep a strong hold on the performance, but she still manages to be moving and terrific in many scenes.

2. Claire Trevor as Francie in Dead End

Claire Trevor's small performance as Francie, the former girlfriend of Humphrey Bogart is something incredible. She rips through the film for a mere 4 minutes and is able to make such a huge impact, she outshines everyone. Her example of broken dreams that are shown in her character's fears and the darkness in her eyes are amazing. This is how small cameo performances should be, they should make the impact Claire Trevor makes on Dead End, a film that could use alot more of her.

1. Dame May Whitty as Mrs. Bramson in Night Must Fall

It doesn't get much better then this, Dame May Whitty's performance as a cranky old rich woman Mrs. Bramson in Night Must Fall. Mrs. Bramson is a old woman who can manipulate those around her while just sitting in a chair. She is funny, charming, and is constantly being superior. She moves through the film wonderfully, brilliantly layering her character in nearly every scene up until that amazing breakdown scene which is hilarious and terrifying at the same time.

Honorable Omissions: None.


Louis Morgan said...

I agree about all that I have seen. Whitty is great complimenting Robert Montgomery's work very well. Trevor shows exactly how much one can do with almost no screentime, and Brady is quite unimpressive.

Derek Bowman said...

We almost completely agree on this year, but I had Claire Trevor at #1 and May Whitty at #2.

Both are really quite good, but I found May's performance to be more of a schtick and a tad bit tiresome. She still has some great moments, especially towards the end of her film. Trevor is astounding and owns that movie even though she's only in four minutes of it.

Jamie said...

Although I think a little more highly of Leeds than you, the rest of the reviews are a great call. Whitty's performance really stuck out for me. I always like seeing her on screen, and she frequently plays some variation of imperious, but she did something quite different with it in this film and is a great match for Montgomery. Interestingly, I usually find him smarmy and superior, but in this film he also does something quite different and nails it.