Monday, September 19, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1956


And the Academy selected:
  • Mildred Dunnock in Baby Doll
  • Eileen Heckart in The Bad Seed
  • Dorothy Malone in Written On The Wind
  • Mercedes McCambridge in Giant
  • Patty McCormick in The Bad Seed

My Ranking:

5. Mercedes McCambridge as Luz in Giant

What an unbearable performance - she screeches through the film and throws it completely off balance whenever she is on-screen. Luz is a racist bitch who doesn't hold back anything, however McCambridge totally overdoes it, showing nothing but how little subtlety she can fit into the screen. Half of performance seems to be missing and it couldn't be more of a blessing.

4. Patty McCormack as Rhoda Penmark in The Bad Seed

It's in an interesting nomination, but not necessarily a great performance. It's that interest that held my attention while watching Patty McCormack play demon child Rhoda Penmark. It's an obviously guided performance with McCormack playing 'loud' too much, when she is called upon to be the film's main focus, she ruins it by playing the cliche of a bratty child. Hard to be too mean towards her, but no fences held up around here.

3. Dorothy Malone as Marylee Hadley in Written On The Wind

It's colorful entertainment that is as good as it comes. Dorothy Malone's bitchy slut Marylee comes and goes with the wind, but always makes a sound. She brings so much vivacious energy to the film, she outshines everyone else without even trying. She is given a juicy part and even though it's not written great she still tries her best. My feelings have always remained the same - she makes the best out of it, but it's still not the amazing performance it possibly could have been.

2. Mildred Dunnock as Aunt Rose Comfort in Baby Doll

An odd, quirky performance from the 1950s is hard to find, but here is perhaps the best example: Mildred Dunnock as the fluttering, loud, and nosy Aunt Rose who is caught in the middle of everything that is Baby Doll. For me, she's best in cast, finding the exact right note to play the character with without making it over the top or intensely annoying. I could watch her short performance over and over again and still not find any flaws.

1. Eileen Heckart as Hortense Daigle in The Bad Seed

She is just amazing - the more I watch Eileen Heckart in general, the more I love her. Her performance as the lush mother of a dead child, Mrs. Daigle is an early indication of much her talent couldn't be broken. She has just two scenes in the film, but both are classic examples of how to play a drunk without looking foolish and unrealistic. She succeeds in so many areas it's hard to believe she was and still is praised for this performance.

Honorable Omissions: Eileen Heckart in "Bus Stop".


Fritz said...

I don't remember anything about Mildred Dunnock but I vividly remember Eileen Heckart. She was incredibly over-the-top but somehow it worked.

dinasztie said...

I love Heckart, too. But I love McCormack as well. I think she might be my pick.