Marsha Mason received her first Best Actress for playing Maggie Paul, a barroom hooker in the movie Cinderella Liberty. Mason also won the Golden Globe for her performance as a lead actress in a drama, but I doubt that she had much chance of winning that Oscar (the Globe must have been a surprise, I would have expected Streisand to win it for sure, that's the kind of ) as she was relatively unknown and she was competing with previous winners and a very acclaimed previous nominee. I guess she was fourth or fifth in the voting.
Cinderella Liberty is a quite boring, flat movie about a not so unusual relationship between a sailor and a hooker. There's really nothing interesting about it. For most of the time nothing interesting happens and the directing is not very strong here. Mark Rydell's abilities really improved a lot since than as he was able to create the beautiful On Golden Pond eight years later. James Caan, the star of the 70s gives a proper performance, which is not very interesting, but it's quite good. It just serves the movie well.
Unfortunately, Marsha Mason is not much better either. First of all, I really don't want to say anything about the talent of Marsha Mason, since I had previously seen one and a half movies with her in it. In The Goodbye Girl, she gives a very adorable, lovely performance, which is very memorable, so I was hoping that she will be at least as great. Her performance Cinderella Liberty is barely discussed: I read only two in-detail reviews about it, one of them praised her, the other one was not very fond of her. So what should one expect from Cinderella Liberty? Hell, I did not know.
Mason plays Maggie Paul, a fun-loving hooker, who loves being with sailors. She's quite a tough woman, she drinks, hustles the pool, she sleeps with different men every night, has one illegitimate child and a very messy life. Meeting this sailor called John could be a turning point in her life and it is to a certain degree, but Maggie is unable to change.
The first thing we see from Marsha/Maggie in this movie is her lovely bottom (quite directly) while she's playing. She's laughing out so loud, she seems to be very vulgar and common. She has this "Are you coming handsome sailor?" attitude, which could be very annoying after a while, but Mason fortunately avoids this cliché. In The Goodby Girl, Mason has a very strong a lively presence and I expected the same from this performance, but I never really got it. She doesn't have much screentime, so she has to be really strong to give an effective leading performance. Unfortunately the effect is lost in-between and therefore I was never really amazed by her. I liked certain scenes and moments, but the whole thing did not come together. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are next to each other, even at the right place and yet I wasn't able to see the picture as a whole. I mean, what's the point? Who is this Maggie? What does she want? I never really knew this person, she was there, I knew certain things, but Mason never showed me Maggie's real personality. I must admit, though, that she has a great chemistry with James Caan and the two make a great on-screen couple. Their scenes work in a very weird way, but it is not that great.
And yet, despite all the negative things I said about her, there was something positive that I felt. Although I was complaining that her presence was not strong enough, I must say that it had a certain magnetism that drew my eyes. I could never really take my eyes off her and therefore, sometimes I really enjoyed her presence. It was just great when she was there and this is probably the reason why I can say eventually that I LIKED this performance. I am not talking about love, not even real appreciation, but I LIKED it.
After all, I can say about this very mysterious and hard-to-find performance, that I actually enjoyed it despite the fact that it's a bit failed effort or at least with me. I was never really touched by it, but I enjoyed it to a certain degree. I don't really see the brilliance in it, but I liked it. I really did.
It was a 3.5 first, but I changed it, I might change it back, depending on how much it will grow on me. I just can't give it a 3.5 now. My lenient heart... :)