Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight

Ingrid Bergman received her second Oscar nomination for playin Paula Alquist Anton in George Cukor's Best Picture nominated movie, Gaslight. It was pretty sure, in my opinion, that Ingrid Bergman would win her first Oscar in 1944. She had just lost the previous year to her good friend Jennifer Jones, she didn't get nominated for Casablanca plus she had a very Oscary role. I think her win was inevitable though not an easy one as Barbara Stanwyck must have given her some tough competition.

I used to be a great fan of Gaslight. Now, I'm not even though I really liked it this time, too. It's a very entertaining psychological thriller, which has a lot of suspense though it's not even close to Hitchcock despite the fact that mistake this movie for Notorious (in which Bergman gives her best performance besides Autumn Sonata). I think George Cukor could have received an Oscar nomination as his direction was quite great. Charles Boyer deserved the nomination though I wouldn't give him a win. I really love Angela Lansbury and the thought that she did not get the Oscar for The Manchurian Candidate makes me sick (she was the victim of a category fraud of Patty Duke). Still, she doesn't do much in Gaslight.

Ingrid Bergman is an actress who is so underappreciated nowadays and many say that she's too obvious as an actress. In addition to the fact that I hate the term "obvious actress", I think it's really untrue. Ingrid Bergman was a fantastic performer who relied completely on her emotions (like Anna Magnani but in a different way). She may not calculate her teardrops per second like Meryl Streep does but Ingrid always has such an effect on me. Even in her most hated performances (For Whom the Bell Tolls and Joan of Arc) there's something that I really admire.

The same thing is the case with Ingrid's performance as Paula Alquist Anton in Gaslight. However, this is not a typical Ingrid Bergman performance that I love. Or to pu it more accurately: this is not what I love Ingrid Bergman for. I actually prefer her works made in the seventies and the sixties to her movies in the fourties. That has nothing to do with Gaslight as it's really a fantastic achievement of hers.

The role of Paula seems to be tailor made for Ingrid Bergman as she's typically a quietly suffering woman that Bergman could play so well (although her casting nowadays seems obvious, she wasn't the first choice to play Paula). Paula starts out as a very naive young girl who falls for a man she barely knows. She seems to be haunted by the memory of her dead aunt and every time she's mentioned (or even London), Palua begins to sob or she has a terrified expression on her face. Bergman so amazingly showed the effects of this traumatic even on Paula. Every expression on her face is just perfect. She could have ruined Paula very easily but somehow, she was able to keep the right balance.

However, the most curcial thing about this movie was the great co-operation between the lead actors. Bergman's chemistry with Charles Boyer is just excellent. They work so well together, their scenes, their interactions are so brilliant. They really had to support each other as neither of the roles was really active and they mostly had to react to each other. It's mostly Boyer who takes the initiative but Bergman is also flawless in their scenes. Ingrid is just wonderful at reacting to the mental torture that she suffers. There's a mindblowing scene where they go to The Tower of London and they are looking at the crown jewels. Charles Boyer's diabolique presence is the polar opposite of Ingrid's angelic innocence and therefore they are so great together.

However, Ingrid is the greatest when Boyer says that they will go the the theatre and Ingrid starts dancing and then Boyer interrupts her. That instant change on Ingrid's face from fierce exhiliration to shock and horror is the work of a genious: it comes so much from Ingrid's great instincts and it's terrifying in its unexpectedness. Paula is gradually losing her mind and we feel that Ingrid goes deeper and deeper into Paula's head. Also, Ingrid is quite brilliant in the scenes with Angela Lansbury. Paula is terrified of her own maid and the fear Ingrid shows towards this girl is so chilling. Plus, Ingrid also has great chemistry with Joseph Cotten though their scenes are not the best ones of the movie and they feel a bit too "Hollywood" to me.

So, I must say that my choice is not going to be an easy one. Ingrid Bergman gives a fabulous, extremely memorable performance as Paula a terrified woman on the edge of a total nervous breakdown. Although this is not the type of Bergman's performance that I love obsessedly, I would feel ashamed if I didn't praise her for this work of hers as much as I can. Ingrid's portrayal of this woman is brilliant and really haunting.
No official predictions now! Making The Final Conclusion will be the toughest one ever and I still feel bad for the ones I won't make my winner. Oh, it's gonna be tough but a lot of fun, I'm sure. :) So, the results come tomorrow.

What do you think?

Bette Davis in Mr. Skeffington

Bette Davis received her seventh/eighth Best Actress nomination for playing Fanny Trellis in the movie Mr. Skeffington. 1944 is a very interesting year where I'm totally uncertain how the voting might have been. That fourth spot is the one that makes me really think. It was definitely between Greer Garson and Bette Davis. I guess, in the end, that they probably went with Bette as Greer was a very recent Oscar winner (though Bette had two) and Bette's movie was bigger and flashier than Greer's.

That doesn't mean that Mr. Skeffington was better than Mrs. Parking. Not at all. Mr. Skeffington could have been an amazing movie had the filmmakers realised that less is more sometimes. What I mean is that the movie wants to talk about the first half of the 20th century and it somehow becomes very shallow. It doesn't get a real depth and the story becomes boring after a while. Still, the performances are quite good: Claude Rains was excellent in the first half and he would get my Best Supporting Actor vote if it wasn't for Barry Fitzgerald. I really felt sorry for his character. He got all that hate from Fanny's brother. But why did he exactly hate Job? Job was actually very decent with that criminal. I guess the fact that he was called 'Job' had a lot to do with that.

Bette Davis was pretty much the (melo)drama queen. She's considered a real icon and (by many) the first lady of the American cinema. And yes, she was such a huge talent. Nobody could play those teary-eyed or vicious and bitchy characters more naturally than she did. These are the two characters she often played but quite usually, these types were mixed. That's when she got her Oscar nominations and that's what the case is with Mr. Skeffington. Fanny Trellis doesn't fall into both categories. Fanny is a very vain and quite conceited character who also has a hidden (extremely deep inside), sensitive self who quite rarely appears.

This performance of Bette is considered (by many) to be the weakest one of her Oscar nominated roles. I really disagree even though I might just understand the complaints against it. It's true that it's not even close to The Little Foxes and it's a billion miles away from All About Eve (but honestly, it rarely gets better than her in All About Eve). I would say that Fanny Trellis was not the most difficult and showy role of Bette.

First of all, I really felt that Bette Davis added very much depth to this character. Fanny is, above all, extremely vain. She always cares about the outside, how she looks, how her house looks, how her family life looks. Although Fanny enjoys all the money (or fortune) she gets from Job, I don't think that she's as greedy as Regina Giddens from The Little Foxes. Unlike Regina, Fanny doesn't covet constantly, she just feels that she's entitled to a fortune because she's Fanny Trellis, an idol, a noble lady and just Fanny. Bette showed Fanny's worries about her looks, her youth and her beauty and added small hints about what's going to happen in the end. In the end, it's so tragic and Bette's performance makes it even more heart-wrenching.

I think most people miss the great lines from Bette in this movie. It's true that she doesn't get to deliver many sarcastic one-liners but this character is still quite much fun. Although Fanny's not exactly bitchy, she's extremely proud and Bette always underlines this with her performance. It's interesting that Bette chose such a high-pitched voice for Fanny. Just like with Natalie Portman in Black Swan, the annoying voice served the character perfectly and it did not bother me at all.

I would say that Bette's best scene in this movie is the one where she confronts her brother after the wedding (and the weird honeymoon) with Job. There's so much emotion and tension there and I loved how Bette handled that scene. She was quite over-the-top but strangely, it all worked for me. Just like when Fanny learns some sad news. Bette got across Fanny's sorrow extremely well.

I would also have to mention the way Bette (and Fanny :D) plays with the men that are after Fanny. Bette is quite playful in those scenes and I loved that she added very much humor. It was really great to see her feel so easily in front of the camera.

So, to sum up, many might disagree with me but I think that Bette Davis was fantastic in Mr. Skeffington. Her over-the-top acting, her insane and brave choices all worked well with me. Even after I finished watchin the movie, I was under the effect of Bette's great performance. Although it's not her best work, it's worth watching.

As I said, I love doing this year so it's very painful to say that you have to give your final predictions now. :(

Ingrid's profile comes in a couple of hours but you have to wait until tomorrow for The Final Conclusion since I really have a lot to think about. The stronger year, the more difficult ranking.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

Barbara Stanwyck received her third unsuccessful nomination for playing Phyllis Diethrichson, a manipulative femme fatale in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity. Poor, poor Barbara. I'm really sorry that despite being a great star and an icon, she never won a comptetitive Oscar. She got closest to winning the award with this role of hers. I think she would have won it, hadn't Ingrid lost the previous year to Jennifer Jones (if Ingrid had been nominated for Casablanca as she should have been). Barbara had to make do with an Honorary Oscar and a couple of Emmys instead. Still, she's one of the greatest that has ever been.

Double Indemnity is just a terrific movie like almost everything that Billy Wilder did. That guy was such a genious. He always used to say that the most important thing of a good movie is a great screenplay. And he was so right. Although I prefer Wilder's comedies, his 40s works are also really terrific. Fred MacMurray gives an excellent performance in the lead and I really think that he should have been nominated for Best Actor. Edward G. Robinson is also terrific in his supporting role and he's a real scene stealer in this one (too).

Barbara Stanwyck is really becoming one of my absolute favorite actresses. She had such a unique presence, a brilliant voice and a shining talent. Although she's nowadays mostly remembered by the general public for playing matriarchs in 80s soaps, her movies are also quite legendary. And probably the two most famous roles she ever played were in The Lady Eve and Double Indemnity. These were the landmarks in her rich career and one just cannot say anything bad about these ones. It always feels awkward to criticise iconic performances as you feel really bad about why you dislike something that some go crazy for.

However, such a thing doesn't come to my mind when I think about Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson as not only is her performance, in my humble opinion, fantastic but it's also one of the best works of this excellent lady. If you ask me, Barbara Stanwyck is a bit unlikely femme fatale. She's not as distant (or as mindblowingly beautiful) as Lauren Bacall or Gene Tierney. Barbara is much more easy-going and yet she has the very mysterious and very seductive nature that the above mentioned ladies have/had. Phyllis is a very manipulative but irresistable woman who can control and manipulate men extremely easily and even the audience. When we first see her as Phyllis she wears only a towel and she's presumably naked under it. This makes her so desirable in the very first scene of hers that it really manipulates the audience. Phyllis is an immoral, greedy woman who's as she puts "rotten to the heart". She basically wants to kill her husband to get insurance money and she manipulates a man who eventually makes a plan and commits the murder.

This is one of those performances when the performer benefits from the excellently written character who has great lines and scenes. That's what won Supporting Actor Oscars to three men who played villains in the very recent years. However, Barbara is so different as her performance doesn't rely only on delivering the great lines well (or simply the character) but she also adds real depth to this woman. Or to put it more accurately, she adds no depth to this character but intead she shows us that this woman has no depth, only emptiness and greed. Stanwyck plays so many tricks with the audience, which really could have been too forced and they could have made the performance too perplexing but she knew exactly when to stop. This is clearly visible in the very(intentionally) melodramatic scenes where Phyllis is complaining about her distant, aggressive husband. Her stories are really unlikely and they probably lack any real basis but we can't help believing them.

Stanwyck has some really intense and unforgettable scenes where she really shows all her talent. I think the most brilliant scene of her performance (and the movie) is where she's hiding behind the door when Fred MacMurray is talking to the suspicious Edward G. Robinson. Stanwyck brilliantly matched scared with cool-headed. She's both firm and desperate. It's a terrificly acted (and directed moment), full of suspense and it really blew me away. Her very last scene with her teary-eyed confession (probably also a lie) is also just unbelievably great. SPOILER! First, she cold-bloodedly shoots her lover and then she drops the gun and falls in love (!) with her. She is seemingly terrfied and she somehow knows that she's going to die but she hysterically hugs the man she loves. SPOILER OFF! It's an unlikely, yet terrific moment that really blows you away.

From her entry through her scenes at the shop with her sunglasses on until the unlikely, teary ending, Barbara Stanwyck's performance as the manipulative, irresistable Phyllis Dietrichson is just pitch-perfect. I'm not saying anything for sure but from what I've seen this is absolutely the best work of this silver screen goddess who always blows me away with her wonderful presence and radiant talent. Breathtaking achievement that naturally gets

What do you think?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away

Claudette Colbert received her third and last Best Actress nomination for playing Mrs. Anne Hilton in Since You Went Away. I'm quite sure that Colbert was the third likeliest to win the Oscar as she played in a very actual Selznick movie that got a Best Picture nom, too. I think she had more chance than Davis and Garson because she won the Oscar 10 years before (sooner) than them, plus Mrs. Parkington and Mr. Skeffington were not nominated for Best Picture.

Since You Went Away is a movie that was seemingly inteded to win many Oscars. David O. Selznick was well-known for making long, epic, baity movies and yet Since You Went Away is much more modest than, say, Gone with the Wind. Still, it's very long and it's full of dramatic elements plus there's the Mrs. Miniver factor in it. It's less of a propaganda movie, though and yet it's weaker than that one. Max Steiner won the Oscar for this one and it's a bit awkward that he lost for Gone with the Wind and won for this one. Jennifer Jones is fine in this role though she seems to be just reprising the role of St. Bernadette here. Still, it was a deserved nomination in a weak field. Monty Wooley is quite fine and he might have deserved to be nominated, too.

Claudette Colbert is an actress whom I really don't know. I had only seen It Happened One Night before Since You Went Away and she really impressed me in that one, so I was really looking forward to seeing her again. Vicious gossip columnist Hedda Hopper always spoke about her very fondly (quite a rare thing) and I think I understand why. Claudette's French elegance is combined with so much dignity and that's such a lucky combination. She seems to have had so much dedication to deliver great performances. She's not only beautiful but also has a very uncanny presence. When I see a performer with great presence, I always feel something in my bones. When I see Claudette, it's like eating some really delicious chocolate, which you don't eat up at once but save it so that it lasts longer.

The role of Mrs. Anne Hilton screamed Mrs. Miniver to me so much when I read the synopsis of the story. A strong mother who tries to hold her family together druing WWII. Still, it's so much different. Mrs. Miniver seems to be like a saint who's inaccesible and angelic. She's the perfect person, who keeps her composure even in the toughest situation. Anne Hilton is, however, much more fragile and human. This is not about comparing the performance. It's strictly about the characters. We see Mrs. Hilton's flaws (she even admits them) and even a bit of her laziness. She is used to living this very American and comfortable lifestyle and she doesn't really want to give up and yet she has to make some sacrifices.

The first scenes are the highlights of Colbert's whole performance. They are quite heartbreaking and extremely haunting. It's a really sad scene where she looks at the photo of her husband who went to the war. The whole thing becomes very human and also quite sad. When the movie started, I thought that she would totally blow me away in the end. Unfortunately, she didn't.

That's not her fault really and yet it affects her whole performance. The thing is that this movie is not Claudette's. The most impotant character is by far, Jennifer Jones'. Although Jones was nominated in the supporting category, she has about twice as much screentime as Colbert and sometimes her story-lines overshadow Claudette's. Unfortunately, I might add as I think that Claudette was much better and she had the more interesting character. I think it had much to do with the fact that Selznick really wanted to make Jones a big star (he did succeed, to a degree) and therefore she was given the huge scenes, not Colbert. Too bad, because as I said, Colbert is much more impressive.

Although Claudette doesn't have enough screentime and opportunities, she still manages to become quite great. Her chemistry with Joseph Cotten is just excellent, plus she's very believable as the ordinary mother and wife without becoming annoying. Although Anne is a likeable character, Claudette doesn't make her a saint and therefore she becomes much more realistic.

Fortunately, in the end, Claudette is in the spotlight again. The end of her performance really matches the beginning's greatness and I was quite relieved that she wouldn't leave me unimpressed. The scene when she's looking at her Christmas present is simply breathtaking. Claudette found the good balance there so well and she did not go over-the-top. It's a very emotional moment and I really loved it.

So, to sum up, this is great work by Claudette Colbert. Although she didn't have the screentime and the screenplay on her sider, she still managed to deliver a very emotional and loveable performance as Mrs. Anne Hilton. Claudette's acting is not too sentimental and she's quite heartwrenching occasionally. Had she been given more, she would have been fantastic (and won the Oscar). But this way, she's "just" extremely great.
First I wanted to give her a very strong 4 but I compared her to the ladies who got 4s but she was way better, better even than some of the 4.5 ladies, so... :D

And I must add: I LOVE DOING THIS YEAR! So far, it has been full of present surprises. And there's Bette, Ingrid and Barbara still left. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Greer Garson in Mrs. Parkington

Greer Garson received her fifth Best Actress nomination for playing the title role of the movie Mrs. Parkington. Thinking about the competition in 1944 is not very easy. Ingrid's win was pretty settled as she lost the previous year, had a huge role. I imagine that Greer was quite probably fourth or fifth because although she was the major Oscar favorite, she had much more successful movies for which she lost. So, she didn't have much of a chance of winning.

Mrs. Parkington is almost NEVER talked about and the things that I've read weren't that positive. Therefore, I was prepared for a very boring movie. I felt that something like Blossoms in the Dust would be just fine. And boy, I was so surprised when I was watching it. The story is so gripping and absorbing, the movie is minimally sentimental and predictable. The whole thing is really enjoyable and entertaining. It's a hard-to-find movie but it's worth waiting for it, I think. I think the actors give quite good performances. Although Agnes Moorehead's accent is a bit too much (she was no Meryl Streep at accents, to put it kindly), she's actually quite good and she just might have deserved the nomination.

Greer Garson was such an interesting actress. In many ways, she's like Deborah Kerr. Quiet, dignified and subtle. However, Greer is somehow very natural and she's not artificial like Kerr. Greer Garson was the best at playing strong women in a very 40s sense and yet her acting style doesn't seem dated at all. I'm sure some disagree with me but I always admire Greer's talent even though none of her performances blew me away yet. Still, I always love that she radiates the screen with her presence. The Academy also fell in love with her. She was very much like Meryl Streep in the 80s. They nominated her for everything as she was an actress at the peak of her career and she just couldn't do wrong.

In Mrs. Parkington, Greer Garson plays Susie 'Sparrow' Parkington, a woman who becomes a rich wife and a matriarch of a famous family. And she's simply wonderful as Susie. When I read the title, I thought this would be Mrs. Miniver part 11 but it really isn't. Although Mrs. Parkington and Mrs. Miniver have got a lot in common, they are quite different characters and Greer approached them very differently. There's much more lightness and humor in Susie and Greer seems to be enjoying this part much more. I always saw that she was doing it with real joy and she just loved it. This kind of affection/dedication always pays off and it really impressed me.

As I said, Greer had this very subtle and dignified acting style, which cannot really copied. She has this luminous presence that becomes so absorbing after a while and it really makes even the most shallow roles very interesting. Whenever Greer got to play a well-written character who actually had some depth, Greer could do miracles with it. Even when she has an extremely sentimental movie like Blossoms in the Dust, she's able to create something utterly wonderful with it. I think it's the word wonderful that fits Greer the best. I often associate gold with this expression and Greer Garson was pure gold, a true treasure of cinema.

For some of the performance, Greer has very heavy make-up as she has to play an 84-year-old. She's not ridiculous at all, though. On the contrary, she handles these scenes with the elderly Susie the best. There's so much wisdom and love in her eyes and you can just spot the experience and kindness inside Susie. Greer made all these great qualities look very natural and they don't seem to be forced at all. Again, it's so wonderful.

Susie goes through a major transformation throughout the movie and Greer's just excellent at showing all these changes in her. I was so happy that it did not have the "Am rich but inside I'm jus' a country girl" mentality because thatcan give me creeps sometimes. Everything is very realistic in this performance and there wasn't a single moment when I thought that it was overly sentimental. Greer also perfectly found the balance between the drama and the comedy in this character. Plus, Greer's legendary chemistry with Walter Pidgeon is really great in this movie. One just keeps wondering why they weren't married in real life. :)

So, after all, I can say that I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed by this performance of the wonderful Greer Garson. Although she did not blow me away totally, I was utterly mesmerized by her unique presence and talent. Garson illuminates the screen with her radiant self and charisma and she creates a wonderful performance as Susie Parkington. Excellent work, which should be much more frequently talked about.

Wow, Greer was just great! If you want to have a great time, watch Mrs. Parkington here.

What do you think?

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
  • Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away
  • Bette Davis in Mr. Skeffington
  • Greer Garson in Mrs. Parkington
  • Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity
I can't wait to see all of the performances. It's going to be a tough battle between Bergman and Stanwyck and I haven't even seen the others who might just outdo both of them. Oh, so exciting! :)

What do you think? The predicting contest is on.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1957


So the much anticipated ranking:

Lana's performance mostly consits of sleepwalking and sitting in the background. I believe that had Turner been given some more to do, she would have been able to pull of a great performance as Constance. The screenplay always underlines how frigid this character is and it doesn't really let Turner do wonders with it. The overall effect is disappointing.

there isn't a thing about Deborah Kerr's performance that you could be passionate about. You can't love her, can't hate her and the whole thing becomes very standard and uninteresting. I know that many love this work but I just wasn't able to warm up to it. Deborah Kerr is quite good as Sister Angela but she doesn't go beyond good.

Despite my dislike for the acting of Joanne Woodward, this is quite a good job by her. Although it's not groundbreaking by any means and the emotional part of it is a bit lacking, the technical department is just excellent. Woodward made very wise decisions with these characters (despite being relatively new to the craft) and she put on a very good performance.

This performance is a bit mixed. On the one hand, Liz's accent and mannerisms are incredibly annoying and she fails with the technical part. On the other hand, there are also some great moments that I just cannot ignore. As I said, Taylor is not really amazing, but there's something in her that stays with me. It's still quite good work and something keeps resonating with me.

You may consider me overenthusiastic and too lenient with performances but I was just blown away by Anna, from the beginning to the very end. Anna Magnani creates this beautiful, wonderful character and single-handedly makes the movie. It might be a bit much for many. For me, it worked and I consider this an astonishing performance.

So I can proudly announce
that my winner is...
Anna Magnani
Wild is the Wind
Why do I have to compete?

  • Giulietta Masina in The Nights of Cabiria
Final thoughts: A really weak year. Yes, I was a bit overenthusiastic but Anna was a shining light in this extremely weak year. So she was the clear winner. Joanne was quite good though a bit dry. Elizabeth Taylor, whom we tragically lost on the day I reviewed her performance, gave a mixed but haunting performance in Raintree County. Deborah was simply good, Lana was not bad. Again, a truly weak year. Still, I'm happy that I did it as I was so interested in Anna's performance, which was really astonishing though the movie dragged her down a bit.

About the next year: You cannot imagine the misery, torture and suffering that I went through to do the next year and get all the films. It's a really interesting one though I've only seen 2 performances but they are both given by two of my all-time favorite actresses (and the others are great performers, too, all three of them previous winners). Clue:
  • I can't give you a real clue as I keep forgetting and losing everything ever since that new insurance I have. ;)
What do you think?

Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Deborah Kerr received her fourth unsuccesful Best Actress nomination for playing Sister Angela in John Huston's movie, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. I'm quite certain that Deborah Kerr was the second in 1957 and Joanne Woodward only barely edged her out. But why really? I think that the Academy also noticed that Deborah was overdue for an Oscar though there was always someone who was more overdue (Susan Hayward, Elizabeth Taylor), more popular (Elizabeth Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn) or gave a big performance (Olivia de Havilland, Joanne Woodward) or all of them combined (Hayward again). Poor Deborah, she was nominated always at the wrong time.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is a pretty lukewarm movie. There's not much going on, the whole thing is pretty boring and I am 100% sure that I will forget it in at least three days. It's very much like African Queen though it's much less funny and entertaining. I guess John Huston's producers wanted to make more money and they knew the perfect recipee for a succesful movie at the time. Robert Mitchum was a really great actor, a truly unique presence who gave excellent performance but this one is definitely not his best work.

Deborah Kerr is an actress very much like Annette Bening. There's so much to respect about her and yet I just don't feel that she's that special. Apart from out joint birthday, there is no connection between me and Deborah Kerr. However, I have never been disappointed by her as I always get from her what I expect. A very proper, ubtle performance. I expected it this time too and I got it.

Not that it is groundbreaking in any way. Although Deborah must have had a great chance of winning the Oscar that year, this is not the role that people remember her for. This one is actually quite forgotten and rarely talked about nowadays besides Oscar bloggers. Had I been an Academy member in 1957, I would have considered nominating Deborah for An Affair to Remember. It's not that it's better, it's just much more of an Oscar movie than Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

In Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, Deborah plays Sister Angela, a nun who's marooned on a South Pacific island along with an American marine played by Robert Mitchum. I think the most curcial thing about movie is the great chemistry between the leads. Whenever there are just two characters that you see, they really have to work together fabulously as collaboration is just inevitable in these cases. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen here. I always felt that there wasn't much of a sexual tension between these two characters and it should have been there. They give good performances on their own, but their work together is nothing special. Therefore, both actors failed on this very important level.

However, as I said, Kerr is very good on her own. She has quite a radiant presence on the screen but unlike Elizabeth Taylor (RIP) in Raintree County, this presence doesn't make up for the flawed rest. Kerr didn't have a star charisma and no matter what people say, that can also elevate a certain, not-so-strong performance.

Everybody keeps talking about Sister Angela's dark side but that's really something that I hardly noticed in Kerr's performance. She always remains this benevolent nun who's very quiet and dignified. Just like the movie, Kerr also remains very lukewarm and she doesn't really shine. That's a pity, actually. I would have loved this performance much more, had she given more fire and soul to this character. As I said, the whole thing is very charming but nothing mindblowing, really. There isn't a moment when I was just blown away (even Lana Turner had some) and Kerr constantly plays Sister Angela very one-note. Kerr's very proper and I dare say dull acting is very visible in this work and that's not a positive thing.

As you see, in this review, I said nothing about Deborah Kerr's performance because there isn't a thing that you could be passionate about. You can't love her, can't hate her and the whole thing becomes very standard and uninteresting. I know that many love this work but I just wasn't able to warm up to it. Deborah Kerr is quite good as Sister Angela but she doesn't go beyond good. Unfortunately.

What do you think? (no oficial predictions now but you can share your thoughts)

Rest in Peace: Elizabeth Taylor

I couldn't be more shell-shocked and I almost started to cry. One of the last screen legends has passed. May she have peace in Heaven! Rest in peace!

Elizabeth Taylor
Rest in peace

Elizabeth Taylor Raintree County

Elizabeth Taylor received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Susanna Drake, a Southern belle marrying a yankee in Raintree County. Taylor was a huge star in the fifties and the sixties, so I really think that she received a couple of votes and was fourth or even third in the race. This was a typical first nomination for a star. She did not have a great role like Woodward and that's what gave Joanne the edge over the others. Liz won the Laurel award, though (just like she did every time when she was nominated for an Oscar, except for BUtterfield 8).

Raintree County is a really boring and meaningless Gone with the Wind wannabe. First of all, it's overlong. I mean, I get that it wanted to be an epic but somehow I wasn't that fascinated. Not even the technical part. I liked it more than some others, though. This movie is only famous for the tragic accident that happened to Montgomery Clift, which probably ruined his remaining short life. Sometimes, you can notice that his face sometimes is really stiff and he talks quite weirdly. Anyway, that's not the only reason why this one isn't his best performance.

I admit, I don't really like Elizabeth Taylor. Sure, she's beautiful but apart from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, I cannot say any other performance of hers that really impressed me. Taylor's first three Oscar nominated performances are pvery much alike, if you look closely. There's a troubled, beautiful woman, who cries and screams sometimes and there's one huge, teary-eyed, hysterical monologue to secure the nomination. That's why Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was such a surprise to everyone. It's so shocking and brutal compared to these sugary roles. Taylor proved there that she had real talent but filmmakers couldn't really find her real brilliance, I think. That's why her earlier performances might seem to be overacted and hammy.

Speaking of which, in Raintree Country, Liz gives a bit overacted and exaggerated performance as Susanna Drake. First of all, Susanna is not a particulary interesting character. She's such a cliché and it's up to the actress to inject some star power into it. Actually, Liz succeeded that way. Although this is not an amazing performance by any means, you just cannot take your eyes off Taylor. It can be her beauty but I think that there's something magnetic about her presence.

It's the technical part that is messy about her performance. Usually, I don't really care about the technical part and I prefer emotional acting but this time I just couldn't overlook her obvious flawed decisions. Liz uses all the clichés of this kind of character, the Southern belle (heavy, rather ridiculous accent, overacted mannerisms). Because of these weaknesses, you just simply cannot take this performance seriously. Even when she could be very good with emotions, her accent and mannerisms drag the scene down.

Susanna tricks Montgomery Clift's character into marrying her and when the truth about this is revealed, there's nothing happening. They are like "OK" and that's it. I would have wanted to see much more conflict between them because of this. The chemistry between Clift and Taylor is not that strong, either. It's visible that they like working together but there's no tension between them that could have set the screen on fire. They both become the movie. The filmmakers wanted to show so much and therefore, nothing is properly worked out in it.

Still, as I said, Taylor has her scenes in this movie. For instance, the one where they are looking at the remains of Susanna's old home. Taylor is actually quite strong there. For a while, her accent wasn't that annoying and there was some depth in this movie. And (as I said earlier in this review) there's the huge breakdown scene with the tears. Although it's not a really great one, it's worth mentioning because it was handled very well by Taylor. And she is also quite good when Susanna is at an asylum but that's nothing very special either. However, Liz is quite simply great in the end. Everything bad about this performance disappeared for a while and that was so great.

Still, this performance is a bit mixed. On the one hand, Liz's accent andmannerisms are incredibly annoying and she fails with the technical. On the other hand, there are also some great moments that I just cannot ignore. As I said, Taylor is not really amazing, but there's something in her that stays with me. It's still quite good work and something keeps resonating with me.

I decided for a 3.5 after all.

What do you think? Time for your last predictions! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Anna Magnani in Wild is the Wind

Anna Magnani received her second and final Best Actress nomination for playing Gioia, an Italian woman marrying her dead sister's husband in George Cukor's movie, Wild is the Wind. I don't know what to think about Anna's chances of winning her second Oscar. I don't think she had much of a chance of winning as she had just won plus she was a foreign actress. Moreover, her movie was not big and showy enough. I think she must have been fourth or fifth after all. Joanne, Liz and Deborah were battling it out, in my opinion.

Wild is the Wind is not as bad as some may say. Actually, it's quite good and enjoyable thanks to the great performances. It's pretty mediocre, that's true but not as bad as some might say. It doesn't have the typical flaws of a 50s movie though it doesn't mean it's totally flawless. Mr. Sugar*, George Cukor was a great director but this one is one of his lesser efforts. Same for Anthony Quinn: he was an exceptional performer but this one is not his best performance. However, Anthony Franciosa is sometimes laughably bad.

Well, Anna Magnani. You know, it's honor itself just write about her. That woman! That actress! OK, I might be a bit influenced as she's my dad's favorite actress and I've seen many of her Italian movies beforehand which made me also fall in love with her work. She's (very much like Sophia Loren and most of the great European actors) a natural talent who doesn't have to learn acting, it's in her bones, in her soul and it's just a way of expressing herself. She doesn't have to time her tears, practice accents and do method acting. She knows it from her instincts. There's so much fire and music in Anna that I always feel that while she's acting, there's a volcano erupting with the music of Jaws. Anna Magnani was brilliant, quite simply and her talents shines through time and her work lives on.

It's kind of a cliché to say that Hollywood did not get the best out of Anna. I think it's a dumb, stupid thing to say, since anyone who's seen either of her Oscar nominated works is simply astonished by her extraordinary talent. She's very unusually beautiful (she IS beautiful, I think) and she has a very great sense of humor and she adds a lot of that even to her most serious characters. Gioia is a mysterious woman. We don't know anything about her yet Magnani tells thousands of stories with her eyes and face and we just keep wondering about Gioia.

At the beginning of the movie, Gioia feels like a fish out of water because of her bad English and the aggressively kind welcome to America. The dinner scene is a chaos, however, Anna is able to come out of it. Her performance almost failed in the beginning but Anna was wonderfully in control of Gioia. It's an amazing scene when we see her with her stepdaughter/niece under a tree. She's just brilliant there and from that time on, her performance doesn't stop and it really becomes roller coaster that doesn't stop until the very end. It's so intense and extremely gripping. Even when my interest for the movie died down, I still couldn't take my eyes off the screen and that's only because of Anna.

Anna's chemistry with Anthony Quinn is simply marvelous. Although Quinn is not that great, Anna really gets the best out of the both of them. Quinn actually said that despite her dislike for Anna, he loved working with her. I can easily believe that. Anna's talent is so inspiring and stimulating and I guess her co-stars must have felt the very same way. They don't have the usual "loud Italian rows" but they have some great arguments like the one in the kitchen (which is probably one of the most amazing scenes of Anna). There are so many emotions coming out of Magnani that really blow the viewer away.

Her scenes with Franciosa are also excellent. Although he's giving a really bad performance, Magnani holds all the scenes together and she really carries them on her shoulders. Even the most tender moments are quite great and all thanks to Anna. Their last scene together becomes so heartbreaking with Anna's loud screaming. That being said, Anna's acting is indeed loud and very emotional but I think that's the way it should be with this character. Whenever Anna is looking at the sky and putting her hands on her face, we feel that it's natural and it's not la Susan Hayward-like yelling. Anna always remains natural and that's why it works. She has this mentality in her blood. It's interesting that Anthony Quinn uses the same mannerisms as Anna and yet it doesn't work for him. It's like when Penélope Cruz tries to walk like Sophia Loren. No, there are things that work for Anna Magnani or Sophia Loren, but it's for them, exclusively.

Also, Magnani interacts so beautifully with animals in this movie. The scenes with the horses are just so brilliant and heartbreaking. The wild horses might be the symbols of Gioia's desire for freedom and true love. Gioia is stuck in a marriage where she should replace her dead sister (she also has to deal with her memory) but still, in a way, they love each other with Quinn's character. Or do they? I don't really know but it makes the whole case even more interesting.

So, you may consider me overenthusiastic and too lenient with performances but I was just blown away by Anna, from the beginning to the very end. My overall opinion must also be influenced by her brilliant singing scene but I don't care as this is truly haunting and fantastic work. Anna Magnani creates this beautiful, wonderful character and single-handedly makes the movie. It might be a bit much for many. For me, it worked and I consider this an astonishing performance.

What do you think?

I think my opinion about her was pretty predictable but she's really so great.

Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve

Joanne Woodward received her first Best Actress Oscar and only Oscar to date for playingly, Even White/Black and Jane in The Three Faces of Eve. I think Joanne Woodward did not have an easy win though it's perfectly understandable. I feel that only Deborah Kerr was a real threat for her as she was overdue (was she?) and won the New York Film Critics award. Still, it's a very perplexing race with an obvious winner.

The Three Faces of Eve is a very short and weird movie and I really did not like it that much. There's no real drama, everything just happens and it failed to have any effect on me. It just went by rather fast and it wasn't particularly boring. Actually, it's very far from being a true story (no matter what the narrator says at the beginning) because the real Eve, Chrisitine Costner Seizmore had like 26 personalities. So that's about the credibility of this whole movie. Lee J. Cobb who's one of my favorite supporting actors gives an incredibly standard and one-note performance which I really didn't like.

Joanne Woodward is an actress who has almost always failed to really impress me. I really dislike her acting style and sometimes she can just annoy me to hell. She lacks a real emotional depth in most of her movies. I like her voice very much, though but I am not really in awe of her. However, when I first saw her in The Three Faces of Eve, I was blown away by her. Therefore, I really did not know what to expect from her this time. I wanted to forget that she's Joanne Woodward but I also wanted to forget my first reactions to this performance. As a result, I was now right between amazed and bored.

These roles seem to be quite baity on paper (apparently, after Orson Welles read the script he said that anyone who played Eve would win the Oscar). This is really a part to kill for but once you actually think about it, it's really not very showy. It certainly has its big scenes but not huge ones. There's that breakdown towards the end but not as big as they usually like at the Oscars. Things should be bigger, showier and more emotional.

I feel that Woodward deals with the technical part quite great. She delivers everything extremely well, she knows when to do what, her timing is just excellent. And that's really all that this movie requires. As it doesn't go deep, Joanne doesn't have to go really deep either inside this character. I feel that she could have but I never really saw any real efforts to do so.

Joanne's performance as Eve White is supposed to be very heartbreaking but instead, Joanne let some opportunities slip away. It's true that Eve White is not a really fascinating character but she still could have made her a bit closer to the viewer. It's like attending a soccer game that turns out to be boring and you just remain a spectator and watch the goals scored but you're not really happy about it. That's really the case with Joanne here.

Joanne's the best in her scenes as Eve Black. Naturally, it was supposed to be the best part of this role and it certainly is. I felt it was the only character that was played as it should be. She's seductive, attractive and very delicious. She did what she has to. However, that wasn't really a great accomplishment either. There wasn't very much missing from it, it just wasn't totally mindblowing. She's still quite great as Eve Black, doing the right things at the right time.

The third personality, Jane becomes rather insignificant even though she's really the most interesting personality for me. She's really a plain Jane (no pun intended) but it would have been fun to see more of her. As a result, she doesn't really get a real depth.

However, as I said, her the technical part is just fantastic. That above mentioned breakdown scene is handled pretty well by Joanne and it was just terrificly played. That scene under the house is also quite memorable. In these moments, I really felt the depth that really should have been there in the whole performance.

So, despite my dislike for the acting of Joanne Woodward, this is quite a good job by her. Although it's not groundbreaking by any means and the emotional part of it is a bit lacking, the technical department is just excellent. Woodward made very wise decisions with these characters (despite being relatively new to the craft) and she put on a very good performance.
What do you think? Wow, this year hasn't been very strong so far.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lana Turner in Peyton Place

Lana Turner received her first and only Best Actress nomination for playing Constance MacKenzie, a cold single mother in the Best Picture nominee, Peyton Place. Lana Turner admitted in her autobiography that she thought that she did not deserve this nomination but was very happy about it. I don't think that there was really anyone who threatened Joanne Woodward's win that year. However, I'm sure that Lana's stardom helped her get some votes. Still, I think she was either fourth or fifth.

Peyton Place is a modestly entertaining but extremely long movie. Although it was very enjoyable sometimes, I felt like I was watching a whole season of a soap opera and it was unbearable after a while. It's much less sentimental than I would have imagines but it's still a bit much. Had it been a bit shorter, it would have been much better. Less is more sometimes. It received five acting nominations. Well, I feel that the supporting players might have deserved to be nominated (though I have some doubt about Arthur Kennedy and Diane Varsi). However, Russ Tamblyn and (especially) Hope Lange give good performances. I might even give my vote to Lange in that weak year.

I don't really know what to think about Lana Turner in general. She's made some iconic movies (The Bad and the Beautiful and The Postman Always Rings Twice) and she is a legendary beauty with a messy private life, which quite often outshone her work as an actress. Therefore, no one is really convinced that she was a really great talent. And this is not an Oscar nomination that's a proves her gift as this is much more of acknowledging a great star.

First of all, I must say that Peyton Place is really an ensemble picture and if there's a lead, than it's Diane Varsi and not Lana Turner. There are a lot of storylines that are not properly worked out and Varsi is loose connection. Lana Turner represents one of these storylines and she doesn't even have the most emotional or significant one. She has the most shallow material to work and as a result, she cannot do wonders with this part. Out of the two and a half hours of this movie, she's on the screen for about 40 minutes. Constance is really a supporting character and it's only Lana's star power that makes this one more than a boring stock role.

The fact is that Lana Turner gives quite a one-note performance but strangely it works and it serves her very shallow movie quite well. Somehow, I was impressed by her. Minimally, but I was impressed. The role of Constance asks for another actress. For instance I could much more easily imagine Jane Wyman or Olivia de Havilland (the original choices for the part) as Constance. Constance is the origin of the strong female leads in soaps of the 1980s. There's a (bit has-been but still) great star who plays the powerful matriarch or female character. Lana Turner was the best at playing mysterious, beautiful femme fatale in film noirs and this frigid single mother doesn't seem to be her cup of tea. As I said, her performance work as she was able to make Constance her own character.

There's this storyline about Constance's love affair (if that's a proper word for that) with the school's new principal, Michael Rossi (played by whats-his-name). Unfortunately, there's absolutely no chemistry between the two and that's a bit shocking considering that we're talking about Lana Turner. Who could you NOT have chemistry with her? The very mediocre story wanted to say so much (it's a chaos) and it did not give time for the most important storylines. This love between the two becomes so useless after a while and it's not even ended properly. There's that Christmas scene and so what? I would have liked to see more (though I might withdraw that, I did not want to see more of this movie).

However, Lana's scenes with Diane Varsi are excellent and are probably the highlights of the performances of both actresses. They have two big confrontation scenes and they are handled excellently by Lana. Especially the first one, where Constance says that she wants much more for her daughter than this stupid town. There is some real emotional depth in that scene unlike the rest of the movie and it is really extremely memorable. The second one is also very well-played (as I said) though it's not even close to the first one.

The rest of Lana's performance mostly consits of sleepwalking and sitting in the background. That's too bad. I firmly believe that had Turner been given some more to do, she would have been able to pull of a great performance as Constance MacKenzie. The screenplay always underlines how frigid this character is and it doesn't really let Turner do wonders with it. There are memorable scenes but the overall effect is a bit disappointing.
There's something to love about her.

What do you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
  • Anna Magnani in Wild is the Wind
  • Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree County
  • Lana Turner in Peyton Place
  • Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve
It is said to be a weak year but I've only seen Joanne previously, so it's going to be an interesting one to explore. I can't wait to see all the movies.

What do you think? What are your predictions for my ranking? Who's your pick? What's your ranking?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1964


So the much anticipated ranking is:

I can say that I got what I expected, a standard 60s musical performance from Debbie Reynolds. Although this work is really mixed and uneven, there are some scenes to admire or at least like about it. It's nothing mindblowing or ground-breaking but it did not bother me that much, so I don't feel bad about it.
This is a great performance by the magnificent Sophia Loren, which may not be her career best but it's still very good work. Although there are amazing scenes in this work, the really common comedy scenes drag Sophia's performance down. She's still wonderful but she could have been once again mindblowingly brilliant.

This performance is also extremely hard to judge. It's full of fantastic scenes and it's overall effect is just brilliant and just like with Bancroft, I am not really sure what I am going to think about her. However, I just cannot overlook that Kim Stanley was able to put on a chilling and unforgettable performance as Myra Savage.

This is an incredibly hard performance to judge. Anne chose all the difficult and risky ways with her character but she succeeded and she was able to put on a shocking, perplexing and terrying character study of a woman who has serious problems in her life.
It's a great achievement and it's no wonder that it became an iconic performance among children. Because if you really want to see the wonders of this role, you must loose yourself and (and just like Banks) become a child again for two hours. I may be alone with this but I think that this is fantastic work.

So I can proudly announce
that my winner is...
Julie Andrews
Mary Poppins
Julie is preparing to accept this award... :)
Final thoughts: A superb year but the performances were all so difficult to rate. My reaction to Julie Andrews was just as shocking to me as it was to you. Loren was great as expected, Bancroft was the most difficult to rate ever but now there are small problems that occured. I knew that Reynolds would suck and I loved Stanley when I first saw her, she was in a Bryan Forbes movie, so there was no surprise about her. However, after all Julie Andrews was a clear cut winner despite some tough competition from Kim Stanley. I think many of you think I'm crazy but I was truly captivated by Julie's performance and its mysteriousness.

  • Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (she was way better than Debbie Reynolds)
About the next year: I couldn't decide between two (consecutive) years. Both are said to be quite weak and yet I'm so interested in both of them. Plus they are from the decade I've been ignoring for a while. However, I've chosen the second year as I've seen only one of the nominees and I love when I have new performances to discover. The clues (quite easy ones):
  • (L) Nuns (L)
  • (L) Soaps (L)
  • Viva Italia!
What do you think?

Off-topic: I saw 127 Hours yesterday. It was BRILLIANT and would have deserved Best Picture (tied with Black Swan), Actor, Editing and Song. You lose a lot if you don't watch it in a movie theater (fantastic cinematogrpahy BTW and a directing that should have WON and it wasn't even nominated).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins

Julie Andrews received her first Best Actress nomination and only Oscar to date for playing Mary Poppins, the magic nanny in the Walt Disney movie, Mary Poppins. How did she win exactly? That's one of the biggest questions of the history of the Oscar but the answer is quite simple. Andrews' role of Eliza Doolittle was played by Audrey Hepburn and she had to make do with this role instead. Plus, Andrews was (going to be) a huge star and her movie was a huge success. It's interesting, though that her role is not baity at all. But I'll explain my thoughts on her.

Mary Poppins is a great, moving movie that I HATED for the first time and LOVED now. It's so full of wit, love, beauty and emotions. I guess I needed to become more mature to understand its real message. I think the story is much more complex than one would imagine and nothing is as simple in it as it seems, I think. The technical part of it is great for its age and it's not even that ridiculous by today's standards. I'm not sure if I would vote this movie for the Best Picture but it's definitely close between Zorba the Greek and Mary Poppins.

I think Julie Andrews is a very good actress who's always able to give very proper and entertaining performances which make your evenings in front of the TV pleasant. For instance, there's the queen from Princess Diaries. A very standard role in a standard movie but somehow she was able to create a really loveable and memorable character with her fantastic sense of humor and great acting talent.

The 1960s were a great time for her. She was one of the biggest stars, she got leads in financially and/or critically succesful movies and this is all probably thanks to her starmaking turns in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. In both movies, she plays a nanny/governess who has a great relationship with the children and eventually she wins over the fathers. However, the two roles are somehow different. Both characters are free-spirited and joyful, however there's so much more mystery in Mary Poppins' part. Unlike Maria, Mary has a darker and even a bit bitchy side and she's much more firm.

What I really admire in these performances is that Julie Andrews added depth to these characters and a considerable amount of emotions. I know that many of you disagree but I stand staunchly by my opinion. Mary Poppins is not a one-dimensional cartoon character that it could have been. In fact, as I said Andrews added very muh mystery to this woman. I mean, I always kept searching for answers about Mary. Who is she? Why is she a savior of families? Does she have a special gift or she's a witch? Or quite simply, she's just a symbol of the goodness that comes once in a while to save some souls.

Julie Andrews' singing is naturally fantastic and she also dances quite well. Her experience on the stage most certainly helped her a lot in solving the musical parts of the performance. She's always what she should be: sometimes she's funny, sometimes she's superior, sometimes she's strict and occasionally, she's really touching. I mean that song called Feed the bird is extremely moving. Although she's not visible for most of the scene, her voice expresses so many emotions.

One could also mention the scenes where Mary, Bert and the children go inside a picture. It's such a great, long sequence and I loved how clever and playful Julie was there. But I could also mention when they dance on the roofs and the chimnes with dirty faces. Everything becomes so loveable about her and it was just great.

Julie Andrews also has wonderful chemistry with Dick Van Dyke and the children. The four work together incredibly well. It's great that Andrews doesn't act as if she was the mother of them but really as a nanny. However, Mary has deep love for these children. And in the end we can see that Mary Poppins also has a vulnerable side and that she indeed cared about this family. It's also a very touching moment. If you asked me, I woulf say my favorite moment of her whole performance was the one between her and the laughing uncle. That was just dead on.

Julie Andrews comes in, gives a great acting performance as Mary Poppins, The Nanny. Everything is just delightful about her, both the character and the work of the actress. It's excellent work techincally and also in terms of the emotional effect. It's a great achievement and it's no wonder that it became an iconic performance among children. Because if you really want to see the wonders of this role, you must loose yourself and (and just like Banks) become a child again for two hours. I may be alone with this but I think that this is fantastic work.

I bet this was a real shock for some of the haters. :D

Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Debbie Reynolds received her only Oscar nomination to date for playing the unsinkable Molly Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Debbie Reynolds was a huge star back then and the fact that she had this very huge musical role with much singing, tears and the opportunity for a great performance might have helped her get some votes. She could even be second after Julie Andrews though the third or fourth place might be more probable. One will never know, though. There might have been some sympathy left for her after the Eddie Fisher/Liz Taylor scandal (though by that time Liz was with Richard Burton already).

The Unsinkable Molly Brown is a movie that is sometimes unbearable to watch (sometimes it even tops Gloria and that's something, really). However, after a time somehow I got used to it and it wasn't much of a torture later on. Whenever there were no "emotional" scenes between Harvey Presnell and Reynolds, the whole thing was quite OK. But whenever Presnell started singing, I could have smashed the screen with an axe. The story is basically about an uneducated, poor girl who's planning to get married to a rich guy. She eventually marries a poor guy who becomes incredibly rich later on. Nothing is easy, though in the snobbish society of Denver.

Somehow, I never really cared about Debbie Reynolds. Besides The Unsinkable Molly Brown, I only saw her in Sining in the Rain, in which she was quite good though I don't really understand the hype about that performance (i's very much like her nominated performance as Molly Brown). Therefore, I did not know what to expect from Debbie here. First of all, I have a thing against 60s musicals as they annoy me incredibly. I don't like that whenever there's an "emotional" or "funny" scene, people start singing (which is more like yelling). There are romantic songs, songs from the poor but honest crowd and so on. And this is something that's true here.

The most important thing I noticed: Debbie Reynolds was clearly acting for that Oscar. This is a typical musical performance which secures at least a nomination for the lead. And the character like Molly Brown is one of the best examples for such baity roles. There's much singing, dancing, there are lot of stupid scenes which were meant to be funny and of course the big tears in the end. The whole thing was so predictable but that did not surprise me. Although I knew that I would get this, I secretly hoped that I would get something different and truly surprising.

The beginning of Reynolds' performance as the poor, loud mountain girl with a stupid face is quite simply horrible. There we go, I said it. It's so loud and she went way over the top with Molly. There isn't a subtle moment at all and every second is incredibly annoying. I mean what was the purpose of those grims on her face? It really did not serve that something which was meant to be a story.

I was about to die, when something happened. The whole performance became quite fun after a while. I don't know if it was because I started to get used to the badness or that it was actually good. I don't know but there was light at the end of the tunnel. Reynolds was quite entertaining in the scenes when Molly and Johnny become rich and are just trying to fit in. She's quite charming when she reacts to not being invited to a party. Right there, I felt some sympathy for this character and it lasted for a while (until they get home from Europe).

The temporary goodness in her performance disappears after a while. However, she's not as horrible as she was in the scenes in the beginning. She's not even bad but she doesn't really have much of a presence anymore and I just wasn't really interested in Molly anymore (not that I had ever really been previously). There wasn't much to care about. There was a drunk scene, which was handled quite well but it was nothing special, really. And then the huge dramatic moment with tears... it was nice but (again) nothing special.

So, I can say that I got what I expected, a standard 60s musical performance from Debbie Reynolds. Although this work is really mixed and uneven, there are some scenes to admire or at least like about it. It's nothing mindblowing or ground-breaking but it did not bother me that much, so I don't feel bad about it. It even had a minor positive effect on me.
I did not feel bad about her, though.

What do you think? It's time for the final predictions!