Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shirley MacLaine in Some Came Running

Shirley MacLaine received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Ginnie Moorehead, a vulgar, loud young girl in Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running. I don't think that Shirley had any chance of winning the Oscar that year. She was a relative newcomer, this was her first nomination and there were bigger, more overdue stars than her (namely Susan Hayward, Deborah Kerr, Rosalind Russell and Elizabeth Taylor). I guess this was the sort of breakthrough nomination that's so often given nowadays. The members of the Academy discovered Shirley's talent and the nom helped her get a lot of great roles that made her a real star.

Some Came Running is a weird movie and it's not good at all. It's overlong, way too complicated and long. There are so many storylines and the whole thing just didn't make any sense to me. I was really confused sometimes and I didn't see the point of the actions of the characters. I guess the Academy members liked it more as they gave a couple of nominations to this one. Arthur Kennedy got her last Oscar nomination for playinf Frank. I don't really think that he deserved to be recognised as he wasn't anything special. The same goes for Martha Hyer who's so clichéd here.

Shirley MacLaine is not among my favorite actress but I guess you know that quite well already. But there are things that I like about her acting. She could play a young girl with a heart of gold so easily and believably. I even liked her Irma La Douce, which is quite a rare thing. She perfected this type of character in the Best Picture winner, The Apartment. Things were changing later and she started to play mothers and I don't like those performances that much though Terms of Endearment was quite good.

However, Some Came Running she was still in her girl-with-a-heart-of-gold period. Ginnie is a girl who meets a military man and quickly falls for him. But Ginnie's mobster ex-boyfriend goes after them and wants to take her back, causing a real tragedy. Ginnie seems to be a real troublemaker but in fact, she's probably the most innocent character of the whole movie. She's naive and she loves Daniel like a child. Ginnie's emotions are really pure and she doesn't want to hurt anybody. I think Shirley was great at showing Ginnie's personality, which is not really complicated but there's more inside her than it seems.

In the beginning, we see her as a loud, over-the-top girl who's instantly humiliated by Frank Sinatra's character, Daniel. Ginnie's love is so strong that these things don't bother her. After that, she's not on screen for a very long time and even after that, she's rarely there. Shirley only becomes a leading character towards the end of the movie, until that she's just a colorful element of the background. I'm not saying that she's bad, it's just that I didn't see enough of her and she was not outstanding enough to survive the movie's gaps. I guess that's the biggest problem of this performance. The overall effect of it might have been much stronger if she had been given more screentime. This way, we can only be touched by the ending (which is indeed very good).

So it takes a lot of time to really see how good Shirley is as Ginnie Moorehead. As I said, she was best at creating Ginnie's innocence and showing her loving personality. All the scenes of humiliation are done excellently by her and the character almost broke my heart. She was the only character in this movie that I really felt sorry for. In fact, she was the only character who had depth and who was properly written and played. Shirley deserves lots of credit for being the only great thing about it movie. For me, watching this film meant waiting for her to come because I knew that something good was going to come. Like the scene where she goes to meet her "rival", a schoolteacher with whom her love is in love with. It's a really heartwrenching moment done exceptionally well by Shirley. She perfectly showed Ginnie's determination to get the man she loves more than anything. It was a sad moment but a great one.

I still have to say that I wasn't truly blown away. Although it's true that Shirley MacLaine gave a great performance as Ginnie Moorehead but she was trapped in a movie that's constantly working against her, plus she didn't have enough time to develop the character as well as she could have/should have. Still, I applaud Shirley for making Ginnie loveable and being the best part of her movie.

I decided to give her a 4 because of the strength of some of the scenes.


Fritz said...

Haven't seen her yet. You are really writing fast these days! :-)

dinasztie said...

Yes. Actually, I'm not that fast. I had some time and I had already written all the reviews and I just posted them now. after this year, I'll get back to the usual one profile/day summer speed, which is still quite fast. :D

Fritz said...

BTW, did you change some of your grades again? I noticed that in your overall ranking you have Jane Wyman and Geraldine Page (who got 5 each) behind some other performances which got 4,5.

Louis Morgan said...

I saw here quite recently, and I she probably is the best in the film. Unfortunately that is not saying much, in fact it really is not saying anything. She is sweet which works for the part, but her overall effect was never that great, in my opinion.

dinasztie said...

Fritz: I changed them long ago, a couple of months or so. I thought I was way too generous. Jane Wyman is gradually fading in my memory so much that I might make Barbara Stanwyck my pick after all.

Fritz said...

Well, I didn't look at your overall ranking so close so I didn't notice it right away. But in your reviews you still give them 5.

dinasztie said...

I'll work on that one. :)

Anonymous said...

I just watched Some Came Running and thought Shirley was outstanding. I am not surprised that she was nominated for an Oscar, although the film was a bit complicated. Maybe that's why her character stood out so much for me.