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Aug 08 2017

Introducing: The Supporting Actresses of 1963

Don't freak out but theSmackdownreturns in exactly one week after endless delays (if you'd like to vote,details are at the bottom of the post).This time we're looking at 1963 but before we introduce our panel,or start tinkering around with '63 hijinx,let's look at how 2 of the 5 nominated characters are introduced in their films.

First up...a stone-faced nun eyeing Sidney Poitier's muscles...

..."Mother Maria"(Lilia Skala)1½ minutes intoLilies of the Field
When you've got a 94 minute running time -- as more movies should -- you have to cut right to the chase.Just after the credits roll,Sidney Poitier pulls up to a pathetic little building and rundown garden and we see several older ladies working with big hats.He doesn't yet know they're nuns.The film's second biggest role -- so big it's practically a co-lead -- is the Mother Superior,who emerges in medium shot just like all the other nuns.It's up to Skala,then,to provide the gravitas so we know she is the important one.Then she gets a closeup as she watches Poitier pump water vigorously.It's not lust but faith that rises as she sees his muscles work.

God is good.He has sent me a big strong man.

Mother Maria believes Homer Smith (Poitier) is the answer to her prayers and will build the poor village the chapel they've so long desired.Smith believes these nuns need to quit sizing him up and let him be on his travelling way.This movie has great economy of storytelling;we're already in the central conflict two minutes in!

"Duchess of Brighton"(Margaret Rutherford) 5 minutes into The VIPs

Why do i have to travel with this ridiculous bag?It's like a bottomless pit!

The VIPsis a soapy romantic drama at heart (it's a Liz & Dick star vehicle) but the entire ensemble isn't their for heartache.Each VIP on a flight from London to Florida gets their own introductory scene to establish the outlines of their character before we learn their Obstacle to Overcome within the plot.The music cues,if not the scene itself,immediately inform us that Rutherford will be serving as the movie's comic relief.Rutherford will get very few closeups in the movie but she doesn't use this first to play to the camera so much as FUSS so much that she couldn't possibly notice a camera if it was right next to her.She's constantly in motion,waving tickets around,searching for things in her overstuffed purse,and talking about pepper pills.The Duchess seems utterly confused about flying.The comedy of the character,at least for this first scene,is that people don't get that she's royalty because she comes across as a particularly dotty old civilian.


Both Lilia and Margaret are working classic supporting archetypes - the stern authority figure (in this case a nun) and the funny ol' fussbudget.Who will prevail in the Smackdown?They'll be pitted against the three ladies fromTom Jones,the only movie to have ever received three supporting actress nominations.

If you'd like to vote on the Smackdown (the readers are collectively the final panelist)send in your ballotwith each woman rated on a scale of 1 (terrible) to 5 (perfect) hearts by Saturday night -- please only include the performances you've seen on your ballot!

Diane Cilento,Tom Jones
Edith Evans,Tom Jones
Joyce Redman,Tom Jones
Lilia Skala,Lilies of the Field
Margaret Rutherford,The VIPs

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Reader Comments (25)

Margaret Rutherford: 5
Edith Evans: 4
Lilia Skala 4
Diane Cilento 3
Joyce Redman 3

Three actresses for the same film!Wow!That happened again only (for Best Supporting Actor) in 1972 and 1974 for The Godfather and The Godfather Part II.Or am I forgetting another instance?

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

The '63 Smackdown is finally coming.Wow,I never thought I'd see the day.

And I love,love,love,LOVE Margaret Rutherford to tiny bits and pieces.Her Oscar performance may not be the greatest in her career (and let's face it: it's not even the greatest in the film - that would be Maggie Smith's),but 'The V.I.P.s' will forever have a special place in my heart for being Margaret Rutherford's Oscar winner.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

@ Marcos:
The Mutiny on the Bounty (the 1935 version) had three nominees for Best Actor.Makes you wonder which one of them would have been delegated to Supporting,if the category had already existed by then.(Well,not really.Obviously it would have been Franchot Tone.)

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

OT: Michelle Pfeiffer has a substantial supporting role inmother!–yay!

August 8,2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

MrW,I think they created the supporting Oscar in part to deal with this very issue.Franchot Tone is clearly supporting when taken in the context of the movie,but he was also a fairly big movie star.So the conflict between genuine supporting character actor types and movie stars slumming in "smaller"roles was there from the beginning.

I'd love to compare the three women of Tom Jones and their actual billing,i.e.perceived worth,at the time.I sort of vaguely recall that one or two were barely mentioned at all in the opening credits.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

There are few years at the Oscars I am most intrigued by who would win a Smackdown more than 1963.亚博主页I've seen all but Skala,but honestly-I don't view any as really a "worthy"winner,so I'm curious to see whom you end up rewarding!

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

I also find Margaret Rutherford irresistible.
When other actresses play Miss Marple,I just say pshaw,Margaret Rutherford was perfect.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Yay!I'd kind thought this would never happened,and I would have watched The VIPs and Tom Jones for nothing.(Glad I watched Lilies,though!It's perfect.)

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Yay!Glory be as Mother Maria would say.So excited.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom

@DaveInHollywood It's an interesting test.Also useful,if you don't know the Oscar nominees by performance,but watch the film and try to figure it out.

Mrs.Miniver is great example.Go in cold and figure out the nominated performances (there are five).

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I can't believe I've never seen a movie with THREE supporting actress nominations.Shame on me.I've always wished that Nashville (1975) had FIVE.The whole category with only Nashville ladies,how great would that be.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Ya!Been hoping for this one to come along.Glad to see the day has arrived.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Oh God,thank YOU!One more year and I would have to sit through those movies again.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Joyce Redman FTW!It's that eating scene that tips the scales in her favor.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

I've seen all but Skala's performance,but it was a really long time ago.I enjoyed Ruthorford,I thought she was a hoot even if she played that type of role a lot.Looking at the awards that year,she swept all of them;I suspect she was the reason why the producers of Hud campaigned Patricia Neal in lead because she lost the Globe to Rutherford.I personally,like many thought Neal should have won the Oscar in the Supporting category.

I remember thinking that Diane Cliento was a strange nomination (I guess because she was so ugly).Personally,I think she does much better work in Hombre in 1967.I would have replaced her with Joan Greenwood.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Tawfik

It makes me so happy to know Margaret Rutherford is an Oscar winner!

Her life would make an interesting biopic in itself!

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Lewis

Joyce Redman - 3 1/2 hearts
Margaret Rutherford - 3 hearts
Lilia Skala - 2 hearts
Edith Evans - 2 hearts
Diane Cilento - 2 hearts

Not a great field,but Redman has great moments late in the film - her breezy insouciance is infectious and key to pulling off the role,which ironically I think is the only one with any substantial challenges to offer an actress.She catches and focuses the arch tone of the film,transmuting its sour irony into an appealingly devil-may-care attitude to life.Where are Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette for 'The Birds'?Claire Bloom in 'The Haunting'?Julie Christie in 'Billy Liar'?Bleurgh...

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLaika

Laika: God,The Birds was in 1963?Tandy or Pleshette would be INCREDIBLE nominees in this sad field.

August 8,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Given his excitement above and his history of comments on the blog,I'd sugget making Joel6 a panelist for this smackdown!:)

August 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Patricia Neal in „HUD"(USA)
Julie Christie in „BILLY LIAR"(Großbritannien)
Anouk Aimée in „OTTO E MEZZO"(Italien)
Sandra Milo in „OTTO E MEZZO"(Italien)
Alexandra Stewart in „LE FEU FOLLET"(Frankreich)

Claire Bloom in „THE HAUNTING"(Großbritannien)
Wendy Hiller in „TOYS IN THE ATTIC"(USA)
Gunnel Lindblom in „NATTVARDSGÄSTERNA"(Schweden)
Anna Ciepielewská in „PASAŽERKA"(Polen)

Rina Morelli in „IL GATTOPARDO"(Italien)
Wendy Craig in „THE SERVANT"(Großbritannien)
Jeanne Moreau in „LE FEU FOLLET"(Frankreich)
Joyce Redman in „TOM JONES"(Großbritannien)
Maggie Smith in „THE V.I.P.s"(Großbritannien)

Joan Greenwood in „TOM JONES"(Großbritannien)
Claudia Cardinale in „OTTO E MEZZO"(Italien)
Claire Trevor in „THE STRIPPER"(USA)

No special ranking:
Diane Cilento in „TOM JONES"(Großbritannien)
Edith Evans in „TOM JONES"(Großbritannien)
Annie Girardot in „I COMPAGNI"(Italien)
Vanda Godsell in „THIS SPORTING LIFE"(Großbritannien)
Kyôko Kagawa in „TENGOKU TO JIGOKU"(Japan)
Tanie Kitabayashi in „NIPPON KONCHÛKI"(Japan)
Angela Lansbury in „IN THE COOL OF THE DAY"(USA)
Aline MacMahon in „ALL THE WAY HOME"(USA)
Jeanne Moreau in „THE VICTORS"(USA)
Françoise Prévost in „IL PROCESSO DI VERONA"(Italien)
Gena Rowlands in „A CHILD IS WAITING"(USA)
Margaret Rutherford in „THE V.I.P.s"(Großbritannien)
Edith Scob in „JUDEX"(Frankreich)
Emy Storm in „KVARTERET KORPEN"(Schweden)
Jessica Tandy in „THE BIRDS"(USA)
Ayako Wakao in „YUKINOJÔ HENGE"(Japan)
Mona Washbourne in „BILLY LIAR"(Großbritannien)
Shelley Winters in „WIVES AND LOVERS"(USA)

August 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

@Laika.Yes to Jessica Tandy getting a nomination.In my opinion she should have won.Then the Oscars of 1989 may have gone differently.亚博主页

August 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom

My five for '63:
Capucine "The Pink Panther"
Edith Evans "Tom Jones"
Wendy Hiller "Toys in the Attic"
Rachel Roberts "This Sporting Life"
Tuesday Weld "Soldier in the Rain"

Evans is the only one that got a nomination.But,good as she is,I'd rank her fifth in the above field.

August 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Of the 3 Tom Jones actresses - I rewatched this and I have to say that I enjoy Edith Evans the best.She is quite the foddy-doddy and I found myself Waiting for her to reappear.Not that it's statue-worthy - but - those were the days when Supporting characters weren't Category Fraud characters!

August 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

So glad you are actually doing this long-awaited Smackdown,I was just looking it up the other day and thinking it had had to be cast aside indefinitely for some reason.Glad I was wrong!I saw Tom Jones a few years back when I was finishing up seeing all of the BP winners I'd not seen and gosh,I don't really remember well which of the 3 nominated women were which!Going to try to catch it again and vote - esp if I can also catch The VIPs,which sounds sort of fun,and Lillies,which at the very least has a short run-time.

August 9,2017 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Hi Marcos.Also 3 nods for supporting actor for On the Waterfront.All 3 lost to Edmond O'Brien.

August 11,2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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