Best Supporting Actress 1955

1927/28 through 1997

Best Supporting Actress 1955

Betsy Blair - Marty
7
27%
Peggy Lee - Pete Kelly's Blues
0
No votes
Marisa Pavan - The Rose Tattoo
0
No votes
Jo Van Fleet - East of Eden
17
65%
Natalie Wood - Rebel Without a Cause
2
8%
 
Total votes: 26

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flipp525
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Re: Best Supporting Actress 1955

Postby flipp525 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:53 pm

I finally managed to catch Pete Kelly's Blues and Peggy Lee's nominated performance, so I feel like I can finally vote and comment on this category. I did like her initial scenes where I felt she was slightly underplaying her character. Now whether or not that was because she was a novice actor didn't take away from the fact that the result was a believable portrait of a somewhat broken and muted person. The line where she says something like, "Ten years together and all he can say about me is 'She comes for free'" in response to Edmond O'Brien offering her up as a singer to the band, was a powerful moment. But As Tee and Italiano have already covered, Lee's performance quickly devolves into a kind of "look at me, I'm drunk" series of acting tics topped off with a totally out-of-nowhere final scene in which her character inexplicably shows up acting like a five year old child while clutching a doll in an insane asylum. A truly mystifying nomination but you can certainly see now how it happened.

Natalie Wood never gave a more honest performance than the one in Rebel Without a Cause. Not quite sure of herself, a sort of "mean girl" who's hiding deeper problems. I haven't seen it in years, but it felt to me that the father-daughter sexual subtext lying like a loose wire just underneath her scenes must've been somewhat shocking for its time. Not worthy of a win (Mineo's performance is far more of a stand-out in her film), but I like that she has this nomination.

It seems like everyone has a James Dean connection in this category. Marisa Pavan is fine in The Rose Tattoo, but it's not a particularly memorable performance and feels like a padded along-for-the-ride style nomination, riding the coattails of Anna Magnani.

Betsy Blair is perfectly cast in this as the plain schoolteacher. She can be quite good (her performance in A Delicate Balance some years later is very haunting). I don't consider her at a win level for this, but it's strong, tender work from an actress I haven't seen a lot of but have always liked when I did (I wish I could see her The Hours work that ended on the cutting room floor).

The character of Kate in Steinbeck's novel is almost unrelentingly evil. She doesn't even try to be good - she can only be who she is. The brilliant thing about Jo Van Fleet's performance in East of Eden is that, she doesn't ever try to temper this quality of the character. She makes the decisions that Kate has had to make in her life seem like the right ones, the inevitable choice for her character, and all in an utterly convincing manner and gripping manner. And even though the film omits the first two thirds of the book, JVF's performance seems able to evoke that earlier younger versions of Kathy and hint at a lifetime of (in her mind) right decisions. Her first scene with James Dean is electric. Not for one minute, do the two actors ever feel like they're simply playing out a scene, but experiencing a pretty crucial first encounter between a mother and a son. One of the best winners of this category and of the 1950s in general.
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Re: Best Supporting Actress 1955

Postby bizarre » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:59 am

I have seen Van Fleet and Wood, who are both very good in very different roles. Van Fleet gives an impression of the history of rage, denial and resentment boiling under the surface; it's a memorable role. Wood plays the 50s Good Girl role self-reflexively, a canny performance that is ahead of its itme.

My picks:
1. Lillian Gish, The Night of the Hunter
2. Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden
3. Natalie Wood, Rebel Without a Cause
4. Cloris Leachman, Kiss Me Deadly
5. Maxine Cooper, Kiss Me Deadly

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Postby Damien » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:38 pm

I've never seen Pete Kelly's Blues (I adore Peggy Lee as a singer, though) and it's been many, many years since I've seen The Rose Tattoo and East of Eden, so I'll abstain from this year's voting.

My favorite Supporting Actress performances of 1955 include Lillian Gish in The Cobweb, Susan Strasberg in Picnic, Delores Grey in It's Always Fair Weather, Jessie Royce Landis in To Catch A Thief and Evelyn Varden in Night Of The Hunter
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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:27 pm

Also, I feel that - more than with Best Actress - most of those who vote here havent seen all the five nominees. Which is, of course, a pity.

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Postby Big Magilla » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:01 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Is it my imagination, or are we endorsing the Academy's pick in this category at a far higher rate than we did with best actress?

I think we are, but often by default because the alternatives are uninteresting. In many cases the best performances in this category were left out of the running.

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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:37 pm

Well, I see the two performances over which I pondered have so far got all the votes.

Italiano does a good job of identifying the metrics that undoubtedly led to Peggy Lee's nomination. Many a performer has secured a nod on the same largely-unmerited basis. At least she didn't win.

I'm having a hard time remembering a single thing Pavan did in Rose Tattoo, apart from look sweet and pretty. She wasn't bad, but doesn't bear consideration.

Natalie Wood, despite being of limited acting talent, had one of the more exceptionally successful child and adult film careers. She's very touching in this role, and it's nice she got the nomination -- probably more deserved than either of her two leading actress mentions.

Betsy Blair's role is inherently sympathetic, and her very casting seems revolutionary -- the standard of the time would have been to cast a babe and put thick glasses on her. Blair isn't bad-looking, but she certainly comes off plain in the film, which fits in with the attempt at realism (an attempt more successfully made by the actors and director than by the cauliflower-eared screenwriter). I could vote for her.

But van Fleet is, for me, a bit more impressive. This may come down to a matter of taste -- the simple appeal of Blair vs. the more aggressive dramatics offered by van Fleet's hard-bitten character. In many instances I'd go with the former, but in this case van Fleet's madam makes enough of an impression that I'll echo the Academy choice.

Is it my imagination, or are we endorsing the Academy's pick in this category at a far higher rate than we did with best actress?

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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:04 am

stanlio wrote:(ed era anche molto carina)

:)

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Postby stanlio » Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:45 am

:cool: Hello

I'm new here on the forum and find this discussion fascinating and informative.
I voted for Betsy Blair.

Far and away the most talented (and under-rated) actress at that time. (ed era anche molto carina)

That's showbiz

stanlio




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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:29 am

Peggy Lee was, I guess, nominated mostly because she was a successful singer with very little or no acting experience suddenly taking this "big" dramatic role - complete with alcoholic scenes, insane asylum scenes, her clutching a doll, I mean, you know, all the elements that the Academy is easily impressed by (you clutch a doll and you are 100% nominated, trust me). I wouldnt say that it's an especially remarkable performance, but she certainly tried hard.

Marisa Pavan was in fact the twin sister of a more popular actress, Pier Angeli. The two had in common a typically ambitious mother and those dark, deep, sad eyes that only Sardinians have. Pier Angeli was probably a better actress, if only because she projected an often affecting sense of frailty, of loneliness, which could be and was used well in the best movies she made (and while today she might be most famous for her James Dean connection, she wasnt a bad actress, and she's very good in a little-seen British movie called The Angry Silence). Pavan looked stronger, more solid - in real life too, maybe (she survived, her sister didnt). The Rose Tattoo made her famous for some time; she became a close friend of Christopher Isherwood (who wrote a bad movie with a part for her, Diane); she married Jean-Pierre Aumont. Her contribution to films wasnt exactly memorable - and this includes her performance in The Rose Tattoo.

Natalie Wood had grown up in Hollywood, was liked and was quickly becoming a big star; plus, her role in Rebel - while not as important as Dean's or even Mineo's - had some contemporary issues which made it different from anything else she had played before. Not a great performance perhaps, but the movie is, of course, legendary.

With Rosalind Russell out of a race she could have easily - and deservedly - won, it's certainly between Jo Van Fleet and Betsy Blair. Van Fleet has the showier role, and is in the better movie; yet as I've said before I have a soft spot for Betsy Blair, and for her strange (and partly Italian) film career. She's the best thing about Marty; the movie can be conventional by today's standards, but I'd say that her performance in it still rings true.




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Postby Reza » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:23 am

Voted for Jo Van Fleet.

My top 5:

Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden
Lillian Gish, The Night of the Hunter
Rosalind Russell, Picnic
Betsy Blair, Marty
Susan Strasberg, Picnic




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Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:36 pm

1955 provided a unique selection of supporting actress nominees - we had a famous singer, the less famous wife of a reigning superstar, the less famous twin sister of a then top star, a former child actress bursting into teenage roles and a middle aged actress who specialized in old lady roles.

The famous singer was Peggy Lee, whose voice work in the same year's Lady and the Tramp was probably better known to film-goers of the day, as well as now, than her emoting as Edmond O'Brien drunken moll in Pete Kelly's Blues.

The less famous wife was Betsy Blair, then Mrs. Gene Kelly, who had her best role since the one-two punch of Another Part of the Forest and The Snake Pit in 1948 as the shy old maid schoolteacher stepping out on the dance floor with Marty.

The less famous twin sister was Marisa Pavan who played Anna Magnani's sensitive daughter in The Rose Tattoo. Her twin was Pier Angeli (The Story of Three Loves), then as now, probably more famous for dumping James Dean to marry Vic Damone than for any of her film roles.

The former child actress was Natalie Wood taking a big leap forward opposite the afore-mentioned Mr. Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

The middle-aged actress specializing in old lady roles was Jo Van Fleet, 39 at the time of filming of East of Eden in which she played Dean's whorehouse madam mother. She also appeared that year as Susan Hayward's mother in I'll Cry Tomorrow and as one of Anna Magnani's so-called friends in The Rose Tattoo.

Van Fleet was the deserved winner, followed closely by Blair. My picks for the other three slots: Rosalind Russell and Susan Strasberg in Picnic and Lillian Gish in The Night of the Hunter. Alas, Russell thumbed her nose at a supporting actress slot, Strasberg was left in the dust by the more popular Wood and Gish was in a flop that has since become one of the most acclaimed films of its time.




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