Loretta Young: The Farmer’s Daughter (winner)
Dorothy McGuire: Gentleman’s Agreement
Rosalind Russell: Mourning Becomes Electra
Joan Crawford: Possessed
Susan Hayward: Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman
When I look at 1947, it feels like a very strange year in movies. I don’t know if Jane Greer’s role in Out of the Past is big enough for her to get a nomination for Best Actress, but she is an almost pure distillation of a femme fatale, and if the role is big enough, I’d want her here. I’m also a little surprised that Gene Tierney wasn’t nominated for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, since this seems to be Oscar’s wheelhouse. The same could be said of Maureen O’Hara and Miracle on 34th Street. I like Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai as well. But the big one, the one that I simply don’t understand being skunked in the major categories, is Black Narcissus in general, and Deborah Kerr’s performance as Sister Clodagh in specific.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. I like Gentleman’s Agreement well enough and I like Dorothy Maguire well enough as well, but she’s hampered by being at best the third most compelling woman on the screen. Both Anne Revere and especially Celeste Holm (who won in a supporting role) are far more interesting. That’s a problem. There’s nothing wrong with Maguire’s performance, but when she’s on screen with either Revere or Holm, she becomes more or less invisible. That’s not going to get you a statue, even in the weakest of nomination years.
4. Winner Loretta Young is charming in The Farmer’s Daughter and she handles the role well. So why is she this far down? Because the role and the movie are fluff and little more than cinematic candy. Aside from her Swedish accent, there’s very little to remember about her, the role, and the movie a week after watching. I think I understand why she was nominated, but I don’t think she belongs here. Sweet and charming isn’t enough and shouldn’t have been close to enough to get her a win. Really, that’s why I do these twice a week.
3. Rosalind Russell does everything she can in Mourning Becomes Electra and I credit her for doing that, but it’s simply not enough. It’s fair to say, though, that it’s not really her fault. She’s terribly miscast. I don’t dislike Rosalind Russell even if I don’t always like her movies, and that’s a problem here as well; Mourning Becomes Electra is terribly paced through its first 90 minutes. Again, this isn’t Russell’s fault, but it does downgrade the performance. She gives it a solid try, but it’s just not enough.
2. Smash-Up was my first Susan Hayward movie, and it’s one that seems to be in many ways a typical role for her. I liked this pretty well, even if it’s more or less a female version of The Lost Weekend. What I really like is that Hayward was clearly willing to let herself be shown on camera as something other than a creature of pure glamor and beauty. She is willing to, as I said in my review of this, look like a couple of miles of bad road. I like this nomination quite a bit, even if I didn’t love the movie. But it’s not what gets to the top.
1. Joan Crawford is my pick amongst the actual nominees. Possession isn’t her best film, not with Mildred Pierce a couple of years before, but it’s the best of the five nominations. She is surprisingly compelling in the film, and she’s far and away the best thing here, although Eddie Albert is good as well. Joan Crawford was at her best when she played crazy, and here, she is literally playing someone who is mentally ill. If I’d had a vote and was given this slate, she’d be the one who I’d want to see accepting the statue. But she’s not the real winner.
I’m deciding that Jane Greer could have been here and that she should have been here, and I don’t think she’d be a bad choice. Gun to head, Deborah Kerr would get the statue from me, though, even though Kathleen Byron is the best thing in the film (and I don’t know how she didn’t get a nomination in a supporting role, either). Both Kerr and Greer deserved to be here over everyone actually nominated, and I’d have been happy with either of them winning over all of the options we’ve been given.
Agree with you completely. It's a pretty lackluster year for the ladies - for the movies really. I wonder if it was a bit to early for the Academy to honor an actress in a non-studio product. Kerr without doubt is the best of the bunch.ReplyDelete
In looking back over the movies I have seen for the year, I can't find another real possibility except to say Loretta Young was better in The Bishop's Wife and that's a better movie than The Farmer's Daughter.
I thought The Bishop's Wife might get some play here, but it's still a hole in my viewing history. I really should get around to it.Delete
Make a point of seeing it next Christmas if you are into such things as holiday movies! Cary Grant and David Niven are also stellar in it.Delete
Yeah, it's on the list. I intended to watch it last Christmas and just missed it (again).Delete
I do not know any of these movies, but I can agree any day to give some attention to Black Narcissus. There were an entire ensemble of great women in that movie. Other than that 47 appears to be a thin year.ReplyDelete
Possession and Smash-Up are worth seeing if you come across them. None of these are bad, but in general they aren't worth going out of your way to see.Delete
GRRRRRRR! Loretta Young winning this is one that makes my eyes cross! She's one of the classic actresses of whom I'm not very fond, well I liked her in her pre-codes but then she slowly became more and more rigid and mechanical. I remember virtually nothing of Farmer's Daughter outside of Ethel Barrymore, and my fondness for the 60's TV show starring actual Swede Inger Stevens, and even as I watched I was shocked that this completely average performance could ever win anything.ReplyDelete
I'd agree with your top two and would have been fine with either winning out of this field. They are the only two I'd retain if I were able to choose a lineup.
I don't think Jane Greer's deliciously venal Kathie was a big enough role for her to score a lead actress nod but she definitely should have been in the supporting crew, though as brilliant as she is she'd be my runner-up to Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus.
As to who is missing Deborah Kerr is a good call though I don't love the film as much as most. I'd also include Gene Tierney who is a lovely alternative to all the darkness on offer this year and gives a fine performance. But there are three pieces of work that I admire more. There's Joan Bennett and Claire Trevor as a pair of malicious, avaricious woman driven to extremes in The Macomber Affair and Born to Kill respectively. They shade their characters beautifully. But my winner would be Ida Lupino in my favorite performance of hers as Petey Brown in The Man I Love. The movie isn't as well known as it should be, though Scorsese pointed to it as his main inspiration for New York, New York, and Ida makes Petey a fully rounded idiosyncratic person who could not be tougher but also was a deeply sensitive woman. A beautiful piece of work.
As is often the case, you've given me a few to track down. I tend to like Ida Lupino, so that will be one I've got my eyes out for.Delete
I'm never really sure the definition of a main role and a supporting one. Given the sorts of things that have been nominated in both categories, I'm not sure anyone has ever sat down and really figured out what counts where.
Black Narcissus is a film I have recommended to dozens of people. About nine out of 10 look at me like I'm crazy--"he's recommending a movie about nuns in the Himalayas?" The tenth watches it and never fails to return to me to thank me for the recommendation.
Wow, does Jane Greer look gorgeous in that image from Out of the Past at the top of the post. Just amazing.ReplyDelete
She is, and she's one of the most perfect examples of an ice-cold femme fatale in film history. While she wasn't the first, in many ways she is the template.Delete
I think I'd try to find space for at least a nomination for Dorothy Lamour in My Favorite Brunette.ReplyDelete
As is often the case with suggestions, it's one I don't know.Delete
It's one of Bob Hope's best movies. It also features Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney. Hollywood comedies of the late 1940s don't get much better than this one. And Lamour consistently displays what a fine comic actress she was.Delete
Not your usual Oscar fare. But 1947 is a weird year.
It is a weird year. I'll keep an eye out for it.Delete