Sunday, June 29, 2008


Get ready to join Stinkylulu and party as they paddle their way up the cinematic Zambezi once again for the monthly Supporting Actress Smackdown. This weekend they’ll be examining the flora and fauna of 1939. A year highly regarded in film history. Expect GONE WITH THE WIND to dominate. It has two superb candidates in the hunt –Olivia deHavilland and Hattie McDaniel. Both in tiptop form. I doubt the other three ladies will even give them much of a contest. Certainly it’s a trio that wouldn’t have been on my ballot in ’39. I suspect the Academy (and the New York Critics) were cowed by WUTHERING HEIGHTS’ literary pedigree. I can think of no other reason this dreary bog of a movie attracted such an inordinate amount of attention during awards season. Geraldine Fitzgerald – a fine actress – made a far stronger impression in the same year’s DARK VICTORY (and many times later). I wouldn’t have let Maria Ouspenskaya anywhere near a nomination – ever. But the LOVE AFFAIR nod was her second. Edna May Oliver did her delightfully outlandish thing as expertly as ever in DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK. But there were other ladies out there in ’39 whose work was even more deserving. Among the stellar contributors that year – Kay Francis (IN NAME ONLY), Butterfly McQueen (GONE WITH THE WIND), Verree Teasdale (FIFTH AVENUE GIRL), Irene Hervey (DESTRY RIDES AGAIN) and Jane Bryan (INVISIBLE STRIPES). As a matter of fact, the class of ’39 was so strong even they wouldn’t have made it to my final five. For me the ballot would’ve read as follows:

OLIVIA deHAVILLAND "Gone with the Wind"
HATTIE McDANIEL "Gone with the Wind"
LUCILE WATSON "Made for Each Other"

A list to reckon with! And –sometime soon – I hope to talk a little more about at least one of those splendid performances. In the meantime, head for the Smackdown and grab a first-row seat for the second coming of 1939.

No comments: