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Notable performances by women in classic films

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Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper in THE HEIRESS (1949)

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Her performance in William Wyler's adaptation of THE HEIRESS is one for the ages.

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Joanne Woodward as Mary in A BIG HAND FOR THE LITTLE LADY (1966)

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I especially admire Joanne Woodward's portrayal of a troubled upper-class wife in Merchant-Ivory's MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE. But I think her skill as an actress is on greater display in this western she made in the mid-60s. When her character joins a high-stakes card game, things change and true colors start to emerge. She's playing a trickster, and it's fascinating the way she accomplishes the character's transition on screen.

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Ida Lupino as Marion Castle in THE BIG KNIFE (1955)

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Ida Lupino was fantastic in so many classic films. The ones she directed are just as interesting to study. She has a brilliant final scene in THE BIG KNIFE. In fact it's such an amazing moment that it overshadows everything else that came before.

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Doris Day as the title character in CALAMITY JANE (1953)

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Doris Day causes quite a stir in this one. Comedy, romance, western action and music...it has everything. And when Doris sings the Oscar-winning tune 'Secret Love,' it is sublime.

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Joanne Woodward in "The Three Faces of Eve" (1957): 

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It's been a while since I've seen this movie, but I remember being impressed with Joanne in this. She did a great job at portraying the 3 different "faces" (or personalities), and it was fascinating to see just why she was the way that she was. 

Vivien Leigh in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951): 

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I personally believe that the character of Blanche DuBois is one of the most interesting female characters ever written. I loved Vivien in this role; she made me feel sorry for her character the entire time, although some of her actions did not warrant it. I enjoyed seeing her interact with Kim Hunter, Marlon Brando, and Karl Malden as well. She behaved differently towards each one, which was interesting. 

Nancy Kelly in "The Bad Seed" (1956): 

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I was blown away by Nancy's performance in this. She was extremely convincing as the mother of a child killer. She was great at thinking her daughter was perfect, to realizing that their may be something more sinister about her daughter in reality. 

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10 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Kim Stanley in 'Seance on a Wet Afternoon'

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Thanks for mentioning her. What Kim Stanley does in SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON has never been topped, and can probably never be topped, by anyone else. All her scenes are memorable in this picture. When I watch her on screen in this movie I can’t help but feel she put many hours into each scene. She’s extremely thorough. Because she has it so worked out “down here,” she is able to take the character “up there” or even further “down there.” In some instances, she is up and down at the same time. Is she layering goodness over evil, or is she layering evil over goodness? I think she’s doing both in this film, and to have someone who’s brain is so perfectly compartmentalized to do this when creating a character– well that’s a genius. She’s given the best performance of all time on celluloid.

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High praise indeed. I largely concur with you. I suppose given my picks in this thread, I do prefer the more seasoned, older actresses like Stanley who have this kind of command and also the lack of vanity in taking ungainly roles. Its therefore perplexing why I don't find the same qualities in Crawford for example; but dames like Roz Russell or K.Hep or Davis, or Ginger Rogers... all seem a very different type of actress than is, Kim Stanley. Amazing too, is Kim Stanley's only other notable performance in Chayefsky's 'The Goddess'. Look at how she aged. To me, the chagrin Stanley must have suffered in her career makes her more intriguing than all the more glamorous names.

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Tantoo Cardinal as Black Shawl in DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)

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A beautiful performance that conveys the strength and quiet dignity of the Lakota Sioux.

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Yvonne De Carlo as Lorena Dumont in FRONTIER GAL (1945)

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I wanted to include Yvonne De Carlo in this discussion because I don't think she gets her proper due. Universal put her in a bunch of Technicolor westerns at the beginning of her career. And FRONTIER GAL is one of the earliest and best. It doesn't surprise me to learn she married a stuntman, because she's very courageous and performs all her own stunts on horseback in this film. She really loved taking risks on camera, and makes it seem easy. Not only is she better than her male costars in the outdoor sequences, but she does those glamorous musical numbers during the saloon scenes. She wasn't dubbed. So no stunt doubles, no dubbing. She's one of the screen's most authentic performers. And she can do romance and comedy with ease. She deserves a greater appreciation of her many talents. She was a real star.

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y'know, its a mark of how schizoid our culture is, (how so unlike all other countries) our daily media diet steadfastly divorces us from our heritage, separates us from our past. It makes our whole nation insane. The peoples of France, Italy, Britain all live with their past surrounding them, undeniable evidence on all sides.

We sit every night raptly gazing at images which replace identity. What I mean is, you will never see the name Kim Stanley --one of our greatest actresses --mentioned on Entertainment Tonight (unless in connexion with some tawdry expose' or cheap, unflattering scandal).

Nothing will ever be said about her talent or career, on such a show. When 'Entertainment Tonight' discusses 'stars' it must always be a pointless star 'du jour' instead of a star who actually makes a difference.

Its as if American television audiences are as unconscious as katydids setting mindlessly on tree branches. We gain no identity from our past--our history is only an occasional day off work once in a while. Entirely meaningless; no pride; no legacy; no achievements.

Sorry but this really is the world depicted in Norman Jewison's 'Rollerball'.

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23 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

y'know, its a mark of how schizoid our culture is, (how so unlike all other countries) our daily media diet steadfastly divorces us from our heritage, separates us from our past. It makes our whole nation insane. The peoples of France, Italy, Britain all live with their past surrounding them, undeniable evidence on all sides.

We sit every night raptly gazing at images which replace identity. What I mean is, you will never see the name Kim Stanley --one of our greatest actresses --mentioned on Entertainment Tonight (unless in connexion with some tawdry expose' or cheap, unflattering scandal).

Nothing will ever be said about her talent or career, on such a show. When 'Entertainment Tonight' discusses 'stars' it must always be a pointless star 'du jour' instead of a star who actually makes a difference.

Its as if American television audiences are as unconscious as katydids setting mindlessly on tree branches. We gain no identity from our past--our history is only an occasional day off work once in a while. Entirely meaningless; no pride; no legacy; no achievements.

Sorry but this really is the world depicted in Norman Jewison's 'Rollerball'.

Hopefully Kim Stanley is still discussed in classes at the Actors Studio. She was a rare talent.

She received an Oscar nomination for a supporting role as Jessica Lange's mother in FRANCES (1982).

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Five favorites:

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Irene Dunne (I Remember Mama)

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Simone Signoret (Ship of Fools)

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Beulah Bondi (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine)

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Isabelle Adjani (The Story of Adele H)

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Meryl Streep (Out of Africa)

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Judy Holliday as Gladys Glover in IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU (1954)

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Better than BORN YESTERDAY…?

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On 2/10/2019 at 5:25 PM, NickAndNora34 said:

Katharine Hepburn in "Holiday" (1938):

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I like Kate in the majority of her films I've seen, but this one stands out. She was simultaneously funny and sad. There was a nice balance to her character. 

Bette Davis in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962):

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What can I say about this except for the fact it terrified me the first time I watched it. Bette was so deliciously unstable in this one; I was very scared for Joan Crawford the entire time. I love that Bette wasn't afraid to look undesirable in order to put on a good show. 

Gene Tierney in "Leave Her to Heaven" (1945):

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I find this to be one of the more unique roles Gene played. She went from being an innocent in "Laura" (1944) to being an emotionally underdeveloped and possessive woman in this one. 

Anne Revere in "National Velvet" (1944):

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I first watched this film when I was around 4 or 5 years old, and I loved every second of it. It wasn't until I got a little older that I realized how warm and dependable Anne Revere played her character. She was a firm, but loving matriarch. 

 

 

 

These are some of my favorite portrayals ever. (Bette Davis in Baby Jane excepted!)

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I like Lizabeth Scott in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

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And unrelated here below is a nice gif

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TopBilled, stout fellow--'ow about doing a thread like this one, but specifically for women in westerns? ;)

Just a thought!

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1 hour ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

TopBilled, stout fellow--'ow about doing a thread like this one, but specifically for women in westerns? ;)

Just a thought!

Good idea. Maybe I'll create such a thread in the westerns sub-forum. Thanks for suggesting this!

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54 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara (1953)

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It's one of her better earlier films. We can see why she became a mega-star.

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