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EDNA MAY or THELMA?

18 posts in this topic

 

Grand character actresses Edna May Oliver and Thelma Ritter certainly entertained and delighted us over the years with their unique blend of comedy and pathos, to say the least. Which of the two delighted you the most?

I know this is a difficult question, however it could be fun comparing the two legends.

 

Mongo

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That IS a tough one. I can think of many roles in which both delighted me. I guess I like Ritter's characters more consistently--unlike Oliver's, not much phased them (much less scandalized them). Thelma usually played cynics with a heart of gold, which I've always loved (Helen Broderick is another favorite).

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Great topic Mongo! Let me see if I can sink my teeth into this one:

 

Edna May Oliver was known more for her witty spinster type roles than Thelma Ritter, who's various characters seemed to get all the best cynical lines. It's unfortunate that Oliver was only recognized once by the Academy, late in her career for her role in Drums Along the Mohawk (1939). The fact that she received a Supporting Actress Oscar nom in that GOLDEN (crowded with great) movie(s) year of 1939 speaks volumes. Some of her best roles, those which made the biggest impression on me at least, were in the classics Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), & Pride and Prejudice (1940), which was her second to last on-screen performance. She earned her "what a character" reputation working for MGM, primarily.

 

Ritter, on the other hand, received six Supporting Actress nominations throughout her career, never with the privilege of taking home the gold. Her first role was as the astonished mother in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), surprised that Macy's Santa Claus (Edmund Gwenn, in his Oscar winning Supporting role) would recommend a competitor's store to find a popular toy for her son. She appeared in several different studios' films like A Letter to Three Wives (1949), All About Eve (1950), Rear Window (1954), Pillow Talk (1959), The Misfits (1961), How the West Was Won (1962), & Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), her last nomination. She also shared the Best Actress Tony Award, with Gwen Verdon, for the musical "New Girl in Town" on Broadway in 1958. It's funny to me that she never worked with director Billy Wilder.

 

Who would I choose? In her day, I would have chosen Oliver, who died 5 years before Ritter ever appeared on-screen. How's that for a non-answer;-)

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I think Edna May Oliver was a "hoot", fun to watch and she always played the upset proper matron well. My favorite would have to be Thelma Ritter though. I love her in Pillow Talk as the drunk housekeeper and A New Kind Of Love as an assistant? in the fashion business with a crush on her boss. She always has a great line. I loved how she called her boss an old " shlameel" ( can't you just hear her saying it?) Thelma Ritter- my vote!

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Wow -

 

A tough one! I love Thelma's flirtation with the elevator man in "Pillow Talk" - When he speeds up and she deadpans "Show off!"... "You are my inspiration - ALMA!" - or Rock's great line refering to her: "She would make a great party girl - for the Russians!" ... But I love Edna's line as Lady Catharine in P&P about the piano (misquote) "I would be quite proficient if I had ever learned to play!" ... I have an old playbill from the 1927 OBC production of "Show Boat" at the Ziegfeld Theater - Edna plays Parthy Ann opposite Charles Winneger's Capt'n Andy and Helen Morgan's Julie - Edna looks suprisingly youthful! ... How could you choose between those two ladies?

 

- Madge

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I agree at this tough post...hmmmm

 

I enjoy both, but I think I would have to go with Edna. The first film I saw was of her in Drums Along the Mohawk...and the scene with her in her bed and the Indians coming in to burn her and her refusing to leave is great and hilarious....

 

I also enjoy Ritter who was in the Doris Day films ( Pillow Talk and Move Over Darling)

 

OOOhhh I dont know now...I would have to say both!

tabitha

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Thelma Ritter all the way!

 

She was just awesome. And honestly I never cared for Edna May Oliver too much, I just found her kind of annoying. Thelma was a real smartass though with her great one liners. And she had this warm presence, so friendly like she was your next door neighbor.

 

Soups on!

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Thelma Ritter she's got my vote and respect she was a

great talent on screen why she never won an oscar is

beyond my comprehension !....Been away from the boards

for awhile due to wrenching my back terribly getting so now i can sit at the computer and converse loliteblue...

i'm on the mend.

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I would need more than one pedestal in honoring these ... in fact, I would need two and of equal height. In a way, it's difficult to compare them. They both played direct, no-nonsense characters with great verve and wit, but their respective roles are not interchangable. Edna May played the upper-crust type with the pretense of decorum while Thelma was the more contemporary wisecracker and down-to-earth to the hilt. I love them both.

 

Oh and btw, welcome back lolite, keep on the mend. You're absence is always noted.

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My favorite Thelma moment was in How The West Was Won when Gregory Peck tells her she has beautiful hair. The look on her face is priceless!!

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Thelma Ritter for me. I love her in everything I've seen her in, All About Eve, A Letter to Three Wives, Rear Window, and many more. Since she is a character actor she is not always noted in the synopsis but I always get excited about a movie when I see her name come up in the opening credits.

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Edna May, of course!!! I have seen her lately in so many different character roles that my head is spinning. But she put her own style on every one of them and was a most outstanding support character. I love her to pieces!

I haven't seen too many of Thelma Ritter's movies. The only one that comes to mind is The Rear Window and she did a good job in that film. Would someone like to educate me a little and tell me the names and characters of some of her other movies? I would be most interested. :) Sue

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Sue, check out IMDb.com for all of Thelma Ritter's movies. You'll be surprised what the 6 time Oscar nominee has appeared in.

 

Mongo

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Hi Mongo! Have been off the boards for the week volunteering for hurricane katrina and New Orleans, but things have calmed down a bit so came back here to see what was going on.

Thanks for the info on Thelma. I have a list going for IMDB so will add her to it. Take care. :) :) Sue

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