kingrat

Lead or Supporting Role?

544 posts in this topic

Westward the Women, which kingrat mentioned, is a highly unusual film. I suppose it could be called a feminist horse opera, as it deals with a wagon train of women heading west, all intending to be brides to the expectant inhabitants of a mining town. Robert Taylor is very good as the wagon master initially cynical that the women will be able to make the tough crossing. As directed by Wild Bill Wellman, it's a very good film, based on a story by Frank Capra.

 

I have seen the movie, and yes I agree it is an entertaining film.  I agree too that there is an aspect of feminism about this film.  Women must travel to get married, but hey - must get married to someone right? 

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It looks like I may be the only one to have chosen to put Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth in Fire Over England (1937) in the lead actress category.

 

For 1938, Oscar put Beulah Bondi in the Supporting Actress category for Of Human Hearts.  I think she was clearly the leading actress in this film and this is again a case of putting a character actor in the lesser category.

And I think Meliza Korjus belongs in the lead actress category for The Great Waltz

 

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It looks like I may be the only one to have chosen to put Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth in Fire Over England (1937) in the lead actress category.

 

For 1938, Oscar put Beulah Bondi in the Supporting Actress category for Of Human Hearts.  I think she was clearly the leading actress in this film and this is again a case of putting a character actor in the lesser category.

And I think Meliza Korjus belongs in the lead actress category for The Great Waltz

 

I would not be too sure of that, Bogie.  Because of my typing skills I am drawing out my categories over the week.  I'm open to moving around my lead vs. supporting, but I think of Dame Flora Robson in Fire Over England as a lead here.  She was usually a supporting role, but in this case The Queen is a lead character in my mind.

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In 1939, Oscar put Greer Garson in the leading Actress category for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.  IMO this was a supporting performance.  Yes, she had the biggest female part in the film but she was not a co-lead, it wasn’t her story and her screen time was quite limited.  I think this was a case of putting a star in the lead category for promotional sake.

 

I trust kingrat will not mind my reprinting a portion of his original post from this thread:

 

1939: Brian Aherne as Maximilian probably has more screen time than Paul Muni in the title role of JUAREZ. I would classify this as a lead.

 

This is a case of a film I am just going to have to see again for I already had Aherne in the Supporting category on my list.  

 

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I have Garson nominated in the lead category for Mr. Chips, but I was considering just chucking her nomination all together.

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I have Garson nominated in the lead category for Mr. Chips, but I was considering just chucking her nomination all together.

 

Well, I think Garson is fantastic in the film so don't dump her altogether just because of the categories.  She quite rightly transforms Chipping by just being her.  She probably wouldn't have beaten Hattie McDaniel in the supporting category in 1939 but I think she would have been right up there.

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I have Garson nominated in the lead category for Mr. Chips, but I was considering just chucking her nomination all together.

 

Don't chuck her altogether.  Her role is vital to the film and likely a big reason why Robert Donat won Best Actor.

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In 1939, Oscar put Greer Garson in the leading Actress category for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.  IMO this was a supporting performance.  Yes, she had the biggest female part in the film but she was not a co-lead, it wasn’t her story and her screen time was quite limited.  I think this was a case of putting a star in the lead category for promotional sake.

 

I trust kingrat will not mind my reprinting a portion of his original post from this thread:

 

1939: Brian Aherne as Maximilian probably has more screen time than Paul Muni in the title role of JUAREZ. I would classify this as a lead.

 

This is a case of a film I am just going to have to see again for I already had Aherne in the Supporting category on my list.  

 

Yes,  MGM put Garson in the Best Actress category so the studio could promote their newest find (one they were trying to get under contract since 1937).    The Studio knew what they were doing because Garson did make a major splash and no one other than Bette Davis had a more solid early 40s career than Garson.    

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Don't chuck her altogether.  Her role is vital to the film and likely a big reason why Robert Donat won Best Actor.

Donat gave a performance for the ages. To say that it was dependent on Garson is a bit of a stretch.

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Greer Garson in CHIPS is one of those right on the cusp, like Eva Marie Saint in  ON THE WATERFRONT or Patricia Neal in HUD. Definitely the largest female role, but substantially less screen time than the male star. I can see solid arguments either way. Garson is very good in the role, and her influence remains after she's no longer on screen.

 

Because GWTW is such a long movie, Olivia De Havilland has lots more screen time, but Melanie is second fiddle to Scarlett. Scarlett, Rhett, and Ashley are the starring roles (even though Melanie probably has more screen time than Rhett). For me, Garson would lose to Leigh in the lead category or lose to De Havilland in the supporting category.

 

It hadn't occurred to me that David Niven's role in THE DAWN PATROL might be considered a lead, or Billie Burke in MERRILY WE LIVE, but those arguments could be made, too. So far in our 1938 polls, Mr. Niven has won a supporting actor award and a couple of lead actor awards.

 

By the way, I read recently that JUAREZ got that title because Paul Muni insisted on it and had the star power to make that happen. That inspired Bette Davis to get WB to change the title of the movie THE KNIGHT AND THE LADY, which eventually became THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX. If Brian Aherne had had the clout, JUAREZ might have been MAXIMILIAN or EMPEROR OF MEXICO or some such title.

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Donat gave a performance for the ages. To say that it was dependent on Garson is a bit of a stretch.

 

Yes I realize that.  What I meant is that Lawrence was going to chuck her out of his choices in 1939 completely, and without her  there is no love story.  Sure, someone else  may have played the role, but as most of the other characters are male, her role was the romance of Mr. Chips.

 

Donat would of course die soon after this.  His final performance was as an Asian in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.  I love Robert Donat.  I wish he had ben healthier during his life and that he did not need to constantly take time out for health issues. 

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Donat gave a performance for the ages. To say that it was dependent on Garson is a bit of a stretch.

 

Garson's character helps to change Chips from a stuffy withdrawn man into one capable of expressing warmth towards others. Through his discovery of love thanks to her, she makes him a more loving human being.

 

Donat and Garson have great screen chemistry, making Donat's transformation as Chips all the more credible. That can't be underestimated in appraising the overall effectiveness of Donat's portrayal.

 

I remember seeing Garson interviewed by TVO's Elwy Yost on her New Mexico ranch where she was retired. She was gracious and a perfect delight. It was almost like Mrs. Chipping hadn't died, after all, and here she was, joking and bantering at age 60 or so.

 

I have to side with those who regard Garson as a supporting actress in Goodbye Mr Chips due to her limited screen time.

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1940: James Stewart doesn’t get the leading lady in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, which is one argument that perhaps he has a supporting role. The argument could also be made that he has enough screen time to be a leading actor. On the other hand, Walter Brennan in THE WESTERNER probably has a large enough role as Gary Cooper’s antagonist that he should be considered a lead. The dimness of Cooper’s female love interest further skews the film into more of a man vs. man showdown.

 

 

I thought I might bump up part of your original post, kingrat as it relates to 1940 and our 'performances' thread.

I have gone with the way Oscar placed these performances: Stewart in the leading man category and Brennan in the supporting category.  Though that is not to say some might see it differently.

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I thought I might bump up part of your original post, kingrat as it relates to 1940 and our 'performances' thread.

I have gone with the way Oscar placed these performances: Stewart in the leading man category and Brennan in the supporting category.  Though that is not to say some might see it differently.

 

As we have discussed it is NOT the way "Oscar placed these performances' but instead how the studio placed them when submitting them.     Stewart was really making a name for himself after he starred in some very successful Capra films.    A win under 'best supporting' might have been viewed as a setback to his career.   So the studio submitted him as lead actor and his win certified him (so to speak), as a major star (with his war service setting back his career arch). 

 

(my guess is the suits felt a loss under the best actor category was better than a win under best supporting).

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In 1941, Oscar put Walter Huston in the leading Actor category for All That Money Can Buy.  IMO this was a supporting performance.  James Craig had the lead role in this film.  They were obviously still trying to promote the higher billed actor as a lead.

 

On the other hand, Charles Coburn who was placed in the supporting category for The Devil and Miss Jones really belongs in the leading role category.

 

And though I am robbing Mary Astor of a deserved Oscar, her role in The Great Lie is also a leading one.  This is again a case of an actor being placed in the supporting category primarily because of billing.

 

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Thanks, Bogie. I will move Charles Coburn and Mary Astor to lead categories. Hint: another Mary Astor performance might already be in my top five Best Actress picks for 1941.

 

I forgot to mention an interesting note about Arletty's performance in LE JOUR SE LEVE (DAYBREAK), which some of us mentioned in our Best Actress nominations for 1939. When that film was remade in Hollywood as THE LONG NIGHT--and that film will most definitely be mentioned in my 1947 picks--Arletty's role was played by Ann Dvorak, and it's clearly a supporting role. Barbara Bel Geddes as the innocent girl has the leading female role. Her role has been somewhat increased and deepened in the American remake. The main difference is that Arletty is a star, and Jacqueline Laurent, who plays the innocent in the French original, is not, so Arletty registers more strongly. Arletty even gets a big star entrance with a long camera movement which follows her across the room.

 

Questions about 1941: I'm considering Lana Turner in ZIEGFELD GIRL as a lead and Paulette Goddard in HOLD BACK THE DAWN as a supporting role. Is that how others of you see them? (Paulette is delighted that Mary Astor's performance in THE GREAT LIE being booted upstairs.)

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Thanks, Bogie. I will move Charles Coburn and Mary Astor to lead categories. Hint: another Mary Astor performance might already be in my top five Best Actress picks for 1941.

 

I forgot to mention an interesting note about Arletty's performance in LE JOUR SE LEVE (DAYBREAK), which some of us mentioned in our Best Actress nominations for 1939. When that film was remade in Hollywood as THE LONG NIGHT--and that film will most definitely be mentioned in my 1947 picks--Arletty's role was played by Ann Dvorak, and it's clearly a supporting role. Barbara Bel Geddes as the innocent girl has the leading female role. Her role has been somewhat increased and deepened in the American remake. The main difference is that Arletty is a star, and Jacqueline Laurent, who plays the innocent in the French original, is not, so Arletty registers more strongly. Arletty even gets a big star entrance with a long camera movement which follows her across the room.

 

Questions about 1941: I'm considering Lana Turner in ZIEGFELD GIRL as a lead and Paulette Goddard in HOLD BACK THE DAWN as a supporting role. Is that how others of you see them? (Paulette is delighted that Mary Astor's performance in THE GREAT LIE being booted upstairs.)

 As far as Ziegfeld, I agree kingrat. I couldn't say on Hold Back, although I do have de Havilland nominated.

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Questions about 1941: I'm considering Lana Turner in ZIEGFELD GIRL as a lead and Paulette Goddard in HOLD BACK THE DAWN as a supporting role. Is that how others of you see them? (Paulette is delighted that Mary Astor's performance in THE GREAT LIE being booted upstairs.)

 

Maybe someone else can chime in here.  I haven't see Ziegfeld Girl as yet.  I would think Goddard's role in Hold Back the Dawn was supporting but it has been a few years since I have seen this one.

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Seeing Lana in ZIEGFELD GIRL and another 1941 film, H O N K Y TONK, made me finally understand why she became such a big star. There's the mask-faced Lana of her late 1950s films, when the years in Hollywood and the bad romantic choices had taken their toll. In 1941 she was a petite, fresh, luscious, very beautiful and very talented young woman.

 

ZIEGFELD GIRL, which is basically one of those "three girls" pictures, stars Judy Garland, James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, and a whole slew of fine character actors, and who walks away with the picture? Lana.

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Seeing Lana in ZIEGFELD GIRL and another 1941 film, H O N K Y TONK, made me finally understand why she became such a big star. There's the mask-faced Lana of her late 1950s films, when the years in Hollywood and the bad romantic choices had taken their toll. In 1941 she was a petite, fresh, luscious, very beautiful and very talented young woman.

 

ZIEGFELD GIRL, which is basically one of those "three girls" pictures, stars Judy Garland, James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, and a whole slew of fine character actors, and who walks away with the picture? Lana.

I recently saw Lana in the Secret of Dr. Kildare opposite Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore in a single film appearance in the popular series.  She stole the film from Lew's leading lady as far as the female acting attention is concerned. 

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After tonight I'll be away from the computer for a few days, so I'm bumping this thread in case there are 1942 performances we want to discuss.

 

I noted in the original post that Agnes Moorehead, although nominated for supporting actress for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, was also considered as lead actress by at least one critics' group. I would probably consider this supporting.

 

Walter Pidgeon received a best actor nomination for MRS. MINIVER, but isn't Mr. Miniver a supporting role?

 

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After tonight I'll be away from the computer for a few days, so I'm bumping this thread in case there are 1942 performances we want to discuss.

 

I noted in the original post that Agnes Moorehead, although nominated for supporting actress for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, was also considered as lead actress by at least one critics' group. I would probably consider this supporting.

 

Walter Pidgeon received a best actor nomination for MRS. MINIVER, but isn't Mr. Miniver a supporting role?

 

Regarding Agens Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons, I would confidently put her in the Supporting category.  She really doesn't have that much screen time.  It's true that she won The NY Film Critics Best Actress award but they did not have a supporting category to place her in.  The Oscars and her in the supporting category.

Good question regarding Pidgeon's Clem Miniver.  I myself have gone along with Oscars and left him in the lead actor category.

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Regarding Agens Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons, I would confidently put her in the Supporting category.  She really doesn't have that much screen time.  It's true that she won The NY Film Critics Best Actress award but they did not have a supporting category to place her in.  The Oscars and her in the supporting category.

Good question regarding Pidgeon's Clem Miniver.  I myself have gone along with Oscars and left him in the lead actor category.

I put Walter in the lead category for Mrs. Miniver for much the same reason you suggested Bogie. 

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