My current Top 5

My current Top 5

6/29/2011

Number 65: Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet in "Rosemary's Baby" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

I already showed in my Best Actress Ranking that some performances, no matter how iconic they are, simply don’t do it for me. In the Supporting Actress category, there is probably hardly another performance more iconic than Ruth Gordon’s next-door-witch but as you can see from this ranking, I am not a real admirer. Compared to my old ranking, she got a higher position, but only a few spots…

Ruth Gordon is certainly another member of the ‘I’m glad this actress has an Oscar but why did it have to be for this movie?’ club. First, what bugs me is that her performance and her character are so one-dimensional…I mean, apart from playing an annoying neighbor, what else does she do? There is no depth, no emotion, nothing. At least I would have expected some hidden signs of evil in her character, but not even that (except for her conversation on the phone when she talks to the doctor about Rosemary’s pregnancy and the look on her face when Rosemary tells her that she’s going out can can’t have her drink, but that’s not enough). Ruth Gordon’s own personality and screen-presence make sure that Minnie is as eccentric and weird as possible but underneath all this lays a sadly very empty and unremarkable performance.

It’s mostly the combination of Ruth Gordon’s unusual voice and her costumes that creates Minnie as the well-known character she is. With these assets, she is able to leave an impression and becomes strangely entertaining but, ultimately, her role is really nothing more than an underwritten comic relief since her chances to portray a more sinister side in her character are so limited. It’s really frustrating to watch her, like Lee Grant in Shampoo, give everything for a part that isn’t worth it. I think that the actor who played Minnie’s husband was more successful in creating a character that is both the stereotypical annoying neighbor but also evokes a feeling of insecurity, of danger. It’s a combination that Ruth Gordon missed unfortunately.

It’s certainly an interesting performance and I won’t deny that Ruth Gordon is amusing to watch but there is too much missing in this part for me to give her a better position.

6 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

But, she did at least make it a little farther :)

Louis Morgan said...

Something I am noticing in these reviews Fritz is your really stressing the character in some instances even more than the actual performance. Having said that I thought she was as effective as she needed to be in the role, which I felt was what it needed to be.

joe burns said...

I agree, I thought it was going to be chilling and interesting, but it fell flat for me.



I personally feel that a lot of the performances down here aren't bad in your opinion, but are ruined by the role. I'm sure things will change as your ranking goes on.

Fritz said...

@Louis: I hope I know what you mean - I just think that if a role is not really good an actress needs to be extremely effective to turn it into something good. And those I have ranked so far failed to do that.

Deborah Kerr said...

I couldn't disagree more. I think Minnie was mist of the most disturbing character in the film. Sure she was nosy and pushy but she was also sweet, complimentary, helpful, funny, reliable and a cold blooded killer. Hutch and especially Terry were murdered in cold blood. Minnie is a straight up charming psychopath. And ruth Gordon played her to perfection. I think you, Fritz, aren't looking deeply enough.

K Doherty said...

I agree with Ms. Kerr - Miss Gordon gives a brilliant performance in this film. She is Supposed to be like any nosy old biddy , but to me , it shows a Hawk focusing on a garden Vole in Miss Farrow. She is quirky and eccentric, to hide what she truly is - a vortex to the Devil. Her goal is to have Miss Farrow's baby be born and if u see her scene at the end , when she states that this child will fulfill the Coven's destiny, it chills me still how little she regards Miss Farrow. It could have been anybody to give birth , and how she chastises Miss Farrow for not being honored to give birth to Satan's son , it completely gives focus to her ultimate goal. I think because this performance is so well known, you may have lost sight how subtle her friendly fake gestures really enhance her character to betrayal