My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 72: Margaret Rutherford as The Duchess of Brighton in "The V.I.P.s" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

Here, we have another member of the 'I’m glad that this actress has an Oscar but why did it have to be for this movie?' club.

Margaret Rutherford will always be remembered for her work as Miss Marple, but she was more than that: a great character actress!

In The V.I.P.s, she is able to show her talent for comedy and also gets some more serious moments and it’s obvious in every single scene of her appearance that you are watching a great talent but this great talent is never really allowed to shine since her part is so underwritten and one-dimensional that it enabled Margaret Rutherford only to impress a little before pulling her back again. I think that she owes her Oscar to the fact that she was competing in a very weak year and that the members of the Academy wanted to appreciate her for stealing the whole movie from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Personally, I think that it was Maggie Smith who stole the movie but I can understand why Academy members would think differently.

Margaret Rutherford played The Duchess of Brighton, an old, loveable but also often confused lady who wants to travel to America because she has to work to keep her home, a big old English castle. As I said, my problem with this performance is basically the writing – I constantly have the feeling that someone was reading the script and thought ‘Mmh, let’s throw in some old lady for laughs. Hey you, write the part and bring it to me in 5 minutes.’ It could have very well happened that way. The character appears every twenty minutes or so, acts a little confused for two minutes and leaves again. Don’t get me wrong, Miss Rutherford plays this very well and gets laughs out of a nothing-script. The way she always takes pills that are either supposed to keep her awake or make her asleep give you a big smile on your face (she once says ‘I shall clearly arrive in Florida in an advanced state of drug addiction.’) and you also have to love her when she is putting an arrogant Stewardess in her place or when she is asked to fasten her seatbelt, and she says ‘I haven’t brought a seatbelt with me!’ Yes, these moments are able to entertain but the character of the Duchess is basically forgotten before she even leaves the scene – it’s comic relief on a very low level. On the one hand, Margaret Rutherford succeeds as a comic relief because she does provide some laughs in an otherwise dreary movie but these laughs come at the expense of her whole character which is so paper-thin that it becomes impossible for her to become a real, believable human being. But thankfully Margaret Rutherford is also given a more touching, quiet scene when she talks about her home in England and later, when she finds a way to save her home without having to go to America. These two scenes show that Margaret Rutherford could handle drama just as well as comedy – but in The V.I.P.s, it’s all too shallow and superficial. A thin role like this, put in a movie for some new energy and some laughs, needs to be much more memorably played and executed to really impress.

So, I have to say that Miss Rutherford surely makes the most of her role and I don’t want to deny her charm, talent and screen presence but at the end of the day it’s just a role that is too undemanding and underdeveloped.


dinasztie said...

I think she was really funny and I would rank her (and Winters) higher than Myoshi Umeki.

Fritz said...

Well, I gave a warning right at the beginning about my different taste in this category! :-)

Louis Morgan said...

Your right her character is not developed, but this is about the performance, and hers certainly is fine. I would put her higher than this.