My current Top 5

My current Top 5

6/22/2011

Number 75: Gloria Grahame as Rosemary Bartlow in "The Bad and the Beautiful" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

Gloria Grahame is the first member of a club that I like to call ‘I’m glad this actress has an Oscar but why did it have to be for this movie?’

Well, the fact that she had been in three big movies that year, The Bad and the Beautiful (winner of 5 Oscars, including Miss Grahame herself), Sudden Fear (nominated for Best Actress: Joan Crawford) and The Greatest Show on Earth (winner of the Award for Best Picture) definitely helped her to take the Oscar home. But still – a combination of a couple of good performances should not be enough to win an Oscar if none of those performances would be worth it alone. She would even have been more deserving for The Greatest Show on Earth – the problem with her work in The Bad and the Beautiful is not that Gloria Grahame is bad but rather the fact that her part is so incredibly negligible without any highlight in any sense that it’s shocking that enough Academy members even remembered her in this.

In The Bad and the Beautiful, Gloria Graham plays the bored, southern-belle wife of a successful author who wants nothing more than a trip to Hollywood and some excitement. The movie tells three stories from three points of views. The first one from the point of a director, the second from the point of an actress and the third from the point of a writer. Since Gloria Grahame plays the wife of this writer, her character doesn’t enter the movie until the third story, that means her first appearance comes about 80 minutes after the movie started and about ten minutes later she’s already gone again. I know that this is the supporting category and size does not matter but what does matter is quality and you simply won’t find it here.

During her ten minutes on the screen, Gloria Grahame gives, no doubt about that, an entertaining performance. Each time her husband sits down to start to write something, she comes in and disturbs him. She’s a charming little creature and I actually give Miss Grahame some credit for making Rosemarie so charming because she is actually very annoying. At the same time it’s hard to believe that her husband would actually accept all her behaviours and characteristics – the chemistry between the two actors is unfortunately non-existent.

At a lot of moments, Gloria Grahame also seems lost with the type of roles she plays – the man-hungry, lusty but at the same time conventional and devoted Southern bell-wife is a character that can’t work in such a short time and it’s obvious from the writing that nobody ever expected her to work. Gloria Grahame herself adds to these misfires by lacking too much personality in this role – her line-delivery is probably supposed to be cute but she too often sounds as if she is reading from a teleprompter.

It’s a nothing-role that probably wouldn’t have allowed any actress to impress – and that’s why it’s simply impossible to connect this performance with the word ‘Oscar'. She finds some good moments, like her child-like excitement when she sees film star Lana Turner in the bungalow next door and her last scene is also quite good, when she and her husband are having a fight and she tells him: ‘James Lee Bartlow, you take a good look at yourself in that mirror. You’ve changed since you’ve come to Hollywood, and I don’t mind telling you, it’s no chance for the better.’ But…one line is just not enough.

Gloria Grahame is neither a scene-stealer nor is her character an unforgettable creations – at the end of the movie, you have probably forgotten her again. I feel sorry for putting this talented actress at the last place but it’s just not possible to come up with even one reason why this is an Oscar-worthy performance.

6 comments:

Louis Morgan said...

A deserving last place. As you said there is nothing memorable about her performance, it is also seems worse because she was in fact better in both Sudden Fear, and The Greatest Show on Earth.

Sage Slowdive said...

It seems to be starting off with a hilt :)

Anonymous said...

She won because she was in three big movies that year.End of story.Talented actress,but very undeserving Oscar.

Alex in Movieland said...

the nomination itself is ridiculous. Jean Hagen for the win, no doubt. or just anyone else.

Michael Patison said...

What'd you think of her in The Big Heat?

Fritz said...

I REALLY need to see that, I have heard only great things about her.