Jennifer Jones is mostly hold back by the script but her shortcomings as an actress, that can be very obvious whenever a role is not truly in her comfort zone, are often visible, too. Still, whenever she is allowed to shine and a scene allows her to display her own mysteriousness with the needed subtlety, Jennifer Jones truly creates some unforgettable and beautiful moments.
It seems that Greer Garson's talent was simply both too big and too small for movies like this – because on the one hand the role does not offer her anything to truly work with apart from feeling torn apart between different people and groups but at the same time she seems lost with the low quality of her material, unable to rise above it and only able to retreat to her own comfort zone which unfortunately too often contradicted the intentions of the script.
There are many moments in Ingrid Bergman's performance that never reach above average but she created something otherworldly during her final scenes and if she had been allowed to be on this high level all the time, then her performance would definitely have been much stronger and memorable. As it is, the strength of the final scenes does not help her to overcome the limitations of the script but she still leaves a lasting, heartwarming impression.
2. Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce
Joan Crawford’s work in Mildred Pierce is one of the strangest ones in this category – she so obviously lacks many important qualities that the part needed but she also feels so right in the role, so irreplaceable and so satisfying that it’s hard to deny her the respect she obviously demands. And she clearly fulfills the task of carrying the picture and turning it into a captivating and intense experience, making not only the flaws of her own work but even those of the script seem forgettable.
Gene Tierney gave a chilling and noteworthy performance that perfectly fulfilled all the tasks of the script even if it sometimes remained too limited. Still, her ability to show Ellen’s slow descent into the darkness of her own mind, her inability to stop her actions to be completely alone with the man she loves and her way of beautifully underplaying all the madness and demons that haunt her results in various unforgettable scenes.