July 30, 2013

Actress Round-up: 1930-1931

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5. MARLENE DIETRICH AS AMY IN MOROCCO
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It's a boring performance in an even more boring film. While I understand her approach at the character, the entire time I felt like I was watching a ghost of a person--vapid and empty, there's really not much to be offered here outside of the fact that Dietrich is ravishing to look at in her close-ups.



4. IRENE DUNNE AS SABRA IN CIMARRON
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Dunne does what she can in the first half of the film, which isn't much, but breaks out a little more in the second half. While there are parts to like and parts to dislike about her performance, at the end of the day it's standard, forgettable work.



3. MARIE DRESSLER AS MIN IN MIN & BILL
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I feel kind of bad about ranking Dressler so low, especially seeing as it is a performance that many people have liked. But I've never been one to like curmudgeony characters, and while that automatically seems to put Dressler at a disadvantage going into the film, ultimately what I think did her in for me was the fact that she (or the script) relied too heavily on "scary, mad old woman" instead of delving a little more deeper into her characterization.



2. ANN HARDING AS LINDA IN HOLIDAY
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I was surprised just how much I enjoyed Ann Harding. Perhaps my review sounded harsher than I had intended, but Harding is the most natural amongst all her fellow nominees, and her performance feels the most lived-in. Upon reflection, what put her above Dressler was my inclination to sit through Holiday again just for Harding rather than Min & Bill.



1. NORMA SHEARER AS JAN IN A FREE SOUL

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Judging from the posters and such, you're meant to think that Norma Shearer is the biggest deal in A Free Soul. With Barrymore having won for his work in this film, I figured Shearer would get lost amongst him, Clark Gable, and Leslie Howard. But I was wrong! She is a big deal! She holds her own in an incredibly melodramatic film and gives what I think is the most complex (and underrated) performance of this batch of ladies.




IN CONCLUSION: I found this year in particular to be a weak one. Two of the ladies had no business being nominated and another two, though good, may very well be replaced if I were to spend a little time watching more films from the qualifying period. I'm just glad to get another early 1930s year out of the way--I find them to be so exhausting.

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