The Academy reached out to non-American actresses this year by honoring Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo. I’ve never quite understood the attraction, other than for her work in Open City, so perhaps someone might elucidate. I do think this is an award that shows the Academy often looking to actresses willing to appear less than their best on screen as a sign of their devotion to acting (see last year’s win for a de-glamorized Grace Kelly in The Country Girl). As well, the more open sexuality may have been the tipping point, as can be seen from the movie posters:
The other official nominees included Susan Hayward, tearing it up as an alcoholic in I’ll Cry Tomorrow (the Academy loves roles for women who cry and have an addiction — I’m fairly certain one can consistently predict the winner in this category by figuring out who cries the most during each role, followed by who suffers the most from the monkeys on their back). Hayward made a specialty out of women who suffer, and she was damn good at it:
Eleanor Parker received a nomination for lip-syncing to opera and suffering polio in Interrupted Melody:
Jennifer Jones brought in a nomination for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, playing a Eurasian while smooching with William Holden:
Finally, Katharine Hepburn received yet another nomination, this time as a sexually-prohibited American tourist in David Lean’s Summertime:
So who did the Academy overlook?
Nobody, for three years in a row. I suspect this is a sign of the increasingly restricted opportunities for women to find challenging roles in the Fifties, when movies edged into male-dominated spectaculars and adventure films as a way to fight TV.
Of course, I might be wrong — feel free to make other suggestions below in the comments!
As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/WHO-Won-Irreverent-Look-Oscars/dp/069232318X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
And now, please vote!