Who Should Have Won the Best Actress Oscar for 1940?

When Pauline Kael was on an interview show with Ginger Rogers once, Rogers reminisced about her Oscar win as Best Actress for Kitty Foyle. Rogers mused, “My agent didn’t want me to do Kitty Foyle.” Kael interrupted, “Your agent was right.” I doubt much of anything happened after that…

Kitty Foyle original cinema poster.jpg

Kael, for once, was right about this. Rogers’ win for Kitty Foyle is a perfect example of when the Academy votes for somebody they like, rather than the best performance. Consider who was also nominated:

Bette Davis, in one of her finest roles, in The Letter:

The Letter poster.jpg

And Katharine Hepburn in one of her finest roles, in The Philadelphia Story:


And Joan Fontaine in what is arguably her finest performance — ever — in Hitchcock’s Rebecca:

Rebecca 1940 film poster.jpg

And then there’s Martha Scott, slipping in somehow with her turn in Our Town:

Original movie poster for the film Our Town (1940 film).jpg

But if you really want to get upset, think about who they didn’t even nominate: Rosalind Russell, in her greatest role (sorry, you Auntie Mame nuts!) in His Girl Friday:

His Girl Friday poster.jpg

If you would like to make other suggestions, please do so below in the comments!

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPEELH0

And now, please vote!


  1. Russell is too frantic. Hepburn isn’t very likable. Bette Davis is too mannered. Ginger is just Ginger without music. Martha Scott is just okay. Looks like Joan Fontaine fits her part perfectly. O’Selznick must have held Hitchcock back. No macabre jokes. …Joan, I pick you.

  2. It is terribly hard to vote for “the best” when there are so many. But it does make it easier to vote when you block out your “favorite” star.

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