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Who were the least respected acting winners pre-1970?

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  • RobertPius
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    #185501

    I know my post 1970 history pretty well but who were the early winners people feel were undeserved?

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    AMG
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    #185503

    OH WAIT, I just read the ‘Acting Winners’ bit in the title. 

    The obvious one that came to my mind was the Best Picture win for How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane for 1941. 

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    AMG
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    #185504

    I respect the Best Actor winners, but for me Peter O’Toole should have won for one of The Lion In Winter, Lawrence of Arabia, Becket or Goodbye Mr Chips (his nominated performances pre-1970). 

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    benbraddock
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    #185505

    So many acting winners (best actor) pre-1970
    were just 1 for 1 wins..which, IMO, shows the lack
    of respect from the academy in general…Some of the
    oscar winning performances might have been good ones
    but these men for sure deem less weighty than most winners
    back then.
    1968 CLIFF ROBERTSON- CHARLY
    1955 ERNEST BORGNINE- MARTY
    1959 CHARLTON HESTON- BEN HUR
    1958 DAVID NIVEN – SEPARATE TABLES
    1956 YUL BRYNNER- THE KING AND I
    1965 LEE MARVIN- CAT BALLOU
    1945 RAY MILLAND- THE LOST WEEKEND
    1943 PAUL LUKAS- WATCH ON THE RHINE

    These men had long careers in the movie business
    making many other films, but for me, they are much
    less respected than other oscar winning names pre 1970
    such as..PECK, HARRISON, GUINESS, BRANDO, HOLDEN
    BOGART, OLIVIER, COOPER, STEWART, CAGNEY
    WAYNE, STEIGER, SCOFIELD, POITIER, SCHELL
    AND LANCASTER..

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    Aunt Peg
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    #185506

    Broderwick Crawford in All the King’s Men (it’s a good performance but Crawford tended to give the same performance in most films he appeared in);
    Cliff Robertson (Reasonable actor but not Oscar worthy – hurt too that O’Toole lost for one of his greatest in The Lion in Winter);
    Paul Lukas (An actor and performance that are virtually forgotten today);
    Loretta Young (a minor talent at best);
    Grace Kelly (nice looking but Oscar worthy – hardly);
    Elizabth Taylor (Butterfield 8 – dreadul performance in a dreadful film by a sometimes dreadful actress who did thankfully did win for one of the greatest performances a few years later). 

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    OnTheAisle
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    #185507

    (Best?) Supporting Actor

    WALTER BRENNAN

    Three of the first five Best Supporting Actors Oscars awarded went to Walter Brennan. Brennan was a WWI veteran whose vocal chords were damaged by poison gas. Early in his career, an on set accident cost him his teeth. When he removed his dentures, his visage significantly changed. This allowed the relatively young actor to play old men with stunning accuracy. However, Brennan was also rose from the core of extras who were allowed to vote during this early period in Oscar history. It was widely perceived that this large voting block of extras were voting for one of their own, influenced the three wins for Brennan, and ultimately prompted a shift in who voted for the Oscar.

    (Best?) Actor

    CLIFF ROBERTSON

    In 1968, Peter O’Toole was considered the Best Actor front runner for his third nomination in The Lion in Winter. Yet, Cliff Robertson won for Charly, which upon release Time magazine reviewer had dubbed, “an odd little movie about mental retardation and the dangers of all-conquering science, done with a dash of whimsy.” This win became the first to be openly criticized as being bought instead of deserved. After the ceremony Time continued its assault on the film version of the classic short story “Flowers for Algernon” in a lengthy article claiming that Robertson’s victory was the result of advertising and promotion. In interviews responding to the controversy, Robertson himself credited the double page, gatefold ads in Daily Variety as having the greatest impact on the voting.

    (Best?) Actress

    ELIZABETH TAYLOR

    Following the recent death of her husband Mike Todd and a near death bout with pneumonia that required a tracheotomy, Elizabeth Taylor was not a surprise Best Actress winner for playing the ill fated prostitute Gloria Wandrous in BUtterfield 8. Due to sympathy for her horrifying illness, the vote was universally acknowledged as the film community’s support for the ill actress. The other Best Actress nominees cancelled their plans to attend the 1960 ceremony, except for Greer Garson who had already agreed to present. Taylor herself was not a fan of the film she only agreed to make in order to complete a contractual obligation and be released to star in Cleopatra. Even after the film won box office success and an Oscar for Best Actress, Taylor famously derided the movie, “I still think it stinks.” Best Actress nominee Shirley MacLaine of the The Apartment when referring to her own Oscar history often stated, “I lost to a tracheotomy.”

     

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    M
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    #185508

    Outside of Brennan having three Oscars, nobody is actually upset with the pre-1970 acting winners. But the lightweights and nobodies who win Oscars these days devalue the prestige of the honor.

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    manakamana
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    #185509

    I always figured Loretta Young and Susan Hayward’s wins over Rosalind Russell were seen as a bit of a shame. But maybe that’s just the Roz fan in me projecting. 

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    babypook
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    #185510

    I know my post 1970 history pretty well but who were the early winners people feel were undeserved?

    Well, GD wasnt born back then; otherwise every single freaking winner would have their massive detractors.

    I’m afraid I agree with Peaceful Resolution (that’s a line out of GoT is it not?). Legend and traditional stories holds that the actors and films mentioned here is told over and over again. But the winners “won”.

    An Oscar win is an Oscar “win”, and the back stories, even the negative ones, just add to the colour of things.

    Besides, if a film or actor etc won, doesnt that mean it/they had the support at the time? Retrospect is always an advantage.

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    Atypical
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    #185511

    I just watched “The King & I” recently, and yeah, all I have to justify Yul Brenner’s Oscar win is the huge year he had with “The Ten Commandments,” “Anastasia” (the best performance of the three), and “The King & I.” The latter is memorable enough, but it’s nothing I would think to acknowledge as an Oscar-winning performance.

    Cliff Robertson is another glaring one. That category offered one of Peter O’Toole’s signature performances in “The Lion in Winter,” so it’s sad that greatness was overlooked for such a marginal and sappy performance instead.

    Ernest Borgnine’s win for “Marty” does absolutely nothing for me either. All I’ve seen in that category besides Borgnine is James Dean in “East of Eden.” Not sure I would have picked Dean outright either, but I did like his work better of the two.

    No one really talks about “The Lost Weekend” anymore, but Ray Milland was very good all through this film. I guess its take on alcoholism is overdone by today’s standards, but I liked it, at least.

    This is right at the cutoff point, but I’ve read practically nothing positive about John Mills in “Ryan’s Daughter.” I’ve never seen it nor ever plan to. It’s over three hours runtime, and the synopsis looks abysmal. Mills in particular seems to go “full retard” here (if you get that “Tropic Thunder” reference lol), so a big “no thanks” to that one.

    It’s a tougher list to compile for the actresses, since these “one and done” nominations are more rampant here with slimmer pickings at times and aren’t necessarily representative of poor years or slight competition.

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    Eddy Q
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    #185512

    I always figured Loretta Young and Susan Hayward’s wins over Rosalind Russell were seen as a bit of a shame. But maybe that’s just the Roz fan in me projecting. 

    Loretta Young was considered a huge upset – apparently Roz stood up before the winner was read out, so sure was she (and everyone else) that she would win. She managed to turn this gaff into a standing ovation. Classy. By 1958 I think Susan Hayward was considered equally overdue to Russell, as well as Oscar-baitier in her chosen projects, so her win was expected (to my knowledge).

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    Eddy Q
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    #185513

    This is right at the cutoff point, but I’ve read practically nothing positive about John Mills in “Ryan’s Daughter.” I’ve never seen it nor ever plan to. It’s over three hours runtime, and the synopsis looks abysmal. Mills in particular seems to go “full retard” here (if you get that “Tropic Thunder” reference lol), so a big “no thanks” to that one.

    There are a few clips of his performance available on YouTube which I watched – I haven’t seen the whole film but Mills’s performance does look like a horrible ableist caricature of someone with a disability. I’ll reserve full judgment until I’ve seen the whole film, but that might only happen if I feel like being a David Lean completist.

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    KyleBailey
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    #185514

    I just heard recently people didn’t think Rex Harrison deserved to win for My Fair Lady. I haven’t seen the film yet so I can’t say anything personally 

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    Eddy Q
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    #185515

    ^ Rex was good but it should’ve been Peter Sellers for Dr. Strangelove. Same applies to Picture and Director, but this was the time musicals were super-popular with the Academy (and with audiences in general), and George Cukor was considered overdue.

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    tonorlo
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    #185516

    Young was definitely a shockeroo for Best Actress of ’47, but as correctly noted above, by ’58, Hayward was seen as being just as overdue as Russell (and there was some very minor rumbling at the time that Russell had the advantage of hundreds of Broadway performances as “Auntie Mame” beforehand to hone her characterization).

     

    Anne Revere, by most accounts, was a somewhat surprising selection for Best Supporting Actress of ’45 (common scuttlebutt at the time was that “Mildred Pierce”‘s Ann Blyth was the favorite; Revere took quiet pleasure in noting [in her later years] that one newspaper commemorated the win of “the talented Warner Bros. starlet Anne Revere”).

     

    Judy Holliday’s Best Actress win was almost certainly the acting “surprise” of the decade. Then as now, there was a very vocal Bette Davis camp and a very vocal Gloria Swanson camp; by the night of the ceremony, Swanson was seen as the slight favorite.

     

    Both the lead winners for 1954 definitely had critics from the get-go. Despite four consecutive nominations, Brando was seen as something of a too-hot-to-handle commodity, and a number of industry leaders personally campaigned for him within the Academy, which rubbed some people the wrong way. As for Kelly, Groucho Marx’s infamous post-ceremony telegram to her competitor Judy Garland: “THIS IS THE BIGGEST ROBBERY SINCE BRINKS”… Need one say more?

     

    Believe it or not, “Casablanca”‘s Best Picture win was a decided jolt at the time; it had been released at the tail end of 1942 and was released in Los Angeles at the beginning of 1943, so it was a major achievement that it stayed in the Academy’s collective memory that long. Moreover, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Song of Bernadette” had very vigorous campaigns behind them.

     

    Both the 1951 and 1952 Best Picture winners were big surprises at the time. The heavy favorites in 1951 were “A Streetcar Named Desire” and probably moreso the less polarizing “A Place in the Sun.” Even MGM was shocked when “An American in Paris” copped the statuette (as noted by the film’s director, Vincente Minnelli, MGM would have been happier if the award had gone to its other Best Picture nominee that year, “Quo Vadis?”, which they had a much higher financial stake in). Shortly after the ceremony, MGM released a cartoon of Leo the Lion looking modestly at an Oscar statuette with the caption, “Honestly, I was just standing IN THE SUN waiting for a STREETCAR.”

     

    In 1952, the smart money was on Best Director winner “The Quiet Man” or “High Noon” (which was nevertheless handicapped by being a Western, as well as some critics sniping about its “leftist” undercurrent). Like “Casablanca,” “The Greatest Show on Earth” had also opened very early in its year of eligibility, and it also deserved to be commended for sticking with the Academy for so long. It also proved that “Show”‘s director Cecil B. DeMille was officially back in business after a fallow period in the forties, and that his tremendous 1949-50 moneymaker “Samson and Delilah” was no fluke. When DeMille was voted the Thalberg Award that year by the Board of Governors, canny folks in the know might have seen the writing on the wall, but the Best Picture win for “Show” was still definitely a surprise within the industry.

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