best film: Thelma Ritter plays Stella in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and that is the winner here without much deliberation. Any film on the level of Samuel Fuller’s Pickup on South Street and Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve has to be at least mentioned as well. Ritter seems to almost be playing herself as Stella – or at least her trademark quick witted working class on screen persona. She exchanges playful jabs with Jimmy Stewart’s L.B. Jefferies. Ritter and Stewart have a fabulous rapport.
best performance: Ritter is absolutely commanding as Moe in Fuller’s Pickup on South Street. She plays the streetwise Moe and she is a perfect match for Fuller’s sordid world and the cracking hot dialogue. She has bags under eyes, playing cops against robbers, giving information, selling ties as a front. She has a great scene with Richard Widmark (man, are they good together) in the coffee shop and then her death scene soliloquy is perfect street poetry. The “I’m so tired” speech and the song on the record ends and the camera pans… gunshot (Fuller behind the camera is one hell of a dance partner for Ritter). Ritter is levitating as Moe.
stylistic innovations/traits: Thelma Ritter was born in 1902, did not become a Hollywood actor until nearly the middle of the century, and passed away 1969. She is good in everything she is in from All About Eve to Rear Window (this is a stretch 1950-1953 where she was nominated for a best supporting actress Academy Award four years in a row). She would be nominated a total of six times (never won), Brooklyn born and first movie credit at age 45. The story goes that her bit part as a price conscious shopper in Miracle on 34th Street was expanded by super producer Darryl Zanuck himself. Ritter was in just about thirty (30) overall films with thirteen (13) making the archives. She is one of Hollywood’s great all-time sidekicks. She plays a great wing man to Bette Davis (All About Eve), Jimmy Stewart (Rear Window), and Marilyn Monroe (The Misfits). Now, all of her roles (and nominations) are for supporting, but Ritter shares the distinction of being nominated four times in a row with Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Al Pacino and just a select few others.
directors worked with: Joseph Mankiewicz (2), Samuel Fuller (1), Alfred Hitchcock (1), John Huston (1), John Frankenheimer (1)
top five performances:
- Pickup on South Street
- Rear Window
- All About Eve
- Pillow Talk
- A Letter to Three Wives
|1947- Miracle On 34th Street|
|1948- Call Northside 777|
|1949- A Letter to Three Wives|
|1950- All About Eve|
|1951- The Mating Season|
|1953- Pickup on South Street|
|1954- Rear Window|
|1959- Pillow Talk|
|1961- The Misfits|
|1962- How the West Was Won|
|1962- The Birdman of Alcatraz|
|1967- The Incident|
Drake any shot the male actor ranking would ever expand past 100? I imagine you wanna keep it even with the females, and I’m sure a top 100 is a good balance for the females, but the male side is undeniably much more contested. Just off the top of my head + with some quick research I found 15 actors (I’m sure there are a handful more too) off the current top 100 that had one of the top performances of the year on atleast 2 separate occasions (a handful did it 3 times). I’m sure some of these guys might find their way onto the top 100 in the next update, but that would of course lead to someone already on the top 100 being bumped off, and everyone already on there is worthy of the praise. Just food for thought
@Matthew- Thanks for the idea. I agree – the male side is undeniably more contested. But I am going to stick to 100. I’ve already started to sketch out the list. There will certainly be some deserving names left off – but I like the symmetry of having 100 and 100. Plus, the actors are not my main passion here so I’m anxious to get back to the directors and the top 1000 project after the actors. I would not want to go beyond 100.
Yeah, that’s what I figured. 100:100 is good form too