Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1951

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen)
Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Montgomery Clift (A Place in the Sun)
Arthur Kennedy (Bright Victory)
Fredric March (Death of a Salesman)

Biggest Snub:

Alastair Sim – A Christmas Carol

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a year with 5 very powerful performances. Kennedy, Brando and Clift give the best portrayals of the 5, but not by far.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Fredric March
4. Humphrey Bogart
3. Montgomery Clift 
2. Marlon Brando
1. Arthur Kennedy


5. Death of a SalesmanNot really among my favorite stories and this version is not as good as the ones featuring Dustin Hoffman or Brian Dennehy, but despite this, March does a very good job here. The story drags along in my opinion and despite it being hailed as one of the greatest plays ever written, I just couldn’t find a way to connect to it at all.  The theme of trying to achieve the American Dream is still presented quite well.  There is always a incorrect perception that money and fame will make someone happier and the debate will go on as to whether that statement is right or wrong.
4. A Place in the SunReally liked the way that this films story plays out. Great performances by Clift, Taylor and Winters. Really does a great job discussing the moralities of thoughts vs. actions. Enjoyed the way that a film made during the era of censorship of movies was able to still give us a genuine feeling love story that defies many of the issues that weren’t discussed so openly at the time.
3. A Streetcar Named DesireGreat performances, excellent script by Tennessee Williams’ award winning play.
2. The African QueenGreat film where both Hepburn and Bogart excel in their roles. Loved the subtlety of it all.  Great cinematography of the wilds of Africa that shows Huston’s expertise in creating a full scope story for us to enjoy both technically and visually. Bogart deservingly won a Best Actor Oscar for this film and this is one of his best roles IMHO.  The behind the scenes issues of this movie are tales that are wondrous to hear and an account of it is featured in Eastwood’s White Heart Black Hunter.
1. Bright VictoryAmazing film about disabilities and also racial tolerance at the same time. Kennedy gives the performance of his career and it feel quite genuine and works so well. The story is a great one that has been copied many times over with various disabilities and diseases over the years, but this is a spectacular depiction of learning to live with a disability and finding a way to try and make a difference in the world.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not Really!  Bogart was at his best here, but it seems as if he won more on sentimental favor instead being the best performance of the year.  This was Kennedy’s best leading role and his was the very best among the 5 nominees.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1951

  1. First – the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol is one of my favorites – so great call there. I’d also say Kirk Douglas in Detective Story. I’ve never seen Bright Victory, so can’t gauge your rave for Arthur Kennedy. Must’ve been impressive to leap him over Bogart’s iconic turn as Charlie Allnut and Brando’s screen acting game-changing tour de force in Streetcar. To say nothing of Clift’s tortured and mesmerizing role as the Taylor-smitten “relative” in the haunting A Place In The Sun. Bogie’s win might be construed as a career win (after he said the only way to judge actors was if they all played Hamlet and “let the best man win”), but he was genuinely superb. As was Brando – in the 1st of 4 consecutive Best Actor nominations – culminating in his win in1954 for Waterfront. Clift was always riveting to watch. Making this year a very tough competition. I’m good with Bogie – but couldn’t argue against any of the “contenders”.

    Liked by 1 person

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