Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1973

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Vincent Gardenia (Bang the Drum Slowly)
Jack Gilford (Save the Tiger)
John Houseman (The Paper Chase)
Jason Miller (The Exorcist)
Randy Quaid (The Last Detail)

Biggest Snub:

Michael Lonsdale – The Day of the Jackal

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a great year of nominees because each of the 5 nominees really show how important supporting characters can be to their films. One of them stands out among the rest and was a clear frontrunner.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actor

5. Vincent Gardenia
4. Randy Quaid
3. Jason Miller 
2. Jack Gilford
1. John Houseman


5. Bang the Drum SlowlyNice story about friendship in difficult times and what one is willing to do for another in such circumstances. Unfortunately the chemistry between Moriarty and DeNiro is quite lacking here and it’s hard to imagine them really as friends. The story feels a bit rushed at certain points especially when they could possibly work to establish the friendship much more succinctly. Gardenia was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting actor for his performance as the team’s manager and he clearly does stand out among the entire cast.
4. The Last DetailInteresting story that is fun to watch yet the story feels as if it drags along too much. The way that they try to make a political statement about the military especially during the Vietnam War comes across really well. The characters are all fine with Nicholson doing the best job. Both Nicholson and Quaid got Oscar nominations for this film. Still not sure how Last Flag Flying (2017) is a sequel to this film tho since it doesn’t seem as if the characters are the same ones in both films.
3. Save the TigerLemmon is excellent here and with this Oscar win became the first actor to ever win both a supporting and lead Oscar. The storyline is grim and eventhough he is known for usually excelling in more upbeat roles, he really hit it out of the park here.
2. The Paper ChaseInteresting story about life in Law school that is completely overshadowed by the Oscar winning performance of John Houseman who was never an actor. The rest of the (now familiar) cast is fine, but none can hold a candle to Houseman.
1. The ExorcistSo much better than I had recalled. This film builds the story up really well and keeps things thrilling and interesting the entire time. I liked the fact that they approach this supernatural subject from a realistic perspective and try to show that something like this can actually happen. The pacing of this film works really well and nothing seems neither forced nor rushed. The cast is great and they are do a fine job keeping this exciting and powerful. Definitely was deserving of being the very first film from the horror genre to break the glass ceiling and get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture along with 9 other nominations. It managed to only win Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Absolutely!  JH is clearly the best supporting actor of the 5 nominees.  He steals every scene he is in and shows what it means to be a supporting character in a film by doing it so superbly the entire way through.

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

3 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1973

  1. Lonsdale in Jackal – interesting choice. No trivia this time? Here’s some for you. As you pointed out – Houseman was not an actor (although he was the head of Julliard at the time). Nor was Jason Miller (Jackie Gleason’s son-in-law) who was primarily a playwright. James Mason was CAST in the Houseman role in Paper Chase (a film I saw while in college – which dissuaded me from going to law school). He quit. Director James Bridges called Houseman for help in suggesting a replacement for Mason. He said Edward G. Robinson. But Robinson was quite ill at the time and Bridges asked Houseman to step in and play the role.


  2. As to your Last Detail/Last Flag Flying question. I can answer that. The writer of the book on which Detail was based – Daryl Ponicsan – was persuaded by a friend of mine with his own book imprint – to write a sequel – which he published. The rights then went to Fox, the studio that made Detail – for a continuation of the story – which originally was Nicholson’s character’s son who died in Iraq. Jack signed on to reprise his role as “Badass” Budusky. Morgan Freeman signed on to replace Otis Young from the original who had died, and even Randy Quaid was on board. But Nicholson, who had director approval, did NOT approve of a young director the studio wanted to use – and both he and Freeman dropped out (they wanted to work together – and did – in The Bucket List). Once that happened – Fox (and Paramount – set to co-finance) dropped out. Amazon stepped in – with Richard Linklatter attached to direct – and a budget that was cut by 80%. Ponicsan and Linklatter rewrote the screenplay to have the same story – and similar characters – but NOT the originals from The Last Detail and because of that – they stopped promoting it as a “sequel”, which it had indeed been intended to be. My friend, who was supposed to be a producer on Flag, was bumped up to Executive Producer, making him ineligible for an Oscar if the film was nominated as Best Picture. Flag came up empty – receiving no Oscar nominations at all, while my friend WAS nominated for an Oscar last year for Best Documentary Short.


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