Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1961

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

George Chakiris (West Side Story)
Montgomery Clift (Judgment at Nuremberg)
Peter Falk (Pocketful of Miracles)
Jackie Gleason (The Hustler)
George C. Scott (The Hustler)

Biggest Snub:

David Niven – The Guns of Navarone

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another year with 5 stellar performances nominated in this category, any of them could have deservingly won.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actor

5. Peter Falk
4. George C. Scott
3. Jackie Gleason
2. Montgomery Clift
1. George Chakiris


4. Pocketful of Miracles Interesting idea that worked much better when it was made 30 years earlier by Capra himself. The cast is spectacular yet none of them really manage to add anything to the previous version and in some ways it’s clear that this should probably never have been remade. Interestingly, this was Capra’s final film as director and probably won’t be considered as his true swansong since it isn’t very memorable at all. Falk was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance her, but he was much better the previous year in Murder Inc. (1960).
3. The HustlerSome interesting themes are explored here, but the movie drags on too much to be effective enough. Newman, Scott and Gleason are great as usual, but I just wasn’t very impressed with the final product. Just seemed very mediocre since it moves a bit too slow IMHO despite the fact that the characters are constantly trying to outmaneuver one another at the pool table.
2. West Side StorySuch an amazing film because it does an amazing job modernizing one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. The songs and music are spectacular choreographed and written and it’s so easily to get caught up in the story yet at the same time hum or sing along with the music. I’m not at all surprised that this film had so much momentum come Oscar time that they were able to garner 10 Golden Statuettes that year. It lost only for best adapted Screenplay and set a record held until today for the most awards of a Musical at the Oscars. Still find it quite funny and silly that these “tough” gang members can dance so well all around the city.
1. Judgment at NurembergSuch a fabulously written movie that truly captures all of the emotions one would think of in a trial like this. Amazing cast led by the always dependable Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster. Despite being over 3 hours long, it moves by swiftly because of the subject matter and the way it was filmed in the courtroom. Hard to say whether this should have beaten West Side Story (1961) because both are very different movies and styles.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Definitely!  GC was amazing in WSS and was the best of the nominees this year even though they were all great.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1961

  1. Niven in Guns? I would’ve chosen Quinn. As to the rest – strong category. Don’t think Gleason should’ve been nominated – but would’ve been fine with Scott winning (even though he chose this year to bad mouth the whole process and the Academy) and since The Hustler is a story of damaged people crossing paths and features so many excellent performances – to say it “drags” does it a great disservice. You’re wrong. Clift was superb in a true SUPPORTING role. I said the same about Judy Garland in this film. Chakiris (who was dating Rita Moreno at the time – and they both won) was very good – maybe his singing AND dancing AND acting helped him edge out the others.


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