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

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Leo Genn (Quo Vadis)
Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Kevin McCarthy (Death of a Salesman)
Peter Ustinov (Quo Vadis)
Gig Young (Come Fill the Cup)

Biggest Snub:

William Bendix – Detective Story

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with 5 solid nominees, but one of them gives such a powerful performance that there was really no way anyone could overtake him.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actor

5. Kevin McCarthy
4. Leo Genn
3. Gig Young
2. Peter Ustinov
1. Karl Malden


4. 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.
3. Come Fill the CupGreat look at what alcoholism can do to a man and how overcoming one’s own demons can lead to a way to help others in similar situations. Cagney is superb in the lead and he is helped so much by both Gleason and Young in supporting roles. Young was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance here.  The story shows some great character arcs and that helps make this subject matter so interesting to watch especially knowing that this was an issue that wasn’t so openly discussed at the time this came out as it is today.
2. Quo VadisGreat sword and sandal epic film that tells an interesting story which explains so much about how Christianity became a popular religion at the time. Cast is great and the amount of actors needed for some of these scenes are astounding. The story itself feels a bit preachy tho and later films of this genre were much better at keeping things more objective.
1. A Streetcar Named DesireGreat performances, excellent script by Tennessee Williams’ award winning play.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Malden was superb in Streetcar and shined much brighter in the role than any of the other nominees.

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

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

  1. I’m on record being a big Malden guy; he ranks high on my list of favorite actors. I’ve always had a problem with William Bendix. In “The Babe Ruth Story,” he makes an even worse baseball player than Anthony Perkins in “Fear Strikes Out.”


  2. Agree on Malden. Agree with J-Dub on Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story – ad also with you on his snub for Detective Story – which could have gone to Joesph Wiseman as well.


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