Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1962

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Mary Badham (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker)
Shirley Knight (Sweet Bird of Youth)
Angela Lansbury (The Manchurian Candidate)
Thelma Ritter (Birdman of Alcatraz)

Biggest Snub:

Vera Miles – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with 5 very talented actresses given amazing performances and any of them would have been deserving of a win.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actress

5. Shirley Knight
4. Thelma Ritter 
3. Mary Badham
2. Angela Lansbury
1. Patty Duke


5. Sweet Bird of Youth Interesting idea that was probably much more controversial when it was made due to the way things are presented than it seems now. This is based on a Tennessee Williams play and the dialogue is quite enjoyable to listen to. The cast is superb with Newman and Page giving great performances but Begley steals every scene he is in because of the screen presence of the character. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance here and it’s quite deserving. The undertones about small town life and the way politicians rule their small world with a heavy hand are shown quite well throughout. This is a film about power and fame that doesn’t back down at all and needs to be held on to by the characters at all cost.
4. Birdman of AlcatrazLancaster is great in the lead role and deservingly was nominated for an Oscar for this role. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t work so well and something feels missing from the way this story is told. The bitter rivalry between inmate and warden feels a bit too convenient and tries too hard to show the warden in a bad light which seems to have been done solely for dramatic effects. Despite the fact that this film is apparently far from the way things really happened, it does a nice job of showing how an inmate can try and become more serene while going through the penal system. Lancaster’s character’s arc works quite well within the confines of the story being told but not necessarily through the context of historical truth.
3. The Miracle WorkerThe acting by Bancroft and Duke truly is amazing and they both deservingly won Oscars for their respective roles in this movie. The story is weakly portrayed. Best Scene is clearly the egg scene, it really explains the difficulties faced by Sullivan.
2. The Manchurian CandidateOne of Sinatra’s best roles. Great conspiracy movie that unfolds nearly perfectly before our eyes.
1. To Kill a MockingbirdExcellent movie about prejudice in the South and the importance for standing up for what you believe.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Even in such a crowded year with 5 very powerful performances, PD stands out as the best among them by her performance as Helen Keller.

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

4 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1962

  1. Agree with you that this was a VERY strong field of candidates. Lansbury and Ritter were both excellent in their respective roles/films – and a shame neither won as both were multiple nominees in their careers and neither of them ever won an Oscar. As to the youngsters – Duke was exceptional as Helen Keller and deserved her win – but I felt bad for Mary Badham who was also wonderful as Scout in Mockingbird. Nothing she could do about timing- but she had the bad luck to be a nominee in the same year as Duke, while her screen “father”, Gregory Peck had the luck to win for his iconic role in the same film, beating Peter O’Toole for HIS iconic Lawrence of Arabia the same year. O’Toole, like Ritter and Lansbury – would never win a competitive Oscar, and end his career as the most nominated non-winner in Academy history.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, of these five, it’s Angela Lansbury all the way. Patty Duke is great, but perhaps suffers from being in one of those social problem films no one watches anymore. But Lansbury is electrifying, one for the ages.


    • Lansbury was pure cold-blooded evil in Candidate AND playing Lawrence Harvey’s mother when she was almost the same age – so indeed impressive. Duke didn’t “suffer” from anything here – she won – and at 12 – to play Helen Keller – who couldn’t hear, see or speak – was an astonishing performance – at any age. I believe she had played the same role on Broadway – live – 8 performances a week – and won the Tony prior to winning her Oscar.


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