About My Year in Film The Stars Reviews Contact Image Map

Monday, 8 August 2011

Box Set Monday #6: Thelma Ritter

Thelma Ritter is the featured star of this week's "Box Set Monday" post. She was one of the great character actresses and received 6 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominations (interesting fact: she is tied with Deborah for being nominated the most times in one particular category without a win.).

All About Eve, 1950
The Mating Season, 1951
Pickup on South Street, 1953
Rear Window, 1954
Pillow Talk, 1959
The Misfits, 1961

All About Eve is the first film I remember seeing Thelma Ritter in and in every film I've seen her in since then she has never failed to impress. She plays Margo Channing's (Bette Davis, as if you didn't know!) gritty, outspoken maid - the only member of Margo's close circle who dislikes Anne Baxter's conniving Eve Harrington. Thelma gained her first Academy Award nomination for her absolutely stellar performance. 

In The Mating Season, Thelma plays gives such a sweet, funny performance as the mother-in-law of socialite Maggie McNulty (Gene Tierney) who arrives at Maggie and her son's house and is mistaken by her daughter-in-law for the maid. It's such a delightful film, I can't recommend it enough. Also, Thelma plays a bigger part in the film than she does in many others so that is always wonderful!

I think Thelma's performance in Pickup on South Street is probably her finest ever. She plays Moe, a weary peddler of neck ties and seller of information. She is great in the entire film, but her final few minutes are what make her really stand out. If I could award Thelma the Academy Award she never won, this would be the performance I would give it too.

Rear Window is one of my favourite Hitchcock films, not least because of Thelma's fantastic performance as James Stewart's nurse, Stella (STELLAAAAAAA! or maybe not...). It wasn't one of her biggest roles, but her dry wit and perfect timing gives the film a little extra something that makes it all the more exhilarating.

Thelma's comedic, slightly over the top performance as Doris Day's nosy, drunken maid in Pillow Talk may not be one her strongest performances but she is so entertaining and engaging that you can't help but love her. The scenes in the lift make me chuckle every time!

The Misfits and Rear Window are the only films in this box set that didn't gain Thelma an Academy Award nomination; it seems so strange to me that she was overlooked for her performance in The Misfits. She plays Isabelle, a tired, sad, and slightly wistful character who befriends Marilyn Monroe's beautiful and vulnerable Roslyn. This was Thelma's second film with Marilyn Monroe with the first being All About Eve in which MM had a very small part as a young, aspiring actress. I can't recommend The Misfits enough, it's a film I think everyone should see at least once.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this week's instalment of "Box Set Monday" and, as always, if you would like to write a guest post for this series please leave a comment (please leave me some way to contact you if you do this!), send me an email, tweet me etc. and we will figure something out! 


  1. The most perfect box set ever!

    Well, with "A Letter to Three Wives" as a bonus.

  2. Thank you! I really think Thelma deserves to have her own box set - she was such a great actress.

    I haven't seen ALTTW for quite a while, but I remember thinking it was brilliant. It shall be added as a bonus if I ever become rich enough to make these box sets! ;D

  3. This is a really interesting box set. Thelma Ritter was a great actress and barely gets enough credit... I always enjoy starting a film and finding her playing the secretary or housekeeper or something. Great job!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...