TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1950S

Again, my favorite performance of the decade appears below in the first position, while my nine other favorites are alphabetized by the actors’ last name.

1. “I’m not fragile,” Alice assures her younger British lover. But she is—more than she knows. Between them, this slum-born, working-class boy who discounts Alice’s feelings in favor of upward mobility and Alice’s own cold husband, also British (Alice is French), break her. About Simone Signoret’s unforgettable portrait of vulnerability in Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top (1958), Bette Davis wrote: “[Signoret] didn’t play that woman. She played all women.”

2. Richard Basehart, La strada* (Federico Fellini, 1954).

3. Ingrid Bergman, Fear (Roberto Rossellini, 1954).

4. Soumitra Chatterjee, The World of Apu (Satyajit Ray, 1959).

5. Zbigniew Cybulski, Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958).

6. Danielle Darrieux, Madame de . . . (Max Ophüls, 1952).

7. Bette Davis, All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950).

8. Jean-Pierre Léaud, The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959).

9. Emmanuelle Riva, Hiroshima, mon amour (Alain Resnais, 1959).

10. John Wayne, Rio Grande (John Ford, 1950).

* Of course, to get the full benefit of dear Richard’s performance as The Fool, one must see the English-dubbed version containing his own voice. Of course, to get a fuller sense of Fellini’s film, which Scorsese has called one of the ten best films of all time, one must see the original, Italian-language version. Fortunately, the Criterion DVD-set includes both versions.

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