Lansbury collected her second Oscar nomination in two years for a luminous supporting performance as a humble tavern singer who catches the attention of Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield), a vain aristocrat who’s slumming within the London underground. Under the caressing light of the Oscar-winning cinematographer Harry Stradling, Lansbury’s rendition of “Goodbye Little Yellow Bird” is a poignant and haunting signal of things to come back, as Dorian’s interest in her fades and results in a tragic end result. As for the remaining of the film, Oscar Wilde’s Faustian story of a portrait that ages while its subject doesn’t still feels more natural as a literary conceit than a cinematic one, however it’s all beautifully rendered.
‘The Harvey Girls’
A product of Arthur Freed and the MGM studio machine, this musical Western has exactly one showstopping number, the Oscar-winning “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” and virtually everyone within the solid but Lansbury is featured in it. Yet Lansbury (who, curiously, has her singing voice overdubbed) shows off a brazen sexuality as a dance hall vixen in Nineties Arizona who feels threatened by the “Harvey Girls,” a bevy of clean-living waitresses who arrive to staff the brand new Harvey House restaurant on the town. (Harvey House was actual chain of restaurants and hotels along passenger train routes, so the film doubled as an commercial.) The film is especially a vehicle for Judy Garland, a Harvey Girl who becomes Lansbury’s unwitting bête noire.
‘The Long, Hot Summer’
Inserting a personality inspired by Big Daddy Pollitt in Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” right into a scenario patched together from three William Faulkner works, Orson Welles so thoroughly dominates “The Long, Hot Summer” as Will Varner, the bilious magnate of Mississippi small town, that the opposite actors struggle to make themselves known. With a thick Southern drawl and plenty of attitude, Lansbury does her best to thrust back on Welles as his ornery mistress, though many of the drama comes from his complex relationship with Paul Newman’s charismatic Ben Quick, who arrives with a giant ambitions and a criminal past. Quick’s interest in Welles’s daughter, played by Joanne Woodward, carried over into one in every of Hollywood’s great offscreen love stories.