Supporting Actress Calendar Banner Judith Anderson, Rebecca – Juanita Moore & Susan Kohner, Imitation of Life – Janet Leigh, Psycho – Vanessa Redgrave, Julia – Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple – Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights – Adriana Barraza, Babel Supporting Actress Calendar by Month

Browse Films by
Title / Year / Reviews

Home / Blog / E-Mail Supporting Actress Calendar: January Index January 2016
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
  Claire Trevor, Dead End
  1937: lost to Alice Brady, In Old Chicago

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

We've arrived: our first hooker. Dead End's Francey is all about deferral and departure; she takes 48 minutes to appear and only lingers for one five-minute scene. By contrast, merely two years into the tenure of Best Supporting Actress, the Academy cozied up to streetwalkers in second-tier parts and has never abandoned them. If you head into Dead End knowing that Trevor got nominated for it, you probably assume she'll turn up as Francey, the long-lost, oft-invoked lover of Humphrey Bogart's prodigal hoodlum "Baby Face" Martin. By midfilm, we've spent enough time in the Bowery and with Baby Face to guess the idealized flame of his youth will have transformed. If that change entails what we suspect, Trevor's the broad to play her. This, however, is a retroactive assumption. Trevor made around 25 features before Dead End, with such quintessentially Trevoresque titles as The Meal Ticket, The Mad Game, and the Trevorest, Life in the Raw. Still, despite playing many leads she wasn't yet a major name, much less the synonym she became for chin-out survivors and blowzy wrecks.

Happily, and in sync with Dead End's ambitious and layered direction, Trevor doesn't approach Francey as a type. Impatience, surprise, sympathy, embarrassment, arousal, apology, excoriation, need, obsequy, defeat: she sneaks as much character, variety, and backstory as possible into her few minutes. Tottering in from the background of Gregg Toland's deep-space frame, her posture like a bent wire hanger, she speaks deliberately but without pauses between sentences. She's on a clock. Slowly recognizing Baby Face, she marvels at his new countenance, remembering old passions. As they converse, she adopts some coquettish alleyway habits, either because they're now reflexive or because role-playing keeps retired dreams at bay. She cries but isn't weepy. Eventually, it's she who forces the epiphany Baby Face evades, stepping into a white pool of light and revealing giveaway signs of venereal disease (though we mostly understand this from Bogie's reaction). That's the hilt and the end for Francey. After a humiliating exchange of money for memories, she's gone—too soon, maybe, to fully warrant Oscar's endorsement? Still, like everyone else in Dead End, you don't forget her. And Trevor was just getting started. Leave a Comment