Posted by: reederwi | June 14, 2010

Martha Hyer, Some Came Running (1958)

Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 melodrama Some Came Running, which is based on the novel by World War II veteran James Jones, sees ex-GI and writer Dave Hirsch (Frank Sinatra) arriving from Chicago to his uber-quaint hometown of Parkman, Indiana. Dave is attempting to reconcile a desire to be accepted by his family and friends as a serious novelist. Once in Indiana, Dave has trouble reconnecting with his brother, Frank (Arthur Kennedy) and Frank’s unforgiving wife, Agnes (Leora Dana) due to the fact that his last novel was too autobiographical and hit too close to home. Following Dave from Chicago is the ditzy, yet goodhearted Ginnie Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine), a woman who is head over heels in love with the disenchanted Dave. To further complicate things, Dave is introduced to Gwen French (Martha Hyer), an English college professor who has always idolized him as a gifted author. Dave experiences love at first sight for Gwen, but she, being the ever-frigid ice queen, is not quite sure how she really feels about him. While Dave works out his feelings for Gwen, he goes to a local bar and enlists the help of a new friend, a professional gambler named Bama (Dean Martin). Little does Dave realize that the unconditional love Ginnie has for him has aroused the anger of  a Chicago mobster-a man with a score to settle and who happens to be Ginnie’s former lover. Minnelli’s directorial style is visually arresting- his back to back scenes at the carnival and the cemetery are both gorgeously filmed and highlight his ability to nail the sense of place and emotion in each scene.

Some Came Running was nominated for 5 Academy Awards. Of the film’s three acting nominations, one went to Martha Hyer, nominee, (164), for her role as college teacher, Gwen French. Hyer’s nomination is somewhat of an oddity. She has almost twice the screentime of her co-star Shirley MacLaine, yet due to her star-billing, MacLaine was nominated as Best Actress for her role as Ginnie Moorehead. Had MacLaine been nominated for Best Supporting Actress, she would have been a major contender for the award. Instead, Hyer fills the slot in the Best Supporting Actress category. Unfortunately, Hyer flounders in a rather boring and staid role. Her character is uninteresting and uninspired. She plays the good girl a little too straight-laced and compared to the other women in the movie, she is out-acted on nearly all fronts. Not surprisingly, Hyer was beaten out for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar by Wendy Hiller in Separate Tables. 


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