No. 7 ~ Patricia Neal in “Hud” (Alma Brown)
Patricia Neal won her Oscar for her down-to-earth performance, as the cynical, world-weary housekeeper Alma Brown in Martin Ritt’s contemporary western, Hud (1963). “It was a tough part to cast,” Ritt remarked when asked about the role. “This woman had to be believable as a housekeeper and still be sexy. It called for a special combination of warmth and toughness, while still being very feminine. Pat Neal was it.” Perhaps the most telling indication of Neal’s gifts was the fact that, although the role was quite a brief one, the Academy included her in the category of best actress, rather than best supporting actress and she walked away the winner. Patricia Neal’s performance is a beautiful example of a dedicated realism on the screen but also of an actress taking an underwritten and thin part and filling it with so much life thanks to her own powerful acting skills, and her own personality. She had no big emotional break-downs, not even a big scene, she probably had about 20 minutes film time. Neal’s performance does not include any scene-stealing, overacting or exaggerating. She was Alma Brown and created an unforgettable straight forward, and subtle performance and is one of the most low-key pieces of work the Best Actress category has ever seen. Patricia was flawless in a very little role but gave depth and passion to her charecter but at the same time does not overwhelm the audience.