The Shelley Winters Blogathon: 4 Shelley Winters Performances You Should See

Shelley Winters blogathon bannerTwo of my favourite bloggers, Erica at Poppity Talks Classic Film, and Gill at Realweegiemidgetreviews, are co-hosting this blogathon in honour of the actress Shelley Winters. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself.  

Shelley Winters was a strong woman, and she was a real force of nature too. On screen she was a chameleon actress. She could play strong, tough, or mean one minute, and then play timid and gentle the next. She was one of those actresses who I always believe as whatever character she happens to be playing on screen.

Shelley is also an actress whose performances have never really left me disappointed. While Shelley has never become a great favourite of mine, I have however always liked her and admired her acting ability. She was a very talented lady indeed. Instead of focusing on one particular film or performance for this blogathon, I want to highlight four Shelley Winters performances that I think everyone should see. These four performances/films also highlight what range she had as an actress. 

The Night Of The Hunter(1955)


Shelley as Willa. Screenshot by me.

While it’s true that her character isn’t in the film for very long, Shelley never the less makes the most of her supporting role in this classic. Shelley utterly convinces here as the meek and naive Willa, the abused wife of the stone cold and manipulative preacher(Robert Mitchum).

If you’ve only seen Shelley play strong women on screen, then you’re sure to be in for quite a surprise, due to her character being the complete opposite . Shelley’s performance here is one which is all in the eyes, body language and small gestures. 

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)


Shelley as Lorry. Screenshot by me.

Shelley shines alongside Robert Ryan, playing Lorry, the much younger girlfriend of his character, Earl. Despite their age gap, Lorry and Earl really do love each other very much.

Earl sometimes says hurtful things to Lorry because he is afraid that she will either leave him, or cheat on him, because she is much younger than him. Shelley makes us see how much Lorry loves this man and wants to help him.

The scenes between Shelley and Robert are very tender, and I only wish there had been more of them. I also love how Shelley convinces us that Lorry is someone who can stand up for herself, and that she can knock some sense into Earl through her reactions to his outbursts. Shelley does a great job of making Lorry come across as a very real, working class gal, who is trying to do the best she can in life and in love. 

Lolita (1962)


Shelley as Charlotte. Screenshot by me.

Shelley is both hilarious and moving as the loud and awkward Charlotte Haze, the slinky and lovestruck mother of the title character of this Kubrick classic.

We can’t help laughing at Charlotte because she is such a ridiculous and over the top character. We’re not laughing all the time though, because Shelley also makes us sympathise and cringe for her character.

Charlotte is so awkward and desperate and doesn’t realise that people around her merely put up with her company, rather than actually be around her because they truly enjoy her company. Charlotte is a very tragic figure really, because she genuinely loves Humbert(James Mason) and she tries so hard to get him to love her in return, despite the fact that he is not remotely interested in her sexually or romantically. Shelley absolutely gets the different aspects of this woman and inhabits the role so well. I can imagine no one else playing Charlotte the way Shelley did. 

                                                   A Patch Of Blue (1965)

Shelley Winters Patch Of Blue

Shelley as Rose-Ann. Image source IMDB.

Shelley is both despicable and ferocious as the abusive and racist mother of Elizabeth Hartman’s kind and dominated Selina. 

Shelley’s character, Rose-Ann, is one of the most horrible screen mothers I’ve ever seen. She treats her daughter like crap and only ever thinks of herself. This dame has a razor sharp tongue and spews hatred and harsh words every time she opens her mouth.

Shelley dominates every scene she is appears in in this one. Through Shelley’s excellent performance, we can see that Rose-Ann is a survivor, one whose tough persona ensures that she doesn’t become one of life’s victim. Shelley’s performance is so powerful that it is one of those which lingers on in the mind long after the film is over. Shelley is a real nasty piece of work in this flick.

I would love to know your thoughts on Shelley’s performances in these films. 


9 thoughts on “The Shelley Winters Blogathon: 4 Shelley Winters Performances You Should See

  1. Paul S

    I was first introduced to Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure, not knowing then just how many classic films she had appeared in. She certainly makes the most of her screen time in The Night of the Hunter. Shelley herself described it as the most thoughtful and reserved performance she ever gave, and who am I to disagree?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paddy Lee

    A true appreciation of Shelley’s talent in your insights into these versatile performances. She really grasped the opportunities that came her way, and gave one hundred percent of herself.


  3. Realweegiemidget Reviews

    Fabulous choices and my favourite of your posts so far – I can tell just how much you adore this actress. Thanks for showing us this actress in some roles which show just how versatile she is and for highlighting this in your entry.


  4. Erica D.

    Maddy, you’ve highlighted some excellent Shelley performances indeed! She was very versatile and seeing the entries to this blogathon has only reiterated that. Very much in the likes of Joan Crawford who had a booming Golden Age career and then did a lot of horror films in the later stages, Shelley followed a similar path and always put forth her fullest effort. Some would say that she never phoned-in a performance.
    It is hard for me to watch both ‘A Place in the Sun’ and ‘The Night of the Hunter’ because of the fate that awaits her characters. ‘A Patch of Blue’ is still a very unique film in terms of subject matter that is both educational (the reality of being blind) and disturbing (sexual and domestic abuse). I own the film and sometimes want to watch it just to witness the magnitude of Shelley’s performances but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I am in amazement by the courage of the actors.
    You are a darling and one of my favourite bloggers, too. I can’t thank you enough for joining us to celebrate Shelley! 😀


  5. Silver Screenings

    I’m another one who saw Shelley Winters for the first time in The Poseidon Adventure. I liked her then, but then I became a big fan when I saw her in A Place in the Sun.

    I haven’t yet seen Odds Against Tomorrow, but if you like her performance there, I know I will, too. 🙂



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