Oscar: Best Actress–Page, Geraldine in The Trip to Bountiful

I wish the great and brilliant Geraldine Page would have won the Best Actress Oscar for another film rather than The Trip to Bountiful, a small, drab, sentimental family saga.

But it was Page’s eighth nomination and the Academy voters felt they owed it to her.

It was not a particularly strong year.  Page competed against Anne Bancroft, who was nominated for “Agnes of God,” Whoopi Goldberg for “The Color Purple,” Jessica Lange for “Sweet Dreams,” and Meryl Streep for “Out of Africa.”

Based on Horton Foote’s modest, well-observed play, the tale (adapted to the screen by Foote) is set in 1947, in Houston Texas. It’s the nostalgic story of Mrs. Watts (Page), an elderly woman who lives with her wimpy son Ludie (John Heard) and his shrewish wife Jessie Mae (Carlin Glynn) in a cramped city apartment.

Needless to say, Mrs. Watts doesn’t get along with her nasty daughter-in-law, and suffering from weak heart and spells don’t help matters either.

All of her life, Mrs. Watts has been dreaming of going back to Bountiful, the small Texas town where she was born, grew up-and was happy. Memories of the idyllic place continue haunt her as a reminder of a better time and happier place.

What’s an old lady to do? She hides her pension check, hoping to escape from the suffocating milieu and clutches of her immediate family. The movie improves once Mrs. Watts hits the road, meeting on the bus and befriending a younger energetic woman, Thelma (nicely played by Rebecca De Mornay).

Under the inept direction pf Peter Masterson (better known as stage director and the father of actress Mary Stewart Masterson), the movie is shapeless, and there is not much to look at other than a group of talented actors acting their hearts out.

One of the biggest losers in Oscar’s history, Page finally won at her eighth nomination. Unfortunately, Page had no chance to reap the rewards of winningshe died two years later.

Nonetheless, in a career spanning over three decades, Page had left an indelible impression as one of Tennessee Williams’ quintessential heroines, appearing on stage and/or screen in “Summer and Smoke” and “Sweet Bird of Youth,” among others.

The film also earned a writing nomination for Foote’s screenplay.