A Key Largo Trick Helped Land Trevor's Oscar

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A clever trick may have helped tip the scales in Claire Trevor’s favor for her to win the Academy Award for her performance in Key Largo.

In the moody film noir, Trevor plays Gaye Dawn, a washed-up singer. Her scene stealing moment comes when Edward G. Robinson’s heartless Rocco forces her to sing a song for a drink, and her out of tune performance of “Moanin’ Low” is especially sad.

But Trevor didn’t think she’d actually have to do it.

She said, “First of all, I had no idea I was going to sing it myself because I can’t sing.”

Instead, Claire expected the song to be dubbed with her mouthing the words and even asked Huston to rehearse.

However, he continued to deflect her concerns until the day of filming came. That’s when she was put on the spot.

“No time for anything except pure embarrassment and torture, and that’s what came through, I thought I was finished,” she remembered. “Huston was right about not rehearsing it.”

And Huston’s trick helped in another way too. Trevor was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1949. Also nominated were Agnes Moorehead for Johnny Belinda, Barbara Bel Geddes and Ellen Corby for I Remember Mama, and Jean Simmons for Hamlet.

When Edmund Gwenn opened the envelop, Trevor’s name was on it.

Accepting the golden statue, she said, “I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, this is one of the happiest moments of my life. And also that I have three boys and I hope they grow up to be directors or writers, so that they can give their old lady a job.”