Friday, 31 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Art Carney in The Late Show

Art Carney did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NSFC, for portraying Ira Wells in The Late Show.

The Late Show is a very entertaining neo-noir about an aging private detective and oddball client (Lily Tomlin) trying to find out who was behind the death of his partner.

Art Carney will probably always be best known for two things giving one of the all time great comic performances on television as Ed Norton in The Honeymooners, and causing one of the biggest WHAT? reactions for those who look at the records of Oscars path, although if you ask me he was the most deserving out of the nominees. Technically speaking Carney probably could have avoided all the unnecessary negativity towards his Oscar win if he had instead won a few later for this film instead since none of the nominated performances for 1977 really have all that much passion behind them. Of course disregarding all of that Carney is actually an extremely underrated actor altogether as he had considerable talent as shown in his Oscar win for Harry and Tonto and for this performance as a private detective who ends up checking on the death of his old partner by first trying to locate the missing cat for an odd woman named Margo Sperling (Tomlin).

Art Carney gets to play his own Jake Gittes if Jake Gittes kept up his investigative work while into his older age. Carney carries himself with quite a bit of a cynical attitude here actually and makes himself completely believable in his role as a hard boiled detective. Carney, who usually comes off as a naturally endearing sort, is particularly good at creating Ira as this former tough guy. Carney, despite making the early part of his career out of playing foolish decidedly not particularly imposing characters, he manages to be absolutely convincing in this part. Carney makes the way he speaks has this certain incisiveness about Ira so that its clear that he obviously always trying to get to whatever the bottom might be of the mystery. Carney though also brings just enough of a rough streak to Ira. It's very much an underlying quality as Ira never comes off as hard to like. Carney though still suggests in his delivery the life of  a guy who's obviously seen some things in his time.

Carney is a compelling presence to watch proceed through the mystery as he makes Ira such a unique and enjoyable guy to watch. Carney is terrific in the way he balances the sides of Ira of being an older man who obviously is past his prime, but still a guy who knows what he is doing. I particularly love the two corresponding scenes where he deals with a thug. The first time the thug roughs up Ira considerably even causing his nose to bleed as he frisks him. Carney's good in portraying such a realistic resignation as Ira is obviously angered but can apparently do nothing other than to make a seemingly empty threat in front of the thug's boss. Carney contrasts this so well though the next time they meet and Ira catches the guard off guard. Carney manages to be surprisingly imposing as he brings out frankly the old Ira in a great scene as Carney has such a cool command and even a certain physical menace worthy of less aged private eyes like Philip Marlowe or Jake Gittes.

The Late Show is technically an odd couple story too as Margo insists on tagging along with Ira as he investigates the mystery even while the body count piles up. This might seem an annoying prospect if it were not for how great Carney and Tomlin are together in their scenes. They strike up a surprisingly good chemistry together with Tomlin being the overly enthusiastic dreamer and Carney being the hard bitten straight man to most of her antics. They so naturally slowly build the friendship that it never seems forced or out of place in the film. The slowly create such a warmth yet kinda never sacrifice the initial set up of Margo's wild ideas that are usual put to the side by one cynical statement or merely a shake of the head by Ira. What I love is even when Margo finally does come up with a correct idea regarding the case. Carney is very funny by playing it as Ira is trying hard as possible to acknowledge that she figured out something before him even while he technically wholly accepts her accomplishment.

The best part of their routine though might be that they even manage to make the inserted very slight romantic ideas not seem bizarre, as they easily could have. One of the reasons for this is both portray this as a form of insanity. Tomlin expressing at just another one of Margo's very much harebrained ideas which she has too many of at any given time to begin with, and Carney iss terrific by showing Ira trying his best to avoid the thought as if to avoid the obvious awkwardness that would ensue. The rather quietly kinda just settle on a friendship instead which they handle so well. They both are particularly excellent in their scenes of a shared excitement whenever they successfully got one over on the bad guys during their adventure. Carney is particularly good in these scenes as he suggests Ira feeling such a strong nostalgia as it appears as though Ira is once again enjoying one of his glory days of old.

Carney was really the best guy for the role because of just how good he is at balancing between the drama and the comedy of the story. Carney never forces either one of them and is brilliant in the way he handles the transitions. The great thing about his performance though is he never gets hung up in any scene and even when a moment transitions from comical to mid scene Carney absolutely nails. This is seen from his very first scene in the film where he sees his partner walk through the door. Carney is his usual entertaining self in his first exasperated reaction, but then transitions so perfectly when it is revealed that his partner has been critically injured. Carney instantly changes to portraying the heartbreak in Ira as he watches his old friend die in front of him and makes it a moving scene. The sudden change never seems as though it is forced by the writing because Carney is so adept at both sides of the theatrical spectrum.

Art Carney gives a fantastic performance here that really is essential to pulling this off-beat film noir together. Any one of the scenes could have faltered in their sudden switches from comedy to seriousness or the other way around but they don't because Carney never fails in these transitions. This is because on one hand Carney is humorous and has fun with the idea of the aging detective with his wacky new partner but he never let's that be the entirety of his performance. He's equally believable in making Ira a hardnosed and always interesting detective who will figure out the truth despite his age. He is as well is always brings the needed weight to any of the most difficult revelations and is quite heartbreaking in his final moment where Ira sees yet another friend die. You could technically easily take either into a completely comedy oriented version of the story and he would have been great, or you could have taken him into a fully dramatic version and he would have been great. Carney seamlessly connects both end giving a remarkable portrait of a most usual private eye. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Richard Dreyfuss did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is about a man who's life is changed after encountering an Unidentified Flying Object.

Roy Neary is rather odd to be our "hero" for the film because many of his character traits are more often looked at problematic. Even before he meets the UFO we see Roy with his family where he is probably a little too short with both his wife and children. I suppose it was very important to have Dreyfuss in the lead, oppose to someone like Jack Nicholson, because in Roy's semi outbursts in this early scene Dreyfuss does not have an overt intensity about himself. Dreyfuss simply has that average guy quality in his performances so even when he lashes out against the various annoyances that his family provides for him Dreyfuss does not make Roy seem like a psychopath but rather just a rather exasperated father. Of course technically speaking Roy only becomes worse though when he is called away to check on a downed power line only to accidentally come into contact with an alien spacecraft.

After coming in contact with the alien Roy becomes obsessed with it which seems to go even further than even a normal obsession from a more normal human intrigue. His mind clearly has been directly changed by the influence of the ship as he never stops thinking of a single physical structure. This is a unhealthy obsession actually as it causes him to lose both his job as well as his family. Dreyfuss's performance is important here because he never makes Roy's seem irresponsible man or a cold man even though Roy is basically closing himself off from his present day reality in this obsession. Dreyfuss is good in portraying this as just kinda an overwhelming pull in Roy that is forcing him to constantly think about structure. Dreyfuss does not even show it to be a problem so to speak, but rather something that has become in Roy's nature. Although the obsession is still self-destructive Dreyfuss does a fine job of making it seem less severe than it is. 

Roy after finding out the physical location that matches the shape in his mind he sets off to reach it despite apparently being evacuated do to an apparent leak of poisonous gas. Dreyfuss's role becomes relatively simple at this point as Roy just continues to try to reach his destination despite there being many obstacles in his path. Dreyfuss though continues to be good in the role as he quietly reflects how each thing affects Roy's demeanor. On one hand he's good in portraying the determination but as well as the frustrations at each obstacle that even includes the U.S. army. Dreyfuss though is probably best in portraying the eventual wonderment as Roy seems closer to his objective showing it to be a truly profound discovery whenever he sees something relating to the aliens. He helps create the grandeur of the final scenes as he basically realizes the event as Roy finally fulfilling this uncontrollable need that motivated since he saw the UFO. Richard Dreyfuss does not given an overly complex performance here. Frankly by not making Roy anything but a normal guy going through these things he manages to make his character's actions less troubling. Dreyfuss gives a good performance by avoiding bringing too much pathos to Roy, and just helping to create the wonderment the aliens are meant to evoke in this film.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Jack Nance in Eraserhead

Jack Nance did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Henry Spencer in Eraserhead.

Eraserhead is a strange film about a man dealing and seeing weird things. I must say it is quite compelling in its weirdness.

Jack Nance plays the central man Henry Spencer who inhabits a most bizarre world filled with some equally bizarre people and creatures. Henry is perhaps the least odd thing about the film which isn't saying a lot, I mean just look at his haircut after all. Nance's performance fulfills a very particular role in that he's the kinda sorta straight man to the rest of the film. Both the kinda and sorta are needed though because it's hard to say that Nance's portrayal of Henry is exactly how a normal guy would react in such a situation. Nance's performance is also very much in the way of Lynch's style, although still feels less of one of "freaks" like the way all the other performances are. Nance has an almost comic manner with his performance with the way he portrays a certain constant unease at all the oddness, which actually seems like a rather reasonable reaction to everything going on around him.

Nance's performance is mostly reactive altogether as there is not exactly a lot of scenes where we understand the inner workings of Henry as a man, well unless one is referring to what is below his head if it were to fall off. Nance's performance though does work in his limited role of reacting to the odd things whether it is his manic fiancee, his alluring neighbor, his horny potential future mother in law, his constantly crying and seemingly dying alien son, a bleeding turkey dinner, or all sorts of other odd things going on in this world. Nance's reactions tend to be effective in one way or another. The first being just reflective of the oddness itself and Nance does a fine job of giving at least an ever so slightly realistic reaction to these completely out there images. Although I won't say that Nance really makes the film seem believable so to speak but his performance in a somewhat strange way facilitates them as a more accessible whole.

Jack Nance's performance here is a good one that not only matches David Lynch's most unusual style, but helps to amplify. One of the last shots of the film of Henry staring out would not be nearly as remarkable if not for Nance's combination of fear and astonishment that he portrays in Henry's face. He is always interesting to say the least in every frame that he does inhabit. Nevertheless, having said that Nance's performance is very much a cog in David Lynch's machine as all the performances in the film are. Nance's performance stands out the most in terms of the cast, but when thinking about the film it is doubtful that one would necessarily remember Henry as a character so to speak. It is more likely one would remember the imagery and how Henry is part of that imagery. Nance serves his purpose as in the film well, but it is always the film as a whole, rather than Nance's work as a individual, that leaves the strongest impression.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977

And the Nominees Were:

Alberto Sordi in An Average Little Man

Jack Nance in Eraserhead

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Art Carney in The Late Show

Harvey Keitel in The Duellists

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Results

5. Peter Finch in Far From the Madding Crowd - Finch gives a striking portrayal of a reserved man whose emotions slowly get the better of him.

Best Scene: Boldwood finally snaps.
4. Alan Bates in Far From the Madding Crowd - Bates gives a quietly charming and most of all honest portrayal of the most genuine character in the story.

Best Scene: Gabriel just before he is about to leave.
3. Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd - Stamp is exceedingly good at making Frank Troy both a scoundrel and someone its hard not to like.

Best Scene: Troy shows off his swordsmanship.
2. Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle - He's a one scene wonder but what a one scene wonder he is. Although the rest of the film is quite dull Attenborough makes it absolutely delightful for the few minutes he's onscreen.

Best Scene: "I've Never Seen Anything Like It"
1. Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark - Arkin gives an entertaining as well as appropriately chilling performance that contributes to one memorable finale for his film.

Best Scene: Roat requests the doll.
 Overall Rank:
  1. Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark
  2. Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle
  3. Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd
  4. Gene Hackman in Bonnie and Clyde
  5. Alan Bates in Far From the Madding Crowd
  6. Peter Finch in Far From the Madding Crowd
  7. Dick Shawn in The Producers
  8. Tom Courtenay in The Night of the Generals
  9. George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke
  10. Gene Wilder in Bonnie and Clyde 
  11. Richard Crenna in Wait Until Dark
  12. Kenneth Mars in The Producers
  13. Scott Wilson in In The Heat of the Night
  14. Tatsuya Nakadai in Samurai Rebellion
  15. Alec Guinness in The Comedians
  16. George Sanders in The Jungle Book
  17. Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke
  18. Warren Oates in In The Heat of the Night 
  19. James Earl Jones in The Comedians 
  20. Jason Robards in Hour of the Gun
  21. Jeff Corey in In Cold Blood
  22. Phil Harris in The Jungle Book
  23. Eric Portman in The Whisperers
  24. Charles Boyer in Barefoot in the Park
  25. J. Pat O'Malley in The Jungle Book
  26. Michael J. Pollard in Bonnie and Clyde
  27. Sebastian Cabot in The Jungle Book
  28. Go Kato in Samurai Rebellion
  29. Francois Perier in Le Samourai 
  30. Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice 
  31. Charles McGraw in In Cold Blood
  32. Jason Robards in Divorce American Style
  33. Telly Savalas in The Dirty Dozen 
  34. Jack Weston in Wait Until Dark
  35. Ernest Borgnine in The Dirty Dozen 
  36. Keenan Wynn in Point Blank
  37. Donald Sutherland in The Dirty Dozen  
  38. Sterling Holloway in The Jungle Book
  39. Christian Roberts in To Sir, With Love
  40. Rudy Vallee in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  41. Murray Hamilton in The Graduate
  42. Larry Gates in In The Heat of the Night
  43. Donald Pleasence in The Night of the Generals
  44. Anthony James in In The Heat of the Night
  45. Buck Henry in The Graduate
  46. David Hemmings in Camelot
  47. Robert Ryan in Hour of the Gun
  48. Charles Gray in The Night of the Generals
  49. Charles Bronson in The Dirty Dozen
  50. Roy Glenn in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  51. John Cassavetes in The Dirty Dozen 
  52. Michael Hordern in The Taming of the Shrew
  53. John Vernon in Point Blank
  54. Robert Ryan in The Dirty Dozen
  55. Peter Ustinov in The Comedians
  56. Van Johnson in Divorce American Style 
  57. Desmond Llewelyn in You Only Live Twice
  58. Efrem Zimbalist in Wait Until Dark
  59. Michael York in The Taming of the Shrew 
  60. Carroll O'Connor in Point Blank
  61. Barry Humphries in Bedazzled
  62. Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen
  63. William Daniels in Two for the Road
  64. Charles Gray in You Only Live Twice
  65. Christopher Hewett in The Producers
  66. Richard Jaeckel in The Dirty Dozen
  67. Anthony Teague in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  68. Keenan Wynn in The War Wagon
  69. Cecil Kellaway in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  70. William Daniels in The Graduate
  71. Peter Bull in Doctor Dolittle 
  72. John Forsythe in In Cold Blood
  73. Phillipe Noiret in The Night of the Generals
  74. Howard Keel in The War Wagon
  75. Herb Edelman in Barefoot in the Park
  76. Geoffrey Holder in Doctor Dolittle
  77. Robert Walker in The War Wagon
  78. Tim Matheson in Divorce American Style
  79. Albert Salmi in Hour of the Gun
  80. Anthony Newley in Doctor Dolittle
  81. Laurence Naismith in Camelot
  82. William Dix in Doctor Dolittle
  83. Denver Pyle in Bonnie and Clyde
  84. Franco Nero in Camelot
Next Year: 1977 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Alan Bates, Peter Finch and Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd

Alan Bates did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for Gabriel Oak, Peter Finch did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NBR, for portraying William Boldwood, and Terence Stamp did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Troy in Far From the Madding Crowd.

Far From the Madding Crowd is an effective epic about Bathsheba Everdine (Julie Christie) a woman who has inherited a large farm, and three very different men vying for her affections.

Well this is one where it is easy to see why all three of the actors were ignored for the film since not only would they have suffered from category confusion they also would have had severe internal competition. Although they are all on the border, with Bates being the closest, of being lead but their stories are always secondary to Bathsheba's and each man will disappear for extended periods of time. Bates is the closest and the first man that we meet as he begins the film as a shepherd with his own land. At this time Gabriel makes his affection known to Bathsheba but she rejects him, and soon afterwards he loses his land after his dog chases all his sheep off a cliff. After this this leads Gabriel looking for employment elsewhere and ends up working at Bathsheba's farm. Honestly it's easy enough to feel sorry Gabriel based on all that happens to him so quickly, and Bates has the most sympathetic role of the three.

Alan Bates is really quite good in the role as he doesn't try to make Gabriel that much of a character so to speak. Gabriel is the average Joe of the lot and Bates takes the right approach by giving a rather unassuming performance. Bates instead gives just a very honest performance in every sense of the word as he does not give Gabriel any usual tics or tendencies. He's just a normal guy who is trying to make the best of a bad situation. Bates's has a nice underlying charm about himself and he makes Gabriel a likable figure in the film. He's also very good in the scenes where his rejection is sorta rubbed in his face in one way or another. Bates is particularly believable because he does not really hide his feelings about it, he strikes the right balance as a reasonable man who would never continue to object to his treatment, yet still silently allows it to be known through his reactions to these moments.

Now for someone who is a less open and about look no further than William Boldwood played by Peter Finch. Boldwood plays a neighboring wealthy farmer who Bathsheba accidentally lead on more than she intended when she sent him a valentine. Finch has the most thankless role perhaps simply because Boldwood is the "stiff" out of three. He's the upper crust sort and Finch shows this through his performance. Finch has the right rigidness in his portrayal as he most often keeps Boldwood very refined in his posture and attitude. Finch on the surface keeps Boldwood very quiet most of the time, and as a man who purposefully tries to stay unemotional. Finch though is quite effective though in playing the stiffness of Boldwood. Finch does not make him truly a stiff though. The first scenes where Boldwood makes his affections known Finch makes it all proper, but below the surface Finch exudes an actual emotional need for this relationship.

The third man comes in the form of a soldier named Frank Troy played by Terence Stamp. In the earliest scenes we actually are just given brief glances of Troy who is in no way associated with Bathsheba at first. He's actually involved with a different woman Fanny who he plans to marry but calls it off after she shows up to the wrong church on their wedding day. Stamp's work is brief in these scenes but he sets up his character well. He does not have the openness of Bates nor is he nearly as controlled as Finch. Stamp is good though as seems to suggest a genuine simple love of sorts to the woman in their earliest scenes together. Stamp is appropriately jarring when he turns that on its head to such a coldness as Troy rejects her for making him look like a fool. After that it is quite a bit of time before Frank suddenly appears one night and just happens upon Bathsheba.

Well I'm glad I named Terence Stamp as the man who should have played Barry Lyndon because Frank Troy isn't far off, it's a shame Stamp didn't have the box office clout. Stamp has the charisma of a great con man, who happens to be a soldier as well, when he goes about wooing Bathsheba. Stamp is extraordinary in how charming he is in the scene where he shows off his swordsmanship to her. Stamp simply is wonderful and there is not a moment where you doubt his ability to win her over in such a way. What especially stands out about Stamp's performance is the way that it contrasts from Bates. Bates does have a charm as Gabriel but it is in a very down to earth sorta a way. Stamp on the other hand makes Frank Troy appropriately larger than life to the point that Stamp makes unfortunately an inevitability that he would be able to win Bathsheba over Boldwood and Gabriel. 

Troy, because he is known to be a man of ill repute, leads Boldwood to come back into the game as he tries to buy Troy off. Finch is quite good in this scene as he portrays Boldwood as a man who constantly tries to keep himself reserved no matter what the situation. Finch suggests though such rage just below that Boldwood is constantly holding in check keeping him in a state of distress. At the moment when he does briefly attack Troy Finch presents it as just a momentary lapse in control as he hurriedly tries to bring back that same reserve. Stamp is also great in this scene as he makes Troy such a scoundrel. What makes Stamp's performance so striking is that he's still extremely charismatic even when he's being so despicable. Stamp gives Troy that larger than life personality which manages to even expand to have a larger ability when comes to be so unusually cruel and egotistical.

Meanwhile you have Gabriel who just keeps working away at the farm, even after it technically becomes Troy's farm since he gets Bathesheba to marry him. Although Bates is often forced to be reactionary, since Gabriel does basically stop trying to get Bathesheba to reconsider him as a possible suitor, he still keeps Gabriel as a presence in the film. Bates is good by continuing to be the man without an pretense in the situation and always as the moral center of the situation. Where Finch portrays Boldwood as slowly bottling up his frustrations, and Stamp portrays Troy as obviously uncaring, Bates portrays Gabriel as that of the honest man who is honest with himself as well as the world. Bates does not show Gabriel openly hostile toward Bathesheba or Troy, but rather is quite good in exuding a certain wisdom of Gabriel as he instead non-verbally voices his disappointment. 

Of course Troy is not without a heart actually and when his old lover turns up again we see this. Stamp is brilliant in these scenes because he finally does convey some regret in Troy for his previous actions yet he does still as a scoundrel would. Stamp makes his sadness over the fate of his true love completely genuine yet he uses it to bring an even greater brutality to his coldness as Troy makes it quite clear to Bathesheba that she means nothing to him. Troy dissapears, bringing back Boldwood to the fold once more as he tries to make Bathesheba his wife. Finch is very moving by keeping Boldwood so contained yet so effectively bringing those sudden bursts of happiness seep out whenever it seems Bathesheba will return his affections. At the same time she never does him right and continues to somewhat unintentionally toy with him. Finch does a fantastic job of realizing how Bathesheba's behavior just compounds his frustrations associated with her. This allows the moment where he finally bursts to be an inevitability.

 Bates is terrific at being the constant of the film. He's not one note but rather always consistent in his portrayal of Gabriel who holds no secrets or vendettas. He allows the happy ending to work as it does, because frankly Bates earns it. Stamp is a great villain because you can't help but hate him, but at the same time he kinda forces you to love him too. Finch, as I stated before, does have the thankless role of three. Boldwood is a purposefully restrained character, but Finch does this exceptionally well. He always is restrained as he should be but still manages to always convey the inner turmoil of the man. Alan Bates, Peter Finch and Terence Stamp all give strong performances that each realize well the specifics of their characters. I will grant that Stamp stands out the most out of the three, but part of the reason for that is Frank Troy needs to stand out the most. All three suit their individual roles splendidly, and their work as a whole contributes greatly to the film's success.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark

Alan Arkin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roat in Wait Until Dark.

Wait Until Dark is an effective thriller about three criminals who are trying to find a doll filled with drugs that ended up apparently at the apartment of an unknowing blind woman Susy (Audrey Hepburn).

Although I did give some praise last review to the HFPA for successfully recognizing Richard Attenborough as an actor I sorta have to take that away when referring to this film. Oddly the HFPA did nominate someone for Wait Until Dark but it was not Alan Arkin, nor was it even Richard Crenna as the most sympathetic of the criminals, but rather Efrem Zimbalist who plays Susy's husband Sam. Zimbalist isn't bad really but his role is so unsubstantial that it certainly leaves you scratching tour head when thinking about the nomination. I guess Arkin maybe suffered from category confusion, which would is ridiculous, but probably more likely the nature of the role prevented him from being recognized. According to Arkin himself part of the reason he got the role is that few wanted it due to its sinister nature, and that same sinister nature is probably what prevented him from being nominated for any awards.

One more random tidbit before I get on with the review is that Quentin Tarantino played this part in a stage revival that was at the very end of his overexposure, now that might been something really horrifying to watch. Anyway, Alan Arkin plays the man who refers to himself as Roat who is the worst of the three criminals. This made abundantly clear when one of his earliest actions is that he murdered the original drug mule off screen and black mails her associates with her murder to ensure that they work with him to get the doll. Also the visual presentation of the character alone pretty much set stage for the character with his small round sunglasses he often wears, the truly bizarre haircut that Arkin sports, and the way he often suddenly appears entrenched in shadow. With all of that already set up Arkin rather intelligently does not really try to play up the villainy of Roat any more than what is already set up in fact Arkin takes kinda a relaxed approach to the part.

In his first conversation with the other two criminals Arkin rather cleverly commands the scene even though his whole manner as Roat is that of a man who is quite sure of every step of his plan. Arkin's easy going style here is surprisingly effective in creating the callousness of Roat. Arkin rather strangely is able to be quite menacing in this first scene while delivery almost every part of the chat as if he is just having a simple conversation with the men. This is even in the case when Roat tells them that he murdered their old criminal associate since he felt she was trying to cut him out on their business. Arkin brings such a casual sinister quality to the part by making the amoral quality of the man just so naturally a part of him. Arkin shows that Roat does not need to try to be evil rather Roat just innately is evil so no reason to force it out of him. Arkin's curious approach pays off quite well and just from his opening scene you know there is hanging knife over the rest of the characters.

Roat does not strike right away as the men first put on act which they think will force Susy to reveal the doll. Roat plays two parts in this charade the first being Roat Sr. who demands to see Susy's husband angrily and funny enough Arkin kinda does his curmudgeon act that he's probably best known for now. He also plays Roat Jr. which Arkin plays an extremely timid man who is both concerned over his father's outrageous behavior while also being concerned that his wife is having an affair with Susy's husband. Arkin plays these in a slightly absurd fashion and more as caricature than characters, but this absolutely makes sense since Roat is not trying to win an Oscar. Also Susy is suppose to suspect something is up so Arkin slightly off approach is the right one. Arkin is enjoyable in these scenes but he's also quite good in portraying the true Roat in his eyes while he is pretending to be these characters.

The finale of the film ends up being a most unusual battle between Roat and Susy. The knife drops quite effectively as Roat brings out his true nature again as he coldly dispatches his fellow criminals then proceeds to inquire about the doll to Susy. Arkin is quite chilling in this prolonged scene as he brings such a sadistic glee to Roat as he viciously toys with Susy and does not mind boasting about predicting the double cross against him. Arkin makes Roat manner most unnerving such as when he brushes off his claim that he wouldn't hurt Susy by non-nonchalantly stating that he had his fingers crossed. What makes Arkin's performance especially strong though are in the moments when Susy manages to get the upper hand for at least a moment. Arkin is terrific as he plays these moments especially realistically as just a guy frustrated or pained by what happened.

Arkin's is particularly good though in how he shows Roat trying to maintain his attitude as he usually reverts to his usual self once he gets the upper hand back. Well that is until Susy manages to do something that more permanently causes Roat to lose his usual cool. Arkin's is great in the scene as he forgets all about Roat's casual manner and instead is quite terrifying by just showing a man fighting against all sorts of anguish as his rage pulls him forward in a last ditch attempt to kill Susy. Alan Arkin altogether makes Roat one memorable villain for the film. His unusually style in his performance always works in still making him a figure to be feared while having a slight comic edge to the character that works rather nicely. Arkin's performance works as he makes Roat a believable a murderous thug who does not mind enjoying his ill deeds, but most importantly that he still suffers injuries like any real man would.