Monday, 26 April 2010

Best Actor 1936: Walter Huston in Dodsworth

Walter Houston received his first of four Oscar nominations for playing Sam Dodsworth who sells off his interest in his company and retires to please his wife, so they can tour Europe.

Dodsworth is a very interesting film even though it gets just slightly repetitive near the end. Still it is fascinating the way it shows Dodsworth and his wife growing further apart because of her growing snobbery and her growing affairs with other men. It got slightly repetitive when she went from one affair to another, but it still is a fascinating examination of European and American manners, and the way people can change.

Walter Huston is terrific as Dodsworth. The good hearten businessman whose wife mistreats him. I like his disappointment that he has given his job away but later his pure enthusiasm to see the world. Huston play very well off of Ruth Chatterton, with his "American" enthusiasm conflicting with her new found "sophistication". Huston gives his usual joyful delivery for parts of the movie which work incredibly well. He comes off as just a great guy, making it all the worse when his wife keeps betraying him. Dodsworth slow but deliberate progression to figuring out what his wife is doing is perfectly done by Huston. Huston channels his disappointment so well, yet his resentment is shown in just the right way. Every time he battles with his wife Huston is brilliant, because Huston shows how Dodsworth at first has trouble realizing it but later when he confronts her directly it is just fantastic. His scene where he confronts one of her suitors (Paul Lukas) is perfect, and  I really like the scene where he says they better start growing up since their going to be grand parents. This is just a great performance by Huston and you really follow him through the film and feel for him all the way.  His chemistry with Mary Astor also is properly effective making the ending work all the better. Huston fully realizes the character of Dodsworth and never once hits a false note. Huston gives a great performance which gets:


joe burns said...

I think he'll be your pick.

Louis Morgan said...

We shall see.

Michael Patison said...

I love this movie. I'd give Huston as 5 and Chatterton a 4.5. It is by far her best performance and is vastly better than her 2 nominated performances.