Monday, 24 May 2010

Best Actor 1958: Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea

Spencer Tracy received his sixth Oscar nomination for playing the titular character in The Old man and the sea.

The old man and the sea is a rather odd adaptation of the story in many ways, and perhaps relies too much on narration. It is technically flawed so much that sometimes it can become distracting. There is very few actors in the film, only two have any real screen time one being a boy who is very poorly played, so much that he doesn't even seem to cry when he is suppose to and the other is Spencer Tracy.

Tracy also is the narrator in the film and not just the Old man. His narration is actually fine for a narration and I find he actually gives a better narration than a performance as the old man. As the old man Tracy is in many ways very awkward, and well watching the performance I was unfortunately reminded in some ways of his performance in Captain Courageous. I suppose Tracy should just not have played fishermen.

Tracy does not seem to know what exactly to do with this performance. He never really creates a character exactly, he has some ideas but he never makes anything out of it. He kind of does an accent but he never really does one. That is something wrong about the performance. He never really is believable as the fisherman and his attempts to be him are always slightly false.

The Old Man talks to himself and Tracy does not handle this well. He seems to be acting to himself rather than really talking to himself. He never seems to be the man who talks to himself, but instead he overdose it and again he rings false. Tracy's narration is good but very little else of his performance is very good. He never really gets into the character and this stops him from ever giving a compelling performance. I did not hate this performance but I did not ever see it succeeding either.

4 comments:

Tom said...

I agree with your assessment. I prefered Anthony Quinn in this part when they did the remake.

joe burns said...

Great writeup! I guess you're not a big fan of Spencer Tracy in general................

Louis Morgan said...

Actually I liked him more before I started seeing his Oscar films. I thought he was great for example in Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I think he had a certain comfort zone and within that he could be very good. But when trying accents for example he had big problems.

Shaheed said...

I am watching the movie now, and you are right. I thought abt why he was nominated for an oscar. To me, it is simply this – everyone was so in love with the book that they were not objective. Anthony Quinn was superb in the 1990 version. The producers made a mistake in not using Quinn as the lead in 1958 version.