Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Best Actor 1946: Fredric March in The Best Years of Our Lives

Fredric March won his second Oscar from his fourth nomination for playing Al Stephenson in The Best Years of Our Lives.

The Best Years of Our Lives is a very effective drama about the challenges three different veterans face after they come home from the war.

It is interesting that March was the one who was nominated and won from this film. He really is the secondary lead to Dana Andrews who was not nominated, especially in terms of the second half of the film where his character recedes into the background. March's character's problems involve ethic troubles with the bank he works at, and a drinking problem  None of his problems are really given as much attention as the other characters, and his part of the film is the least interesting part of the strong film. He solves one of the problems kind of and the other one is not really truly resolved, then he gains another problem involving his daughter and the Dana Andrews's character. At this point he sort of becomes supporting to Andrew's story.

March is a bit of a mixed performance. He has many drunk scenes, scenes where actors can fall flat on their face. March does not quite do that but he does not play these particularly well. He overplays every one of the scenes when he is drinking. The first string of parties March always over does it doing standard movie drunk that feels much too obvious and sort of conflicts with the realistic tone of the film. He does a better job though when he makes a speech at the bank and is a little more natural. It is not perfectly natural but it makes the scene work fairly well.

March though is much better when he is sober. He has many strong scenes when he tones down a little bit. Scenes where he is quietly talking to the other character March does a lot with just his face, and really shows far more emotions then when he is overacting with the drunk scenes. His scene where he just listens to the other men talk, March just knows exactly how to handle theses scenes. Yes he is background but March still gives the right amount attention to himself without trying to up show the others. His best scenes though are when he becomes at odds with Andrew's character because of his Daughter. His scene where he talks to his daughter about Andrew's character works well, as does the speech he gives to Andrews directly. He shows his concerns for his daughter well, and is very strong in those scenes. March is held back a little, since he is in the background so much, and because of his drunk scenes, but when March is strong he is very strong.


Fritz said...

I really don't get his win. As you say, he was mostly in the background and the other males had much more interesting storylines AND gave better performances.

Anonymous said...

Probably a 4 from me.

I think he does a great deal in that great movie.

Louis Morgan said...

Fritz: Who is your pick Fritz?

Sage Slowdive: Only a 4 for your pick? What did you not like about Stewart?

Anonymous said...

It's probably the movie that got in the way of me fully appreciating his performance.

joe burns said...

I haven't seen it in like two years, but I do remember him not being in it a lot.