Sydney Greenstreet received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Kasper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon.
Greenstreet plays an interesting character who is only really in three scenes and does not show until the latter half of the film. But his appearance is incredibly well built up to only being mentioned at first ominously as the "Fat Man" when he finally shows up it is quite a strong entrance for both the character and Greenstreet's own film debut. Now an interesting thing I find is that although the character is written very intelligently, the character's impact really all depends on Greenstreet's own performance. He really needs the right demeanor and magnitude in his performance to make this impact. Greenstreet has the right demeanor and magnitude and makes Gutman as memorable as possible.
Greenstreet is always fantastic as Gutman with his incredibly perfect style of carrying himself in the role. Gutman always has absolute class in his character because of Greenstreet. He is always cool and calm, and absolutely proper in every delivery perfectly showing Gutman's deceitful and falsely friendly facade. His way of showing this jovial man who actually will do anything anything including murder to get The Maltese Falcon is incredibly fascinating because Greenstreet never seems false at all. Greenstreet commands every scene he is in, he adds the perfect amount of energy and power into every scene making him just someone who must be watched. He is so perfect at delivering every one of his lines even the long expositions which could be boring but are fascinating because of Greenstreet distinct and incredibly interesting way of speaking. He is never boring which with the exposition and such he could have been.
He is perfect in all three of his scenes but my favorite scene of his is his final scene. The great scene where Gutman is playing the trading game with Spade at the very end. Greenstreet excels brilliantly in this scene. He does everything without fault and his perfect cool as Gutman. From his dealing with Spade to casually damning his loyal man as patsy for them. I like how Greenstreet always shows that Gutman is thinking a mile a minute never not planning or playing, such as when he tries to throw Spade off by taking a thousand dollar bill but accusing Spade of taking it. His best moment though is when he temporarily loses his usual calm when first his face of absolute lust for the Falcon, and then his perfect surprise of being wrong. Greenstreet though is just at strong at showing that Gutman refuses to lose his confidence and quickly goes back to his usual demeanor. Greenstreet makes everything work in this performance and is absolutely brilliant in all of his scenes. His presence is magnetic in this film and he truly is one memorable villain.