Monday, 17 January 2011

Best Actor 1954: Bing Crosby in The Country Girl

Bing Crosby received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Elgin in The Country Girl.

The Country Girl is a rather melodramatic film, and with a taked on love story, not between Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby but between William Holden, and Grace Kelly. It still has a good moment here and there though.

Bing Crosby is usually not touted for his acting talent, usually only for his singing. There are few that mention a great performance by Bing Crosby, since most of his performances seem to consist of a lot of smiling and singing such as his nomination performance in the Bells of St. Marys. In this film though he does not give his usual Crosby performance, even though he does still sing, he does not do all that much smiling.

This performance is rather interesting to see because it shows a different side of Crosby. The character of Frank Elgin as in the film is sort of a has been Bing Crosby, a Crosby that has lost most of his old charm. Crosby strangely excels with this character something I would not have at all expected from him before I first saw this performance. Crosby shows the simple desperation of character incredibly well, I think it is made even stronger because it does show the old Elgin in a Flashback in Bing's old charming self, which has a great effect showing the loss of the basically the whole of the character. 

Crosby's displays Frank's own inner hatred of himself, and regret quite well. I think he is brilliantly shows it through his properly subtle expressions incredibly well. He presents Frank's loss, exceptionally well showing that Frank's problems are truly internal problems that haunt Frank very deeply. I find something he does something rather interestingly because he does not make try to make Frank solely a heartbreaking guy we feel for, but he shows a rougher in many ways a devious side of Frank.

Crosby shows the devious side well without over doing it, because he does not really show as Frank being an evil guy or anything but rather that is a defense mechanism that he employs to cover his insecurities from other people. The change of behavior from his real anxiety in front of his wife (Grace Kelly) and his lies to hide his actual problems in front of his director (William Holden) is handled exceptionally well by Crosby. His honest emotions and his fake, positivism always with a small sense of the anxiety below it, are brilliantly shown against one another by Crosby.

As with the first time I was very much amazed by the honestly strong emotional power shown by Crosby, the only parts of the film that I really that were at all compelling. I found this especially since all the scenes with Kelly and Holden did not work because Holden's character is so incredibly underwritten. I think his best scene showing the vulnerability of Crosby is one his old charm comes back briefly in a bar briefly showing his old charm, but than disintegrating due to his guilt over the death of his son. Crosby disintegration in this scene is perfect, as his moments later when he is completely beaten down after a long drinking binge. His whole long moments revealing about the truth of himself is a real achievement from Crosby since the film itself I think doe not write the reveal particularly well, but Crosby performs it incredibly well. The Country Girl shows that Crosby was in fact a talent dramatic actor after all, but just simply rarely ever showed his talent in this capacity.

4 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Eh, I didn't quite like this one either.

toohep said...

Bing was magnificent !!

toohep said...

Bing was magnificent !!

Joel Bocko said...

Yeah, incredibly underrated performance. I have it tied with Brando's brilliant work in Waterfront for '54 - it's that good. I love that scene in the bar, which not only shows his old charm coming on again, but also his somewhat arrogant, passive-aggressive side: remember he starts singing in part to show up the bar singer.