Friday, 11 February 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1940: James Stephenson in The Letter

James Stephenson received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Howard Joyce in The Letter.

The Letter is in many ways a strange melodrama, that did not quite work for me, even though it does have a few well done scenes.

Stephenson portrays Howard Joyce who is the lawyer of Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) who has killed a man in what she claims is self-defense. Joyce has his suspicions though which are more fully established by a letter he is given that basically shows she murdered him in cold blood. Stephenson does a good job of playing Joyce in a very proper calm fashion for this very uptight lawyer.

Stephenson never breaks his manner, and does show his character hiding what he knows well in certain scenes. Stephenson carefully makes only small reactions that only the audience would know hinting that he knows of what really happened, without making it so the character would see his doubts about Leslie. Most of the film Stephenson portrays Joyce pretty straight and to the point which is proper, except for his scene where he defends Leslie in court. A brief scene but Stephenson handles it well showing a nervousness and guilt over what he is doing. Stephenson performance well being adequate still is nothing amazing, or at all memorable but I still feel he did a fine job.


dinasztie said...

This movie was awful and he was nothing special. He was basically nothing here.

Sage Slowdive said...

I thought he was pretty good with the little he had to do.