Sunday, 20 February 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1950: Edmund Gwenn in Mister 880

Edmund Gwenn received his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying 'Skipper' Miller in Mister 880. 

Mister 880 frankly is not that interesting of a tale about a secret service investigator tying to find a small time elusive counterfeiter, it is made even less interesting due to a tacked on love story.

Mister 880 is the counterfeiter who eludes the secret service at every turn, no one has been able to catch him so much they call in an specialist by the name of .... I don't remember even though I just watched it yesterday, frankly it doesn't matter since his character is so unremarkable, but anyways he is played by Burt Lancaster. So who is this criminal they need Lancaster for well a sweet old man played by that sweet old man Edmund Gwenn, who may be even sweeter as Skipper Miller than when he played Kris Kringle, after all in Miracle on 34th street he at least hit someone on the head.

Skipper Miller's crime is he peddles one dollar fake bills to get by in a very modest life style. He only ever spends uses one dollar per store, and even tries to buy something else with the change he is given. The Skipper also does this to avoid actually to save the government money, since he could go to a Veteran's home but that would cost more money than he requires. The Skipper is the friend to everyone, and everything.

Well since Skipper is such a perfectly nice criminal with really almost selfless tendencies, this really allows very little for anything for Gwenn to do but be a nice charming old man. He is just that in everything scene, a sweet old man. The role requires little else of him, except at the end when he is caught. He shows a slight bit of sadness giving up his printing press, and later a sort of exhausted relief when he finally gives himself up. This little bit of extra emotion amount to very little, but it technically is perfect for as Skipper is written. Gwenn is charming, and does as required, but Skipper is a little too simple of a character for his performance to amount to much of anything.


joe burns said...

5th place certainly.

What are your Oscar predictions by the way? Could you maybe publish a post about it?

Louis Morgan said...

I suppose I could Joe, although I must admit I am not the predicting type.