Friday, 15 April 2011

Best Actor 1960: Trevor Howard in Sons and Lovers

Trevor Howard received his first Oscar nomination for portraying coal miner Walter Morel in Sons and Lovers.

The film tells the story of a young man Paul Morel (Dean Stockwell) who is an aspiring artist who comes from a poor mining town.

It is quite strange that Trevor Howard was nominated for this film since Howard actually does not portray the lead role of the film, but is rather a supporting role as the father of Paul. It is not even a domineering supporting role, the father really on a whole is not given very much time at all, and scenes that he is in tend to focus away from him. Howard though is an actor I tend to like almost whenever I see him, due to his unique screen presence. Howard though is given very little in terms of character since Walter is a typical cliched father who does not support his sons artistic aspirations. He drinks, and he yells with his wife (Wendy Hiller) about what he sees, believing it was her fault his sons turned out the way they did.

Howard though does try his best to make something out of his lacking character. He does not make his typical character one dimensional. In the little time he is given Howard shows that he really does care for his family, but shows a sadness which he covers with anger, that not only does his son not want to follow in his footsteps, but also that there is something wrong about his footsteps. Howard is only really given one scene that focuses on him all that much which is very early in the film,  when his only son who actually followed in his footsteps dies in the mines. Howard is good in showing the honest grief for his only son who wished to continue on his work.

Howard I think with Hiller are good in showing the long history of their characters' marriage despite barely given anytime to develop it. They properly showed that there fights are almost routine. This does allow Howard a brief good scene, near the end of the film where he does show his love for his wife once more, but Howard does not forget the character still showing their poor history at the same time. He has one more good scene where he tells his son not to let his mother down, like he did. He again shows honest emotion, and a little more to his character. Howard I did like when he was on screen, and I did like that he tried to show more to his simple character. Unfortunately the film refused to give him more of a character which possibly could have enabled a great performance.

1 comment:

Sage Slowdive said...

I completely agree - it's shocking he received the nomination over Dean Stockwell.