Paul Muni received his first Oscar nomination for portraying a man who claims to James Dyke but he might just be Joe Douglas in The Valiant.
The acting in the Valiant is pretty terrible almost the whole through, particularly by the fiancee of the sister, as well as the sister, as well as the mother, I guess the jail warden could be worse, but still this is a pretty poorly acted picture. I am happy to say that Paul Muni does not join the rest of the cast though when it comes to his performance. This is a very short film, possibly the shortest film with a best actor nominee in fact. Paul Muni is not every scene either in fact he has very few scenes all together. In fact so few I can really describe each of his scenes in this review with great ease. He first appears in the film slowly walking the streets and finally goes to a police station and tells the police that he murdered a man. Why? well the film does not say, but Muni is natural enough in this scene given a somewhat depressed performance, but still showing that he must have hated the man for a good reason. In a few scenes in a row Muni is continually talked to by other people asking who he really is, and he continues to deny that he is anyone by a murder. Muni is again fine, in just showing that the man just refuses to recognize that he has a family knowing having a murderer in the family.
His performance was just okay up until his last scene where he has a long talk with the sister who keeps trying to find out if he really is her brother. Muni is fine again in denying that he is her brother, although gives the right slight indication that he is her brother. Rather than admit the truth though he denies it still instead telling her that he knew her brother who was killed as a war hero. Muni puts the right emotional effort into the scene, despite not getting any help from Marguerite Churchill who plays the sister. Muni is not amazing by any means, but he is good in suggesting that it does pain him to not be able to admit that he has a family after all. This is never a great performance by any means, although it is most certainly the best in the film. Paul Muni is natural enough and does carry a little bit of emotional weight to his part. He also does not overact as he so commonly does in his later roles. Much of his performance is just adequate line readings though. Muni stays basically fine throughout, and only at the very end does he really have a strong moment.