Ronald Colman received one of his first two nominations for portraying Michel Oban in Condemned.
Ronald Colman I think does something that many actors of this period needed to learn, including some of the other actors nominated this year, to relax. Colman knows how to use this ability relax to be able to give a far more natural performance than the performances of many actors of this time. This ability is very important because he is able to actual ease into reactions into his performance, rather constantly pushing to perform which leads to much of the overacting from this period.
Colman's performance almost seems in some ways from a different period becuase he is honestly conveys just a different kind of presence here. He play Michel who is a suave thief, who was caught. Boy is Colman suave, he just always knows how to play the part. He is charismatic and properly charming the role, showing an easy going nature of his character that is actually enjoyable to watch.
His whole charming of the wife of the warden is easily handled by Colman. He does not at all force it since Michel simply acts decently to her, and Colman portrays it that way, although of course with his undeniable charm. Although the relationship is even written as being pretty forced, Colman never portrays it that way because he manages in just the right fashion.
Later when he is imprisoned by the warden for his relationship with the warden's wife, Colman performance actually gets even better. He still has the proper charm throughout but manages to as well show the pain and struggle that Michel must go through to escape Devil's island and runaway with the warden's wife.
Colman really gives just a strong leading man performance, when there really were not enough of them. He makes his journey one that is easy to follow through his instantly likable, and completely winning approach to the role. Colman brought me through the whole film from the slower moments, to the far more interesting ones at the end, this is a very good performance that puts many other performances from this time to shame.