Ronald Colman received his third Oscar nomination for portraying John Smith/ Charles Rainier in Random Harvest.
Ronald Colman's performance is quite interesting at the beginning of the film, as the very haunted man only known as John Smith. Colman has the perfect haunted quality in his performance that works well with his amnesiac of a character. Colman appropriately portrays how the war clearly had a profound effect on him, and the entire withdrawn nature of his performance is very well handled. Colman realistically portrays the entire condition of the man very well, his hesitation in his speech is naturally portrayed by Colman, and correctly portrays the condition of the troubled man. Colman is effective in his early scenes with Greer Garson. he has the right reluctance in their relationship together, making the relationship rather unusual.
The relationship is well handled by both actors, and their unique chemistry does work well together, it is subtle relationship, mostly because of Colman way of underplaying Smith's love for Paula. This fits well with the nature of Smith as a character, and it really makes their relationship a memorable and poignant one which works well for the film. Smith though by an accident gains his old memory back, and remembers he is Charles Rainier but forgets about ever being John Smith. Colman is very good in his portrayal of Charles Rainier, showing a great difference in character, showing him now full of confidence, and inner strength. It is a successful change in character, that still seems like that is who Smith was before the war.
Although the transition is very well handled, I must say as soon as he becomes Charles Rainier his performance just becomes a lot less interesting, because the wealthy Charles just is a bit of a dull man. This leaves Colman very little to do, except in brief moments where he has moments suggesting him remembering his forgotten past. These are well handled, by Colman, but most of his performance just is not all that interesting as Rainier. This is not really Colman's fault it is just the second half of the film gives him little to do, but be the very proper Rainier who really does not love anything all that well. That is until near end of the film, and yes Colman's final reaction is incredible finding the right emotional climax for the film, but still the overall effect of the second half his performance just is never that interesting. It still is a very good performance, I just wish the second half of the performance had been as good as the first half.