Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Best Actor 1978: Laurence Olivier in The Boys from Brazil

Laurence Olivier received his tenth and final acting nomination for portraying Ezra Lieberman in The Boys from Brazil.

The Boys from Brazil is a rather odd thriller than depicts the Nazi scientist's Josef Mengele's (Gregory Peck) attempt to bring out the rise one again of the Nazism through an odd method, with an aging Nazi Hunter attempting to stop him.

Laurence Olivier portrays the aging Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman who receives a small amount of information on the plan, but very little, leaving him to try and investigate the plan himself. It is interesting to see Laurence Oliver portray a Jewish Nazi hunter after his previous nomination for Marathon Man where he portrayed so well a Nazi doctor clearly based on Josef Mengele.

I would say few actor could believably play both roles, but Laurence Olivier is certianly one of them, although I will say he certainly was more effective at playing the Nazi doctor than the Nazi hunter. This certainly is a later Olivier performance where he seems to insist on doing an accent rather than letting everyone hear his own beautiful tenor voice.

The accent he uses certainly is a very accent accent and it is hard not to note it. It is far more obvious of an accent than the one he used in Marathon Man, but than again Ezra Lieberman is a far different character than Dr. Szell. It certianly is a Jewish accent to an extreme, and I could easily see how one could easily find it rather distracting, for me though I enjoyed it actually, and although I do think it could have been toned down it does work in establishing Lieberman as a character.

Well enough of the accent, how about the actual performance, which the accent should not distract from too much I think. Well Olivier is not given one of his greatest challenges here. This is not one of his complex Shakespearean portrayals, and Lieberman is certianly one of Olivier's simpler roles. All Lieberman wants to do is stop the Nazis, nothing more. He not overly obsessed but just rightfully concerned leaving Lieberman as an entirely heroic character, which I am certainly fine with.

Olivier though is not given a great deal to do, otherwise than be rather confused for much, but slowly determining what is honestly going as Lieberman.Well I will give credit to Olivier, as I always do, becuase I certainly found it easy to watch Olivier as the very very unorthodox protagonist of a this odd thriller. I found his at ease, and somewhat humorous manner as Lieberman certianly enjoyable in its own way, but still with the right level intelligence behind showing that Lieberman does know what he is doing.

Olivier when challenged more greatly in the role, I find does succeed. Although there are few of them, his small moments where he reacts in disgust over the crimes of Nazis, or their current plan of the appropriate strength due to Olivier having still appropriate conviction in the role even with some of his mannerisms, and accent. I find in particular his scene where he confront a female Nazi in prison, he is particularly strong in reinforcing how strong Lieberman's conviction to his cause is, as well as how great his disgust is to the evil of the Nazis.

This is certainly far from Olivier's best work that is most certianly for sure It is an odd one in many ways, since this performance is probably in one of the oddest scenes to ever contain an best actor Oscar nominated performance in it. The scene consists of Laurence Olivier than in his 70's and Gregory Peck than in his 60's fighting almost to the death, it is quite the sight to see I must say. With all this oddity I must say I thought Olivier still gave a consistent, as well as in short moments when he can be powerful performance, even if odd, but that goes in line with the film itself.

10 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Yet to see this one.

Anonymous said...

What did you think of Gregory Peck? Josef Mengele is a very different role for him.

Louis Morgan said...

Although his performance was perhaps a bit much, what he did do was rather entertaining, with a few pretty chilling moments.

RatedRStar said...

=)Olivier always did choose odd roles but great nonetheless =)

dshultz said...

Peck was f@#%ing awesome in this film, I wish he got nominated over Olivier.

mrripley said...

Agreed Peck was stronger,what about uta hagens cameo - awesome!!!

joe burns said...

I haven't seen any of his performances! At least, I think so....



It's interesting how you say he has a tenor voice. Was he a singer, or does tenor apply to more then just singing?

Louis Morgan said...

Well you certianly should see some Joe. Also although really used for music mostly, I said tenor because that was the way Orson Welles described Olivier's voice in a interview, and I agreed.

dshultz said...

this interview?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGbGWArtND0

Louis Morgan said...

That's the one.