Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1955: Jack Lemmon in Mister Roberts

Jack Lemmon won his first Oscar from his first nomination for portraying Ensign Frank Pulver in Mister Robert.

Mister Roberts details the struggle on a naval ships in the back waters of the pacific during World War II between the kindly Mister Roberts, and the tyrannical ship's captain (James Cagney).

Jack Lemmon plays Ensign Pulver the laundry and morale officer aboard the ship. He might have this position though he mostly just seems to sleep in his quarters, and randomly attempt to come up with things to help pass his time on the rather boring ship. Lemmon is an actor I will admit that I actually tend to prefer him in dramatic roles oppose to his comedic roles, since I find he can easily go a little too far with his comic performance, or that his shtick can eventually become old during the course of a film.

Luckily in this film though Lemmon is used just the right amount, as well as he finds the right tone for his performance to work as it should. This is one of Lemmon's better comedic performances, because he does not overplay his role to the point of ever coming off as annoying or obnoxious but instead makes Ensign Pulver the most entertaining character in the film. Also really he makes his performance the mainly comedic performance that works best in the film, unlike the rest of the crew who shows just how one can constantly overact while attempting to be funny, but than not be funny at all.

Lemmon on the other hand succeeds in creating a very enjoyable performance as Ensign Pulver. As usual with most Lemmon performances, especially his comedic ones, he infuses a great deal of energy into his performance, and it is all well spent with Ensign Pulver. Lemmon manages to be very entertaining with simply his body language of Pulver who manages bring life to every scene he is in through his uneasy manner, I particularly like his scene where he accidentally runs into the ships Captain, and Lemmon shows just how little confidence Pulver really has.

Lemmon never really wastes a moment in his performance as Pulver, and manages to make more out of every scene he is in than there would have been otherwise. He has pitch perfect reactions throughout, and manages to make the lazy and rather meek Pulver a very enjoyable character. All of his behavior is made endearing by Lemmon, when it easily could have gone the wrong way. Lemmon has just the right charm in his performance to make Pulver as he should be. His performance though is not only comedic and does have some dramatic weight that is found in the end of the film.

Lemmon though manages just as well with his final dramatic scene as he did with all his comedic ones. He shows in his single scene how much the titular Mister Roberts meant to everyone and actually Lemmon's performance is what makes the final climax of the film work. He shows a transformation at the end with Pulver, that is made believable despite being a fast one, because he is able to show how Pulver sees his sense of duty and finally does it. This is a very good performance by Lemmon that seizes his opportunities of his part, and manages to make his performance the most memorable part of his film.


RatedRStar said...

I like Lemmon a lot here but I'm still with Mineo who I think should win simply because Lemmons already won once.

dinasztie said...

You wrote more about him so he might win. :) I think he's just great here.