Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1959: Arthur O'Connell in Anatomy of a Murder

Arthur O'Connell received his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying Parnell Emmett McCarthy in Anatomy of a Murder.

Arthur O'Connell portrays somewhat washed up lawyer Parnell McCarthy who acts as a sort of supportive friend, and research to defense attorney Paul Biegler (James Stewart). He is an alcoholic fellow, but an apt legal mind although not a confidant one. O'Connell really gives a supporting performance that is the very definition of a supporting performance. Parnell just mainly supports Stewart's character throughout the film offering support, someone to talk to, advice, and his skills as a researcher, not much more than that.

O'Connell is absolutely appropriate for the role though without his not quite fatherly, but sort of elderly knowledge and warmth in equal quantities. O'Connell stay low key throughout the film never trying to stealing a scene from Stewart, but nor should he since he is suppose to be supporting Stewart first and foremost. O'Connell never attempts to take the spotlight in the film but does manage to show you can most certainly serve the film even if one is always more content to be around it.

O'Connell has a good chemistry with Stewart in all of their scenes together. They are natural and their is a certain warmness between them that work quite well, without ever bringing unneeded attention to their friendship which is only a very small aspect in the overall story. O'Connell always though acts as a brighter warmer side of this film without naturally without disrupting the tone of the rest of the film just through his natural charm.

Besides his chemistry with Stewart and his overall charm the only other pivotal part of his performance is his alcoholism and feelings of inadequacy. His struggle with these are especially short moments, and handled mostly only by small reactions, since as I said earlier O'Connell's Parnell is never really in the spotlight. O'Connell though despite the shortness of these moments, does convey both the fear, and eventual strength that lies in Parnell in a few short moments. This really is not a great performance, but it does act as a good supporting part to Stewart's great leading performance.


joe burns said...

Good review! I'm guessing he'll be 2nd or third, depends on the strength of the year.

Fritz said...

Seems to be a good year so far.

Michael Patison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Patison said...

What'd you think of the film as a whole? Also, what'd you think of Ben Gazzara in it? I thought he was between Scott and O'Connell.

Louis Morgan said...

He was quite good keeping the mystery of his character's motive perfectly.