Robert Vaughn received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying Chester A. 'Chet' Gwynn in The Young Philadelphians.
Robert Vaughn portrays Newman's roommate at first who has some big connections through the family although he is an alcoholic himself. Vaughn in these early moments is barely in the film, but he does have the right manner for his high society character, but with just the right degree of sloppiness to suggest his problems with alcohol. His only really notable scene though is when he describes that he became alcoholic after his family basically forced him out of a marriage with a poorer woman. It is a very short scene but Vaughn is convincing enough to show that what happened to him indeed to wound him deeply.
Vaughn though goes missing for great lengths of the film. He though appears again for a single scene of Chet's has lost his arm in the Korean war. Vaughn again is given very little time, but he able bring pain of his character realistically to life. Then it is another long delay until we see him in two pivotal scenes where Chet alcoholism has gotten the better him, his family has disowned him basically, and on top of all of that he is charged with murder. Vaughn in these two scenes therefore must show a completely disheveled and changed Chet believably, and without forgetting his earlier characterization of Chet.
Luckily Vaughn makes these two scenes his Oscar scenes. These sort of scenes are an incredible challenge actually as they are the sort scenes where an actor will resort to the worst sort of overacting, but Vaughn actually completely succeeds in both of the scenes. Vaughn realistically shows a completely at his ropes end Chet, and gives a very moving performance. Vaughn honestly conveys Chet's complete fall in his single scenes with a frantic intensity that absolutely brings out terrible troubles his character has been through. It is a powerful pair of scenes the best in the film because of Vaughn. I wish his character had been given a conclusion scene, or a few scenes to allow Vaughn to show more of Chet's downfall. Nevertheless Vaughn still makes the most of what he has, and manages to give a strong performance.