Hume Cronyn received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Paul Roeder in The Seventh Cross.
Cronyn portrays Paul Roeder a man in George's hometown whom George goes to for help after not being able to come up with anyone else to go and see. Paul is just a normal working man who has no particular political ideas far from the norm but seems to be a man with a good heart. The Seventh Cross is a film filled with much dread as George narrowly escapes many close calls that will most certainly lead to his death, and comes across many cold individuals along the way who refuse to help him. Cronyn first appears well into the picture but he is a breath of fresh air as a wholly upbeat and positive character in the film.
Cronyn is effective of his portrayal of Paul who is just an average working man with a wife and a family, but still will do the right thing when he is called on to do so. Cronyn is quite good early on as he helps George with no knowledge of George's predicament, as he just joyfully treats his friend well with no presumptions of any kind. Cronyn honestly shows Paul to be just an average goodhearted fellow though without every being boring in his portrayal nor does he ever show a false show of goodness, Cronyn realizes that Paul simply is truly a good man.
Cronyn's performance as Paul is quite interesting as he almost becomes the lead of the film for a brief period as Paul risks his own well being by trying to reach connections in the underground to help George escape Nazi's Germany. Cronyn is effective in Paul's quick change as he must face the problems of his country even though he was trying to live a normal life beforehand. Cronyn is great in just the way that after George lets Paul know why he actually needed to stay at his place Paul's whole body language and manner instantly change. As Cronyn shows the happy Paul instantly faced with the troubling reality creates fear and paranoia as well as some anger in Paul due to learning of George's circumstances.
Cronyn brings right into Paul's fears as he tries to help George as we can easily sympathize with Paul because of Cronyn honest and completely believable portrayal. He makes Paul into an any man that is likable and successfully brings out the film's message of some people that are in the worst of situations can still be good people. Cronyn brings this out naturally through his portrayal firstly of his warmth and his natural chemistry with his actual wife Jessica Tandy portraying Paul's wife that makes us care for his welfare just as much as the main character George who have spent more time with. Cronyn effectively portrays though a quiet strength within Paul that comes out, and Cronyn brings us completely with him through his troubles as he slowly realizes how poorly off his country really is. It is a moving and natural performance by Cronyn that succeeds in making Paul Roeder almost the lead of his own short film within the larger film about Tracy's character's struggle.