Monday, 2 April 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1978: Jack Warden in Heaven Can Wait

Jack Warden received his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying Max Corkle in Heaven Can Wait.

Heaven Can Wait which is the superior remake of the 1941 original Here Comes Mr. Jordan. The films similarities go further than just their stories and characters. They also received many of the same Oscar nominations such as receiving Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor nominations for the same roles. Credit must be given to Heaven Can Wait as it is superior in almost every way every character and every performance except one. I would say James Mason and Claude Rains are probably just about equally effective in the role of Mr. Jordan.

Interestingly enough I also believe that another similar aspect between the films is the fact that if a supporting actor should have been nominated from the film it should have been actor portraying Mr. Jordan both times instead of the actor portraying the trainer of the lead character Joe Pendleton, Max Corkle. Nevertheless though Jack Warden is absolutely better in the role then James Gleason was in the original film. Gleason mostly spent the whole 1941 film making overacted surprised look after surprised look Jack Warden actually turns Max Corkle into a believable character.

From what I have seen of Warden's filmography he seemed to specialize in friends/mentors of the main character. Warden probably was found so commonly in the role though because he was certainly good in these sort of roles. As Max Corkle early in the film Warden shows this by just being a nice warm presence in the film as the friend of Warren Beatty's Joe. Warden doesn't overdo it and just actually manages to be the friend Max Corkle should be. He is likable enough as Max in a rather effortless fashion that doesn't try to overplay the part as Gleason did in the same role.

This continues to be true when Corkle is faced with the confusion of finding Joe in another body and being told of the troubles faced on his ways to heaven. Gleason at this point in his performance turned on his face of confusion making the same surprised look over and over again. Warden again is far more effective in the role by not doing this. Warden more realistically reacts to it by just showing Corkle at first being in absolute disbelief at first, and just wanting to basically get away from a man that he finds is insane. Warden makes Corkle reactions simple but far more humorous than Gleason's overblown reactions.

Jack Warden's stays supporting of Beatty's character through the rest of the film trying to help him achieve the dream of being a football quarterback. He is appropriately supportive and warm as well as humorous enough when being confused by the supernatural events transpiring around. Warden stays just fine as he really is not given too much to do, but he stays effective enough in the role as the film continues along.Warden particularly is quite moving at the very end of the film when he shows just how much Joe really meant to Max. This is not an amazing performance by any means, I don't know anyone really could be amazing in the role of Max Corkle but Warden probably is just about as good as anyone could be in the role.


RatedRStar said...

I really liked him in The Verdict, haven't seen him in much else.

Casting Call said...

It's a quite interesting post.

Edward L. said...

I haven't seen this for such a long time, and I can't remember much about it. But I just re-watched All the President's men, and Warden is great in that (as he is in Shampoo).