Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1937: Ralph Bellamy in The Awful Turth

Ralph Bellamy received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Dan Leeson in The Awful Truth.

The Awful Truth tells about the madcap actions two soon to be divorced spouses Lucy and Jerry (Irene Dunne, Cary Grant) commit during their waiting period before the divorce is finalized.

Ralph Bellamy portrays Dan Leeson a man from Oklahoma visiting New York with his mother attempting to be a suitor to Lucy. Bellamy portrays himself as basically a straw man for Cary Grant to burn down, as Dan is just a man who can't keep up with Jerry's antics. He is a relatively simple man in his attempts to romance Lucy in a rather simple fashion. His simple ways, and simple methods just don't stand a chance in the face of Jerry's mad cap behavior. Bellamy portrays the part as he should as he makes Dan a likable straw man. Bellamy does bring a small simple charm fitting of the simple Dan.

Bellamy's whole point is to be sort of a straight man foil to the wackiness of Dunne and particularly Grant. In this end Bellamy is pretty good at it actually. He does not overplay the simpleness of his part, and the best comparison can be made is with Roland Young in Topper from this same year. Young failed to be that great of a straight man, because he played it a little too straight actually, but Bellamy knows how to balance the act to far greater effect. He is believable in his portrayal of that Dan is never in on the jokes of the film, but Bellamy manages to still get in on the humor of the film at the same time.

There is always just something funny about how out of his element Dan is. He really fits well in the mix of things as the wrong end of jokes between the characters. What makes Bellamy's performance work is because he always is quite earnest as Dan, he desperately does want a romance with Dunne's character, and he genuinely has no idea that everyone is making a bit of a fool of him. His dancing scene pretty much sums it up is all there to funny as he stumbles around the dance floor, yet Bellamy never for a minute shows that Dan thinks this is anything but some great dance moves he knows.

I would say my only problem with the performance is just how short lived is, he only has a few scenes and disappears far before the end of the film. I would say that I preferred Bellamy's performance as a very similar character in His Girl Friday but than again he was given far more to do in that film. Also He most certainly does not override either Dunne or Grant as the best part of the film by any means but he does serve his purpose well. Bellamy though is enjoyable whenever he was on screen though, and gives a performance that adds well to the film.

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