Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1942: Walter Huston in Yankee Doodle Dandy

Walter Huston received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Jerry Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Walter Huston became tied with Frank Morgan for being the first person nominated in the supporting actor after being nominated in the lead category for portraying Jerry Cohan the father of the individual this biography film is about George M. Cohan (James Cagney). Walter Huston's performance is sort of a miniature version of James Cagney's performance in this film. A great deal of his performance is in his vaudevillian scenes. He like Cagney is a believable vaudevillian having a high level energy in these scenes, and successfully portrays the acts. He does not have have as substantial of scenes as Cagney, but Huston certainly still makes a believable vaudevillian.

Off the stage Huston portrays Jerry as an entirely nice man who's only negative quality is perhaps he is slightly jealous of his son's greater success. Nevertheless Huston just portrays Jerry charmingly, as a good man who loves his family, and work hard to make them successes.  It is a rather limited his portrayal and his most substantial scene is probably when he tries to tell the young George that it is better to be a great man than a great actor. Huston is good in that scene showing the fatherly wisdom and warmth of Jerry well. Huston basically gets everything he can out of the part through his typical energetic and charming approach he used in all of his roles.

The only problem with Huston's performance really is his role. The film is absolutely about George M. Cohan, and only about George M. Cohan. The only time he is really the focus at all is at the very beginning of the film. As soon as Cagney appears he fades into the background even in many of the vaudevillian scenes. He does have a single scene where he reads a letter from George, which Huston handles well and brings genuine heart to the scene. After this scene though he fades once again even his final death scene is about Cagney's performance not Huston's. There just is not a lot of material for Huston to turn this into a classic Huston performance, it is fine work from Huston nevertheless though.


Oscargrouching said...

Louis , I still don't know how to do the half of faces

RatedRStar said...

I actually really liked this performance =), I guess I might be being too nice since its Huston who might be my second favorite character actor behind you know who =)