Thursday, 10 May 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1942: William Bendix in Wake Island

William Bendix received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Pvt. Aloysius K. 'Smacksie' Randall in Wake Island.

Wake Island depicts the World War II battle of Wake Island in the pacific against the Japanese shortly after Pearl Harbor.

William Bendix portrays one of the men on Wake Island who is soon to be out of the service. Bendix basically is just there for comic relief as the man who is constantly bickering with another soldier as they comment on various aspects of their life on the island. Bendix does not stand out in the film, he comes in and out whenever the film wants a funny scene. He really does not have much of a character arc, there is a change in the middle of his character, but even that is not really a transition for the Smacksie, but rather a decision he had wanted to make the entire time anyways.

His whole point is really just to be a nice humorous presence during the film to help off set the dread of the impending attack. Bendix is actually humorous enough in the role of the gruff talking Smacksie. He does not over do it either which would have made it out of place when the film becomes the serious. It is not as if Bendix is hilarious by any means, but he is an enjoyable diversion in the film. Also his antagonistic friendship with Robert Preston as a fellow private is fairly enjoyable. It is not an unforgettable comedic team up by any measure, but the two have a chemistry together that works.

As I said his character does have a change, and that is for the first half of the film his character keeps bringing up that he is leaving, but about half way through he is finally out. Bendix actually again is entertaining enough as Smacksie who doesn't have any idea what to do with himself when he finally is not following orders. When Smacksie re-enters the service since he was just stalling not leaving it is not really a change as shown by Bendix. Bendix rather shows that Smacksie really does prefer being in the service than out of it since he really does not know of anything else.

This is not a complex depiction of this soldier, but Bendix does actually invest himself enough in the part that he is as believable in the serious scenes of war, as he is enjoyable in his scenes of humor. This is really a performance just serving a need of the film which is to add humor to the proceedings. Bendix does this effectively enough and deserves credit for doing so. He never is amazing in the part but I would say if someone did need to be recognized for this film, he was a fine choice.


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