Thursday, 17 May 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1963: Melvyn Douglas in Hud

Melvyn Douglas won his first Oscar for portraying Homer Bannon in Hud.

Melvyn Douglas after portraying dashing and suave early in his career had a successful second coming, particularly in terms of Oscar success, in his portrayal of wise old men. Melvyn Douglas portrays Homer Bannon an old Fashioned cattle rancher faced with possibly losing his entire head of cattle to a disease. He is the grandfather of Lon (Brandon deWilde) and the father of Lon's Uncle Hud (Paul Newman). The conflict between Homer and Hud and how their influences affect Lon is the main theme of the film. Homer representing the old ways of honesty, against Hud who almost only cares about himself and his own instant gratification.

Douglas is simply terrific in the role and instantly embodies Homer seemingly without effort. Douglas simply is this aged rancher there is not a single doubt of this due to Douglas's performance. He never once let's us question this man, in his face, his way, Douglas shows us a long history of not only this man, but a history of a certain way of life. Douglas as Homer represents his old fashioned way, all while still being a man. He never just becomes a simple symbol he always makes Homer a real man, but still is able to be this embodiment of the old west nevertheless at the same time.

Douglas is incredible in the role the goodness of Homer, and his love of his land, his cattle and his moral way life is always made absolutely clear by Douglas. Even though Homer is a purely good character, Douglas never turns him into a simple man. This goodness that Douglas conveys that is within Homer is wonderfully portrayed by Douglas. It is simple part of Homer than cannot be swayed in any way, Douglas simply makes Homer the great old rancher he should be. Although a usually calm and collected man Douglas brings to life the way Homer feels everything around him brilliantly.

In every scene where Homer sees what seems that everything will be taken from him that he has spent his whole life working for, there is a quiet sadness that Douglas conveys. He never shows Homer to be a man who becomes depressed from a single challenge, but as his problems mount and the fate of his ranch become more and more obvious Douglas shows quietly the sheer weight of these problems as they lie in Homer. Douglas subtly conveys this pain in Homer than prevails through him, and Douglas shows that he is no so concerned over the fact he is losing his livelihood, but rather losing his way of life he has always held dear.

Douglas creates a heartbreaking portrait of this rancher because of how well he internalizes the entire loss of Homer. Douglas never for a moment overplays this but brings it to life flawlessly. His great moment comes in when he watches his whole life's work literally killed in front him. Douglas is face keeps within the man who is Homer and does not show some overblown agony. Douglas rather is far more effective by truly conveying this man's agony as a man like Homer who show it. Homer does not breakdown, but instead he quietly shows the horrible loss he feels through his world worn face in smallest but truly moving expression.

The most pivotal aspect of his performance though is probably his depiction of Homer's relationship with his son Hud. What is amazing about this is they don't exactly hate each other, after all they work with each other, and Hud times shows genuine concern for Homer. Douglas and Newman are incredible by making such a complex relationship between the two. Hud more often attacks the man and his principals rather loudly at times, but most of the time Homer stays silent as Hud stays loud. Douglas though is just as powerful as Newman in Homer's portrayal of his silence. He shows the experience Homer has with Hud, and Douglas always conveys the complete disappointment in his son.

Douglas is far more effectively throughout by almost staying silent in regards to Homer's feelings to Hud. He shows that this problem between the two has gone on long, and therefore his reactions to Hud always with a  great deal of knowing. When he finally does speak directly against Hud it is an exceedingly powerful moment that Douglas built to with the silence marvelously. Homer does not speak out against any of Hud's insults toward him but rather his attempts to influence and in a way corrupt Lon. Douglas is amazing as he shows Homer's convictions against Hud's ways, he shows that for Homer it is not just a personal fight between the two, but one of principals.

This is an absolutely great performance by Melvyn Douglas. He is Homer simply in this performance and creates an incredible, memorable, and heartbreaking portrait of this man. Douglas absolutely does make the film as I find he realizes his side of the old, perhaps even better than Newman realizes the side of new. It is a great portrayal by Douglas there is not a wasted moment in this performance. There is not a single reaction, expression or line that Douglas does not put his absolute most into. This is a flawless portrayal and one of the most deserving Oscar wins period.


Anonymous said...

It's simply an excellent performance.

RatedRStar said...

Easy win, he would be in my top 5 favorite oscar supporting performances ever. Louis how did you manage to find Twlight Of Honor when its such a rare film lol

1.Claude Rains (Notorious)
2.Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
3.Richard Widmark (Kiss Of Death)
4.Melvyn Douglas (Hud)
5.Sir Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago)

Louis Morgan said...

Luckily someone I know happened to record it off TCM when they showed it a few years ago.

Gustavo said...

The second best male supporting performance ever, IMO, after Robert Shaw in JAWS.