Nick Adams received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Ben Brown in Twilight of Honor.
Twilight of Honor is about a young defense attorney (Richard Chamberlain) defending a man accused of murdering a man considered to be a great man.
Twilight of Honor is a not so cheap rip off of Anatomy of a Murder. It is about the defense of a murderer, that really is not trying to prove the man innocent but rather trying merely to show that the victim was not all that much of a victim instead. The only problem is the film is no Anatomy of a Murder. The court rooms do not have the same showmanship and power. The story does not have the same interesting degree of moral ambiguity as that earlier film did due to the fact this film shows the earlier events unlike Anatomy of A Murder.
Most important though is Chamberlain is no James Stewart as an inexperienced defense attorney, James Gregory is no George C. Scott as the prosecutor, Joey Heatherton is no Lee Remick as the the not particularly trustworthy wife of the accused, Claude Rains is not Arthur O'Con... oh wait actually Rains is quite good, though underused, in this as the older mentor with an ailment, but even though he was indeed nominated for an Oscar for his performance Nick Adams is also no Ben Gazzara as the accused.
It is interesting that many people were gunning for that Oscar this year as Bobby Darin was supposedly quite upset about losing, and Adams supposedly also spent quite a bit of money on a campaign to win as well. I think both probably should have seen Hud, and Adams could have saved his money. Adams portrays the accused murderer rather simply, maybe a little too simply for the part, where is Ben Gazzara in the similar role had a certain complexity in the role in which you never quite knew was going on in the mind of his character.
Adams actually for the most part in the trial scenes just attempts to show that his character is one confused man unable to understand the fallout surrounding the crime he is accused of, and unable to deal with his own wife's unfaithfulness, and the town's want for his death. He is pretty much just confused and pathetic here as Ben Brown, which actually does fit the part. He does allow us to sympathize him within his difficult his situation, and he as well does bring to life his inability to understand how he has come to his situation.
Adams shows a very very different man though in his scenes before he became accused of murder with his own life on the line. Adams plays his part very differently as a strange loner of sorts, James Deanish in a way actually. Although a more violent loner. He still is many ways an unassuming character at times, but he tries to bring a more threatening quality to his performance here that just does not meld as well with the rest of his performance during the trial.
I suppose his character is in a vastly different situation than before, but the transition change is not well established, and the difference in his performance may be just a little too great. It is not made entirely convincing that the potinetially violent loner is the same as the very confused and pathetic man accused of murder. I will say his trial scenes are effective enough that this is not a bad performance, the scenes set before the trial though could have great, but Adams never fulfills their potential.