Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1954: Peter Lorre in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Peter Lorre did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Conseil in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Peter Lorre despite his long career as an actor was never nominated for an Oscar. Although to be sure he probably was not in consideration for this performance it is still worth looking at. When one refers to playing against type one would usually says a villainous performance from a actor who tends to play heroic performances. Peter Lorre in this film is the opposite case who commonly played monsters villains even apparently commenting that the giant squid in this film had the role that was usually given to him. In this film though Lorre does not play a villain by any means in fact one could easily argue he is the most positive character in the film.

Where James Mason's Nemo is too hell bent on his revenge, Kirk Douglas's Ned Land perhaps is a little to quick to becomes an adversary to Nemo, and Paul Lukas's professor is perhaps just a little too eager to sympathize with Nemo, Conseil for the most part just wants to do what is best for all of three of them who ended up on Nemo's submarine. This is a supporting performance in the most traditional way, in that Conseil is a wholly supportive character. He never has his own personal scenes and he is always very much a sidekick at first of the professor than later Ned's.

Lorre simply is adorable in the role as Conseil and is just a warm very likable presence throughout the film. He might be the least important figure out of the four stars of the film, but he still leaves his own mark on the film in his own way. He is a very nice warm presence and it is really something special within in the film. He lightens things up in the film in just the right way despite never really feeling like an sort of comic relief. Lorre though shows well his under utilized talent of some nice comedic timing here and there in his down to earth reactions to the strange events occurring around. I particularly like when he demands a "fair trial" aboard the submarine.

His two relationships in the film are with the professor and Land. His relationship with the professor is appropriate enough, but he becomes Ned's friend when he sees that the professor is too wowed by Nemo's discoveries for his own good. Lorre and Douglas have excellent comedic chemistry with one another, and their interactions are some of the more enjoyable parts of the film. Whether it is the two of them running from cannibals, the repeated hair tossing gag, or when Douglas lets Lorre do a retribution punch to confirm their friendship they are always a great deal of fun together. Their lighthearted moments really work well, and are effective in the way they properly balance against some of the weightier scenes involving Mason's Nemo.

Lorre here is a quiet charmer with this performance and does well to make Conseil a low key but entertaining part of the film. His moments are small and short in regards to film, but I have to say I liked everything Lorre did in the role. This certainly is far from his more complex performances earlier in his career, but that does not mean this is not a performance worth mentioning. Lorre does his very best in making what could have been a truly throwaway side kick character, but instead makes Conseil a very warm and endearing character in the film. This simply is a treat for any Lorre fan as one can see that he could be just as much of a loveable teddy bear, as he could be a fierce monster.

1 comment:

RatedRStar said...

brilliant review Louis, =D.

what did you make of the giant squids performance lol.

Also I noticed something kinda odd, about Lorre in the 40s, if urve seen him in The Maltese Falcon he looks incredibly thin, yet in Arsenic and Old Lace he looks like hes put about 4 pounds on lol, I didnt recognise him at first lol. Still Lorre is adorable just as u said =)