Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1984: Jeffrey Jones in Amadeus

Jeffrey Jones did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Emperor Joseph II. 

One thing I have to say before I get on with my review is my annoyance in the way the director's cut of the film is used as the preferred cut by distributors. The film is a masterpiece as the theatrical cut, the director's cut adds nothing to the film, and at times very much hurts the perfect pace found in the Best Picture winning original cut.

Anyway with that out of the way onto Jeffrey Jones as the Emperor of Vienna Joseph II considered the musical King who wishes Mozart (Tom Hulce) to become part of his court, even though many of the other musical officials of Vienna dislike Mozart including the jealous Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) the official court composer for the Emperor. Amadeus is a film really with many enjoyable smaller roles filled well by various character actors, but Jones perhaps does the most with his part as the Emperor. His role is not a big one but important to the film.

Jones plays the Emperor as not a man of great power, or necessarily even a man of great substance. Jones finds a very particular way of portraying the Emperor as a bit of a doofus, well at least when it comes with the official musical dealings of the court. Jones is quite good though because he puts a great deal of wit into his portrayal that really could have been far more of an over the top idiot, but instead Jones finds just the right tone in which to play the part.The most important part of this is by taking this approach to the part he frankly is far funnier.

It is an entertaining performance particularly in his short little moments of showing the Emperor's ineptitude like when he struggles to think of a word to describe how he felt about Mozart's first opera for him, and merely takes to heart the suggestion of one of his underlings. Importantly though Jones does not overplay the stupidity of the Emperor, as there are other times where he believably shows himself to at least be a leader of some sort. In the way he carries himself, and addresses others he does suggest the right undercurrent of power in the man, but as well as a certain welcoming quality within in.

Jones finds a way to play the Emperor as he should be by supplying both laughs in displaying the Emperor's lack of musical knowledge, but as well that this man is an Emperor after all. He is particularly very good in the scene where Mozart pleads his case to be able to put on the Barber of Seville. He does well in conveying a genuine interest in the artists endeavor, but as well just the right power in his oppositions. As the Emperor states his own case Jones is convincing in that he is not opposed because he is stupid, but rather it does stem from a genuine concern as the leader of his people. This is not an especially complex part, but Jones handles it just right and adds quite a bit of joy to his film.


Michael Patison said...

Having seen this on DVD after the Director's Cut became preferred, I've only ever seen this as the Director's Cut, so I don't really know how it compares in pacing, but I must say that I never really find any part of it lagging at all, at least to any greater extent than a 3 hour movie normally lags (i.e. a long time to sit still). As I already said, I don't know anything about the theatrical release, but whenever I watch the DC, I try to look for where it might have been cut down by 20 minutes to the original release length and I can't really do it. Which scenes in the DC weren't in the theatrical cut?

Louis Morgan said...

Some little smaller bits that makes scene run smoother. The whole nude scene with Mozart's wife. As well as all the scenes with the man with the dogs.

Michael Patison said...

Okay I agree. The dog scene is stupid and the nude scene (I'm assuming the one with Salieri unless I'm forgetting one) is pretty unnecessary on the whole.

Now that I know who was in it originally:
I love Elizabeth Berridge and she's my overall Supporting Actress winner for the year. I also really enjoyed Richard Frank's reactionary performance as the priest. The emperor's chief musical advisors were also very enjoyable and their chemistry was excellent, I thought. I liked Simon Callow's part, though he maybe could have done more with it, though the script didn't really allow for it. Roy Dotrice was also appropriately menacing as Leopold Mozart while also showing the appropriate fatherly worry.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I hate it when you can't find the better cut of a movie. It took me for-freaking-ever to find the thearetical cut of the original Star Wars, and the quality was shit. Granted, some director's cuts are considered better than the original release, like Once Upon a Time in America, or Pat Garret and billy the Kid.

mrripley said...

I think it gives Berridge more scenes why she was not nommed is still beyond me,din't car for Jones.