Paul Muni did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite apparently receiving the second most votes due to write ins, for portraying Joe Radek in Black Fury.
Paul Muni plays Joe Radek a miner who is rather a simpleton who ends up being used by a false member of the Union to encourage the Union to become divided. Paul Muni is not a favorite actor of mine and the reason I chose to review him here is due to the fact that he came second to Victor McLaglen in votes for the leading Oscar win. Muni once again proves himself to be the overacting sort by doing a big broad accent for the role. Now this alone would not be so bad but for most of the film he just basically yells every line seemingly to suggest the stupidity of the character, but he frankly takes it a bit far so his portrayal is rather dull.
Muni pretty much stays on the same note except occasionally he does what bothers me so much about Paul Muni as an actor which is actually act well. Muni troubles me because there is a good actor there waiting to get out yet my experience with him as an actor has suggested he only rarely allows this good actor come out for a whole performance. In this case the good actor comes out just a few times mostly in just short silent reactions such as in a scene where Joe hears that his girlfriend has left him. In that scene Muni is pretty good suggesting the internal heartbreak in his character without going on and on about it like he does in almost every other scene in the film.
Muni has a short moment here or there of strength that really brings out the emotions of the scenes through the use of subtly but for the most part he just hams it up to an unnecessary extent. Muni is indeed playing a character who is suppose to be stupid, but if that was the main feature Muni was aiming for he honestly overdoes even that. Muni again shows that if he showed some restraint in his performance that he could have given a good performance on a whole, but as it is his overacting comes off as annoying after awhile. More than anything else it seems like Muni just needed a director to reign in his performance, but that is not the case here.