Friday, 15 March 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1949: Claude Rains in The Passionate Friends

Claude Rains did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Howard Justin in The Passionate Friends.

The Passionate Friends is a film that, despite its well worn love triangle story for its basis, does manage to have a few surprises up its sleeve. The most notable being Howard Justin and Claude Rains's portrayal of the character. In this film Claude Rains portrays the husband of Mary (Ann Todd) who refused to marry her true love Steven (Trevor Howard) despite the fact she still holds strong feelings for him. Rains brilliantly portrayed the unlucky part of a triangle similar to this in Notorious. There is a considerable difference though in this case, one being he is not playing an evil Nazi, the other being the way things turn out by the end of the film.

The forgotten husband can sometimes be a thankless part, but Claude Rains knows exactly how to handle this type of thankless part by instead turning such a role into the best part of the film. Early on in the film we see Howard and Mary together. Their chemistry is of course not all like Mary's and Steven's. Rains though importantly shows that Howard very much does care for his wife in an understated but still very affectionate fashion. Although their marriage may have been of convenience at one time Rains portrays an appropriate earnestness in Howard that supports the idea that Howard very much likes being married to wife despite how they may have started off their marriage initially.

A big part of his performance of course comes in his suspicions that Mary and Steven may start their relationship anew. Rains near the beginning has a quick moment where he describes Steven as an enemy before changing to saying he was a friend. Rains is excellent in just this short moment from early in the film because of the playfulness he puts in the statement. Rains shows that there is indeed a concern, but more importantly than anything since Howard is just a normal man he tries to act as appropriately about the situation at first as possible. So Rains properly portrays Howard as basically just trying to laugh off his suspicious.

Of course Howard's suspicions stop being a laughing matter quickly as the signs appear quite quickly that it is a very serious problems. Rains is very effective in his reactionary moments where he notices one particular lie that Mary has told him and Rains carries a great emotional power similar to that found in his performance in Notorious. Of course in this case Rains does not portray it as a defeat as he did so in Notorious as Howard is not nearly as much of defeatist, instead he conveys the heartbreak in Howard properly but behind it a stern resolution to do something about it directly.Rains pretty much steals the entire film once Howard resolves to not put up with being brushed off so easily.

Rains is terrific in all of the scenes where he directly confronts either Steven or Mary over the affair. Rains is excellent in portraying the intensity of Howard's disgust in the way they have been trying to deceive him. He has this great distaste which Rains brings across quite effectively because he does not portray at all like villain, but instead really a righteous man. Rains is so great here because he portrays Howard's disgust not of hate but that of disappointment and sadness over his wife's behavior. The scene where he basically says he never wants to see his wife again. Rains is absolutely heartbreaking because he is able to bring out the conflicting emotions of anger and the love he does hold underneath so beautifully. 

This is such a brilliant performance by Rains that I ended up caring more about Howard then Steven and Mary despite being the sort of character that usually gets the short end of the stick in films like this. This film is different though and Rains makes the most of it especially in his last scene where he both saves Mary's life and offers reconciliation. Rains is terrific in just how much tenderness he brings out in Howard as he shows his forgiveness to only be entirely genuine through the warmth he expresses so well in his performance. Its a very moving scene due to Rains's sympathetic portrayal, and this is particularly interesting to watch considering his knack for playing villains. This is a outstanding performance from the great Rains, and I must say I quite enjoyed seeing Rains get the girl for once.


RatedRStar said...

oh my god I didnt expect a five lol and im well a bit of a fan of Mr Rains as most people know =D.

I still get upset knowing that he never won an oscar, is that normal or are others on this blog like that, when there favorite actor or summat never wins an oscar when they should have =(

Louis Morgan said...

Well I obviously thought all of his Oscar nominated performances were good to great, but him not winning does not annoy me as much as it could simply because Charles Coburn, Barry Fitzgerald, Harold Russell, and Thomas Mitchell all gave great performances too.

Peter O'Toole losing for Becket in favor of Rex Harrison, and losing for The Lion in Winter for Cliff Robertson is a much more vexing for me.

RatedRStar said...

oh and Michael Fassbender too, I dont no why but I just dont ever see him winning one for sum reason, same with Leonardo DiCaprio who im certain is obsessed with winning one, every time Leo loses an award he always looks so upset lol.

To be fair at least O Toole got some golden globes and an honorary =D O Toole always looked quite upset when he lost, especially when he lost for Venus.

RatedRStar said...

why do all these stupid things keep popping up lol.

Michael Patison said...

Though I don't think he's necessarily the best actor ever, my favorite actor at the moment is Paul Newman. Obviously I'm happy that he won an Oscar, but even then I'd be happier if he had one it for something he deserved it more for. He could've won for any one of his other nominated performances and he would've been more deserving, though I might still have a similar opinion if the victory had ended up being for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Nobody's Fool. I pretty much agree with all of the ratings Louis gave him, though I would give him 5s for both Hud and Cool Hand Luke. For me, Newman would have been immensely deserving in 1961, 1963, 1967, and 1982.

RatedRStar said...

I think Newman is up there Michael =D, he certainly would be in a top 20 best actor list, especially since he has a really good track record with good performances.

I feel sorry for Newman of course, I think James Woods or Bob Hoskins should have taken the oscar for 86 over Newman.

I think Louis oscar choices are obviously way better, and fairer than the oscars in real life =D.

I mean like, Richard Burton got 7 nominations and never won, I always think now, Richard Burton won twice =D for Spy and Virginia, same with the rest of the actors on the blog.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Best Actor who ever lived... Honestly, I don't know who I'd say. I have current favorites, like Sam Rockwell and Brad Pitt, but there hasn't been enough time to call them the greatest. I do know that the performance that I would consider the greatest I've ever seen was Martin Landau in Ed Wood.

RatedRStar said...

I loved Landau in Ed Wood and thought he was a worthy number 1 in the rankings, of course im biased towards Claude Rains which is probably why I wont ever do an oscar blog myself (ill be too aggressive and biased lol)