Saturday, 29 June 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1952: Barry Fitzgerald in The Quiet Man and Results

Barry Fitzgerald did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Michaeleen Oge Flynn in The Quiet Man.

I would choose Victor McLaglen as Will Danaher out of the official Oscar nominees for 1952, but actually his performance is not even my favorite performance from this film. The Quiet Man has a strong supporting cast with one of Ford's old favorites Ward Bond giving a very enjoyable performance as the Irish villages priest, as well as Arthur Shields, Barry Fitzgerald's brother, gives a nice warm performance as the one man who knows Sean Thornton's (John Wanye) secret, and all just the small bit parts are nicely chosen in a way in which they create a very unique atmosphere. Then there is Barry Fitzgerald who plays Michaeleen Flynn who is the town's carriage driver, the match maker, and the bookie.

This is actually quite a different performance from Fitzgerald's Oscar winning performance in Going My Way, which was actually fairly understated work as a modest man. Michaeleen is many things, but one thing he is not is modest. Fitzgerald plays the scene stealing performance of the film and knows that fact. I have to say that this actually could have been easily one of those parts that is a little too much, and a little too lively of a character for his own good, but that is not the case because of Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is an extremely endearing presence and he has such a wonderful charm with his rather particular accent as well as just his whole manner in this performance.

Fitzgerald makes Michaeleen the little man who always stands out as well as stands in everyone's business, and Fitzgerald is a great deal of fun as Michaeleen tries to orchestrate the marriage for Sean and Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara) despite the strong objections of her brother. One Fitzgerald's best moments is when he convinces Will Danaher that getting ride of his sister will allow himself to get a wife is perfectly played. Fitzgerald is so gentle in slyness yet has a the right impact to make completely believable that Michaeleen would be able to pull the trick over on Danaher without a hitch to his plan.

Fitzgerald adds so much with his performance, and one of these reasons for this is he has a great dynamic with John Wayne. Where Wayne often is The Quiet Man, Fitzgerald often is not. They both react to one another in a marvelous fashion, and Fitzgerald has some marvelous moments when Michaeleen gently and often in a comedic fashion will correct or inform Sean about something about Ireland. Fitzgerald combines some nice jabs at the Yank as they refer to Sean as, but alone with that Fitzgerald is always very welcoming in his performance showing a genuine friendship as well.

Fitzgerald is excellent in meeting the tone of the film as well as in part creating that tone with his performance. The tone being that it is mostly a comedy, but a comedy that allows some seriousness. Fitzgerald maneuvers this possibly the most as he will go from being entirely amusing to conveying some drama in a single scene. The reason is works in Fitzgerald's performance is he never overplays the comedy even though he is very funny throughout the film. By not overdoing it though and important not becoming just a caricature, when Michaeleen does express some honest grief over the mess that he in part has created Fitzgerald does make it honestly moving without compromising his character.

This is all around just a great example of what a supporting performance should do. Fitzgerald whether it is through just a quick momentary reaction to something like his brilliant one for when Thornton knocks out Danaher, or something more when tells the whole crowd stand neutral for the big fight between Thornton and Danaher he always makes these moments to be properly humorous all the while still making this all fit into the story beautifully. Fitzgerald makes every scene all the better with his terrific work here that creates just a very likable character from Michaeleen Flynn which complements the whole film in simply a wonderful fashion.
Other Performances From This Year:
James Stewart in The Greatest Show On Earth- Stewart has actually a very bizarre role as a clown who never takes off his makeup and the reason is that he actually hiding from the police as he use to be doctor who had to run from the law because he euthanized is wife. Really Stewart's whole story is quite odd in the schemes of things of the film that is pretty light weight otherwise. Stewart though does sell his performance nevertheless and is easily the best part of this otherwise weak film. He is quite good suggesting the underlying secret in his character quite well throughout the film, while seeming just to be a supportive friend the rest of the time. Stewart's performance makes his character seem less pointless because his performance is entirely solid, although his impact is diminished a bit I must say when all the other characters seem to forget that he existed after Buttons is taken away at the end.
Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain- I have to confess I do not really care much for Singin in the Rain. I don't mind that people enjoy it, but I personally don't really like this kind of musical. It also does not help matters that I've never cared for Gene Kelly doing his Gene Kelly thing. O'Connor's performance as Kelly's character's friend Cosmo Brown is very much like Kelly's except his character never has any "dramatic" moments and is most just there to brighten things up. I will definitely give O'Connor credit he does everything to brighten things up, and his seemingly infinite energy particularly the Make Em Laugh number where he is literally running up the walls. He contorts his face, sings gleefully, jumps up and down and all around in this performance. The only problem was this performance just does not entertain me personally, and I can see he definitely is trying very hard to, and I can at least see why people love this performance even if I don't.

Arthur Kennedy in Bend of the River- Arthur Kennedy plays Emerson Cole a mysterious man whose James Stewart's character comes across just before he is about the be hanged. Kennedy actually is pretty good in the role early on having a certain likability even while his character seems like he might be just a little too good with his knife and gun. He finds the right tone for his character early on as he balances that efficiency with killing along with a certain friendly attitude. This goes away unfortunately in the third act of the film when Cole goes full villain is not the highlight of his performance but in fact the low point. He becomes just kind of one note and everything he built on earlier is completely forgotten about. Kennedy overall does give a decent performance but it is a missed opportunity because of the last third.

Toshiro Mifune in The Life of Oharu- This is a rather different character for Mifune. One big difference is it a small supporting part, his part in the Idiot was rather large in comparison, and Mifune exists the picture only twenty five minutes in. This character is also very different in that Mifune plays a meek character. Even when he played the doctor in The Quiet Duel he might have been quiet but he still had a strong will. In this film though Mifune plays a page named Katsunosuke who has an affair with a higher class prostitute and is executed after the affair is discovered. This is a short simple character, but I will give Mifune the credit he deserves for trying to get the most from the character as well as being believable as the page. For once Mifune actually is pretty meek and not all that distinct of a personality here, but doesn't just slip into the background either. Mifune in short screen time does manage to show us a foolish romantic and shows him to basically plead with woman Oharu to have an affair. Mifune although meek makes it believable because he is only genuine in these pleads. Quickly he is caught and executed, but Mifune still has a strong scene as Katsunosuke expresses grief not for himself, but rather the unloved Oharu. He is believable in this selflessness of character, and finds the right power in the man's last action. This obviously is not up there with Mifune's lead performances, but this is a good performance from him nevertheless.
Overall Rank:
  1. Barry Fitzgerald in The Quiet Man
  2. Victor McLaglen in The Quiet Man
  3. Anthony Quinn in Viva Zapata!
  4. James Stewart in The Greatest Show on Earth
  5. Toshiro Mifune in The Life of Oharu
  6. Arthur Shields in The Quiet Man
  7. Ward Bond in The Quiet Man
  8. Yūnosuke Itō in Ikiru
  9. Arthur Hunnicutt in The Big Sky
  10. Jack MacGowran in The Quiet Man 
  11. Arthur Kennedy in Bend of the River
  12. Buster Keaton in Limelight 
  13. Eddie Albert in Carrie
  14. Donald O'Connor in Singin' in The Rain
  15. Harou Tanaka in Ikiru
  16. Sean McClory in The Quiet Man
  17. Nigel Bruce in Limelight
  18. Miles Malleson in The Importance of Being Earnest
  19. Shinichi Himori in Ikiru
  20. Charles FitzSimons in The Quiet Man 
  21. Francis Ford in The Quiet Man
  22. Herbert Marshall in Angel Face
  23. Lloyd Bridges in High Noon
  24. Michael Rennie in 5 Fingers
  25. Jim Backus in Angel Face
  26. Leo G. Carroll in The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  27. Leon Ames in Angel Face
  28. Henry Morgan in Bend of the River
  29. James FitzSimons in The Quiet Man
  30. Thomas Mitchell in High Noon 
  31. Joseph Wiseman in Viva Zapata!
  32. Dick Powell in The Bad and the Beautiful
  33. Henry Morgan in High Noon
  34. Gilbert Roland in The Bad and the Beautiful
  35. Jay C. Flippen in Bend of the River
  36. Lon Chaney in High Noon
  37. Ichiro Sugai in The Life of Oharu
  38. Barry Sullivan in The Bad and the Beautiful
  39. Walter Pidgeon in The Bad and the Beautiful
  40. Ray Teal in Carrie
  41. Alan Reed in Viva Zapata!
  42. Walter Hampden in 5 Fingers
  43. Rock Hudson in Bend of the River
  44. Jukichi Uno in The Life of Oharu
  45. Otto Kruger in High Noon
  46. Bobby Watson in Singin' in The Rain
  47. Richard Jaeckel in Come Back, Little Sheba
  48. Millard Mitchell in Singin' in The Rain
  49. Steven Geray in The Big Sky
  50. Lawrence Tierney in The Greatest Show on Earth
  51. Douglas Fowley in Singin' in The Rain
  52. Jim Davis in The Big Sky
  53. Lyle Bettger in The Greatest Show on Earth
Next Year: 1938 Lead


RatedRStar said...

Errol Flynn - The Adventures Of Robin Hood
James Stewart - You Cant Take It With You
Claude Rains - White Banners
Cary Grant - Bringing Up Baby
Michael Redgrave - The Lady Vanishes

Anonymous said...

Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood
Reginald Owen in A Christmas Carol
James Stewart in You Can't Take It With You
Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby

Michael Patison said...

Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood
Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby
Michael Redgrave in The Lady Vanishes
Mickey Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy
James Stewart in You Can't Take It with You

Michael Patison said...

Oh my God! And Nikolai Cherkasov in Alexander Nevsky. You absolutely HAVE to review him.

Fritz said...

I would prefer Cary Grant in Holiday. I know that Bringing up Baby is the bigger classic but I think Hepburn and Grant had bigger challenges in Holiday...

Michael Patison said...

Some other performances might be:
Clark Gable in Test Pilot
Errol Flynn in The Dawn Patrol
Jean Gabin in La Bête humaine
Edward G. Robinson in The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
Laurence Olivier in The Divorce of Lady X
Cary Grant in Holiday
James Stewart in Of Human Hearts
Jean Gabin in Port of Shadows
Charles Laughton in Sidewalks of London
Emlyn Williams in They Drive by Night
Claude Rains in White Banners
Lew Ayres in The Young Dr. Kildare

I chose not to put any of Tyrone Power's performances as he's almost always so wooden. If you want to go there though there's Alexander's Ragtime Band as well as some others.

JamDenTel said...

Flynn and Grant are good; depending on whether you consider GRAND ILLUSION a 1937 or 38 film, Jean Gabin would be a good choice (or take his performance this year from LA BETE HUMAINE).

Cherkassov is a solid pick, but I think his IVAN THE TERRIBLE performance is more memorable.

1938 just wasn't that great of a year.

RatedRStar said...

I always think that 1938 was like an introduction to the legendary 1939 set of films, since I think the only two films of 1938 I really enjoyed were Angels With Dirty Faces and Adventures Of Robin Hood

I also think that James Cagney will remain the 1938 overall winner since that's probably his best performance I think.

RatedRStar said...

ye actually I wanna ask you Louis, what made you change your mind on Cagney giving him the win over Donat =D.

Michael Patison said...

The only reason I didn't say Gabin Grand Illusion was because Louis would consider that a 1937 film. As such, I will recommend it incredibly highly as something for him to watch to add to the year's overall ranking.

Michael Patison said...

Also, same here, RatedRStar. I thought YCTIWY is only reasonably enjoyable. I too think AwDF and AoRH are the two best from this year, at least from what I've seen

RatedRStar said...

=D its a disgrace that Spencer Tracy was given two Oscars for doing F all, I wonder how he managed to beat Cagney, Donat, Boyer and Howard for this one, there must have been some sort of ass kissing or bribe lol.

Michael Patison said...

Has anybody seen Fury? I'm interested to see how much better Tracy is in that than he is elsewhere

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: Cagney and Donat were very close to begin with but the scene that stayed with me between the two of them was Cagney's "turning yellow" scene.

Also I think Tracy probably won due to many things. One I think is probably to show some support to Boys Town the actual institution, the other being he was an American, an American who was not playing a violent mobster. I do think Donat probably was very close though, and I think his lost here probably guaranteed him the win the following year.