Thursday, 4 July 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1938: Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Pat O'Brien in Angels With Dirty Faces, Edward Arnold in You Can't Take It With You, and Results

Basil Rathbone did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

One must really question what the academy is thinking sometimes like in 1938 when they nominated Basil Rathbone for his performance in If I Were King instead of his performance in The Adventures of Robin Hood which was nominated for best picture. Rathbone's performance in If I Were King is a rather strange one playing the scheming King of the film like a kooky old man for some reason. Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood, as the main physical threat to Robin Hood, gives the much stronger performance then in his Oscar nominated turn.

Sir Guy actually is not the most complex of parts, as he is the bad guy who definitely wants to kill Robin Hood, and at least at first wishes to marry the Maid Marian for himself. There technically is not too much more of him so the rest is really left to Rathbone. Firstly Rathbone is the right physical presence for the role. When he fights he has that right menace to seem the appropriate threat to Robin Hood. More than that though Rathbone plays off Errol Flynn well by counteracting the pleasure Flynn shows in his role, with pleasure in Guy when he tries to kill Robin Hood, a different kind of pleasure though a sadistic pleasure.

Past the action scenes though Rathbone handles Guy well particularly in his relationship to Maid Marian. Although at first Rathbone shows an interest in her as more of for a prize more than anything else, but this soon changes to brief frustration then quickly suspicion when Robin Hood seems to be having a little too much help. Rathbone is very good in his portraying the cunning in Guy as he figures out what Marian is doing, and he does well to make Guy more than just the man who Robin constantly gets the upper hand on.

Rathbone plays the straight villain quite well here while leaving Claude Rains to play the much more flamboyant role of King John. Rathbone does well not to try to attempt to one up Rains in any way instead while Rains takes the high road Rathbone takes the low road. He allows Rains to be the villain who just loves being a villain while he acts the far more serious threat who actually attempts to figure out way to kill Robin Hood. Rathbone stands well within the film allowing Flynn and Rains to be the more lively presences, but all the while making his own impact as the real threat in the film.
Pat O'Brien did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Fr. Jerry Connolly in Angels With Dirty Faces.

Pat O'Brien plays the adults of one of two boys who committed small time crimes when they were young. There difference came in that Jerry was able to outrun the police whereas Rocky (James Cagney) was not able to get away. This created their paths in life with Rocky only becoming more hardened in prison, and slowly becoming a man deeper into the life of crime, whereas Jerry took a very different path becoming a priest who only wishes to do good to help his community particularly the neighborhood boys who could either take the right path or fall into crime as Rocky did.

O'Brien actually has a rather similar role to Spencer Tracy's Oscar winning role in Boys Town. O'Brien's performance and the role though are far more complex than Tracy's work though. One of the best parts of Angels with Dirty Faces is the fact that the good priest and the bad criminal are friends in the film. This might not have worked so well but O'Brien and Cagney, who were best friends in real life, have terrific chemistry together. They just have such a natural warmth to one another and both Cagney and O'Brien suggest the past with one another incredibly well, and O'Brien does well to suggest that Jerry does have a certain nostalgia for his days as a juvenile delinquent along with Rocky.

Jerry and Rocky due come into conflict due to Rocky still engaging in criminal activities well Jerry is trying to stop the criminal activity in the neighborhood. O'Brien is excellent in portraying the humble conviction in Jerry as he tries to stop Rocky from corrupting the boys who idolizes him. The reason O'Brien is so effective though is that within his strong passion for his cause he does as well express his friendship with Rocky. O'Brien suggests that to a certain extent that pressing Rocky in this way does pain Jerry. O'Brien is very genuine as he shows that although he hates what Rocky stands for, he cannot ever forget his strong friendship with him.

O'Brien by always being genuine in portraying how he feels about Rocky gives a true power to his character, and never for a moment does he make Jerry seem the least bit sanctimonious. Near the end of the film Jerry asks Rocky to swallow his pride and do something good with his final moments by pretending to yellow before he is executed that way the boys will not look up to Rocky. This is a difficult scene for O'Brien as Jerry is asking Rocky for a lot in what is his final moments. O'Brien though absolutely earns the moment though because O'Brien is able to express the heartbreak in the scene as it is not just anyone he is asking to go out like coward, its his best friend.

O'Brien performance is essential to the film as one could easily be distracted by all the gangster half of the picture, and actually forget about O'Brien part. O'Brien does not allow that instead he and Cagney make the dynamic between the lives of Jerry and Rocky the best part of the picture. O'Brien's Jerry acts as the perfect anchor to Cagney's Rocky, as he takes the high flying action of the mob dealings and takes it down with the true weight of what those actions bring. The very best moment of O'Brien's performance comes at the end when he asks to boys to pray for the boy who could not run as fast he could. O'Brien gives the line the true poignancy it deserves and makes the conclusion of the film truly heartbreaking.
Edward Arnold did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Anthony P. Kirby in You Can't Take it With You.

You Can't Take it With You is a nicely handled film by Frank Capra about the clash between a family of free spirits the Vanderhoffs and a rich stuffy family.

Edward Arnold plays the head of the rich family who is on the verge of a take over. Arnold is a bit of an underrated character actor of the period who often plays rich and powerful types. Arnold when given the opportunity could do more with his roles than just be commanding in his presence, even though he could be commanding with ease to. At the beginning of this film he plays mostly the rich man who does not seem to care too much about anything other than making more money even if that means walking over his colleagues or demolishing peoples homes if they interfere with his plans.

Arnold is always good at being the rich Scrooge type with his strong forceful personality. Where many actors might have been just only been the rich man, Arnold does bring some nice bits of humanity in the part. Importantly they are short rather subtle moments so no one would think he isn't a ruthless business man, but Arnold does bring these short little moments to establish that there is another man in there trying to get out. These short reactions are very well handled by Arnold such as when shows that Kirby does enjoy some of the antics of Vanderhoff family while his wife is completely appalled by their behavior.

Where every other character in the film is pretty much set in their various roles, Arnold has the one role that changes throughout the course of the film. The change is played out in Arnold's performance in an almost exclusively silent fashion. Arnold therefore has to carry most it himself and he does not disappoint in this regard. He conveys the internal struggle in Kirby in brief little moments that are very well handled. He shows so much in just the way Kirby looks as the harmonic he got from the Vanderhoff's home, and he expresses just how much Kirby honestly wishes to break out of his life.

When Kirby does have its turn around it not only is moving, but it is as well entirely believable because Arnold plants the seeds of the change earlier in the film. Arnold carefully does not go to far with the moments beforehand and does make Kirby the hard shell he should be as well. He earns this change in Kirby, and enables to to have the impact on the film it should. He is the one that makes the very last scene as heartwarming as it is because he only ever portrayed an honest transition from a man who only cares about money to a man who wants to enjoy life for all that it's worth.
Other Performances:
Claude Rains in The Adventures of Robin Hood- As I said in Rathbone review Rains gives the flamboyant villain turn in the film, and actually gives the performance Rathbone should have given in If I Were King. Rains is no stranger in playing evil characters, and Rains usually finds a one to make one evil baddie at least a little different from another. As Prince John Rains plays him as a man who was always a spoiled brat. He does this rather well and is quite good in showing his tyrannical behavior mostly comes from childlike selfish sensibility. Rains is very good in taking the limited role and making entertaining by adding this little eccentricity. It also adds much more to his character by showing why exactly Prince John would act the way he does. Prince John could have been a one note jerk. Rains does more than that though by playing him as a fancy boy, and giving a fairly entertaining performance.
Lew Ayres in Holiday- Lew Ayres plays Katherine Hepburn's brother Ned who is both a musician and a drunkard. Ayers basically does two things in this role saying cynical lines that refute his father's view of the world or cynical lines that support Cary Grant's character's views. Ayres does this rather well actually as always the somber, but not sober source of wisdom. There is not a whole lot for him to do, and unfortunately he doesn't really get to get on the more comedic moments of the film. He does fulfill his part of the story rather well though.
Overall Rank:
  1. Pat O'Brien in Angels With Dirty Faces
  2. Edward Arnold in You Can't Take It With You
  3. Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood
  4. Claude Rains in The Adventures of Robin Hood
  5. Walter Brennan in Kentucky
  6. James Stewart in You Can't Take It With You 
  7. Robert Morley in Marie Antoinette
  8. Lew Ayres in Holiday
  9. Ralph Richardson in The Citadel 
  10. Paul Lukas in The Lady Vanishes
  11. Humphrey Bogart in Angels With Dirty Faces
  12. Ralph Richardson in The Divorce of Lady X
  13. Basil Radford in The Lady Vanishes
  14. Gene Lockhart in A Christman Carol
  15. Naunton Wayne in The Lady Vanishes
  16. Wilfrid Lawson in Pygmalion
  17. Billy Halop in Angels With Dirty Faces
  18. Harry Davenport in You Can't Take It With You
  19. Fernard Ledoux in The Human Beast
  20. Joseph Schildkraut in Marie Antoinette
  21. Edward Everette Horton in Holiday
  22. Walter Catlett in Bringing Up Baby
  23. James Finlayson in Block-Heads
  24. Cecil Parker in The Lady Vanishes 
  25. Rex Harrison in The Citadel
  26. Claude Rains in Four Daughters
  27. Cecil Parker in The Citadel
  28. Billy Gilbert in Block-Heads
  29. Leo Gorcey in Angels With Dirty Faces
  30. Eugene Palette in The Adventures of Robin Hood
  31. Misha Auer in You Can't Take It With You
  32. Nikolay Okhlopkov in Alexander Nevsky
  33. Charles Ruggles in Bringing Up Baby
  34. George Bancroft in Angels With Dirty Faces 
  35. Barry Fitzgerald in Bringing Up Baby
  36. Andrei Abrikosov in Alexander Nevsky
  37. Joseph Calleia in Algiers
  38. Ian Hunter in The Adventures of Robin Hood
  39. Frank McHugh in Four Daughters
  40. Gene Lockhart in Algiers
  41. Donald Meek in You Can't Take It With You
  42. Herbert Mundin in The Adventures of Robin Hood
  43. Samuel S. Hinds in You Can't Take It With You
  44. Leo G. Carroll in A Christmas Carol
  45. Melville Cooper in The  Adventures of Robin Hood
  46. Henry Kolker in Holiday
  47. John Garfield in Four Daughters 
  48. Tyrone Power in Marie Antoinette
  49. Barry MacKay in A Christmas Carol
  50. John Barrymore in Marie Antoinette
  51. Basil Rathbone in If I Were King
  52. Terry Kilburn in A Christmas Carol
Next Year: 1994 lead

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hm I would say

Johnny Depp- Ed Wood
Tim Robbins- Shawshank Redemption
Ralph Fiennes- Quiz Show

Anonymous said...

Suggestions:
Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption
Johnny Depp in Ed Wood
Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show
Gary Oldman in Immortal Beloved
Kevin Spacey in Swimming With Sharks

Anonymous said...

Can I also add:
Jean-Louis Trintignant Three Colours: Red

Terence Stamp The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Kevin Spacey-Swimming with Sharks

Fisti said...

I have O'Brien in Lead, since I consider him a co-lead with Cagney. He's sensational and, in my humble opinion, the better of the pair.

RatedRStar said...

Tony Leung Chiu Wai - Chungking Express (was one of my winning requests)
Tim Robbins - The Shawshank Redemption
Terence Stamp - The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
Johnny Depp - Ed Wood
Ralph Fiennes - Quiz Show

Michael Patison said...

Happy 4th of July (American Independence Day) to all of my fellow Americans out there.

For 1994 Lead:
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in Chungkin Express
Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption
Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Johnny Depp in Ed Wood
Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral
Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show
John Cusack in Bullets Over Broadway
Jean Reno in Léon: The Professional
Hugo Weaving in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (not really sure whether he's lead or supporting)
Albert Finney in The Browning Version
Ben Kingsley in Death and the Maiden
Linus Roache in Priest
Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers
Michael Keaton in The Paper
Ian McKellen in Richard III
Hugh Grant in Sirens
Albert Finney in A Man of No Importance
Ge You in To Live
William H. Macy in Oleanna
Gary Oldman in Immortal Beloved
Sihung Lung in Eat Drink Man Woman
Tommy Lee Jones in The Client
Nikita Mikhalkov in Burnt by the Sun

Paoloduncan said...

Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption
Johnny Depp in Ed Wood
Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show
Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral
Zbigniew Zamachowski in Three Colours: White

Fritz said...

I love Lew in Holiday, easily my pick.