Friday, 9 August 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1950: Toshiro Mifune in Scandal

Toshiro Mifune did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ichiro Aoye in Scandal.

Scandal is lesser Kurosawa about the fallout after a tabloid reports an untrue affair between a singer and a painter. I say lesser Kurosawa as it is not up there with his best work by any means, but with that said I still thought it was pretty good.

Toshiro Mifune actually plays almost against type here as the semi-famous painter who accidentally finds himself in a scandal. The reason I say against type is that Ichiro Aoye is just pretty much a normal decent kind of guy which is a rarity for Mifune to play as even in the Quiet Duel and High and Low the man had to deal with some very serious problems. Here he has to deal with a problem but it definitively is not nearly as serious in nature. It is also a rarity in that Mifune plays the wiser and smarter character and Takashi Shimura plays the foolish character which is usually the exact opposite when they are both cast as the leads to a Kurosawa film.

Mifune actually kind of has a role someone like James Stewart or Henry Fonda might take in that his character is always in the right throughout the whole film. It is interesting to see Mifune in this type of role particularly since he makes quite a few adjustments when playing the part of Ichiro the painter. Mifune seems to almost soften his face of the edge that it usually carries in his portrayal of the honest man, who only wants to take down the tabloid due to its dishonesty. Mifune doesn't really have of his trademark style here as he goes about just kind of playing Ichiro like a bit of an every man who just wants to make sure that everyone does the right thing.

I have to say I quite enjoyed Mifune take on such a lighter role when compared to the usual characters he plays since he handles the role quite well. This is pretty much just a role for Mifune to show off his charm which he definitely has plenty of even in the more traditional sense. He also gets to be just a gentle warm character pretty much throughout, and again Mifune can be surprisingly heartwarming too. It might seem a little out of place for Mifune to drive a motorcycle with a Christmas tree while "Jingle Bells" plays and proclaiming that he is Santa Clause but Mifune pulls it off quite naturally and has just a genuine sweetness throughout this film.

He is in the vein of James Stewart sort of role as well though because he also has to be the passionate voice of reason and justice during the film. Mifune handles this with his always strong presence which Mifune adjusts effectively here to really take it back in the right way to put it in a fairly normal man, but a man who does have a strong conviction to do what is right. Mifune is very good in portraying just the quiet strength of Ichiro as he confronts the unscrupulous editor of the tabloid magazine and as well one particularly great moment near the end of the film where he pleads his case in front of the court.

Mifune is terrific in the scene through just finding the simple power in Ichiro stance which merely is pleading to the jury that he is not a man who would lie. Mifune is also very good in being the support to the amoral lawyer played by Shimura who is trying to change his ways. Mifune is very unassuming in these scenes but he brings just a strong assertion of Ichiro's own sense of morality and makes it believable that Ichiro would be able to help the lawyer find the right path for himself in the end. Mifune is always righteous in an honest fashion in this performance there is not even a moment of sanctimony, but what would you expect from Mifune considering the type of characters he usually takes on.

This might not be Toshiro Mifune's greatest work in fact it is far from it, but since this is Toshiro Mifune I'm talking about that really is not saying anything against this performance. This is a lighter simpler turn from what we usually see from Mifune collaboration with Akira Kurosawa. It still is a good performance from the great actor and suggests that he could have just as easily been a more traditional leading man (although I am certainly glad Mifune did not go this route with his career) evidenced by his assured and very charming performance which stands as just another example of what Mifune was capable of.


RatedRStar said...

my predictions have been pretty bad these last couple of months lol haha, its been ages since I last got it correct.

RatedRStar said...

Louis can I ask you something slightly off topic, is there actually a great performance anywhere that Arthur Kennedy has given, I mean there must be somewhere out there lol otherwise how is it possible to get 5 Oscar nominations lol cause he looks like an actor who could give a great performance.

Michael Patison said...

That's an interesting question and notion, RatedRStar, and I'd be very interested to hear. Considering how even generally mediocre to poor actors (i.e. Jack Black or Adam Sandler or F. Murray Abraham) often have given/give a fantastic performance during their career, it stands to reason that an actor with 5 Oscar noms (no matter how mediocre those performances actually are) would have given at least one fantastic performance.

Michael Patison said...

My predictions have been pretty bad as of late as well, RatedRStar, which is funny since you and I did pretty well early on. I honestly have no idea why though.

RatedRStar said...

=D I guess we got lucky early on Michael lol haha.

RatedRStar said...

Maybe Louis has had enough of me requesting either Claude Rains for everything or a hong kong performance lol so he might have thought " ahhh ill punish him" lol =D haha.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Sometimes actors surprise us. Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass, Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl, Keanu Reeves in A Scanner Darkly, Sam Worthington in The Debt and quite a few other proved capable of doing great things when given the right roles. All are limited in some way, yet the films used those limitations to their advantage and turned them into strengths.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Also, off topic as well, but there are a few performances you haven't listed in already finished years that I'm curious to see the rankings on:

1999 Supporting: Peter Sarsgaard in Boys Don't Cry
1985 Lead: Eric Stoltz in Mask
2002 Lead: Campbell Scott in Roger Dodger
1973 Lead: Elliot Gould in The Long Goodbye
1973 Supporting: Sterling Hayden in The Long Goodbye
2008 Lead: David Kross in The Reader
2011 Supporting: Sam Worthington in The Debt
2005 Supporting: Keanu Reeves in Thumbsucker (no, really)

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: The best I have seen from Kennedy is Bright Victory followed by Elmer Gantry and Lawrence of Arabia. I really haven't heard of any performances from him that really stand out otherwise, although if he has any other lead performances I would be a bit curious as that's where his best work has been so far from what I have seen.

Yeah and forget Rains and those Hong Kongers, oh wait I like Rains and those Hong Kongers.

Michael: I always find those performances interesting although I don't think I would put Abraham in that category as I feel he gets either terrible or just empty roles.

Robert: In the future I might take a short break on reviews just to catch up with some of the films I've been meaning to get to.

RatedRStar said...

Ive found only one leading performance that Kennedy has given except Bright Victory, and well, heres a picture of what he looks like in the film Louis, it might make you curious lol.

Michael Patison said...

My guess is that, if Louis were to watch The Naked Dawn, it wouldn't be a fantastic performance by Kennedy considering the film is obviously a B-movie western.

Michael Patison said...

I just looked too. He's also lead in Rancho Notorious with Marlene Dietrich; Impulse, a British crime film directed by the guy who directed Zulu; Attack and Retreat, an Italian war movie (it seems more like an ensemble film, but he's credited first); and Monday's Child, an Argentine film

He might also be the lead in Murder, She Said. It's a Miss Marple film and he's pretty obviously the killer (at least that's what I gathered from the faux suspenseful Wikipedia synopsis), but I have no idea whether he's a co-lead with Margaret Rutherford.

From what I could tell, he seems to also possibly be a secondary lead to Glenn Ford in Day of the Evil Gun.

Of all of these, the only film that seems a remote possibility of having a great performance is Rancho Notorious, and even that is a serious question mark.

RatedRStar said...

=D I agree with Michael I think you might need to take a risk with Kennedy if you wanted to find a performance that was actually brilliant.