Saturday, 19 October 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1944: William Demarest in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

William Demarest did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Constable Kockenlocker in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.

Well leave it to the academy to nominate William Demarest for a film that is neither a comedy nor made by Preston Sturges. Only seeing his nominated performance one would see Demarest as only a fairly likable character actor, but when watching a Preston Sturges film one sees he has much more to offer then some light likability. William Demarest plays Constable Kockenlocker the, rightfully, overprotective father of Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) who gets herself pregnant and married by a soldier that she can't remember. This was caused all of course that she went out to a dance for the soldiers going off to war against the very specific instructions of her father.

William Demarest role is being the righteous face of frustration through the course of the film. Although Kockenlocker might not always do the right thing, he is trying to do the right thing. Demarest plays Constable Kockenlocker as a rather cynical fellow whose concerns comes from the fact of knowing about the world all too well. Demarest's is especially blunt portrayal is incredibly enjoyable at the beginning of the film as the Constable has to witness the events that unfold from his daughter failing to listen to him. Each of Demarest's scenes are a little comedic gem and one particularly enjoyable scene comes when the Constable confronts Trudy's wannabe suitor Norval (Eddie Bracken).

In the scene the Constable demands Norval marry his daughter while he naturally brandishes multiple handguns at the same time. William Demarest is very intense in the scene yet always very amusing. Demarest in that scene and every scene he is in gets across the all the anger in the father that would be apparent in such a situation but he adjusts just ever so slightly for maximum comedic effect. Demarest knows exactly how to make rather unfunny types of emotions in a normal situation naturally quite funny while still bringing those emotions to his performance. He treads the lines without falling off once just always being the proper voice of exasperation although always a hilarious voice of exasperation.

William Demarest is a terrific balancing factor for the film. With so many wacky characters and completely absurd situations the film easily could become overbearing if not held back in some way. Demarest acts as the slap in face for the film by acting extremely ticked off from every problem that arises from his daughter's rather stupid decisions. Being extremely ticked off though is something that can be done poorly as the actor can easily just seem like they don't want to be in the film. Demarest though hits the right mark though by finding that lighter touch to make every hateful stare and annoyed grimace into the comedic gold it should be to fit the film.

Near the end of the film Demarest is actually given somewhat serious moments. Even though Demarest was very funny in the earlier scenes he did always show brings an underlying warmth even if it was very underlying it was there. Because Demarest had the slight bit of warmth the transition to a completely caring Constable Kockenlocker is a natural one. Demarest delivers with heartfelt speeches at the end and gives them an honest poignancy. It is no surprise that Demarest worked with Preston Sturges so many times as he is a perfect fit for Sturges's style. Demarest is able to effortlessly play in the arena of screwball situation while always having just the right bearing to never go off the deep end still able to bring the right dramatic weight if necessary.


Michael McCarthy said...

The scene where the constable is trying to get Norval to play along with the escape plan is one of the funniest scenes from any movie I've seen from that decade.

RatedRStar said...

1946 Best Supporting Actor gives me both joy and misery lol for obvious reasons.