Sunday, 27 October 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1971: Jack Albertson in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Jack Albertson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Jack Albertson plays Grandpa Joe a man bedridden for twenty years and one of the four grandparents of the poor Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) who hopes to be one of the lucky children to find a golden ticket that will give him a tour of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Albertson is the very traditional sort of supporting performance here in that Grandpa Joe is always supporting Charlie with moral support any way he can. Albertson is very charming the role just having a genuine warmth needed for the part. He has just the right sweetness without becoming saccharine, and serves the film well with his bright personality in the early scenes of the film where Charlie faces some big disappointments.

Albertson handles his scenes very well being the kindly encouraging grandfather to Charlie, and does well because they are not all happy moments. Albertson's best scene is when he surprises Charlie with a bar and they open it together to find nothing. Albertson brings such genuine emotion to the moment as Grandpa Joe first shares Charlie's excitement but then sadly has to tenderly comfort his grandson after their disappointment. Another scene that causes some complaints is when Grandpa Joe gets out of bed because he sings a song to do it. I really don't mind because Albertson really does deliver with the song, not necessarily with how good or bad his singing voice is, but rather with an energy and brightness to bring the joy of the situation out quite splendidly.

Once the film steps in the Chocolate Factory Albertson takes a back seat, in fact everyone does, to Gene Wilder's performance as Willy Wonka. Gene Wilder owns the film without question and for most the tour the most everyone can get out is a surprised reaction or two. No one for a moment steals Wilder's thunder during these scenes and as the reactionary cast goes I would probably say Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt probably does the best. Albertson is not bad in these scenes, he handles all the little moments he has well enough, but they don't leave too much of an impression with Gene Wilder around. This is not a criticism against Albertson though, but rather just praise for Wilder.

Albertson does get one scene at the end of the film when Grandpa Joe confronts Wonka after Wonka has said that Charlie will not receive the lifetime supply of chocolate due to a violation of contract. Albertson is very good in the scene as Grandpa Joe angrily denounces Wonka's actions and even suggests they go to Wonka's competitor with information. The moment does not pain Grandpa Joe in a bad light at all though because Albertson shows that where the anger comes from is his disbelief that Wonka would honestly treat a child that way opposed to having any actual malice. It's a good moment for Albertson as it lets him fulfill the important role Grandpa Joe had in the film's opening act. Albertson does not steal that scene or the film, but he adds very nicely to the film as a whole by being the tender support Grandpa Joe should be.

1 comment:

Michael McCarthy said...

Phew, I guess I'm still in this!