Saturday, 11 January 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1970: Alec Guinness in Scrooge

Alec Guinness did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jacob Marley in Scrooge.

It seems that almost every great actor seems to have one role where they just get show off how awesome of an actor they are. This does not always work if the role does not call for it, or they are not great actors but when these two factors are met it can result in a very memorable performance like Laurence Olivier in Sleuth or Gene Hackman in Superman for example. Well that brings me to Alec Guinness in the often played role of Jacob Marley. A character dead to begin with which must be distinctly understood or you'll think it is odd that he's so white and likes chains so much. Anyway he's the old partner of Ebenezer Scrooge who comes to warn him about the result of evil ways.

Alec Guinness, much like Albert Finney as Scrooge, takes a unorthodox approach to his character. Marley is most often portrayed as a wailing man suffering from his terrible fate. In that regard he was best portrayed by Michael Hordern, but Guinness is not going to follow the rest because he's Alec Guinness. Guinness only has really two scene the one where he visits Scrooge, and another one that was probably added because again he's Alec Guinness. Guinness does quite a lot in these scenes, and as per usual with Guinness although this is definitely a PERFORMANCE sort of performance Guinness very simply is Jacob Marley in the film. Marley is a small role, but Guinness proves that cliche that I dare not utter.

Guinness firstly takes a very physical approach with the role as he enters Scrooge's chambers. There is a unnatural flow to the way he steps and walks. He moves his body as if he is actually apart from the gravity of the earth. Guinness does not rely on special effects, or even his makeup, but has his own body convey the ghostly nature of Marley. Guinness becomes the ghost with his movements and makes his entrance particularly striking and memorable. His ghostly ways are not his only deviations from the normal Marley method, as he also suggests a very different relationship with Scrooge before he died. Where most Marley is too consumed with his own grief to establish it, Guinness a more shrewd approach with his depiction.

Guinness basically says that Marley kind of looked down upon Scrooge and given his whole current predicament he has not exactly become any less sour in his mindset. Guinness always seems slightly condescending in his attitude to Scrooge as he talks to him in his perfect crackly voice. Guinness creates an underlying comedy, while still staying appropriately creepy, through this condescension. My personal favorite moment might be when Scrooge is accusing Marley of being a hallucination making Marley no more than an old potato. Guinness's reaction is hilarious as he shows Marley as being rather ticked off that his old business partner, who he did not care for, is daring to to talk back to him and calling him an old potato.

In his first scene Guinness leaves a great impression bringing the haunting quality, in the haunted house sense, that Marley should have while have the right type of underlying humor to the whole thing. In this version though Marley appears again during the Ghost of Christmas Future segment. Instead of just being shown his grave Scrooge in this version falls into finding himself in Hell, and greeted by who else but his old partner. Guinness changes his performance quite a bit but all accordingly with the plan. Being in hell, gravity is present once again for him and that otherworldly quality is no longer there. Guinness also removes his ghostly reserve and his passive aggressive behavior toward Scrooge becomes much more blunt.

Guinness is hilarious in this final scene as he portrays Marley relishing in every moment he gets to present Scrooge with the result of his greed. Every line Guinness delivers with a dry and extremely sharp wit. Guinness is wildly entertaining in his deviousness in the scene effectively turning the scene into a brilliant dark comedy when it might have simply been horror. I love every moment Guinness has in this scene, but my favorite has to be when he almost bursts out laughing when finally seeing what Scrooge's chain looks like. Like Hackman in Superman and Olivier in Sleuth, Guinness definitely shows off here, but like those performances it absolutely works. In his two scenes he steals the film and manages to be the greatest Jacob Marley even though his approach is most unorthodox.

74 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Shit. Can I change my prediction?

Louis Morgan said...

Like I've said before, I don't mind changed predictions after the first review.

luke higham said...

Louis: So far, has Guinness received less than a 4.5 from you.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Alright, new prediction:

1. Malden
2. Guinness
3. Frey
4. Howard
5. Sutherland

luke higham said...

What rating did you give guinness in the man in the white suit.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: He's never received less in a reviewed performance. There are performances I would give him less like the Card for example, but I have yet to see a performance by Guinness that I have disliked.

I would give him a 4.5 for the Man in the White Suit.

luke higham said...

Louis Morgan: so he has 11 so far

luke higham said...

Will you review him for the horses mouth

luke higham said...

Michael Patison: is Dern nomination worthy

Michael Patison said...

Based on what I've seen, I would not nominate him, and I haven't seen several contenders yet like Hanks and Phoenix. I would say that he is worthy, though. He's a medium-to-high 4 for me.

luke higham said...

Michael Patison: can this year's possible field of nominees be as strong or better than 2002.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Seems very likely that I will.

luke higham said...

Louis: Is there 5 films in the coming year, that you're looking forward to seeing.

Mine are:
X-Men Days of Future Past
Inherent Vice
InterSteller
Gone Girl
The Hobbit: There & Back Again
Honourable Mention: Grand Budapest Hotel

luke higham said...

Also
Transcendance
Calvary

Louis Morgan said...

My top five at the moment would probably be:

Inherent Vice
Interstellar
Calvary
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Hobbit: There & Back Again

luke higham said...

With Modest Expectations: I think Calvary, is the most likely to deliver and hope Gleeson can match his performance for In Bruges and on a slightly lesser scale, in the Guard

luke higham said...

Louis: Have you seen 300 & Watchmen, if you have, what were your thoughts on them.

Louis Morgan said...

300 I thought was enjoyable as sheer spectacle.

I have only seen Watchmen once, and it probably is a film due for a re-watch. From my initial viewing though I thought it was an admirable failure. It went for broke and there are several remarkable aspects to it. I thought there were many missteps though and unfortunately bad performances. Matthew Goode's lacking performance I thought was particularly problematic for the conclusion of the film. I wish Snyder had reunited with Micheal Fassbender as I think he could have been a perfect Ozymandias.

luke higham said...

I Agree with you on fassbender being a perfect choice for the role, As he would've given great gravitas & ferocity. What did you think of Gerard Butler as Leonidas & Haley as Rorschach.

luke higham said...
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luke higham said...

Also, have you seen Frozen

I thought it was the best disney film since The Lion King.

Michael Patison said...

Luke: I'm not going to answer that. Truthfully, I've only seen Day-Lewis out of the 2002 nominees, and I still have to see Hanks and Redford out of the likeliest 6 nominees. That being said, everybody but Bale gives a "worthy" performance and I'd probably give Dern a 4.

Michael Patison said...

I have seen Frozen and agree. I'd even go so far as to say it's possibly Disney's most enjoyable film period.

luke higham said...

Michael: Understandable and also agree with you on frozen. What were your thoughts on Let it go and where would you rank it in the disney song Pantheon.

luke higham said...

Michael Patison: Are Ejiofor, Mcconaghuey, Issac and Dicaprio 5's for their performances.

Michael Patison said...

I thought it was brilliant. I have no idea where I'd rank it in the entire history of Disney music. To be honest, I'm not a fan of pretty much many Disney songs done before the Renaissance. I'd put it right with the rest of the lead pack of the Menken music, though. I think The Hunchback of Notre Dame is still my favorite.

luke higham said...

Michael Patison: Hunchback's an underrated favourite of mine. I liked the fact that disney went somewhat out of their comfort zone with its themes and tone. my favourite song was 'Hellfire' sung by Tony Jay and I fought Frollo was a really good sinister villain.

Michael Patison said...

I would say yes on all accounts. Isaac has fallen in my opinion and is now my 4th place out of those (and overall).
1. McConaughey
2. DiCaprio
3. Ejiofor
4. Isaac
5. Steve Coogan (if that tells you anything about how little I've seen)

Michael Patison said...

The film itself isn't my favorite, as I actually think Frozen might take that title, but the intro song, The Bells of Notre Dame, which I misidentified is my favorite Disney song.

luke higham said...

I absolutely loved Dicaprio's performance and that Lemmon Quaaludes scene was absolutely hilarious and probably my most memorable movie scene of the year after both the Hanging & Whipping scenes from 12 years A Slave.

Matt Mustin said...

Regarding Watchmen, I agree with Louis in that I admire what Snyder was trying to do, but he failed, and the source material is far superior. I did think Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan were incredible though. And I agree, Fassbender would have been PERFECT as Ozymandias.

Matt Mustin said...

300 I thought was terrible in every regard.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: I did not care for Butler, even though that film consisted more of epic lines than an actual script his wavering accent and overly growling deliver took away from them. David Wenham and Fasssbender were much more capable in that regard.

Haley was one of the remarkable aspects of the film.

luke higham said...

Off Subject: What are your thoughts on Ben Whishaw's casting as Freddie Mercury in his new biopic.

Louis Morgan said...

I have to admit I was very disappointed to see Sacha Baron Cohen drop out of the role. Whishaw a good actor though, and certainly looks the part. I'm interested to see if he can find the right sort of flamboyance for Mercury though, something I think Cohen was perfect for.

luke higham said...

May & Taylor wanted the film to be in a thoroughly positive light, whereas Cohen wanted to explore the light and dark in the Persona and Psyche of Mercury as well as his relationship with the other members of the band.

Louis Morgan said...

Finding that out makes it even more disappointing, because balanced biographies tend to be the best.

luke higham said...

Louis: Are you willing to answer ratings and thoughts on Female Performances

Louis Morgan said...

Yeah sure.

luke higham said...

Just have One for now:
What are yours on Carey Mulligan in An Education.

Louis Morgan said...

4.5.

luke higham said...

And Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

Louis Morgan said...

4.5 for the moment, although a re-watch could propel her (no pun intended) higher.

luke higham said...

Thanks

luke higham said...

Who do you think will win Best Picture & Director.

Louis Morgan said...

Right now I guess 12 Years, and McQueen, but that could easily change. I would not bet on a split as that tends to happen when the picture win is an upset.

luke higham said...

Have you seen any new films in recent days.

Louis Morgan said...

Most recently I watched August Osage County.

luke higham said...

What did you think of it?

Louis Morgan said...

eh it was okay. It has some strong moments, but it always feels like a lot less than it could be.

luke higham said...

Was there anyone worthy of note

Louis Morgan said...

The performances were fine. I actually really liked Margo Martindale and Julianne Nicholson. I though Streep was effective even though she was a little too self aware at times, and Roberts is the best she's ever been (which is saying nothing as this is her first performance I thought was decent).

Out of the men though Benedict Cumberbatch and Ewan McGregor felt very out of place though. I rather liked Chris Cooper though.

luke higham said...

So it's official: You like Bullock over Roberts.

I would agree after seeing Bullock in gravity.

What rating would she have got for the blind side.

Louis Morgan said...

I don't know I think I'd have to watch it again. From what I remember did not find her performance to be anything special, but I did not hate her performance either.

luke higham said...

To be Fair, I'll give her a 3

luke higham said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on N'yongo & Paulsen in 12 years a Slave.

Louis Morgan said...

I might be in the minority but I preferred Paulson. I thought her twist on the southern belle was very effective and I would give her a 4.5. N'yongo I thought completely fulfilled the needs of her role, but I never saw her go past that and never saw the amazing performance most seem to see. I would give her a 4.

Michael McCarthy said...

Julia Roberts won't be competing with Sandra Bullock anyway, she's campaigning for supporting actress.

luke higham said...

Michael: I meant by who has given a better performance than the other in their careers.

luke higham said...

Added to last comment:
Who's the better Actress

luke higham said...

Louis: Who is your favourite for Actress and Supporting Actress at the moment

Louis Morgan said...

For 2013, at the moment I would give the wins to Bullock for lead and Kristin Scott Thomas for supporting.

luke higham said...

What rating would you give to thomas.

Louis Morgan said...

4.5 I think.

luke higham said...

Lastly, before I go, who are your top 5 actors under the age of 40.

Louis Morgan said...

Michael Fassbender
Tom Hardy
Michael Shannon
Ben Foster
Cillian Murphy

Michael McCarthy said...

Have you seen Tom Hardy in Bronson? I feel like that would make your top 10 2008 lead actor list for sure.

Louis Morgan said...

Bronson's first non-festival release was in 2009.

Matt Mustin said...

I think Best Picture will be 12 Years A Slave or (ugh)American Hustle(please God, no). Best Director SHOULD go to Alfonso Cuaron, but it'll probably be McQueen.

Michael Patison said...

Who will take Shannon's place when he turns 40 this year?

Louis Morgan said...

Ryan Gosling, although I think he needs to stop playing the silent types.

Matt Mustin said...

He does. He used it exceedingly well in Drive, but he needs to move on.

Michael McCarthy said...
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Michael McCarthy said...

Louis: I see. I bet he'll be reviewed for that year then.
Matt: Don't worry, I don't think Hustle has a chance against 12 Years a Slave at the Oscars. And I'm personally betting on Cuaron to win best director too.