Monday, 3 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1945: Mercel Herrand in Children of Paradise and Results

Mercel Herrand did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Pierre Francois Lacenaire in Children of Paradise.

Herrand comes in and out of the film as Pierre Francois Lacenaire an outlaw who passes his time around the theater world acting as a writer, or at least claiming to be but his true calling is that of crime. Lacenaire is a most strange sort of outlaw in that it does not seem to be that he needs to be an outlaw for monetary needs necessarily, but he rather finds that it is his true calling is to eventually be executed for his life of crime. Herrand's performance is quite remarkable in that he makes this very strange thief oddly believable even though he is basically an criminal who seems as though he eventually wants to be caught for his crimes as if it is some sort of destiny for himself.

Herrand's portrayal is an odd yet very compelling combination of things for his performance. He has a very low key yet substantial charm in the role as he is always a suave presence in every scene that he is in. There is even more to it then just that though as in most scenes he comes across as an amiable sort of man who is very easy to like, and he makes it extremely easy to see through Herrand's performance how so many of the character's would allow him to keep company with him even though Lacenaire is not exactly tight lipped about his activities. Herrand keeps this terrific magnetism in his work and he turns Lacenaire's particular method of living always something completely captivating to watch. 

Herrand though does far more than simply act as a charmer though and what makes this performance particularly striking is that he always keeps the criminal well in sight. Herrand even when Lacenaire is being charming carries himself with a very natural menace in every one of his scenes. When he appears in a room it is always a question on whether Lacenaire will treat who is calling upon with an assault or a friendly greeting because Herrand eyes creates a perfect mix of charming glance and a chilling glare. Herrand keeps one guessing at Lacenaire's motives for any moment making him one fascinating figure in the film who you always remember even though the character often takes long absences throughout the long story.

Herrand makes Lacenaire almost a time bomb in the film up until his very best scene in the film where Lacenaire decided to indulge in a little murder, and even after the murder decides to stay in Paris just because he does not wish to face a country executioner. Herrand is very chilling in the scene because everything that Lacenaire does in the scene from the killing which in itself seems for such a slight reason, to his choosing to stay is made entirely natural to the character through Herrand's performance. Mercel Herrand creates a very interesting portrait of this unique criminal who takes pride in basically creating notoriety as a criminal, something most successful criminals would try to avoid.
Some Other Performances:

Dan Duryea in Scarlet Street- Duryea played all of Fritz Lang's sleaze balls in the mid forties with his best portrayal of one being his somewhat limited role in The Ministry of Fear. Although that was the most limited character in a Lang film, but he had one great scene. Here he does not have any great scenes as he plays the one side of a sleazy couple who abuses an older man. Duryea is good in the role in just playing up the slime up of the character, and never suggesting that there is anything to the man other than his lack of morality. At the end of the film though his character finds himself in some great trouble. Duryea does makes you feel slightly sorry for the slime ball because he makes so easy to believe that no one would believe his innocence of the crime because well he just looks so guilty. 
Barry Fitzgerald and Walter Huston in And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie's characters are not always the most complex often defined by the broad strokes behind their profession leaving a challenge for the actor to make the character interesting even though there is not a great deal to them. Well this film version has two expert scene stealing actors with Fitzgerald and Huston. Both are quite adept at giving the right energy to the proceedings through their usual lively style of performance. They both give just enough fun and humor in their work while still being able to pull it back for the moments that need a bit more dramatic emphasis. Far from either of their best work, but nevertheless they both do a pretty splendid job.
Overall Rank:
  1. James Dunn in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  2. Mercel Herrand in Children of Paradise
  3. Michael Chekhov in Spellbound
  4. Barry Fitzgerald in And Then There Were None
  5. Robert Mitchum in The Story of G.I. Joe
  6. Walter Huston in And Then There Were None
  7. Sydney Greenstreet in Conflict 
  8. Dan Duryea in Scarlet Street
  9. Sydney Greenstreet in Christmas in Connecticut
  10. Richard Haydn in And Then There Were Not
  11. Freddie Steele in The Story of G.I. Joe
  12. S.Z. Sakall in Christmas in Connecticut
  13. James Gleason in The Clock
  14. Susumu Fujita in The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
  15. Pierre Renoir in Children of Paradise
  16. Cecil Parker in Caesar and Cleopatra
  17. Leo G. Carroll in Spellbound
  18. Roland Young in And Then There Were None
  19. Masayuki Mori in The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
  20. Ted Donaldson in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  21. J. Carrol Naish in A Medal For Benny
  22. Louis Salou in Children of Paradise
  23. Lloyd Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  24. Ernest Thesiger in Caesar and Cleopatra
  25. Herbert Lom in The Seventh Veil
  26. James Gleason in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  27. Vito Annicchiarico in Rome, Open City
  28. C. Aubrey Smith in And Then There Were None
  29. Takash Shimura in The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
  30. Vincent Price in Leave Her to Heaven
  31. Howard Da Silva in The Lost Weekend
  32. Stanley Holloway in Brief Encounter
  33. Mischa Auer in And Then There Were None
  34. Kenichi Enomoto in The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
  35. Cyril Raymond in Brief Encounter
  36. Ray Collins in Leave Her to Heaven
  37. Hugh McDermott in The Seventh Veil
  38. Ward Bond in They Were Expendable 
  39. Henry Travers in Bells of Saint Mary's
  40. Stephen Bekassy in A Song to Remember
  41. Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh
  42. Stanley Holloway in Caesar and Cleopatra
  43. Jack Holt in They Were Expendable
  44. Stewart Granger in Caesar and Cleopatra
  45. Eduardo Passarelli in Rome, Open City
  46. Frank McHugh in A Medal for Benny 
  47. Charles Drake in Conflict
  48. Reginald Gardiner in Christmas in Connecticut
  49. Dean Stockwell in Anchors Aweigh
  50. William Gargan in Bells of Saint Mary's
  51. John Emery in Spellbound
  52. Ivan Triesault in A Song to Remember
  53. Phillip Terry in The Lost Weekend
  54. John Dall in The Corn is Green
  55. Edmund MacDonald in Detour
  56. Basil Sydney in Caesar and Cleopatra
Next Year: 1934 lead

27 comments:

RatedRStar said...

Claude Rains - The Clairvoyant
John Barrymore - Twentieth Century
Stan Laurel - Babes In Toyland
Oliver Hardy - Babes In Toyland
Henry Brandon - Babes In Toyland

Michael Patison said...

What ratings would you give Haydn and Greenstreet in both of his?

Michael McCarthy said...

Glad you really liked Herrand even if he wasn't your favorite.

Anonymous said...

What did you make to the fourth lover in the film, The Count?

Michael Patison said...

Also, for 1934 Lead:
John Barrymore in Twentieth Century
Henry Brandon in Babes in Toyland
W.C. Fields in It's a Gift
Oliver Hardy in Babes in Toyland
Leslie Howard in The Scarlet Pimpernel
Boris Karloff in The Black Cat
Stan Laurel in Babes in Toyland
Béla Lugosi in The Black Cat
Victor McLaglen in The Lost Patrol

Louis Morgan said...

Michael:

Greenstreet in Conflict - 4

Greenstreet in Christmas in Connecticut - 3.5

Haydn - 3.5

Anonymous: He was fine, but he was very much overshadowed by the other men.

Michael McCarthy said...

Louis, what's your best pic choice for 1945?

Louis Morgan said...

I don't have a firm choice at the moment but it would be between The Lost Weekend, Brief Encounter, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Children of Paradise.

Michael Patison said...

What'd you think of Rome, Open City, including Rossellini's work and Magnani's performance (rating for her, too)

Louis Morgan said...

I thought it was a solid film although I did feel the story telling was slightly muddled. It had plenty of great moments though particularly the ending.

Magnani - 4.5(A very tender performance that makes her abrupt exit very disconcerting and quite powerful)

Michael McCarthy said...

For me:

1. Children of Paradise
2. Rome, Open City
3. The Lost Weekend
4. Brief Encounter
5. Mildred Pierce

luke higham said...

Louis: what are your thoughts on all 5 nominees for best picture in 2008.

Kevin said...

And which movies would you have nominated instead?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Frost/Nixon (I'm a sucker for this type of film without a doubt and it is my preferred film of the five which is not saying a lot. Howard is workmanlike as usual but on the better side of it I suppose. The story is interesting enough that it held my attention but I do believe it would have been just as interesting without the numerous sometimes ridiculous inaccuracies. Also I definitely would have preferred if they had gotten Philip Baker Hall to play Nixon again since he's the only actor who did not turn him into an overly mannered caricature)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (I suppose it is an interesting experiment to have David Fincher direct a film like this with a particularly uncreative screenplay from the screenwriter of Forrest Gump, but it is not an experiment that worked for me. Fincher definitely does not go for the feel good route, but in a story like this maybe that is the better way to go as I found the whole affair one long sit to get through as the tone stayed so muted the whole time. The film to me seemed more like the just the death of a man in terms of its style, rather than the life and the death of the man.)

Milk (Fairly by the books biography film actually, and I think critics were more forgiving towards some of its schmaltz because of its subject matter. Nothing about it is exemplary and plenty of it is the opposite particularly most of the performances that are not Josh Brolin. The screenplay particularly goes for the most obvious points, and frankly I would have been more interested in a more detailed account as Milk as man and politician rather than the film which is almost completely a glorification.)

Slumdog Millionaire (A thin story with thin characters, and thin performances for the most part. Boyle tries everything he can to jazz it up with his over direction where he seemed to try to employ every trick he had in his director's playbook. That did not make up for anything that was lacking in the story, in fact I just found all the trick got very tiresome very quickly)

The Reader (Daldry being dour as ever here. The story has plenty of problems to begin with as the whole illiteracy and the holocaust does unfortunately come off as something out of an Oscar bait parody rather than an actual film. It is not help by Daldry's dull direction that leaves everything much too stately, the performances are decent enough but not good enough to make up for the film's shortcomings)

Kevin:

1. In Bruges
2. The Dark Knight
3. JCVD
4. Gran Torino
5. Iron Man

luke higham said...

Louis: ratings & thoughts on Dev Patel & Jean-Claude Van Damme in their respective films.

Louis Morgan said...

Patel - 1.5(He just needed to give the role some heart and be a bit endearing unfortunately he is neither)

Van Damme - 4.5(Apparently Van Damme can act although perhaps it helps he is performing in his native language, nevertheless he very much surprised me here. Van Damme has some fun playing off his image, but finds real poignancy in portraying this damaged soul of at least this version of himself)

RatedRStar said...

Is there a possiblity that one of the three great performers from Children Of Paradise will make another appearance, cause I have heard some fairly positive reviews of one of the cast =), but from a different film.

Matt Mustin said...

I agree with you on Slumdog Millionaire, Louis, except I wouldn't say Boyle over-directs since his direction was the only part of the film I found interesting.

RatedRStar said...

Louis, have you seen Barrault/Brasseur/Herrand in anything else, and would you be interested in seeing them again?

Louis Morgan said...

No I don't think I have, but I certainly would be interested.

luke higham said...

Louis: your ratings & thoughts on:
Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
Kate Winslet in The Reader
Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
& Supporting Actress Nominees for 2008 ( Amy Adams Excluded).

Matt Mustin said...

Can I just say I thought Hathaway was amazing and I'm positive Louis will disagree?

Anonymous said...

How close was Marcel to recieving a 5 from you Louis, cause the review makes Herrand look like a 5 lol.

Michael Patison said...

How soon would you be able to list Actress and Supporting Actress nominees since 2000, Louis?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous: He was very close.

Luke:

Johnson - 5(Lovely, lovely work. She is captivating every minute in the film giving such a lively portrayal as she gives such an original take on a well worn type of character. Her work plays flawlessly with Lean's vision particularly in some of those marvelous close up moments)

Winslet - 3.5(She's alluring enough at the beginning then haunted enough later on but she never really excels in the part. I will say I'm glad she won for this rather than her other work from 08)

Hathaway - 2(The writing of the film is quite poor to begin with as I never though there was any authentic going on in terms of the families they decided to create which I did not believe for a second. Hathaway is not able to overcome the material in fact her usual self-aware style of performance only amplifies the falseness of it all)

Jolie - 3.5(I hesitate a bit in that I have not watched it since it came out but I do recall her making her character easy enough to feel her plight. I really don't remember too much of the film other than Harner though)

Cruz - 2(A performance that seemed to insist it was great from the first moment she was onscreen unfortunately I never thought she really made her character come to life, rather her performance was always overly evident)

Henson - 3(She's warm enough and fulfills her role but she did not really much of an impression on me though.)

Tomei - 3.5(Something seemed very missing in this part for me as it just felt like half of a character. The notes of desperation and slight affection were played well by her)

Davis - 3.5(One scene of an intense desperation that is played well enough I think, although I do think she could done more with the scene actually and I would not put her up there with the great one scene wonders)

Michael: Not sure, but I'll be working on it.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what are your thoughts on Ewan McGregor in The Impossible and Scoot McNairy in Killing Them Softly?

Louis Morgan said...

Matt: McGregor (Somewhat limited role but he is very moving in bringing the intensity of his character's grief right up front with no repression at all. That phone call scene is heartbreaking as turns it into such a natural breakdown)

McNairy (I was rather surprised when he stole the picture for me, and gave a rather unusual performance for me. In the start of the film he's good in being a little too enthusiastic and loud of criminal emphasizing the greed on the man's mind, but I found he slowly made his character surprisingly sympathetic by so honestly showing how this man acts as he sees that in all likelihood he's going to be killed)