Thursday, 29 May 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1961: Burt Lancaster in Judgment At Nuremberg

Burt Lancaster did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Ernst Janning in Judgment At Nuremberg.

Burt Lancaster plays the role of one of the judges who worked under the Nazi regime and are now on trial for their alleged crimes. Lancaster actually only has a few lines for the majority of this almost three hour long film. Lancaster for most of the film is only seen sitting in place within the courtroom watching as the trial progresses. Lancaster is effective even in these early scenes as he sits silently as the trial goes on. Lancaster is always building to the point in which he speaks by showing Janning as a man of constant despair. Lancaster's expressions throughout reflect the past of the man as Lancaster suggests Janning to almost be a shell of his former self. There is a truly resigned quality that Lancaster suggests showing that when Janning went along with the evils of the Nazis he basically lost himself in the process.

When Janning finally does speak to silence his defense Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell) Lancaster certainly does not waste the opportunity given to him. Lancaster has a very forceful screen presence and he utilizes that well to quickly take command of the film in his single most important scene. All of the speeches in the film really could go either way as they are definitely not written to be subtle, but that in no means that they are bad. This being a Stanley Kramer film the points are perhaps made too clear, but that can easily be compensated for honestly by the delivery of them. Lancaster delivers his incredibly well by bringing out the power of the words as he should but always doing so through the character of Ernst Janning. The speech has the intensity needed for the condemnation it is stating, but what Lancaster does importantly is never forgetting to suggest that self-hatred of his own action is what fuels this passion in Janning the most.

After the speech Lancaster has one more important scene where Janning meets with the chief judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy). Lancaster is very good in this scene by showing some contentment in Janning for the moment as it seems he has made some peace with himself as it seemed he in part made his own sentence. Janning takes the chance to try to, in a way, defend his actions now that he is technically suffering for them to Haywood, which leaves Haywood to quickly remind Janning of his severe crimes. The scene could be more powerful simply because Tracy's characterization of Haywood is a little too muddled throughout, but it still stands as an effective scene because of Lancaster. Lancaster at the beginning of the scene shows Janning content in someway, but when Haywood calls him out on it Lancaster's reaction is great by showing that despair once again engulfs the man.

In the whole scheme of the three hour film Lancaster's screen time is brief and only briefer if you were not to count many of the moments of him merely sitting in the courtroom. Lancaster though does make use of those minimalistic moments as well as the few times in which he is given the spotlight. I would say even with his highlight scenes that when you come right down to his performance is not quite as memorable as Maximilian Schell's purposeful showboating as the firebrand defense attorney or as memorable as Montgomery Clift's heartbreaking portrayal of one of the Nazis's victims. Nevertheless Lancaster still gives the third strongest performance in the film with his fairly remarkable portrait of a man pained by his crimes which he will never be able to forget.

18 comments:

luke higham said...

Louis: Will you be reviewing Sean Connery for The Last Crusade.

Also what are your ratings & thoughts for the cast of Guns of Navarone.

RatedRStar said...

=D I think the best thing to do with Judgement At Nuremberg is to watch Clifts scene then get a coffee lol.

John Smith said...

Louis, Game Of Thrones Or Breaking Bad?

luke higham said...

He'll go with Breaking Bad.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Connery is a definite.

The Guns of Navarone:

Peck - 3.5(Miscast in that he's not British around other Brits and is too old for the part. Nevertheless I feel Peck really still gives a great deal of passion in the role and manages to overcome the fact that he was not the best choice for the role)

Niven - 3.5(Like Peck he's also a bit too old for the role. Also like Peck though he does bring the necessary passion for the part. He hams it up slightly in a few moments, but his confrontation scene near the end of the film is a stand out for him)

Baker - 2(The fact that he was angry that he wasn't the lead perhaps shows in his performance. He just never seems that involved in his part and is very much overshadowed by the rest of the cast)

Quayle - 3(He's pretty good in being the likable commander at the beginning and is effective in portraying his character's physical decay)

Papas - 3(Relatively simple part but she brings the steely determination needed for the part)

Scala - 2(She's okay when she's looking damaged, but leaves a lot to be desired in her revelation scene)

Harris - 2.5(They obviously did not know they had Richard Harris at the time (I think he would have been much better in Baker's role), but he's still pretty good in a brief and unimportant role)

John Smith: I will indeed say Breaking Bad, but I do like Game of Thrones a great deal.

Michael McCarthy said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on Jimmy Stewart in Call Northside 777, Winchester '73, Bend of the River, and The Man from Laramie?

RatedRStar said...

What are your thoughts on Mr Alan Bates as an actor Louis =)

RatedRStar said...

Also I noticed you changed Peter Finchs score from a 4.5 to a 4 for Sunday Bloody Sunday =(, how come?

Louis Morgan said...

Call Northside 777 - 4(Stewart doing what he does best with his righteous indignation. As always though he throws in his usual charm as well. It's a somewhat simpler role for him but he's completely solid)

Winchester '73, Bend of the River, The Man from Laramie - 4(All three Stewart plays a fairly similar character of the somewhat troubled stranger who has to fight against the various enemies found from the time. Stewart mutes his charm in these roles purposefully I imagine and creates a grittier Stewart. He brings a certain intense vindictiveness in these performances that is rather effective)

RatedRStar: I really have not seen that much of him, but I rather liked his only nominated performance and I find him usually at least decent otherwise.

I still think Finch's performance is good, but it's just one that hasn't really stayed with me.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I was hoping you'd give him a higher score.

houndtang said...

I hope you can review Bates, Finch and Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd when you get to 1967. Three very different but very effective performances.

John Smith said...

What do you consider to be Jack Nicholsons greatest performance? Mine is Five Easy Pieces.

RatedRStar said...

Mines would be either Five Easy Pieces or Chinatown.

As for Far From The Madding Crowd it is a really good film, better than it looks, and my favourite performer would be Stamp followed by Bates than Finch.

John Smith said...

Chinatown also contains a very good performance from him.

Michael McCarthy said...

Jack is probably one of my top 5 favorite actors, I personally would go with Cuckoo's Nest since it's one of my favorite films of all time, but it has been quite a while since I've seen Five Easy Pieces.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'm on Team Cuckoo's Nest.

John Smith said...

He was very good i Cuckoo's Nest but there is something with Five Easy Pieces, maybe because the charachter feels so real,it seemed to represent an new generation of young the man at the time.The scene where he goes into to his car and breaks down Before asking his girlfriend to come with him made me feel alot of emphaty for him even tough he is kind of an asshole.

Louis Morgan said...

John Smith: Cuckoo's Nest although I love him in Five Easy Pieces as well.