Sunday, 20 July 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1942: Tim Holt in The Magnificent Ambersons

Tim Holt did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying George in The Magnificent Ambersons.

The Magnificent Ambersons is a decent enough followup to Citizen Kane by Orson Welles about a fading prominent family, although the fact that is was severely cut by the studio is quite noticeable.

Tim Holt, best known as the far less greedy miner in the Treasure of Sierra Madre, once again plays a role that seems thankless to the showier roles given to much of the cast. Holt plays George who will inherit what is left of the Amberson fortune. Holt in the early scenes plays George extremely straight as the lead character in a family drama like this, really in pretty much the way these sorts of characters are portrayed in parodies. Holt speaks every line as to the point as possible, and in all honesty is quite bland as George seems to just enjoy his status in life as well as the fact that he seems primed to marry his romantic interest Lucy (Anne Baxter). Although I think this was a purposeful directing choice on Welles part, Holt does not find any wiggle room to do something special within his restriction like say the way Daniel Day-Lewis eventually would in A Room With A View.

The reason George just seems the romantic hero is that Welles obviously wanted to give us this golden age appearance for the family of the Ambersons as well as for the life of George. This is torn down rather quickly though when a scandal arises surrounding George's mother and Lucy's father. This leaves George to confront it in a particularly selfish and fairly extreme way showing him to be actually just really a spoiled brat more that anything. Holt again keeps it incredibly straight to almost the point of parody as he plays George's reaction as basically just a temper tantrum. Again I think this does fit the character, and Welles's intent but Holt's performance does it in a particularly standard fashion. His George is just extremely likable Holt suggest no real substance to this, he does it with no style, and never attempts to do it in cleverly humorous fashion either.

Eventually, well rather quickly due to the brevity of the film, George falls on some hard times himself losing Lucy, having to get a job and eventually getting an automobile accident. Again Holt just stays quite bland and very uninteresting. Holt still keeps George as a man of no depth even when distraught, but I suppose that is true to form. Nevertheless George is still one boring man who I could care less about, and Holt does not even turn that into some sort of compelling anti-charisma. Holt's performance and George as a character just seems there to facilitate the more interesting characters who are performed by the likes of Agnes Moorehead and Joseph Cotten. This not a truly bad performance as I do think technically Holt fulfills his duty in a certain way, but that way is particularly forgettable.


Michael Patison said...

Granted I have not watched this in quite some time, but I completely disagree. To each his own. Terribly weak year.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Is Cotten going to get a review?

Michael Patison said...

Robert: I requested him (Cotten), which is why this year is being reviewed right now.

Louis: Rating and thoughts for Moorehead

Michael McCarthy said...

I actually completely agree with this, I was confused when everyone listed him as number 1 in their predictions so I bumped him up a bit. But then again I thought you'd like Ladd and Coward much more than you did.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I listed number one because I haven't seen any of these.

Matt Mustin said...

I didn't even attempt to predict any of these.

Anonymous said...

What did you think of him in Sierra Madre? I thought he was good but overshadowed, maybe about a 3.5

Anonymous said...

Also, your thoughts/ratings on

Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock

George C. Scott in Changeling

John C. Reilly in Magnolia

And lastly, where does your James Stewart stand in your list of top actors, is he in the top 20?

Louis Morgan said...

Michael Patison: Moorehead - 4.5(Perhaps a tad on the over the top at times yet I almost don't care since she makes Aunt Fanny such a interesting and compelling force in the film. She does do well though to bring some subtly along with theatrics as even when she is not screaming you can see the pain and desperation simmering underneath the surface)


Yes probably a 3.5. He is good enough to make his character likable even if he is, as you said, overshadowed by Bogart and Huston.

Louis Morgan said...

Harden - 4(I don't know despite having quite an impact while watching the film, I can't really even recall that much of her performance at the moment other than the "NEED" scene. She's definitely good though, but I think her performance is amplified a bit since the rest of the film is pretty weak around her)

George C. Scott - 4.5(Some actors might have taken such a film to overact, but Scott is absolutely steadfast in giving a convincing portrayal of a man honestly grieving while finding out the truth about his haunted living quarters)

Reilly - 4.5(Reilly's really good by giving such a heartfelt performance, yet still always makes sure to be believable as a cop while be such a warm guy otherwise. I particularly love his offbeat yet believable chemistry with Walters)

Stewar is in my top ten.