Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1942: Joseph Cotten in The Magnificent Ambersons and Results

Joseph Cotten did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Eugene Morgan in The Magnificent Ambersons.

Joseph Cotten once again collaborates with Orson Welles in the role of Eugene Morgan a wealthy industrial whose life is very much intertwined with the the lives of those Magnificent Ambersons. As I wrote in my review of Holt's performance as the Amberson heir George, Welles, in the early scenes of the film, purposefully creates a false golden age as we first meet the characters. Cotten, unlike Holt, gives a fairly natural portrayal of the golden age for his character though. In his portrayal Cotten gives just enough charm to his role to make his character likable enough as well as with the right warmth to establish that Eugene certainly cares for his daughter Lucy (Anne Baxter), and in general just wants to see everyone happy in the simplest of ways. It's technically relatively simple, but Cotten never makes it seems as there is nothing, and just makes Eugene honestly a kind man.

Problems arise though when it becomes obvious that Eugene and George's mother Isabel have been in love for some time, and Eugene's presence is because of his desire to pursue this relationship once more after the death of George's father. Although George reacts quite harshly to this revelation Eugene's behavior is nothing to get in arms about. Cotten portrays in a wholly humble and fairly sweet fashion creating the needed sympathy for Eugene while showing George to be a word I won't write here. Anyway though George puts an end to it all by throwing a tantrum leaving Eugene alone. Cotten is moving enough showing Eugene basically just accepting this result in a quiet and somber fashion. The film keeps it fairly simple and short though but Cotten certainly makes us understand and care for his character's plight.

Cotten is consistently good here with some standout moments throughout, particularly his monologue about automobiles, but the material never allows Cotten do anything that notable with the role. He definitely is never bad in anyway, and he definitely steals every scene he shares with Tim Holt but that's not too much of challenge. Whenever he is on screen Cotten realizes Eugene properly as character, and he certainly allows you to understand and empathize with his character. The film is a brief one and the story of Eugene's love and loss seems to be one of the aspects of the film that was perhaps cut a little too short leaving Cotten's impact somewhat diminished. Cotten does solid work in every regard there just is not enough here to allow him to truly make something memorable with the role of Eugene Morgan.
Other Performances:

Roddy McDowall in The Pied Piper - Good Child actors are sometimes hard to come by and bad ones can almost ruin a film like say those atrocious ones in Watch on the Rhine. Luckily The Pied Piper has two of the best from the period with McDowall and Peggy Ann Garner. McDowall plays the overly smart type kid character with a few too many comebacks, which could spell disaster for most. McDowall though does it with such a considerable amount of charm and grace. I particularly found his chemistry with Woolley very endearing and they played off each other in such a wonderful and rather funny fashion. My major complaint with the film is later developments in the plot pushes McDowall to the background and there really is something lost there. The only problem with this performance is how little there is of it, the film never seemed to notice the gold they had with McDowall and Woolley.
Laird Cregar in This Gun For Hire - The more I see of him the more I think perhaps Cregar should be mentioned along with the likes of John Cazale when speaking of a great actor whose career was tragically cut short. Cregar has such a tremendous screen presence which he makes of great use as the liaison between Alan Ladd's hit man and a business man. Cregar has such a unique style about himself and he's one of those actors who is just fun to watch acting. This works well for the role of the weasel he plays here who is quite timid about death even though he is the man who hands out the money to cause death. Cregar makes it that, so you can't help but be a little sorry for his overly gentle fool, who is almost positively petrified by how black everything gets around them. Cregar has a very Peter Ustinov like quality about himself as the way he moves and deliveries his lines as the coward just has the perfect comedic tinge to it. Cregar made me enjoy his performance so much I actually was rather sad to see what happens to his character at the end of the film. It's a nice bit of work and shows his range as he manages to proves himself capable of playing a commanding character through his portrayal of Henry Morgan also in 1942.
Claude Rains in Now Voyager - Claude Rains, a noted player of villains, plays quite against that type as the doctor who plans on helping Bette Davis's character who is about to suffer a nervous breakdown because of controlling behavior of her cold mother. Rains does not have a huge role in the film showing up in various key turning points in the film basically to facilitate the best out of Davis's character. Rains, despite being such an expert at playing viscous could men, is quite adept a playing a warm one. Rains is performance is really quite strong here because it is not just the tender way he speaks that makes his character such a comforting factor. No Rains goes further than that with his performance as through his body language he conveys perfectly always a strong sense of empathy. When Davis character first appears the way Rains interacts and moves with the right delicacy and care.  The doctor just wants to help her get better, succeeding in doing so, and that is extremely easy to believe as Rains is so good at making the doctor so genuinely good. I liked every moment he appeared in the film, and like the other performances mentioned thus far I certainly could have gone for more of him.
I'm sure there's someone who's going to like this ranking.

Overall Rank:
  1. Claude Rains in Casablanca
  2. Claude Rains in Now Voyager
  3. Laird Cregar in This Gun For Hire
  4. Claude Rains in Kings Row
  5. Claude Rains in Moontide
  6. Laird Cregar in The Black Swan 
  7. Otto Kruger in Saboteur
  8. Pierre Larquey in The Murderer Lives At Number 23
  9. Noel Roquevert in The Murderer Lives At Number 23  
  10. Jean Tissier in The Murderer Lives At Number 23
  11. Roddy McDowall in The Pied Piper
  12. Norman Lloyd in Saboteur
  13. George Sanders in The Black Swan
  14. Walter Huston in Yankee Doodle Dandy
  15. Peter Lorre in Casablanca
  16. Joseph Cotten in The Magnificent Ambersons
  17. William Demarest in The Palm Beach Story
  18. Alexander Knox in This Above All 
  19. Walter Brennan in The Pride of the Yankees
  20. Otto Preminger in The Pied Piper
  21. Tully Marshall in This Gun For Hire
  22. Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca
  23. William Bendix in Wake Island
  24. Paul Henreid in Casablanca
  25. Thomas Mitchell in This Above All
  26. Charles Coburn in Kings Row
  27. Bernard Miles in In Which We Serve
  28. Stanley Ridges in To Be Or Not To Be
  29. Thomas Mitchell in Moontide
  30. Henry Travers in Mrs. Miniver
  31. Robert Preston in Wake Island
  32. Paul Henreid in Now Voyager
  33. Rudy Valee in The Palm Beach Story
  34. S.Z. Sakall in Casablanca
  35. Thomas Mitchell in The Black Swan
  36. Frank Morgan in Tortilla Flat
  37. Jimmy Durante in The Man Who Came to Dinner
  38. Robert Stack in To Be Or Not To Be
  39. Ray Collins in The Magnificent Ambersons 
  40. Anthony Quinn in The Black Swan
  41. Philip Dorn in Random Harvest
  42. Brian Donlevy in Wake Island 
  43. S.Z. Sakall in Yankee Doodle Dandy
  44. Anthony Quinn in Road to Morocco
  45. Robert Preston in This Gun For Hire
  46. Sheldon Leonard in Tortilla Flat
  47. Reginald Owen in Mrs. Miniver
  48. Donald Meek in Tortilla Flat
  49. Richard Travis in The Man Who Came To Dinner
  50. Richard Ney in Mrs. Miniver
  51. Richard Whorf in Yankee Doodle Dandy
  52. Akim Tamiroff in Tortilla Flat
Next Year: 1997 lead


GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Lol imagine if those were the actal Oscar nominations. Would be pretty intense watching Rains v.s. Cregar!

Any for suggestions:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic
Ian Holm, The Sweet Hereafter
Russell Crowe/Guy Pearce, L.A. Confidential
Robert Carlyle, The Full Monty
Djimon Hounsou, Amistad (but actually, on second thought wouldn't want you to torture yourself with this awful film again)
Daniel Day Lewis in The Boxer
Samuel L Jackson in Jackie Brown

Very strongg year, IMO.

Michael McCarthy said...

Russell Crowe-L.A. Confidential
Guy Pearce-L.A. Confidential
Al Pacino-Donnie Brasco
Johnny Depp-Donnie Brasco
Ray Winstone-Nil by Mouth
Philip Baker Hall-Hard Eight
Ian Holm-The Sweet Hereafter
John Cusack-Grosse Point Blank
Daniel Day-Lewis-The Boxer
Robert Carlyle-The Full Monty
Mark Wahlberg-Boogie Nights

Mark said...

Louis, is this year the weakest year out of the alternate years so far, or is 1935 weaker?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

So many to choose from.

Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco
Johnny Depp in Donnie Brasco
Russell Crowe in L.A. Confidential
Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential
Linus Roache in The Wings of the Dove (I know I recanted my request for him, but I'm curious to see if you found him as underrated as I did)
Philip Baker Hall in Hard Eight
Ian Holm in The Sweet Hereafter
Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights
Daniel Day-Lewis in The Boxer
Ray Winstone in Nil by Mouth

Anonymous said...

Al Pacino- Donnie Brasco
Philip Baker Hall- Hard Eight
Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe- LA Confidential
Ian Holm- The Sweet Hereafter

RatedRStar said...


I think people have mentioned all the 1997 contenders, the only ones I would add to their lists are Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Leslie Cheung for Happy Together.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your thoughts on Rains in Moontide and Kings Row?

Anonymous said...

Also Louis what are your thoughts on the two films themselves?

Anonymous said...

I 100% agree about Cotten.
-Russell Crowe in L.A. Confidefial
-Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential
-Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights
-Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic
-Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco
What are your ratings and thoughts on Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential?

GM said...

Mark Wahlberg - Boogie Night
Arno Frisch - Funny Games
Guy Pearce - L.A. Confidential

Maciej said...

Ian Holm - The Sweet Hereafter (my request)
Guy Pearce - L.A. Confidential
Robert Carlyle - The Full Monty
Ray Winstone - Nil by Mouth
Philip Baker Hall - Hard Eight

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your ratings and thoughts on Juliette Binoche in The English Patient? For me she was easily the best thing about the movie

Kevin said...

Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe - LA Confidential
Ray Winstone - Nil By Mouth
Phillip Baker Hall - Hard Eight
Robert Carlyle - The Full Monty
Michael Douglas - The Game
Linus Roache - The Wings of the Dove
Mark Wahlberg - Boogie Nights

luke higham said...

Ray Winstone - Nil by Mouth
Phillip Baker Hall - Hard Eight
Guy Pearce -LA Confidential
Russell Crowe - LA Confidential
Ian Holm - The Sweet Hereafter
Daniel Day Lewis - The Boxer

Since you're not particularly enthusiastic about this one
Bonus Review - Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco

Michael Patison said...

Nobody has left any for me, so I'll just underscore some:
Guy Pearce in LA Confidential
Russell Crowe in LA Confidential
Ray Winstone in Nil by Mouth
Ian Holm in The Sweet Hereafter
Philip Baker Hall in Hard Eight

Michael Patison said...

Can I get your ratings for the bottom half of the top 10? You can give your thoughts too if you want.

Connor Olen said...

Ethan Hawke in Gattaca!!!

Scott Gingold said...

Eammon Owens - The Butcher Boy
Ben Affleck - Chasing Amy
Aidan Quinn - Commandments
Mel Gibson - Conspiracy Theory
Woody Allen - Deconstructing Harry
Robert Carlyle - The Full Monty
Aaron Eckhart - In the Company of Men
Sean Penn - She's So Lovely
Ian Holm - The Sweet Hereafter

RatedRStar said...

Claude Rains...Claude Rainsss, best in the world, the best supporting actor in history, oh and Louis =D this doesnt change 1946 of course lol but im sure you knew that.

JackiBoyz said...

So um, Daniel, if Harold Russell or one of the cast of Its A Wonderful Life win 1946, what have you say to that.

Anonymous said...

Louis, who's your pick for Best Supporting Actress 1946, Teresa Wright (The Best Years of Our Lives) and Donna Reed (It's a Wonderful Life)? Or someone else?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Please include Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco.

JackiBoyz said...

Louis, what are your thoughts on Walter Huston as an actor in general? Is up there with some of the best classic supporting actors along with Charles Coburn and um, RatedRStars boyfriend?

John Smith said...

Please do Guy Pearce in Confidential and Samuel In Jackie Brown.

Louis Morgan said...

Mark: This year was technically a little weaker since 35 had the five in McLaglen.


Kings Row - (Rains is gives a rather interesting in that he is convincing as a mentor to look up yet he brings this underlying current of darkness to his performance. Rains cleverly suggests what was taken out by the censors. The only unfortunate thing is that the film almost seems to make his character pointless)

Moontide - (A very different type of role for Rains as he's playing a nice guy, but he's also not playing a rich guy for once. Rains steals the film from all as he effortlessly makes his character the heart of the film bringing so much warmth his part. Again I only wish there was more of him)

Kings Row is effective in certain ways in that it's well shot and there is a palatable atmosphere at times. The film is extremely inconsistent though and it is quite hard to really know what's even trying to be about at times. This no doubt was contributed by the censorship leaving it as a somewhat intriguing yet never seems to go far enough in any of its stories.

Moontide is a pretty weak romantic drama that poorly attempts to be a noir. Jean Gabin is charming enough in the lead, but the film is just mostly forgettable.


Basinger - 3(She's vivacious enough I guess in the part, but there is not anything about her performance that makes her standout. I don't have anything to complain in regards to her actual performance, what is so odd is that the academy chose to only recognize this performance from the film. I do think someone could have been better in the role as her portrayal is pretty by the numbers)


Binoche - 4.5(I agree she's the best part of the film. She's quite charming the role and I did find she brightened up the rather dull film for me a little bit. Frankly I would have been fine if the film was just about her story without a need for the rather slow moving flashbacks)

Patison - 2.5 for all except Tamiroff who'd I give a 2. None of them are really excessively bad just either forgettable or they are in underwritten roles.


I think Reed would be my win actually.

Jackiboyz: I think he's one of the great classic actors as he tends to give such lively and entertaining performance. I would easily put him up there with Rains and Coburn.

Anonymous said...

What's the most you've ever dropped an actor's rating in a particular performance after a re-watch (i.e. the opposite of your re-watch of Dreyfus in The Goodbye Girl)

Louis Morgan said...

The first one that springs to my mind is Kevin Spacey in American Beauty although that happened before I reviewed him.