Friday, 3 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1953: Glenn Ford in The Big Heat

Glenn Ford did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Det. Sgt. Dave Bannion in The Big Heat.

The Big Heat is a rather effective film noir about a detective who will get to the bottom of the murder despite rampant corruption around him, and threatens to his life and family. 

Glenn Ford is not the greatest leading man from the period as some of his performances can be a bit bland, and he does not exactly have the most range as an actor. In the Big Heat it appears as though this will be fairly standard Ford type of performance as the film opens. That being the devoted man with a loving family but dealing with some tough issues like his roles in Trial and The Blackboard Jungle. It is a fairly good example of it though as Ford has enough charm and likability in his scenes with his family. In the scenes of the early investigation Ford is also wholly solid in showing the straight method of Bannion as he goes about his task. He brings the right underlying passion in his portrayal of Bannion drive but is careful to show that at the end of the day Bannion still seems to be a man who's merely doing his job, although definitely determined to it to the best of his ability.

Of course everything is suddenly turned on his head when the gangsters who were behind the murder make an attempt on Bannion's life. Bannion is not harmed but the gangsters accidentally kill someone very close to the man instead. It is interesting as the film turns the usual Ford character on his head as Bannion has to deal with this death and it changes from the upstanding cop he was before. Bannion instead turns into a much darker character than before and it is rather fascinating to see Ford handle the role at this point. It's a bit more of stretch for him and Ford breaks apart his usual performance in a rather effective fashion. He pretty much drops the average guy charm instead giving a far more withdrawn portrayal as he conveys the way that Bannion seems to be now consumed by his desire for revenge.

Glenn Ford changes from the Glenn Ford style hero to a far more hard bitten type of detective more in the style of Robert Mitchum or Kirk Douglas. He does so in a rather convincing manner actually and gives a strong portrayal of Bannion as he is more interested technically in causing suffering for those who wrong him than simply upholding the law. Ford portrays it almost a sort of madness in Bannion as he seems to be almost wholly bent to the idea of revenge without being able to think of much else. He carries himself with a certain intensity at all times portraying Bannion, although in the right, as in a way lost to his own hatred. The only time Ford expresses a different side to Bannion is when must recall the one he lost. Ford makes these scenes rather poignant without making them seemed forced showing them as though he is remembering the good rather than experiencing it.

This is a good performance by Glenn Ford and he effectively leads the film noir quite well. He manages to break the mold of his usual standard sort of performance and is fairly striking in taking this more daring approach with work. I will be blunt when I say this is not quite a great performance though as Ford is not quite a great actor. He is indeed a decent one, and this is easily the best performance I have seen from him. Now having said that I do this Bannion as a character had potential for a truly great performance and one could easily see that if it were indeed in the hands of someone like Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum or maybe Ray Milland. Ford never quite reaches the heights one would imagine were possible for the role, but even so it is really a solid performance that still realizes his character rather well.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice review! I've heard Gloria Grahame was the scene-stealer, what would be your thoughts and ratings on her performance?

Anonymous said...

@kook160, I've seen that you would give a 2 to Neil Patrick Harris in Gone Girl and a 1.5 for Pitt in Se7en, I'd like to ask you why don't you like their performances exactly? I'm just curious, because Harris was quite well-received by critics and because I remember Pitt being quite good in Se7en.

Kevin said...

Honestly, I don't think Pitt was that bad. He gave a strong performance as the hot-headed newbie for most of the film, and played off Freeman really well. As for his infamous last scene, yes his delivery of "What's in the box" was over-the-top, but he made it up with his silent reaction. I would probably give him a 4

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I love Pitt in Se7en, very believable as that very particular sort of cop.

Harris is solid in Gone Girl, IMO, the only problem with him is his character isn't the most well-written or utilised.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@kook160: I'm glad you liked Pike, Affleck and Perry as much as I did though, I was particularly impressed with Pike.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Also happy birthday to Christoph Waltz, one of the best actors working today :D

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to Cristoph Waltz! And Susan Sarandon, too! By the way, I too liked Pitt in Se7en, not amazing but very good, and I'm actually interested in Harris' performance in Gone Girl because it's a very unusual role for him and the reviews was quite positive about his performance.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Harris was really the only weak link in the movie for me. Played it too obvious, too one-note. He was missing a moustache to twirl. And yes, Pitt gets a low score for the last scene. He's fine for the most part through it, but he's just plain horrible near the end.

luke higham said...

Louis: What rating would you give to Dudley Manlove in Plan 9 from Outer Space.

RatedRStar said...

One of the problems I have with Neil Patrick Harris is that, he is so likable in programs like HIMYM and in musicals, as well as being likable in general, that I cant really see him playing anything other than those roles, playing a darker character seems a bit of miscasting for me anyway.

Anonymous said...

@RatedRStar: that's why I'm so interested in watching his performance in Gone Girl. He's so funny and likeable in just everything he does, in HIMYM, when he hosts the award shows etc. I'm very interested in seeing him in a dark role because he seems to be miscast but I've heard some critics praising him so I guess I'll just wait until I'll see him in the movie.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Hate to break it to you, but he did all but twirl a mustache in his performance. He (and the character) are completely one-note. I wouldn't necessarily call it miscasting, just miscalculation in both his performance and writing. I think he could have played the character better if they gave the character some depth.

RatedRStar said...

@Koook160: I dont want to reveal spoilers or anything I just wanted to ask, how would you have described......the twist... in terms of how it was done, like for example, I would say the twist in say, Laura (1944) was very easy to guess but it was still creepy and kinda cool =D.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Just see the damn movie.

Anonymous said...

@kook160: I haven't seen the movie yet so I really don't know, maybe when I'll see the movie I'll agree with you. In a few reviews actually some people criticized the writing of Harris' role, and sometimes his actual acting too, while others seemed to like quite a lot his performance. But, as I said, I haven't seen Gone Girl yet so I can't judge. Can't wait to though, and I'm glad that Rosamund Pike received so much acclaim for her performance because I always felt that she is an often underused actress.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Grahame - 4.5(She is indeed the scene stealer for the film as a gun moll. She enjoyable in having that certain style in her early scenes in portraying her character's somewhat ditzy naivety. Grahame though is particularly great after her character changes as she is quite moving and compelling in portraying her character's sudden, for a very good reason, change.)

Luke: Well he should obviously receive a five for that name alone.