Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1967: Richard Harris in Camelot

Richard Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning a Golden Globe, for portraying King Arthur in Camelot.

Camelot potentially may have worked with a more creative director but instead its directed by Joshua Logan who seemed to be able to suck the life and potential out of any material.

There is one thing I like about this adaptation and that is obviously Richard Harris as King Arthur since I am clearly reviewing him. Harris doesn't exactly give a subtle performance here, which is fine as one should avoid being sucked upon into Logan's dull direction. Harris has two sides to his performance one side is the one, that one would more immediately associate with someone playing King Arthur in a musical version of the story. In this side Harris is quite charming in portraying Arthur as a lover of life. Harris provides a great bit of energy that even makes up for the fact that's he's obviously not the greatest singer in the world. Harris though tries his best to give some life to these scenes even when he is undercut at every turn by Logan who brings absolutely not a hint of momentum with his direction. Harris is fun in the role even though he does not get to say all that much fun for long.

Things don't stay happy for Arthur for long when it becomes quite obvious that the great knight Lancelot (horribly played by Franco Nero) is clearly having an affair with his wife Guinevere (Vanessa Redgrave). This leaves Arthur to become more introverted as he basically watches as his destiny is spelled out for him which is only further aided along by his sinister illegitimate son Mordred (David Hemmings). Harris is quite good in doing the extreme dramatics of these scenes giving that cold stare as he looks at the lovers with a disdain as well as a despair as he sees fate slowly closing in on him. Harris is equally excels whenever he needs to make any fierce statement of a King as Harris carries himself with quite the command while having that brutal edge. Harris is able to do the act of the uncivilized nature in such a gentlemanly figure otherwise rather effectively.

Now a problem does arise in that there isn't much cohesion between the two sides of the King, but that's really not Harris's fault. It isn't that Harris fails to properly transition depending on the scene but Logan's direction has no idea how to make the more lighthearted moments lead to the dramatic ones. The lighthearted scenes and the heavier scenes come seemingly at random making for a rather inconsistent tone which can be seen in Harris's performance since he is forced to jump between the tones so suddenly. There is only any real synergy in his last scene where he tells a young boy to remember Camelot. Harris brings about a real happiness in his remembrance of the past while still keeping a desperation in his voice to convey the severity of the situation. Other than that, which is his best scene to be sure, though Harris just kinda jumps back and forth. I like both sides of his Arthur to be sure but his performance can never fully make up for the weaknesses of the film.


koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

So will Franco Nero rank last on your Supporting rankings?

Matt Mustin said...

Isn't this a musical?

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: That seems very likely.

Matt: It is indeed.