Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1953: Otto Preminger in Stalag 17

Otto Preminger did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Colonel von Scherbach in Stalag 17.

Stalag 17 has a rather robust ensemble which does a great job of making the barracks of Stalag 17 quite the vivid place. Honestly the academy might have pulled a name randomly out of hat when they chose Robert Strauss from the film, since it certainly seems possible that they could have gone for someone else from the film. Otto Preminger certainly would seem right up their alley as a director, primarily known for directing, acting was something the academy seemed to like as seen by their nominations for John Huston, Erich von Stroheim and Vittorio de Sica. Then again Preminger is playing a Nazi so perhaps that prevented some recognition. Being the camp commandant though that leaves Preminger as one of the main villains, technically the spy inside the barracks could be considered more villainous, but Preminger is the one who gets open and about with his villainy.

Preminger, like Borgnine, Marvin, and Robinson, also only has a few scenes most of which are when von Scherbach is addressing the men at roll call. Preminger doesn't play von Scherbach as some obvious Nazi who wears his evil on his sleeve no rather Preminger takes a bit of a lighter approach much more fitting of a man whose duties are watching men rather than killing them. Preminger brings just enough of a flamboyance to his role as he delivers his lines in a fairly lighthearted way. Preminger never goes too far to seem as though out of character, but brings just enough of a jovial quality to von Scherbach. Preminger does it quite well by having a menace within his antics toward the men. Preminger is cleverly warm well being cold as he makes von Scherbach somewhat amusing in his manner but in a way in which only von Scherbach will be allowed to enjoy.

Preminger doesn't get to do a whole lot as Colonel von Scherbach but he's quite enjoyable whenever he is on screen with his smug overly confidant demeanor. He's particularly good in the scene where he's interrogating a prisoner merely by not allowing him to sleep as Preminger walks about as if von Scherbach does not have a single care in the world. My favorite moment of his might actually be a silent one when it appears as though the man the Nazis have been looking for has been killed as Preminger shows Scherbach look over the body with self-satisfaction only to have it abruptly vanquish from his face when realizing it's not the case, that reaction alone makes the ending of the film all the more satisfying to watch. The limits of the part certainly leave Preminger's performance somewhat limited but within those limits he thrives quite well.


GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Damn. Oh well...

I know I asked you a similar question before, but upon re-watching have any of the supporting cast of Stalag 17 been beumped up from a 3? And if so, any thoughts on any of the cast members?

RatedRStar said...

Louis what are your thoughts on good old Clifton Webb and the film Titanic (1953) ill say I liked the film and him in it, althought the ship sinking was a bit of a dissapointment compared to the 58 version, it sank like a ship in a bowl of soup lol =D.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Lol the 1953 film has its merits I guess. RatedRStar what are your ratings on the cast of Titanic?

Louis Morgan said...


Actually several of them would.

Erdman - 3.5(I found him to stand out the second best, of the supporting players, as he expressed well the certain command in his character but as well the conflict in him to get to the bottom of the spy without resorting to drastic measures)

Graves - 3.5(His performance succeeds in that I never did suspect him. Graves though kinda cleverly alludes to it by having such a righteousness about himself that it just has to be false in some way)

Brand - 3.5(I found his emotional portrayal of the soldier who takes the losses most to hard quite affecting. He's good because although he shows the rage well there is always a certain undercurrent of the heartbreak that compels him to these feelings)

Stratton - 3.5(His narration is actually quite well done as he brings so much character to it and it never feels just like exposition. He does not get to do much in the present but he's handles his role with a particularly light comic approach quite well)

It's funny as I like Strauss but he'd actually rank fairly low in my cast ranking.


Yeah the ship sinking was a bit of anti-climax. Webb though was quite good. I like how he once again played a rich guy but this time he choose not to have that ego this time. Instead he plays him as more down to earth type of guy and ends up creating a quite affecting portrait of one of the lives. His reactions in the final scenes are particularly moving.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Yes, I'm glad you liked Erdman too. I would also like to bring attention to Robinson Stone as the mute Joey, quite a small role but very moving.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Anyone who you found to be a weak link? I've always thought Don Taylor was probably the weakest out of the whole cast, although he didn't have much of a role. My ratings would probably be:

Ruman-3.5 (what did you think of him Louis?)

Louis Morgan said...

I'd probably go with Taylor as well, but mostly because he didn't do much.

Actually looking at it I'd give Ruman and Stone 3.5's as well. As I thought Ruman was very funny and Stone did a whole lot with very little.