Sunday, 26 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Alan Bates, Peter Finch and Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd

Alan Bates did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Gabriel Oak, Peter Finch did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NBR, for portraying William Boldwood, and Terence Stamp did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Troy in Far From the Madding Crowd.

Far From the Madding Crowd is an effective epic about Bathsheba Everdine (Julie Christie) a woman who has inherited a large farm, and three very different men vying for her affections.

Well this is one where it is easy to see why all three of the actors were ignored for the film since not only would they have suffered from category confusion they also would have had severe internal competition. Although they are all on the border, with Bates being the closest, of being lead but their stories are always secondary to Bathsheba's and each man will disappear for extended periods of time. Bates is the closest and the first man that we meet as he begins the film as a shepherd with his own land. At this time Gabriel makes his affection known to Bathsheba but she rejects him, and soon afterwards he loses his land after his dog chases all his sheep off a cliff. After this this leads Gabriel looking for employment elsewhere and ends up working at Bathsheba's farm. Honestly it's easy enough to feel sorry Gabriel based on all that happens to him so quickly, and Bates has the most sympathetic role of the three.

Alan Bates is really quite good in the role as he doesn't try to make Gabriel that much of a character so to speak. Gabriel is the average Joe of the lot and Bates takes the right approach by giving a rather unassuming performance. Bates instead gives just a very honest performance in every sense of the word as he does not give Gabriel any usual tics or tendencies. He's just a normal guy who is trying to make the best of a bad situation. Bates's has a nice underlying charm about himself and he makes Gabriel a likable figure in the film. He's also very good in the scenes where his rejection is sorta rubbed in his face in one way or another. Bates is particularly believable because he does not really hide his feelings about it, he strikes the right balance as a reasonable man who would never continue to object to his treatment, yet still silently allows it to be known through his reactions to these moments.

Now for someone who is a less open and about look no further than William Boldwood played by Peter Finch. Boldwood plays a neighboring wealthy farmer who Bathsheba accidentally lead on more than she intended when she sent him a valentine. Finch has the most thankless role perhaps simply because Boldwood is the "stiff" out of three. He's the upper crust sort and Finch shows this through his performance. Finch has the right rigidness in his portrayal as he most often keeps Boldwood very refined in his posture and attitude. Finch on the surface keeps Boldwood very quiet most of the time, and as a man who purposefully tries to stay unemotional. Finch though is quite effective though in playing the stiffness of Boldwood. Finch does not make him truly a stiff though. The first scenes where Boldwood makes his affections known Finch makes it all proper, but below the surface Finch exudes an actual emotional need for this relationship.

The third man comes in the form of a soldier named Frank Troy played by Terence Stamp. In the earliest scenes we actually are just given brief glances of Troy who is in no way associated with Bathsheba at first. He's actually involved with a different woman Fanny who he plans to marry but calls it off after she shows up to the wrong church on their wedding day. Stamp's work is brief in these scenes but he sets up his character well. He does not have the openness of Bates nor is he nearly as controlled as Finch. Stamp is good though as seems to suggest a genuine simple love of sorts to the woman in their earliest scenes together. Stamp is appropriately jarring when he turns that on its head to such a coldness as Troy rejects her for making him look like a fool. After that it is quite a bit of time before Frank suddenly appears one night and just happens upon Bathsheba.

Well I'm glad I named Terence Stamp as the man who should have played Barry Lyndon because Frank Troy isn't far off, it's a shame Stamp didn't have the box office clout. Stamp has the charisma of a great con man, who happens to be a soldier as well, when he goes about wooing Bathsheba. Stamp is extraordinary in how charming he is in the scene where he shows off his swordsmanship to her. Stamp simply is wonderful and there is not a moment where you doubt his ability to win her over in such a way. What especially stands out about Stamp's performance is the way that it contrasts from Bates. Bates does have a charm as Gabriel but it is in a very down to earth sorta a way. Stamp on the other hand makes Frank Troy appropriately larger than life to the point that Stamp makes unfortunately an inevitability that he would be able to win Bathsheba over Boldwood and Gabriel. 

Troy, because he is known to be a man of ill repute, leads Boldwood to come back into the game as he tries to buy Troy off. Finch is quite good in this scene as he portrays Boldwood as a man who constantly tries to keep himself reserved no matter what the situation. Finch suggests though such rage just below that Boldwood is constantly holding in check keeping him in a state of distress. At the moment when he does briefly attack Troy Finch presents it as just a momentary lapse in control as he hurriedly tries to bring back that same reserve. Stamp is also great in this scene as he makes Troy such a scoundrel. What makes Stamp's performance so striking is that he's still extremely charismatic even when he's being so despicable. Stamp gives Troy that larger than life personality which manages to even expand to have a larger ability when comes to be so unusually cruel and egotistical.

Meanwhile you have Gabriel who just keeps working away at the farm, even after it technically becomes Troy's farm since he gets Bathesheba to marry him. Although Bates is often forced to be reactionary, since Gabriel does basically stop trying to get Bathesheba to reconsider him as a possible suitor, he still keeps Gabriel as a presence in the film. Bates is good by continuing to be the man without an pretense in the situation and always as the moral center of the situation. Where Finch portrays Boldwood as slowly bottling up his frustrations, and Stamp portrays Troy as obviously uncaring, Bates portrays Gabriel as that of the honest man who is honest with himself as well as the world. Bates does not show Gabriel openly hostile toward Bathesheba or Troy, but rather is quite good in exuding a certain wisdom of Gabriel as he instead non-verbally voices his disappointment. 

Of course Troy is not without a heart actually and when his old lover turns up again we see this. Stamp is brilliant in these scenes because he finally does convey some regret in Troy for his previous actions yet he does still as a scoundrel would. Stamp makes his sadness over the fate of his true love completely genuine yet he uses it to bring an even greater brutality to his coldness as Troy makes it quite clear to Bathesheba that she means nothing to him. Troy dissapears, bringing back Boldwood to the fold once more as he tries to make Bathesheba his wife. Finch is very moving by keeping Boldwood so contained yet so effectively bringing those sudden bursts of happiness seep out whenever it seems Bathesheba will return his affections. At the same time she never does him right and continues to somewhat unintentionally toy with him. Finch does a fantastic job of realizing how Bathesheba's behavior just compounds his frustrations associated with her. This allows the moment where he finally bursts to be an inevitability.

 Bates is terrific at being the constant of the film. He's not one note but rather always consistent in his portrayal of Gabriel who holds no secrets or vendettas. He allows the happy ending to work as it does, because frankly Bates earns it. Stamp is a great villain because you can't help but hate him, but at the same time he kinda forces you to love him too. Finch, as I stated before, does have the thankless role of three. Boldwood is a purposefully restrained character, but Finch does this exceptionally well. He always is restrained as he should be but still manages to always convey the inner turmoil of the man. Alan Bates, Peter Finch and Terence Stamp all give strong performances that each realize well the specifics of their characters. I will grant that Stamp stands out the most out of the three, but part of the reason for that is Frank Troy needs to stand out the most. All three suit their individual roles splendidly, and their work as a whole contributes greatly to the film's success.


luke higham said...

Louis: Rating & thoughts on Christie, also any new films seen recently.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

So this is anyone's game. Now that's interesting.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: your thoughts on the tragic result at Old Trafford.

Louis Morgan said...


Christie - 2.5(She was easily the weak link of the cast for me. She's not bad in the sense that's she's ever really obviously inadequate or anything like that. The problem is that she never makes Bathsheba that special of a character even though there was definitely a great deal of potential. She too often feels like a bit of blank slate, and never does enough to really show any of Bathsheba's intentions. She basically leaves most of the emotional moments to the men, and I don't think she needed to)

New Films:

The Judge
Two Days One Night
A Most Wanted Man

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings for the casts & thoughts on those you would give a 3.5 or more to.

Kevin said...

Louis, your ratings and thoughts on the films as well.


I was pretty gutted by the late late equalizer, but honestly, Chelsea played very well, considering that they were without Costa. And Matic was.absolutely tremendous.

luke higham said...

Louis: thoughts on the films as well.

Kevin: That finish really drove a knife through my heart, and even without Costa, we were by far and away the more comfortable team by the end, Once again Utd had the referee, an unfortunate sending off and Fergie/Louis time on their side and just wish this bullcrap would end. At the end of the day, I'm glad we're still undefeated, 6 pts ahead of are nearest title rivals (yes I know, Southampton are second, but they're obviously vying for top 4 UCL qualification) and hope for a draw or Utd win against City, as much as I hate having to say it.

Louis Morgan said...

Stretch - (It's kinda Collateral if it were a comedy. Although I did found that it took a little bit to get going, but once it hit its stride I found it to be a whole lot of fun.)

Patrick Wilson - 4(Wilson often can be a bit wooden but that's not the case here. He's an incredibly endearing lead in this one that it's easy to follow through his bizarre adventure. He's particularly good in any of the scenes where he need to own the space, and he does.)

Ed Helms - 3.5(I found Helms quite entertaining does he does his usual sort of broad smiling guy routine but this time with sinister almost demonic edge to it)

The Judge - (The film has some fine moments here and there but when it gets bad it gets really bad. Some of the humor is very out of place or just very poorly done, and many of the biggest scenes feel like the worst kind of manipulative schmaltz. I did not hate it, but I would not recommend it)

I'll save Duvall obviously.

Downey - 3.5(This is Downey coasting to be sure as there is nothing in the role that really challenges him beyond what he has been doing lately. That being said he still brought the Downey charm as usual and manages to at least slightly alleviate the badness found in some of the worst moments of the film. He's not able to completely overcome the weaknesses of the film, but I do think he makes it better than it would have been otherwise)

Two Days, One Night - (A rather effective modestly handled film anchored by a great performance which I will get to below. It did a particularly good job of not making the story repetitive even though technically was by conception, and its biggest emotional moments were well earned)

Cotillard - 5(A phenomenal performance by Cotillard and its interesting to see her play such an excessively meek character. Cotillard though shows how to make a meek character come to life. I love that she never cheats this aspect and makes all of her character's unease painfully real. She manages to realize her character's arc, which is to frankly be able to speak and stand up for herself, not only believable but very poignant)

A Most Wanted Man - (Well I loved it although that should not be a surprise since I'll freely admit to being a sucker for this type of spy thriller. I just found every moment of it captivating and most of all a worthy swan song for Philip Seymour Hoffman)

I'll save Hoffman.

Dafoe - 3.5(He has a fairly simple part as well as I won't say his accent is perfect, but past that he was really quite good. His character is technically just a cog but he managed to make him seem more than that. Dafoe manages to make his character seem like an actual man who there is more to then what we see here)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Would you say an Oscar nomination for Hoffman is a possibility Louis? Although 2014-2015 is turning out to be rather competitive.

Also what are your general thoughts on the three actors you just reviewed.

Michael McCarthy said...

What did you think of McAdams in Most Wanted Man? I thought she was great.

luke higham said...

Louis: Very happy, that you loved Cotillard, who for me is the best actress of her generation right now, by the way I would recommend seeing her performances in La Vie En Rose, Rust and Bone, as well as the Immigrant.
Lastly, I'm extremely looking forward to her collaboration with Michael Fassbender in Macbeth next year, which I hope will be absolutely terrific.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I think Cotillard and Blanchett are the best actresses working today.

luke higham said...

Louis: Also your thoughts on Marion Cotillard in general.

GDSAO: I'm really starting to see lead (Overall) for this year potentially match or exceed last year.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I agree with Michael on McAdams, and I'm not usually that big on her. Also, any 1's from the movies you saw?

Michael Patison said...

I thought McAdams gave her best performance to date (besides Mean Girls, obviously), but I still wasn't blown away by her. I always think she's fine but she always feels too superficial. She overcame that tendency to an extent here but not entirely.

Also, I wasn't kidding about Mean Girls (I'd nominate her). Not only was she extremely entertaining in portraying the extreme superficiality and bitchiness of her character, but she was also very interesting in how she seemed intent on being like that, like she put effort into it.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Luke: Lead overall is looking great so far, yes. Supporting as Louis said is a bit on the weak side, I think Norton or J.K. Simmons will win. I don't think Simmons really cares though haha, I've read that he's kinda like George C Scott in that he doesn't give two hoots about awards.

Louis Morgan said...


I'd say a very low possibility. Lead is looking extremely packed, and supporting would be a big lie to swallow. It would take a tremendous push for him since posthumous nominations either come from undeniable performances (Heath Ledger) or a driven campaign (Massimo Troisi).

I honestly need to see a lot more from all three of them particularly Finch. From what I have seen all had some considerable talent and could be quite great. They were also all capable of phoning it in sometimes, but I haven't found this to be the norm with any of them.

Michael McCarthy:

I basically mirror Michael Patison's thoughts on her although maybe I liked her a little less.


I have to say I have quite a lot of catching up to do with Cotillard since I have not seen a great deal of her most notable performances. I will say that, besides the Dark Knight Rises, she's always a wonderful presence to have in a film.


Jeremy Strong comes close for the Judge but I do think he could have perhaps been even worse considering how poorly written his part was.

luke higham said...

GDSAO & anyone else: How many 5s do you think Louis will give both Lead and supporting for this year. That includes upcoming releases like Interstellar, Foxcatcher, Big Eyes and so on.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I'm taking a wild guess but based on Louis' taste I'm guessing:

5's for Bredan Gleeson, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, Philip Seymour Hoffman, maybe Fassbender and Spall and Jack O'Connell; high 4.5s for a lot of actors (Carrell, Matt M, Fiennes, Affleck, etc)

Supporting...I don't think he'll love Norton as much as I do, but I could imagine him giving a whole load of 4.5s and a 5 to Fassbender again for Frank (he stated that he's putting him in supporting) and maybe Ruffalo.

Matt Mustin said...

Based on what I've heard about The Intimidation Game, there is NO WAY Cumberbatch is getting a five.

Michael Patison said...

I've heard he's brilliant. What have you heard about him?

Matt Mustin said...

That he just basically plays Sherlock again.

Matt Mustin said...

But that was just one person's opinion, I haven't really looked into it to much.

Michael McCarthy said...

I see 5s for Gleeson, Keaton, Hardy, HOPEFULLY Fiennes, and maybe Hoffman and Affleck (who''l at least get 4.5s I think. I'd love to see Andy Serkis get a 5, but that seems unlikely. Other 4.5s, probably Redmayne, McConaughey, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, Phoenix, maybe Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.

Supporting I dunno yet, but I really hope Toby Kebbell gets a good rating.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Matt actually on second thought you may be right, I've talked to people who've seen it and they do say its more of a variation on Sherlock than anything else but that he's still brilliant. We'll see if its to Louis taste or not soon enough :)

luke higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
luke higham said...

Brendan Gleeson - Calvary
Tom Hardy - Locke
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Timothy Spall - Mr Turner
Matthew McConaughey - Interstellar
Joaquin Phoenix - Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz - The Zero Theorem
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - A Most Wanted Man

4.5 to 5
Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Andy Serkis - Dawn of the Planet of The Apes
Guy Pearce - The Rover
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler
Oscar Isaac - A Most Violent Year
Christoph Waltz - Big Eyes

Ben Affleck - Gone Girl
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Martin Freeman - The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Jack O'Connell - 71 & Starred Up

4 to 4.5
Jack O'Connell - Unbroken
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Chris Pratt - Guardians of The Galaxy
Channing Tatum - Foxcatcher
Tommy Lee Jones - The Homesman
Miles Teller - Whiplash
Paddy Considine - Pride
Christian Bale - Exodus
Russell Crowe - Noah

J.K Simmons - Whiplash

4.5 to 5
Edward Norton - Birdman
Michael Fassbender - Frank

Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice
Toby Kebbell - Dawn of The Planet of The Apes
Albert Brooks - A Most Violent Year
Ben Mendelsohn - Starred Up

4 to 4.5
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Bill Nighy - Pride
Luke Evans - The Hobbit III
Richard Armitage - The Hobbit III

Tyler Perry - Gone Girl
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Robert Duvall - The Judge

houndtang said...

Good reviews - I kind of thought Finch gave slightly the lesser of the three performances - but you are right that he did well with an essentially thankless role.