Richard Attenborough did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying General James Outram in The Chess Players.
Richard Attenborough is the one major western actor in the film as the British General in charge of dealing with Britain's involvement in India. Attenborough has about four scenes or so and often it is to state some sort of exposition that moves the plot of the British takeover a little bit more. Thankfully it's Attenborough in this role which could have been easily forgotten in a lesser actor's hands. Attenborough's considerable presence is once again on display as he instantly commands every scene he is in, in the way a General like Outram should do. Attenborough though is always so fantastic, once again here, in just providing character in the way in which he delivers his fairly simple lines as in Outram's first scene where he is asking for information on the culture of the Kingdom from one of his men.
Attenborough always lively performance style works particularly well here to keep these scenes quite engaging even with their relatively simple intents. Attenborough knows how to play the proper British type, after all he played that part to perfection in Guns of Batasi, but it does not feel though Attenborough is simply playing his character from that earlier film Major Lauderdale. General Outram is not there to push his own personal conviction rather those of the crown. Attenborough though carries himself beautifully with that right manner but in this case kinda makes it a tad less intense. Outram, for the moment, is trying to find a peaceful solution and Attenborough fittingly conveys a certain ease in this performance. This is not to say he portrays Outram as not slightly taken aback by the Indian ways as Attenborough has a gentle critical manner as Outram asks certain questions to his man to try to get a bead on the people he must deal with.
Attenborough is quite effective here as he does not portray Outram as simply wishing to brush of the Indians as quickly as possible. Attenborough does portray the right forceful and that restricted passion key for his character. There's a palatable power in the personality he gives Outram as he learns of the new developments as well as goes about trying to negotiate with either the King or even his mother. What I really like about Attenborough's performance is the subtle way he does express a slight sympathy that Outram has for the plight of the King. It is not overpowering, as he's obviously must do his job, but Attenborough is quite effective in showing in Outram's eyes that he finds no pleasure in doing his duty. I do wish the film had let Attenborough explore the character a little more, you really can never have enough Attenborough after all, or at least a conclusion scene since his performance feels cut short. Nevertheless this is fine work from Richard Attenborough as he still manages to make Outram a compelling man with just a few minor scenes.