Friday, 31 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Art Carney in The Late Show

Art Carney did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NSFC, for portraying Ira Wells in The Late Show.

The Late Show is a very entertaining neo-noir about an aging private detective and oddball client (Lily Tomlin) trying to find out who was behind the death of his partner.

Art Carney will probably always be best known for two things giving one of the all time great comic performances on television as Ed Norton in The Honeymooners, and causing one of the biggest WHAT? reactions for those who look at the records of Oscars path, although if you ask me he was the most deserving out of the nominees. Technically speaking Carney probably could have avoided all the unnecessary negativity towards his Oscar win if he had instead won a few later for this film instead since none of the nominated performances for 1977 really have all that much passion behind them. Of course disregarding all of that Carney is actually an extremely underrated actor altogether as he had considerable talent as shown in his Oscar win for Harry and Tonto and for this performance as a private detective who ends up checking on the death of his old partner by first trying to locate the missing cat for an odd woman named Margo Sperling (Tomlin).

Art Carney gets to play his own Jake Gittes if Jake Gittes kept up his investigative work while into his older age. Carney carries himself with quite a bit of a cynical attitude here actually and makes himself completely believable in his role as a hard boiled detective. Carney, who usually comes off as a naturally endearing sort, is particularly good at creating Ira as this former tough guy. Carney, despite making the early part of his career out of playing foolish decidedly not particularly imposing characters, he manages to be absolutely convincing in this part. Carney makes the way he speaks has this certain incisiveness about Ira so that its clear that he obviously always trying to get to whatever the bottom might be of the mystery. Carney though also brings just enough of a rough streak to Ira. It's very much an underlying quality as Ira never comes off as hard to like. Carney though still suggests in his delivery the life of  a guy who's obviously seen some things in his time.

Carney is a compelling presence to watch proceed through the mystery as he makes Ira such a unique and enjoyable guy to watch. Carney is terrific in the way he balances the sides of Ira of being an older man who obviously is past his prime, but still a guy who knows what he is doing. I particularly love the two corresponding scenes where he deals with a thug. The first time the thug roughs up Ira considerably even causing his nose to bleed as he frisks him. Carney's good in portraying such a realistic resignation as Ira is obviously angered but can apparently do nothing other than to make a seemingly empty threat in front of the thug's boss. Carney contrasts this so well though the next time they meet and Ira catches the guard off guard. Carney manages to be surprisingly imposing as he brings out frankly the old Ira in a great scene as Carney has such a cool command and even a certain physical menace worthy of less aged private eyes like Philip Marlowe or Jake Gittes.

The Late Show is technically an odd couple story too as Margo insists on tagging along with Ira as he investigates the mystery even while the body count piles up. This might seem an annoying prospect if it were not for how great Carney and Tomlin are together in their scenes. They strike up a surprisingly good chemistry together with Tomlin being the overly enthusiastic dreamer and Carney being the hard bitten straight man to most of her antics. They so naturally slowly build the friendship that it never seems forced or out of place in the film. The slowly create such a warmth yet kinda never sacrifice the initial set up of Margo's wild ideas that are usual put to the side by one cynical statement or merely a shake of the head by Ira. What I love is even when Margo finally does come up with a correct idea regarding the case. Carney is very funny by playing it as Ira is trying hard as possible to acknowledge that she figured out something before him even while he technically wholly accepts her accomplishment.

The best part of their routine though might be that they even manage to make the inserted very slight romantic ideas not seem bizarre, as they easily could have. One of the reasons for this is both portray this as a form of insanity. Tomlin expressing at just another one of Margo's very much harebrained ideas which she has too many of at any given time to begin with, and Carney iss terrific by showing Ira trying his best to avoid the thought as if to avoid the obvious awkwardness that would ensue. The rather quietly kinda just settle on a friendship instead which they handle so well. They both are particularly excellent in their scenes of a shared excitement whenever they successfully got one over on the bad guys during their adventure. Carney is particularly good in these scenes as he suggests Ira feeling such a strong nostalgia as it appears as though Ira is once again enjoying one of his glory days of old.

Carney was really the best guy for the role because of just how good he is at balancing between the drama and the comedy of the story. Carney never forces either one of them and is brilliant in the way he handles the transitions. The great thing about his performance though is he never gets hung up in any scene and even when a moment transitions from comical to mid scene Carney absolutely nails. This is seen from his very first scene in the film where he sees his partner walk through the door. Carney is his usual entertaining self in his first exasperated reaction, but then transitions so perfectly when it is revealed that his partner has been critically injured. Carney instantly changes to portraying the heartbreak in Ira as he watches his old friend die in front of him and makes it a moving scene. The sudden change never seems as though it is forced by the writing because Carney is so adept at both sides of the theatrical spectrum.

Art Carney gives a fantastic performance here that really is essential to pulling this off-beat film noir together. Any one of the scenes could have faltered in their sudden switches from comedy to seriousness or the other way around but they don't because Carney never fails in these transitions. This is because on one hand Carney is humorous and has fun with the idea of the aging detective with his wacky new partner but he never let's that be the entirety of his performance. He's equally believable in making Ira a hardnosed and always interesting detective who will figure out the truth despite his age. He is as well is always brings the needed weight to any of the most difficult revelations and is quite heartbreaking in his final moment where Ira sees yet another friend die. You could technically easily take either into a completely comedy oriented version of the story and he would have been great, or you could have taken him into a fully dramatic version and he would have been great. Carney seamlessly connects both end giving a remarkable portrait of a most usual private eye. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Richard Dreyfuss did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is about a man who's life is changed after encountering an Unidentified Flying Object.

Roy Neary is rather odd to be our "hero" for the film because many of his character traits are more often looked at problematic. Even before he meets the UFO we see Roy with his family where he is probably a little too short with both his wife and children. I suppose it was very important to have Dreyfuss in the lead, oppose to someone like Jack Nicholson, because in Roy's semi outbursts in this early scene Dreyfuss does not have an overt intensity about himself. Dreyfuss simply has that average guy quality in his performances so even when he lashes out against the various annoyances that his family provides for him Dreyfuss does not make Roy seem like a psychopath but rather just a rather exasperated father. Of course technically speaking Roy only becomes worse though when he is called away to check on a downed power line only to accidentally come into contact with an alien spacecraft.

After coming in contact with the alien Roy becomes obsessed with it which seems to go even further than even a normal obsession from a more normal human intrigue. His mind clearly has been directly changed by the influence of the ship as he never stops thinking of a single physical structure. This is a unhealthy obsession actually as it causes him to lose both his job as well as his family. Dreyfuss's performance is important here because he never makes Roy's seem irresponsible man or a cold man even though Roy is basically closing himself off from his present day reality in this obsession. Dreyfuss is good in portraying this as just kinda an overwhelming pull in Roy that is forcing him to constantly think about structure. Dreyfuss does not even show it to be a problem so to speak, but rather something that has become in Roy's nature. Although the obsession is still self-destructive Dreyfuss does a fine job of making it seem less severe than it is. 

Roy after finding out the physical location that matches the shape in his mind he sets off to reach it despite apparently being evacuated do to an apparent leak of poisonous gas. Dreyfuss's role becomes relatively simple at this point as Roy just continues to try to reach his destination despite there being many obstacles in his path. Dreyfuss though continues to be good in the role as he quietly reflects how each thing affects Roy's demeanor. On one hand he's good in portraying the determination but as well as the frustrations at each obstacle that even includes the U.S. army. Dreyfuss though is probably best in portraying the eventual wonderment as Roy seems closer to his objective showing it to be a truly profound discovery whenever he sees something relating to the aliens. He helps create the grandeur of the final scenes as he basically realizes the event as Roy finally fulfilling this uncontrollable need that motivated since he saw the UFO. Richard Dreyfuss does not given an overly complex performance here. Frankly by not making Roy anything but a normal guy going through these things he manages to make his character's actions less troubling. Dreyfuss gives a good performance by avoiding bringing too much pathos to Roy, and just helping to create the wonderment the aliens are meant to evoke in this film.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Jack Nance in Eraserhead

Jack Nance did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Henry Spencer in Eraserhead.

Eraserhead is a strange film about a man dealing and seeing weird things. I must say it is quite compelling in its weirdness.

Jack Nance plays the central man Henry Spencer who inhabits a most bizarre world filled with some equally bizarre people and creatures. Henry is perhaps the least odd thing about the film which isn't saying a lot, I mean just look at his haircut after all. Nance's performance fulfills a very particular role in that he's the kinda sorta straight man to the rest of the film. Both the kinda and sorta are needed though because it's hard to say that Nance's portrayal of Henry is exactly how a normal guy would react in such a situation. Nance's performance is also very much in the way of Lynch's style, although still feels less of one of "freaks" like the way all the other performances are. Nance has an almost comic manner with his performance with the way he portrays a certain constant unease at all the oddness, which actually seems like a rather reasonable reaction to everything going on around him.

Nance's performance is mostly reactive altogether as there is not exactly a lot of scenes where we understand the inner workings of Henry as a man, well unless one is referring to what is below his head if it were to fall off. Nance's performance though does work in his limited role of reacting to the odd things whether it is his manic fiancee, his alluring neighbor, his horny potential future mother in law, his constantly crying and seemingly dying alien son, a bleeding turkey dinner, or all sorts of other odd things going on in this world. Nance's reactions tend to be effective in one way or another. The first being just reflective of the oddness itself and Nance does a fine job of giving at least an ever so slightly realistic reaction to these completely out there images. Although I won't say that Nance really makes the film seem believable so to speak but his performance in a somewhat strange way facilitates them as a more accessible whole.

Jack Nance's performance here is a good one that not only matches David Lynch's most unusual style, but helps to amplify. One of the last shots of the film of Henry staring out would not be nearly as remarkable if not for Nance's combination of fear and astonishment that he portrays in Henry's face. He is always interesting to say the least in every frame that he does inhabit. Nevertheless, having said that Nance's performance is very much a cog in David Lynch's machine as all the performances in the film are. Nance's performance stands out the most in terms of the cast, but when thinking about the film it is doubtful that one would necessarily remember Henry as a character so to speak. It is more likely one would remember the imagery and how Henry is part of that imagery. Nance serves his purpose as in the film well, but it is always the film as a whole, rather than Nance's work as a individual, that leaves the strongest impression.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977

And the Nominees Were:

Alberto Sordi in An Average Little Man

Jack Nance in Eraserhead

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Art Carney in The Late Show

Harvey Keitel in The Duellists

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Results

5. Peter Finch in Far From the Madding Crowd - Finch gives a striking portrayal of a reserved man whose emotions slowly get the better of him.

Best Scene: Boldwood finally snaps.
4. Alan Bates in Far From the Madding Crowd - Bates gives a quietly charming and most of all honest portrayal of the most genuine character in the story.

Best Scene: Gabriel just before he is about to leave.
3. Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd - Stamp is exceedingly good at making Frank Troy both a scoundrel and someone its hard not to like.

Best Scene: Troy shows off his swordsmanship.
2. Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle - He's a one scene wonder but what a one scene wonder he is. Although the rest of the film is quite dull Attenborough makes it absolutely delightful for the few minutes he's onscreen.

Best Scene: "I've Never Seen Anything Like It"
1. Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark - Arkin gives an entertaining as well as appropriately chilling performance that contributes to one memorable finale for his film.

Best Scene: Roat requests the doll.
 Overall Rank:
  1. Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark
  2. Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle
  3. Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd
  4. Gene Hackman in Bonnie and Clyde
  5. Alan Bates in Far From the Madding Crowd
  6. Peter Finch in Far From the Madding Crowd
  7. Dick Shawn in The Producers
  8. Tom Courtenay in The Night of the Generals
  9. George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke
  10. Gene Wilder in Bonnie and Clyde 
  11. Patrick Magee in Marat/Sade
  12. Richard Crenna in Wait Until Dark
  13. Kenneth Mars in The Producers
  14. Scott Wilson in In The Heat of the Night
  15. Tatsuya Nakadai in Samurai Rebellion
  16. Alec Guinness in The Comedians
  17. George Sanders in The Jungle Book
  18. Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke
  19. Warren Oates in In The Heat of the Night 
  20. James Earl Jones in The Comedians 
  21. Jason Robards in Hour of the Gun
  22. Jeff Corey in In Cold Blood
  23. Phil Harris in The Jungle Book
  24. Eric Portman in The Whisperers
  25. Charles Boyer in Barefoot in the Park
  26. J. Pat O'Malley in The Jungle Book
  27. Michael J. Pollard in Bonnie and Clyde
  28. Sebastian Cabot in The Jungle Book
  29. Go Kato in Samurai Rebellion
  30. Francois Perier in Le Samourai 
  31. Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice 
  32. Charles McGraw in In Cold Blood
  33. Jason Robards in Divorce American Style
  34. Telly Savalas in The Dirty Dozen 
  35. Jack Weston in Wait Until Dark
  36. Ernest Borgnine in The Dirty Dozen 
  37. Keenan Wynn in Point Blank
  38. Donald Sutherland in The Dirty Dozen  
  39. Sterling Holloway in The Jungle Book
  40. Christian Roberts in To Sir, With Love
  41. Rudy Vallee in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  42. Murray Hamilton in The Graduate
  43. Larry Gates in In The Heat of the Night
  44. Donald Pleasence in The Night of the Generals
  45. Anthony James in In The Heat of the Night
  46. Buck Henry in The Graduate
  47. David Hemmings in Camelot
  48. Robert Ryan in Hour of the Gun
  49. Charles Gray in The Night of the Generals
  50. Charles Bronson in The Dirty Dozen
  51. Roy Glenn in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  52. John Cassavetes in The Dirty Dozen 
  53. Michael Hordern in The Taming of the Shrew
  54. John Vernon in Point Blank
  55. Robert Ryan in The Dirty Dozen
  56. Peter Ustinov in The Comedians
  57. Van Johnson in Divorce American Style 
  58. Desmond Llewelyn in You Only Live Twice
  59. Efrem Zimbalist in Wait Until Dark
  60. Michael York in The Taming of the Shrew 
  61. Carroll O'Connor in Point Blank
  62. Barry Humphries in Bedazzled
  63. Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen
  64. William Daniels in Two for the Road
  65. Charles Gray in You Only Live Twice
  66. Christopher Hewett in The Producers
  67. Richard Jaeckel in The Dirty Dozen
  68. Anthony Teague in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  69. Keenan Wynn in The War Wagon
  70. Cecil Kellaway in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  71. William Daniels in The Graduate
  72. Peter Bull in Doctor Dolittle 
  73. John Forsythe in In Cold Blood
  74. Phillipe Noiret in The Night of the Generals
  75. Howard Keel in The War Wagon
  76. Herb Edelman in Barefoot in the Park
  77. Geoffrey Holder in Doctor Dolittle
  78. Robert Walker in The War Wagon
  79. Tim Matheson in Divorce American Style
  80. Albert Salmi in Hour of the Gun
  81. Anthony Newley in Doctor Dolittle
  82. Laurence Naismith in Camelot
  83. William Dix in Doctor Dolittle
  84. Denver Pyle in Bonnie and Clyde
  85. Franco Nero in Camelot
Next Year: 1977 Lead

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.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark

Alan Arkin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roat in Wait Until Dark.

Wait Until Dark is an effective thriller about three criminals who are trying to find a doll filled with drugs that ended up apparently at the apartment of an unknowing blind woman Susy (Audrey Hepburn).

Although I did give some praise last review to the HFPA for successfully recognizing Richard Attenborough as an actor I sorta have to take that away when referring to this film. Oddly the HFPA did nominate someone for Wait Until Dark but it was not Alan Arkin, nor was it even Richard Crenna as the most sympathetic of the criminals, but rather Efrem Zimbalist who plays Susy's husband Sam. Zimbalist isn't bad really but his role is so unsubstantial that it certainly leaves you scratching tour head when thinking about the nomination. I guess Arkin maybe suffered from category confusion, which would is ridiculous, but probably more likely the nature of the role prevented him from being recognized. According to Arkin himself part of the reason he got the role is that few wanted it due to its sinister nature, and that same sinister nature is probably what prevented him from being nominated for any awards.

One more random tidbit before I get on with the review is that Quentin Tarantino played this part in a stage revival that was at the very end of his overexposure, now that might been something really horrifying to watch. Anyway, Alan Arkin plays the man who refers to himself as Roat who is the worst of the three criminals. This made abundantly clear when one of his earliest actions is that he murdered the original drug mule off screen and black mails her associates with her murder to ensure that they work with him to get the doll. Also the visual presentation of the character alone pretty much set stage for the character with his small round sunglasses he often wears, the truly bizarre haircut that Arkin sports, and the way he often suddenly appears entrenched in shadow. With all of that already set up Arkin rather intelligently does not really try to play up the villainy of Roat any more than what is already set up in fact Arkin takes kinda a relaxed approach to the part.

In his first conversation with the other two criminals Arkin rather cleverly commands the scene even though his whole manner as Roat is that of a man who is quite sure of every step of his plan. Arkin's easy going style here is surprisingly effective in creating the callousness of Roat. Arkin rather strangely is able to be quite menacing in this first scene while delivery almost every part of the chat as if he is just having a simple conversation with the men. This is even in the case when Roat tells them that he murdered their old criminal associate since he felt she was trying to cut him out on their business. Arkin brings such a casual sinister quality to the part by making the amoral quality of the man just so naturally a part of him. Arkin shows that Roat does not need to try to be evil rather Roat just innately is evil so no reason to force it out of him. Arkin's curious approach pays off quite well and just from his opening scene you know there is hanging knife over the rest of the characters.

Roat does not strike right away as the men first put on act which they think will force Susy to reveal the doll. Roat plays two parts in this charade the first being Roat Sr. who demands to see Susy's husband angrily and funny enough Arkin kinda does his curmudgeon act that he's probably best known for now. He also plays Roat Jr. which Arkin plays an extremely timid man who is both concerned over his father's outrageous behavior while also being concerned that his wife is having an affair with Susy's husband. Arkin plays these in a slightly absurd fashion and more as caricature than characters, but this absolutely makes sense since Roat is not trying to win an Oscar. Also Susy is suppose to suspect something is up so Arkin slightly off approach is the right one. Arkin is enjoyable in these scenes but he's also quite good in portraying the true Roat in his eyes while he is pretending to be these characters.

The finale of the film ends up being a most unusual battle between Roat and Susy. The knife drops quite effectively as Roat brings out his true nature again as he coldly dispatches his fellow criminals then proceeds to inquire about the doll to Susy. Arkin is quite chilling in this prolonged scene as he brings such a sadistic glee to Roat as he viciously toys with Susy and does not mind boasting about predicting the double cross against him. Arkin makes Roat manner most unnerving such as when he brushes off his claim that he wouldn't hurt Susy by non-nonchalantly stating that he had his fingers crossed. What makes Arkin's performance especially strong though are in the moments when Susy manages to get the upper hand for at least a moment. Arkin is terrific as he plays these moments especially realistically as just a guy frustrated or pained by what happened.

Arkin's is particularly good though in how he shows Roat trying to maintain his attitude as he usually reverts to his usual self once he gets the upper hand back. Well that is until Susy manages to do something that more permanently causes Roat to lose his usual cool. Arkin's is great in the scene as he forgets all about Roat's casual manner and instead is quite terrifying by just showing a man fighting against all sorts of anguish as his rage pulls him forward in a last ditch attempt to kill Susy. Alan Arkin altogether makes Roat one memorable villain for the film. His unusually style in his performance always works in still making him a figure to be feared while having a slight comic edge to the character that works rather nicely. Arkin's performance works as he makes Roat a believable a murderous thug who does not mind enjoying his ill deeds, but most importantly that he still suffers injuries like any real man would.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle

Richard Attenborough did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning the Golden Globe, for portraying Albert Blossom in Doctor Dolittle.

Doctor Dolittle is an overlong and often dull musical about a veterinarian (Rex Harrison) who can talk to the animals. Also there's not nearly enough Albert Blossom in it.

Well one must give credit to the HFPA when it came to recognizing Richard Attenborough as they gave him back to back wins while the academy chose to ignore him both times. What is particularly egregious about this is that his wins account for two of the seven times that the winner in supporting actor was not at least Oscar nominated for their work. What ever was the Academy's problem with Attenborough's acting? This is only made more criminal because the academy bothered to show they had no shame in nominating Doctor Dolittle for several other awards including best picture which many say was due to a some very intense campaigning on part of the studio to try to earn the film some commercial success. This means the academy did not mind saying it was one of the best pictures of the year but could not be bothered to recognize the one major part of the film that deserved to be recognized.

Anyway Attenborough plays Albert Blossom a circus owner that Doctor Dolittle takes a two headed llama type creature to. Attenborough enjoyably scoffs at the prospect at something he hasn't seen before until he finally see the creature and what follows is the only musical number that works in the film. Attenborough leads the song as he portrays an absolute amazement in Blossom at this creature. Attenborough is a unbounded ball of energy here as moves about the screen in portraying the rather extreme excitement Blossom feels at this new discovery. Attenborough is so thoroughly charming in his portrayal of this frantic reaction that he manages to suddenly energizes the picture, which had been sorely lacking up until this point. He makes Blossom such a delightful soul to watch as he first negotiates then proceeds to greatly profit off of his deal with Dolittle. 

This is a musical and technically almost the entirety of his performance is singing and dancing. Well Attenborough obviously is not the greatest singer or dancer but this is case where his tremendous acting ability actually manages to completely make up for that. The way he hops up and down and around in every scene is just marvelous to watch and is so fitting to the character of Blossom. This only continues with his singing of the song "I've never seen anything like it". I don't know if the song is, as written, even necessarily better than the other songs in the film but rather it seems to come to life by the completely wonderful way Attenborough sings it. He having so much fun with the way he shows basically the revelatory way Blossom has seen everything in a new light that it's hard not to have the fun right along with him. Almost every second of the song is pure joy because of Attenborough.

Of course then something odd happens. The film keeps on going and when I first watched it I kept wondering when Blossom was going to show up again. Of course he never does and the rest of the film is just one big let down after the pure jubilation felt with Attenborough's number. I don't know if the song was meant to be a showstopper but, by George, Attenborough makes it one. It's funny to note that the next time that Attenborough would be working with Dolittle's director Richard Fleishcer, who must be one of the most inconsistent directors of all time, would be in 10 Rillington Place. Actually I have to say it almost seems as though Attenborough may have brought out the best out of Fleishcer. Attenborough unfortunately is a one scene wonder, frankly the film should have been about Blossom, but what a one scene wonder he is. Although it's very easy to forget the rest of the boring musical I'll actually come back to the film just to watch Attenborough's scene again.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967

And the Nominees Were Not:

Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark

Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle

Alan Bates in Far From the Madding Crowd

Peter Finch in Far From the Madding Crowd 

Terence Stamp in Far From the Madding Crowd

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1967: Results

5. Richard Harris in Camelot - Harris is charming when he needs to be and knows how to bring weight to the dramatics, but can't completely overcome the weaknesses of the film.

Best Scene: Final reprise of Camelot
4. James Garner in Hour of the Gun - Garner is effective in portraying the intensity of this vengeful Wyatt Earp, unfortunately the film doesn't let him explore the role enough.

Best Scene: Earp's final kill
3. Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night - Poitier is a commanding and charismatic portrayal of his determined detective, and especially shines in any scene he shares with Rod Steiger.

Best Scene: At the chief's house.
2. Alain Delon in Le Samourai - Delon gives an excellent minimalistic performance as he does so much in the creation of the physical manner of his character.

Best Scene: The Samourai final assassination attempt.
1. Robert Blake in In Cold Blood - Good prediction Fisti. This came down to Delon doing so much with such a purposefully limited character and Blake making the absolute most out of great as he manages to give such a heartbreaking yet wholly chilling portrayal of Perry Smith.

Best Scene: Perry recounts a part of his life before his execution.
Overall Ranking:
  1. Robert Blake in In Cold Blood
  2. Alain Delon in Le Samourai
  3. Rod Steiger in In The Heat of the Night
  4. Sidney Poitier in In The Heat of the Night
  5. Toshiro Mifune in Samurai Rebellion
  6. Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love
  7. Scott Wilson in In Cold Blood
  8. Gene Wilder in The Producers
  9. Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke
  10. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate
  11. Warren Beatty in Bonnie & Clyde
  12. Lee Marvin in Point Blank 
  13. Dudley Moore in Bedazzled
  14. Richard Burton in The Taming of the Shrew
  15. James Garner in Hour of the Gun
  16. Peter O'Toole in The Night of the Generals
  17. Peter Cook in Bedazzled
  18. Zero Mostel in The Producers
  19. Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice
  20. Albert Finney in Two For the Road
  21. Richard Harris in Camelot
  22. Robert Morse in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 
  23. Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen 
  24. John Wayne in The War Wagon
  25. Spencer Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  26. Omar Sharif in The Night of the Generals
  27. Sidney Poitier in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  28. Kirk Douglas in The War Wagon
  29. Dick Van Dyke in Divorce American Style
  30. Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park
  31. Richard Burton in The Comedians
  32. Rex Harrison in Doctor Dolittle
  33. Tadao Takashima in Son of Godzilla
  34. Akira Kubo in Son of Godzilla
Next Year: 1967 Supporting

And yes apparently the Producers is 67 by my rules.

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.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1967: Alain Delon in Le Samourai

Alain Delon did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jef Costello in Le Samourai.

Le Samourai is a very effective thriller about a hit man being slowly driven into a corner after being spotted leaving the scene of one of his murders.

Alain Delon plays the titular character of Le Samourai who obviously is not an actual samurai, but technically speaking just a gun for hire. Jef Costello, which is incidentally a far less awesome title than his titular moniker, does not act as some sort of crude hired killer though. This is evidenced from his earliest scene where he lays in bed where he smokes waiting before he goes on his assignment. Delon's performance is almost a silent performance actually. Delon does speak in the film from time to time but it is mostly in one word responses or in the simplest of sentences that are only meant to serve the most basic instructional purposes. There really is very little in terms of dialogue between Costello and anyone, and there is even less in terms of Costello verbalizing whatever it might be that he is going through. Delon's work is mostly all based around what he does physically in the role, and is an interesting example of what an actor can do in a purposely limited part.

Well Delon is rather brilliant in the way he carries himself in the film. Even the way he just smokes in the bed Delon makes less an act of inhaling smoke to rather some sort of preparatory ritual that the samurai must do before he kills. After stopping smoking though the samurai prepares himself by getting dressed in his trench coat and putting on his hat. Although kudos to the costuming, but Delon certainly wears it his own way. There is something so remarkable even just about that way that Delon always puts on Costello's hat. There is just something so, for a lack of a better word, cool about the way Delon removes and wears that hat. It isn't just some guy wearing a hat, even though technically that's all that it is, Delon somehow makes it more than that. The way he does it has this certain emphasis of a warrior preparing himself for his task rather than of a thug with a gun which again that really is all that Jef Costello really is. 

Delon even in the way he walks there is something special about it. The concise steps he takes at all times show a man absolutely driven for this precision of a master swordsman more than a master with the gun. Everything that Delon does adds to this characterization of Costello as slightly otherworldly in his qualities as a samurai. What is so wonderful about what Delon does though is this never seems something forced in his performance but rather wholly natural to the character. It also makes watching him a compelling experience as he is spellbinding in his creation of the manner of the samurai. Now this is especially important for the success of the film firstly because he doesn't have much to say at all, but secondly Costello is not necessarily a particularly sympathetic figure therefore it could have been easy to make this silent killer uninteresting. Delon though is absolutely fascinating as he makes every movement as the samurai something to witness.

Delon manages to be especially effective in the scenes where Costello does kill as again his movements accentuate the incisive approach he takes to killing. There is no aggression or pleasure from Delon when Costello kills but rather just a very chilling steely gaze as takes their lives away. It's rather interesting though that this is not quite like say Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal who also played a professional assassin. Fox played the part of the jackal as a hollow shell of figure who would take on any disguise to make his target, and most of all there was a soulless quality at all times. This is not the case for Delon even though he certainly plays the part of the samurai in a rather cold fashion. Delon though does something else in the role instead and this leads to some of the most remarkable moments during the film. Delon goes about revealing more about Costello than we see, but not for a moment does he change from his intensely subtle performance.

One scene that I particularly liked is after Costello has been injured with a meeting with one of the men who hired him. Costello has to tend to his wounds and Delon somewhat drops the manner of the samurai, almost showing that for the moment the injury has almost snapped him out of his peculiar state forcing him to address something directly that does not require any meditation. It's a striking scene as Delon doesn't show the samurai behavior to be fake, but rather that it is indeed a ritual of sorts for the man. Delon creates particularly powerful scenes though by also revealing that there is a heart in the samurai, and although he kills people for money there is a conscious in him somewhere. It might be rather hard to see but there is evidence of it somewhere.

Delon is extremely reserved in this regard though but surprisingly poignant at the same time. Delon earns these revelations and it seems honest to the character in the way that Delon handles it. He has one amazing scene at the end of the film when it seems Costello is sending another person to their fate. Delon mostly does have that steely gaze again but there is this ever so slight sadness he still conveys so beautifully. It turns out not a sadness for his potential victim but for himself as he surrenders to his fate. It is a perfect moment by Delon and especially notable by just how delicately he handles the scene. The whole performance is a completely fantastic example of truly minimalistic portrayal by an actor. I have to admit to merely loving every second of this performance as he creates such a unique and even oddly heartbreaking character out of the samurai.

Alternate Best Actor 1967: Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night

Sidney Poitier did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, for portraying Detective Virgil Tibbs in In The Heat of the Night.

Sidney Poitier's lack of Oscar recognition in this film seems a bit of strange thing. The film of course won best picture as well as best actor for his co-star Rod Steiger, and Poitier had a banner year with this film, the also best picture nominated Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and the popular To Sir With Love. Now there were things against him first apparently every awards body agreed it was Steiger's time to win therefore probably deflecting some of Poitier's impact, he also was lead in all three of his films which can be problematic. Also there is not obvious person who upset him since the nominees were made up of Steiger who won, Spencer Tracy giving his final performance, Dustin Hoffman with his very popular breakout performance, Warren Beatty giving his best performance, and Paul Newman who perhaps got in over Poitier due to maybe late surge love for Cool Hand Luke as evidenced by George Kennedy's supporting actor win.

Despite his lack of recognition In The Heat of the Night is perhaps one of Poitier, if not most, iconic roles as Mr. Tibbs a black detective from Philadelphia who finds himself forced into solving a homicide in a racist town. Everything seems set out to make this a memorable role from the outset with the compelling situation he's in, that unique name of his, and even the rather snappy way in which he is dressed. Although it is in the case of most of his roles, starting all the way back with No Way Out as doctor dealing with a prejudiced Richard Widmark, Poitier's character doesn't take any flack from any racist this probably the time where his character was perhaps the most fervent about it. It was most often the case that Poitier would ease into this discontent by first being his usual extremely charming self, this time though Poitier actually begins with a harder edge which makes is fitting since the first thing that happens to Tibbs is that he is charged with the murder himself.

Poitier despite being somewhat more outwardly defiant in this one Poitier still carries himself in his usual classy dignified fashion. Poitier here is the master of frankly the refined anger as he manages to bring such an intensity in Tibbs's objection to his treatment by the police chief Gillespie (Steiger) and his men. Poitier barely even has to raise his voice to still be a palatable force of passion, and when he does raise his voice such as with his famous "They call me Mr. Tibbs!" it is quite powerful. Poitier interestingly doesn't fall upon his substantial charm all that often with this performance, almost holding it as a secret weapon in the reserved persona of Tibbs. Poitier only brings it out in very particular situations when Tibbs needs to derive information out of someone. Poitier very effectively uses his charm in these moments showing it as almost a strategy to make Tibbs instantly likable to the person he's trying to get the information from.

It is no surprise that Poitier went to reprise Tibbs two more times in sequels, although apparently far less successful films in every regard. Poitier has such a commanding presence with Tibbs and he makes for a consistently compelling lead here. Poitier is terrific by realizing Tibbs's method in such an eloquent and precise manner that is always interesting to watch. Poitier is quite good at carrying the film so well, as he's always so good at carrying film yet at the same time he manages to convey Tibbs's particular method of solving the crime. Poitier conveys the methodical nature of Tibbs deductions and makes every revelation he discovers well earned. There is only one moment where Poitier drops this and that is when confronting a known racist who has a motive for the murder. Poitier earns this especially emotional moment, and far from his most calculating, by portraying it as very much the gut reaction of man being forced to deal with an extremely racist individual with a smug sense of entitlement.

As great as Poitier is alone what really makes this performance standout is the way he works with Steiger throughout the film. Both are in top form here as they both are equally brilliant in realizing their characters. They are especially good because In the Heat of the Night is plot driven yet neither Tibbs nor Gillespie ever feel like characters just there to move through the plot. They realize them as fascinating men all on their own and they even come even more to life in their various conflicts during the film. The way the two go from outwardly aggressive to one another to an eventual mutual respect is one of the best elements of the film and it only really works because of Poitier and Steiger. There is not a single moment where the two agree to be friends or to even stop hating each other. There is just a rather slow understanding the two actors build so naturally from scene to scene that they make the transformation in both men not only believable but quite poignant in the end.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1967: Robert Blake in In Cold Blood

Robert Blake did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Perry Smith in In Cold Blood.

In Cold Blood is a very effective film about the true story of two men who go on the run after murdering a family.

The film follows the two men who are both ex-cons although rather different in terms of personality. Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson), who is treated as basically a non-entity in Capote, is the more traditional stick up artist who is part brute part slick con man. Where Dick is quite extroverted as portrayed by Wilson, Blake portrays Perry as a particularly introverted sort. In his earliest scene we see Perry as he makes a phone call to the Reverend from his old prison and attempts to contact someone while indicating that he likely will be breaking his parole. Blake is extremely effective in portraying Perry's particular manner that is somewhat troubling from the beginning although not immediately as something one would think would lead to murder. Blake conveys the emotional vulnerability of Perry incredibly well in the scene as he speaks to reverend showing him as almost begging for some sort of help before he is about to embark on something he definitely will never be able to return from.

After failing to make contact we are given a brief moment with Perry alone before he meets with Dick. Perry looks into the mirror imaging himself performing in Vegas. There are several scenes of Perry either daydreaming or imaging some event in his past or something created in his imagination. This may have seemed tacky if it were not for Blake's performance which makes every one of them work. Blake plays Perry as a man who at times seems partly not of the present as he seems to dream often and constantly. Blake doesn't show this to be that of a romantic dreamer though, but rather there is something unpleasant about this dreaming. Blake infuses in these moments such a palatable pain as Perry is not really dreaming about something or someplace that is better than his current predicament exactly to escape. Perry instead is either thinking about the past events that have permanently changed him or seeing a life he knows he will most certainly never have. 

Blake conveys so much in a single expression in these moments and each one is a memorable moment because of this. In Blake's eyes one can see the past of Perry whether it is remembering his abusive father or the heartache of remembering his dead mother whom he admired deeply. Blake is absolutely haunting in these scenes by realizing the emotional complexity they mean to Perry and how they turned him into the man he is. Although perhaps there is a hint of happiness connected to his mother, Blake suggests mostly Perry is a man who is unable to think without remembering these thing that only cause him distress. This leaves Blake to be especially good in just the way he is in every scene to have a certain morose manner about himself. Blake's performance though is most striking because the state he leaves Perry in isn't just as some sort of sad sack, but rather Blake shows that there is something most unnerving about this sadness.

One thing that stands out about the film are the interactions between Perry and Dick which are most unusual. Although they are partners throughout the film they are hardly friends and Blake and Wilson strikes about a very peculiar chemistry with one another.  There is a certain bit of warmth the two create quite naturally in the moments where they have slight prosperity and they carry the right casual manner with another to show their history together. Their relationship goes beyond that though as it was together that they perpetuated their evil. The two are very effective in portraying a certain aggressive quality and tension in almost every scene between the two that is particularly notable by their personality differences. When they speak about killing comes off as particularly disturbing from both of them since Blake and Wilson show it to have such nonchalance about the subject, and that they seem intent on doing something like it is merely something they feel they ought to do, nothing more than that.

The actual scene of the home invasion that leads to the murders is brilliantly directed by Richard Brooks and portrayed by Blake. This scene plays out in such a low-key fashion that is is becomes especially chilling. Blake does not accentuate any sort of menace in the scene in fact he even has a certain tenderness when Perry prevents Dick from raping one of the women in the house. There is a constant unease in Blake's performance though as if something odd is going on in Perry's mind the whole time as the two men come to realize that there is no substantial payoff to be find in the home. When Perry suddenly decides to brutally murder all the people Blake is especially disconcerting as he shows it as just something that Perry must do. There is no great anger or even that much of great emotion in him, but rather he seems compelled by just a simple mental urge to kill the family. It's a brutally effective scene as both Blake and Wilson are so believable in the matter of fact way the murders play out.

Due to the fact that both men quickly confess they are sentenced to hanging and are forced to spend the rest of their days waiting out for their fate inside the walls of the prison. Where Dick basically stays to his usual self, although Wilson is quite in showing the slowly growing dread that eats away at his confidence, Blake portrays Perry as become even more introverted as he reflects only more on what has happened to him and what he has done. Blake's performance of Perry's monologue, as he awaits, execution is flawless. Blake manages to make the moment so poignant as Perry awaits his own death and reflects on the time when his father almost killed him. There is such a palatable despair that Blake creates as a man revisits one last, unhappy, memory before meeting his own fate. Blake is equally unforgettable in his portrayal of Perry's physical deterioration as Blake shows Perry trying hard to maintain his composure. In his face and in his nervous walk though Blake creates the fear of a man who is about to lose his life.

Robert Blake gives a great performance as Perry Smith because there never seems to be a performance in there. There is not a single moment of his interactions with Wilson as Dick Hickock that seems forced or inauthentic. The idea that is put forth at the end of the film that the only way the two could have did what they did was together is made convincing by both actors. Each of them separately seem as though there is humanity in them yet when they speak and act together they show such a blunt heartless nature in them. Blake's performance works especially well in creating sympathy for the man yet never seeming to create an apology for him either. He is indeed rather terrifying in his moments of presenting a man capable of such deeds by having seeming to be hollow in his view of life. He manages to be quite heartbreaking though by making this part of a man who has suffered, and most of all was indeed still a man not a monster, though a man capable of monstrous acts.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1967: James Garner in Hour of the Gun

James Garner did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Wyatt Earp in Hour of the Gun.

Hour of the Gun is a decent enough telling of the Tombstone story even if the whole thing seems oddly rushed. 

Wyatt Earp is a historical figure who has been played many times by several different actors usually depicting the events of Earp against the Cowboys lead by Ike Clayton. The role of Wyatt Earp is often portrayed as the hero who wages war against the outlaws along with his more flamboyant friend Doc Holliday (Jason Robards in this version). Earp is technically a slightly thankless role since he is somewhat pigeonholed and even set up in a way to be overshadowed by whoever is playing Holliday. Earp is usually played by the actor known for more steadfast roles which is the case here with James Garner in the lead. Garner is probably best known for the often likable romantic or heroic lead. Garner has just a natural likability in his performances to begin with but Garner actually kinda rejects his usually screen persona here as Wyatt Earp. It would be easy enough to see Garner play Earp with a wink and a welcoming smile but he actually chooses to take a very different approach with the gunfighter.

Garner surprisingly gives a rather cold portrayal of Earp actually and seems to purposefully accentuate the fact that Earp's a killer. This makes sense though for this version of Earp which the film presents as revenge seeking, although still justice seeking as well, since it is pretty earlier on in the film when Virgil Earp is wounded and Morgan Earp is killed. This leaves Wyatt for the rest of the film to avenge his brothers by any means necessary with the help by the seemingly self-hating Doc Holliday. Garner carries himself here with a real intensity here as there is such a lack of warmth in his eyes here which is quite different from the way Garner usually is. It's an effective approach by Garner though as he portrays Wyatt Earp as a man truly hard bitten and changed by what happened to his brothers. He does not have any time to be funny or charming he's on a mission to kill men who wronged him, and Garner bluntly shows this through his performance.

Now the way the story is told in this version isn't really in a way to give a character study while portraying the events. It instead takes a pretty strict stance of meeting each plot point even bothering to go over the courtroom problems faced by Earp and company. The film also spends plenty of time with the other supporting characters although never enough really to realize them all that well leaving the impact Garner can have some what reduced. It's a bit of a shame as what Garner does do in the role is rather striking as he successfully plays this extremely hard bitten version of the character. He also has some nice enough chemistry with Robards, but the film fails to explore the particularly interesting friendship between the two men, something Tombstone handled particularly well. Garner is consistently good here and has one particularly stand out moment where he coldly kills his last man. Garner gives a strong performance and I only wish the film had allowed him to explore Wyatt Earp a little more than it did.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1967

And the Nominees Were Not:

James Garner in Hour of the Gun

Alain Delon in Le Samourai

Sidney Poitier in In The Heat of the Night

Robert Blake in In Cold Blood

Richard Harris in Camelot

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1953: Results

5. Lee Marvin in The Wild One - Marvin steals the film in just a couple of scenes with his entertaining portrayal of a boisterous biker.

Best Scene: The Beetles arrive into town.
4. Otto Preminger in Stalag 17 - Preminger gives an enjoyable, with just enough menace, performance as the smug camp commandant.

Best Scene: The man trying to "escape" is killed.
3. Jay Robinson in The Robe - Robinson makes himself the highlight of the film by giving a lively energetic performance in an otherwise rather bland film.

Best Scene: Gallio's trail.
2. John Gielgud in Julius Caesar - Gielgud gives a great performance through his devious portrayal of Cassius that acts a particularly effective counterpoint to James Mason's honest portrayal of Brutus.

Best Scene: Cassius before the battle.
1. Ernest Borgnine in From Here to Eternity - This year came down for me between Gielgud who gives a great performance with a great material against Borgnine who gives a gives a great performance with very limited material. Although Borgnine only has a few minutes of screen time he makes a substantial impact with his intimidating portrayal of a vicious soldier.

Best Scene: Fatso warns Maggio
Overall Rank:
  1. Robert Ryan in The Naked Spur
  2. Ernest Borgnine in From Here to Eternity
  3. John Gielgud in Julius Caesar
  4. Marlon Brando in Julius Caesar
  5. Jay Robinson in The Robe
  6. Otto Preminger in Stalag 17
  7. Lee Marvin in The Wild One
  8. Boris Karloff in A & C meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  9. Jack Palance in Shane
  10. Hans Conried in Peter Pan
  11. Richard Erdman in Stalag 17
  12. James Mason in The Desert Rats 
  13. Charles Laughton in Salome
  14. Peter Graves in Stalag 17 
  15. Millard Mitchell in The Naked Spur
  16. Lee Marvin in The Big Heat
  17. Neville Brand in Stalag 17 
  18. Ralph Meeker in The Naked Spur
  19. Gill Stratton in Stalag 17 
  20. Robinson Stone in Stalag 17
  21. William Tubbs in The Wages of Fear
  22. Sig Ruman in Stalag 17 
  23. Robert Strauss in Stalag 17
  24. Edmond O'Brien in Julius Caesar
  25. Scott Forbes in Charade
  26. Robert Newton in The Desert Rats 
  27. Bill Thompson in Peter Pan
  28. Folco Lulli in The Wages of Fear
  29. Brian Aherne in Titanic
  30. Edmund Trizcinski in Stalag 17
  31. Karl Malden in I Confess
  32. Alexander Scourby in The Big Heat
  33. Peter van Eyck in The Wages of Fear
  34. Louis Calhern in Julis Caesar
  35. Harvey Lembeck in Stalag 17
  36. Jack Warden in From Here to Eternity
  37. Adam Williams in The Big Heat
  38. Don Talor in Stalag 17
  39. Reginald Denny in A & C meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  40. Anthony Perkins in The Actress 
  41. Michael Rennie in The Robe 
  42. Tom Tully in The Moon is Blue
  43. Ward Bond in Hondo
  44. Richard Kiley in Pickup on South Street
  45. George Reeves in From Here to Eternity
  46. Elisha Cook Jr. in Shane
  47. Bela Lugosi in Glen or Glenda
  48. Brian Aherne in I Confess 
  49. Emile Meyer in Shane
  50. Ray Teal in The Wild One
  51. Richard Baseheart in Titanic
  52. Rhys Williams in Man in the Attic
  53. Ryosuke Kagawa in Ugetsu
  54. Robert Keith in The Wild One 
  55. Philip Ober in From Here to Eternity
  56. Eddie Albert in Roman Holiday
  57. Cedric Hardwicke in Salome 
  58. Donald Sinden in Magambo
  59. Harley Power in Roman Holiday
  60. Robert Wagner in Titanic
  61. Jean-Pierre Aumont in Lili
  62. Michael Pate in Hondo
  63. Alan Badel in Salome
  64. Brandon De Wilde in Shane
  65. Dean Jagger in The Robe
  66. Harcourt Williams in Roman Holiday
  67. Craig Stevens in A & C meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  68. Byron Palmer in Man in the Attic
  69. Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity
  70. Victor Mature in The Robe
  71. Gregory Moffett in Robot Monster
Next Year: 1967 Lead

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.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1953: Ernest Borgnine in From Here to Eternity

Ernest Borgnine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Staff Sergeant James R. "Fatso" Judson in From Here to Eternity.

It seems everything was put in place by fate for Frank Sinatra to win his Oscar for his role as Private Maggio in this film. The first being by getting the role because Eli Wallach turned the role down (who surely would have been brilliant), and then the academy taking upon themselves to nominate a rather weak set of nominees to make sure nothing happened like having a performance that was too good to ignore. One wonders if the voters in some way were encouraged to ignore the likes of John Gielgud for example since his film was rather successful otherwise. This allowed a Sinatra victory even though he is not even the best supporting actor in the film. This is made most abundantly obvious by the fact that Sinatra shares more than a few scenes with the man, that man being Ernest Borgnine. There are several negative figures shown in the army, although shown more of to be jerks rather than anything else, Judson, who runs the stockade seems to be another sort of man altogether.

Ernest Borgnine is only in a few scenes, and even in these scenes his screen time is somewhat limited but Borgnine does not allow this to be a problem. His two earliest scenes are directly between Fatso and Maggio as they both purposefully get on each other nerves. Borgnine eats Sinatra alive in these scenes as he brings such menace in his portrayal of Fatso. Borgnine does not show Fatso outwardly aggressive yet he's more chilling by conveying the beast in the man just in that stare he gives Maggio. When Fatso threatens Maggio Borgnine does not show an empty threat but rather a sadistic guarantee that Fatso is certain he will get his satisfaction. Borgnine is fantastic as he makes Fatso such a sinister presence in his few moments on screen that he convinces of what Fatso is doing when not shown. There is not a second wasted in Borgnine's performance making an impact from even a few seconds. Borgnine best scene actually just might be when Maggio is brought to Fatso in the stockade.

Borgnine actually has only a couple of seconds to end that scene as Fatso sees that he has Maggio exactly wants him. Sinatra for some reason chooses to stare blankly at the screen in almost wonderment, not fear or more likely defiance in his face, failing to express what Maggio should be feeling. Borgnine on the other hand brings the most perfect vicious grin to Fatso's face and we know exactly the torture Fatso is planning without having to see it. Borgnine also deserves credit for being one of the actors who completely goes toe to toe with Montgomery Clift without ever being overshadowed. In their one scene together Borgnine proves a match for Clift. Their scene together is sensational as the two meet both having such a reserved intensity as the two suggest that two volcanoes are about to erupt. I especially love though that laugh Borgnine gives before he goes off with Clift portraying one again that above else Fatso loves the idea of the chance for violence.

Now I will note that this is a very short performance and he's not even like a one scene wonder since his role is spread very thinly across his few scenes. His role also technically is quite limited merely that of the evil guard who causes Maggio's downfall. I don't feel though this should be used to complain about Borgnine's performance as he goes above and beyond the duty (no pun intended) with the role of Fatso Judson. Although I certainly would not have minded a little more time given Borgnine here. Nevertheless in his sparse time Borgnine full realizes the sick nature of Judson and it feels as though his performance actually is that of a more substantial character. Not only that though Borgnine absolutely commands the screen for every moment of his performance. This is the definition of a great supporting performance because Borgnine manages to create a memorable and particularly effective character that adds a lot to the film while the character easily could have been just as forgettable as those Sergeants who hassle Prewitt.