Ed Wynn did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, for portraying Paul Beaseley in The Great Man.
The attention Ed Wynn received for this film makes it so I can't help but feel perhaps it contributed to his later nomination for the Diary of Anne Frank where he was not recognized by the Golden Globes or BAFTA. The film is notable as an early example of Ed Wynn's departure from purely comic performances, which he was always best known for, into a more dramatic performance. Wynn's recognition is notable since he only has a single scene in the film, and it is not as though The Great Man was a huge success otherwise. Wynn's single scene though is a very important one as he plays Paul Beaseley the owner of a small time Christian radio station who gave the titular Great Man is original break into radio. Throughout the film Ferrer's character Joe basically interviews the various people who knew Fuller and one by one he hears less than flattering reports about the man starting with the doctor who attempted to treat Fuller who recounts that Fuller's last words were repeatedly using a four letter vulgarity. Each interview tarnishes the man, but the interview with Mr. Beaseley seems to be particularly important.
Due to the small size of his station Beaseley is treated with a bit of disdain by Harris when they speak over the phone, and then even more of it when he arrives possibly because of his manner as a person. Wynn, like he did later in his Oscar nominated performance, tones down his naturally funny sounding voice into something more reasonable here, and carries himself in a particularly unassuming manner. Wynn carries himself with such a genuine gentleness though that he does make Beaseley stand out as a certain kind of man, the kind of man that someone might slightly mock because he seems almost naive in just how much of a gentlemen he is. Wynn at first projects himself as one of the warmest souls you might find as he approaches Joe with his story. Wynn brings so much heart into his words as he quietly explains to Joe that all he wants from Joe, for his story about the "Great Man", is for Joe to announce what his radio station's letters stand for. Wynn continues with such a pleasantness though as he first tells with such a powerful nostalgia as he goes on about how the Great Man originally showed such promise through his inspirational sermons which caused Beaseley to give him a job.
After finishing telling the story that seems to fit the Great Man image Beaseley takes a moment as he adjusts himself. Beaseley begins by telling kinda showing the lack of naivety as he bluntly tells Joe that Herb Fuller was not a very nice man. Before he continues though Beaseley directs himself towards Joe though as he explains that many people view him as a somewhat ridiculous individual, he even goes so far as to point out that Joe clearly thought him ridiculous as well. Wynn does not exactly change his voice, he certainly does not raise his voice, yet there becomes something so piercing about his delivery as he begins to tell Joe that he's hardly the fool Joe thought him as. Wynn's verbal attack against Joe is so eloquently handled that it's strange to characterize it as such but Wynn still makes it so incisive that's one can't really characterize it as anything else but that. What Wynn does though is realize the way such a gentle man would go about proving himself to be far wiser than he is thought to be. It's marvelous that Wynn makes this turn in the character in such a subtle yet still extremely striking fashion.
Beaseley carries on with the story about Fuller as he starts to tell Joe that Fuller became progressively worse in terms of both his professional and personal life. Wynn is quite moving though as he expresses such a sadness in Beaseley as he reveals the personal betrayal he felt as Fuller seemed to reveal his vice filled nature. Wynn is excellent though as he begins to reveal more than just a sadness though but a genuine quite anger in Beaseley as he reveals every part of ugly past with the man. Wynn conveys that it almost pains Beaseley to tell the story as it forces upon him emotions such as hate that is so opposed to his personal nature. Wynn is quite poignant revealing the shame Beaseley feels in that he can't help but have bad thoughts for the man who technically just abused his kindness. Wynn beautifully never breaks basically the kind demeanor of the man yet brings such an intensity of emotion as Beaseley finishes the story. Wynn only has this single scene of Beaseley telling his story yet delivers it in such a tremendous fashion. He makes the needed impact in his one to make Joe's later change of heart quite convincing, and Wynn truly is a one scene wonder here.