Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1969: Gene Hackman in Downhill Racer

Gene Hackman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Eugene Claire in Downhill Racer.

Downhill  Racer is a somewhat interesting film, although one where it seems they were unable to decide what type of film they wanted to make and there is some really sloppy editing at times, about the world of competitive downhill ski racer through the story of a up and coming hot shot David Chappellet (Robert Redford).

Gene Hackman in 1969 was still in his role as basically a known character actor since he was Oscar nominated for Bonnie and Clyde, but he did not become a star until his Oscar winning role for The French Connection. His status seemed set particularly clear since he was nominated for I Never Sang For My Father for best supporting actor even though he was obviously lead. Anyway Hackman technically is in his reduced role so to speak as Eugene Claire who is the head coach of the American team. Hackman does not have a great deal of screen time, even though he is sprinkled throughout the film. Hackman is great in his first scenes as he does not play Eugene as the traditional sort of inspirational, not even in a slightly atypical way like he would later do in Hoosiers, because he's not even necessarily all the inspirational so to speak. In his first scene Hackman presents Eugene as very much a coach with a mission to find the best. Hackman is terrific in the way he coneys the way in his manner that Eugene is watching for talent as he observes them, he is looking for the best rather simply wanting all of those under him to succeed necessarily.

 Hackman's great in realizing essentially the very down to earth nature of this coach and he feels particularly genuine as he hands at the starting numbers to the team members. Hackman is good as he shows the no nonsense approach of Eugene as gives them out. He offers moments of comfort of sorts though Hackman plays these well as more of him trying to set the record straight in that they must earn their position, rather than actually apologizing to them. Hackman's especially effective in his early confrontation with Redford's David who's upset that he had a low placement but ended up doing rather well. Hackman conveys well the complexity of the task of the coach as he does suggest the earnestness of his support as he says he'll fight for David to have a higher place, though carries a certain coldness as he also bluntly attempts to take down David's ego. Hackman is remarkable here because without only a few scenes early on he makes a considerable impact, and manages to portray the method of Eugene's coaching in an incredibly efficient way.

Hackman does not let a moment pass by to simply coast by with the character as he always attempts just to make the character frankly a bit more lived in. Hackman does particularly well in the scenes where Eugene is being interviewed. Hackman's, in obviously he more important interviews, projects an expected although understated enthusiasm as he creates the sense that Eugene is selling his team as he should. When the interviewer holds less importance though Hackman's good in portraying the reduced enthusiasm of the man, with a certain whole exasperation suggesting that Eugene probably has had to do a few too many interviews in his time. Hackman importantly portrays the greatest determination, almost that of a pitchman, as he puts all the passion behind basically the backers of the team, as he is clearly putting it in his all to ensure he is able to get the funds needed to compete the way he wants. Hackman brings the depth into the part with all these different sides that always are so naturally transitioned by him. He's great in one scene where he calmly chews out David again, and Hackman is tremendous in the incisiveness he brings as he calls David out on his reckless behavior. Of course then at the end of the film he does support him and Hackman makes this feel just as genuine particularly his jubilation when it seems he's won the race. What I love is how he contradicts himself yet never feels false or even hypocritical in the role. He is absolutely convincing in every side of the character showing what it takes to be an Olympic coach. It's amazing just how compelling Hackman is here. This work is a great testament to his talent as he effortlessly realizes his character, I'd say considerably better than Redford's does for his despite having much more material at his disposal, in the margins of the film.


Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what are your thoughts on the cast of Better Call Saul so far?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Luke and Louis: I quite like your choices. If I'm to go for a 1960s Lord Of The Rings:

Bilbo - James Cagney
Frodo - Dean Stockwell
Sam - Tom Courtenay
Pippin - Albert Finney
Merry - Alan Bates
Gandalf - Ralph Richardson
Saruman - Laurence Olivier
Aragorn - Toshiro Mifune
Legolas - Terrence Stamp
Gimli - Peter Ustinov
Boromir - Robert Shaw
Faramir - Laurence Harvey
Theoden - Paul Scofield
Denethor - Trevor Howard
Wormtongue - Oskar Werner
Gollum - John Mills
Galadriel - Deborah Kerr
Eowyn - Julie Christie

Matt Mustin said...

I just watched The Immigrant. My God, Cotillard is amazing.

luke higham said...

Louis: I'd like to say thank you for the other castings, on the previous post.

RatedRStar said...

Oskar Werner as a villain, umm it could work lol, I could have seen him as a bond villain.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I chose Oskar Werner because I always got a bit of a Brad Dourif feel to him, despite the two actors being on entirely different wavelengths in terms of the films they chose.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

What are everyone's favourite quotes from Louis' reviews, I can think of a few off the top of my head:

'He was heavily praised for this performance even being compared to Marlon Brando, but I imagine they just did not know him well enough yet'--Stallone in Rocky

'Now some have defended this performance saying his character is suppose to have aspergers, and that is why he is insufferable. First of all Thomas Horn seems to have confused aspergers with HAMbergers (Yes I know that pun was worthy of Fozzie Bear)'-Max Von Sydow's review for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

'Bacon stays mostly quiet in his performance except for the scenes where Walter visits his therapist (Michael Shannon, although I don't know if I'd trust Michael Shannon for sane advice)'-Kevin Bacon in The Woodsman

'Cornel Wilde was indeed nominated for Best Actor in 1945 for A Song to Remember (which was forgettable, rim shot please). Anyway his performance was dullness incarnate and all the life seemed to dray sucked out of Frederic Chopin. One could perhaps attach this to Charles Vidor's direction who also went on to suck out the life from Franz Liszt and Dirk Bogarde in A Song Without End (which felt endless)'-Cornel Wilde in Leave Her to Heaven

luke higham said...

GDSAO: Do you hear that sound....sounds like a train whistle... a whistle that spells the same doom the Mystery Man from Lost Highway personified...yes my friends can you handle the horrors of the Zane train. Well the Zane train has cometh and only horrors await. Or do they after all Billy Zane was great in Zoolander as Billy Zane, and how about that time he wore purple pajamas in The Phantom I don't have anything to say about his performance in that I just wanted to remind everyone that it existed - Billy Zane in Titanic

Ah yes such legendary actors Laurence Olivier, Robert Duvall, and Charlie Chaplin these actors have before directed themselves to an incredible performance clearly attempting to join their ranks is Tommy Wiseau. Tommy Wiseau an actor and director like no other obviously, I mean just look at that picture even pictures of him defy description. Clearly no other director could possibly contain the acting prowess of this man but himself. - Tommy Wiseau in The Room

Well making my rather hasty change from the disqualified Philip Baker Hall in Hard Eight to DiCaprio, I must now watch film, I mean what's the worst that could happen.....having watched it aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh why didn't I do Day-Lewis in the Crucible.....sob...sob. Anyway I did not like it. I did not like it one bit, you could say I hated it hated it a lot from that opening TV broadcast followed by Baz Luhrmann's choice to zoom in and then zoom out over and over again, because if you do it several times it makes it less annoying, no wait no it doesn't. Then I noticed that Luhrmann decided to shoot it like an over the top comedy, except it's not remotely funny, which is a bit of problem. - Leonardo Dicaprio in Romeo + Juliet.

Michael McCarthy said...

1970s Avengers:

Tony Stark/Iron Man: Paul Newman
Steve Rogers/Captain America: Robert Redford (Imagine the banter)
Bruce Banner: Bruce Dern
Thor: Rutger Hauer
Nick Fury: Robert Ryan
Black Widow: Goldie Hawn
Hawkeye: William Shatner (Come on, you know that would be entertaining)
Loki: David Warner
Coulson: Cliff Robertson

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Bruce Dern as Bruce Banner is like, just...awesome. Funny you mention Redford as I was thinking just that as I was watching The Winter Soldier.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

The only changes I'd make to your list would be Lesley Ann Warren as Black Widow.

RatedRStar said...

There a lots of great Louis Quotes, but my favorite of all, is a really old one.

Gary Cooper in Sergeant York

"Cooper then has his big scene where he does York almost unbelievable feat in battle. Here in this scene a friend of his is killed by a hand grenade. York quickly sums up all his anger and asks rather kindly who did that"

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Spider-Man (1970s)
Peter Parker: Dennis Christopher
Gwen Stacy: Michelle Pfeiffer
Mary Jane Watson: Sissy Spacek
Harry Osborne: Jackie Earle Haley
Norman Osborne: Harry Dean Stanton
Uncle Ben: James Stewart
Aunt May: Donna Reed
Doctor Octopus: Donald Pleasance
Venom: Dennis Hopper
Sandman: John Cazale

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Or Richard Thomas for Peter Parker. Note how I didn't put in J Jonah Jameson? Thanks to J.K. Simmons I can't imagine anyone else in the role.

Anonymous said...

Louis who would be your top ten favorite ever European actors?

luke higham said...

Louis: Can you exclude British & Irish actors, since I'm pretty sure they would fill the entire list.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else here watch American Horror Story? I just love it. The cast is great in each season (thrilled about Matt Bomer and Chloë Sevigny starring in the next season). I hope Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson will be nominated at the Emmys (as well as Kathy Bates, and Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett and Michael Chiklis would be quite deserving, as well as maybe Neil Patrick Harris for guest performance)

Anonymous said...

Louis, can you please review Hackman in Get Shorty for supporting 95?

John Smith said...

Spider Man 70s

Peter Parker-Brandon De Wilde
Uncle Ben-John Cassavetes
Harry Osbourne-Eddie Axberg
Norman Osbourne-Erland Josephson
Mary Jane-Lois Smith
Gwen Stacey-Jessica Lange
Aunt May-Gene Rowlands
Sandman-Peter Falk or Max Von Sydow
Venom-Lee J.Cobb

Louis Morgan said...

In retrospect I think any version of Lord of the Rings in the 60's or 70's, Klaus Kinski should be Gollum.


Odenkirk - (It's pretty great to see him, as he was kinda an unsung hero of Breaking Bad, in an actually good spinoff, even if I felt a few of the middle episodes turned their wheels a bit. Odenkirk though brings back what I loved about him in Breaking Bad. He's so naturally funny, and is great in any scene where Saul has to talk his way out of something. Just like Breaking Bad though he can just as effortlessly transition to drama. Here though he's given a chance for even more depth and he seizes the opportunity. He successfully takes up the weight of the leading role making Jimmy one likable and sympathetic scoundrel of sorts.)

Banks - (Again also brings back what was so great about him in Breaking Bad with his slightly comic deadpan badassery. Even though I had a few problems with the episode that focused upon him itself there was nothing to be faulted in his performance. He was heartbreaking and completely earned the scene where Mike finally fully breaks his reserve. He managed to best even his work on Breaking Bad which frankly seemed impossible.)

McKean - (I was expecting him to be funnier though that was simply because of his usual roles. Here he does play it even straight as even his character's peculiar ailment he plays very straight, although he does this well McKean though also does some fine work as he strikes up interesting balance in the relationship with Odenkirk. He brings a certain warmth and familiarity with him though also has a distance as he seems to be quietly judging all of his actions)


Limiting using Luke's specifications I really need to see more from some of the actors who've really liked at least one of their performances like Alain Delon. Anyway right now at least Max von Sydow would be an easy number one since I've seen a fair amount of his work and he's someone I've yet to see a bad performance from.


I'll definitely be considering him.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Louis, would you consider it blasphemous that I've switched Trevor Howard to supporting for Brief Encounter, upon re-watch of the film I noticed how he's almost entirely viewed from Celia Johnson's perpsective.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Along similar lines what do you think of Howard as an actor in general, you seem to like him and one of my main excitements for the bonus rounds is to suggest some of his greatest performances, you've yet to see the best of him Louis (although you do give him rather good ratings overall)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Also (last question) what are your top 10 films for:


luke higham said...

Louis: I know this is fairly early to ask, but have you seen any films for 2015.

Louis Morgan said...


I would not consider that switch blasphemous you're logic is sound.

Howard is an actor you can mark down that I've liked him in everything I've seen him in it. He's got a great presence and I like his unique sort of rough manner as an actor.


1. Brief Encounter
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
3. Children of Paradise
4. The Lost Weekend
5. Leave Her to Heaven
6. Scarlet Street
7. And Then There Were None
8. The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
9. Rome, Open City
10. Story of G.I. Joe


1. The Third Man
2. Battleground
3. The Heiress
4. Kind Hearts and Coronets
5. Stray Dog
6. White Heat
7. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
8. The Quiet Duel
9. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
10. Champion


1. Bad Day At Black Rock
2. The Night of the Hunter
3. Les Diaboliques
4. Lady and the Tramp
5. Mister Roberts
6. Marty
7. Richard III
8. The Ladykillers
9. I Live in Fear
10. East of Eden


1. Le Samourai
2. Bonnie and Clyde
3. In Cold Blood
4. In the Heat of the Night
5. Wait Until Dark
6. Cool Hand Luke
7. Samurai Rebellion
8. Far from the Madding Crowd
9. Bedazzled
10. To Sir, With Love