Thursday, 16 April 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1941: Herbert Marshall in The Little Foxes

Herbert Marshall did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes.

The Little Foxes is an effective drama about the corrupt inner workings of a greedy family.

Herbert Marshall plays Horace Giddens the man unlucky enough to be married to the cold Regina (Bette Davis), which unfortunately makes him family with the despicable Hubbards. The one thing all the Hubbards hold in common, including Horace's wife, is they seem to prefer money above all else. Horace does not make his first appearance until some time until the film, although he spoken about mainly in the context that he has a terrible heart condition that will likely lead to his death. Herbert Marshall portrays Horace as a man of quiet dignity as he very gently interacts with everyone including his daughter Alexandra (Teresa Wright) or anyone else who has the slightest hint of human decency. Marshall very quickly makes Horace the most likable character the most likable character in the film by only giving off a very honest demeanor while clearly establishing that Horace in no way shares the avaricious nature of his family by law. Marshall exudes an understated compassion as he makes the love of his daughter a simple fact, as it's clearly what he cares about most in life.

Marshall is quite effective as he portrays Horace as no fool in regards to his interactions with his wife and the rest of the greedy Hubbards. Marshall presents it well as essentially that Horace has simply had enough of their behavior. As he interacts with them, and discovers each new plot in which to make themselves even richer than they already are Marshall does not express surprise. He rather bluntly shows the disdain in a boredom of sorts. Marshall makes it quite clear that it is all simply business as usual for them, and that Horace is unable to do much more than almost roll his eyes at the antics of his relatives. Marshall though does distinguish this from Horace's physical state which also leaves him in a certain state. Marshall portrays well clearly the other sort of exhaustion from his heart condition, as he very carefully takes a calm approach in his manner as he shows Horace is clearly trying to avoid any undue stress.

Although Horace is able to avoid his in-laws he cannot completely ignore his wife which is where the problems lie for the character. Marshall is terrific in the scenes with Davis as he continually keeps Horace trying to keep his distance from her, to ignore her pointless bickering. Marshall is rather moving because he does not show this to be a coldness in Horace, but simply Horace's understanding of the coldness in Regina. There are moments where Marshall brings a great deal of poignancy as Horace seems to try to reach out in some way to his wife, to show his past love for her, but he only ever receives a cold response. Horace continuously suffers the ill-will of his wife, and Marshall is especially good in realizing the slow decay of Horace's physical state. In every fight Marshall conveys the increase in the pressure and stress while so sadly showing that Horace obviously wants no part of the pointless drama his wife has created. This is a very good performance by Herbert Marshall as he makes Horace an appropriately tragic figure, bringing such an understated likability to the part while fully realizing the evil inflicted upon him by his shallow wife.

5 comments:

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings & Thoughts On Davis and Wright.

Deiner said...

Also, your rating and thoughts on Patricia Collinge, please.

Michael Patison said...

How have your actress categories for the year changed?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Davis - 4.5(Davis is brutally cold here as she portrays the harshness of her character incredibly well. What I like though is the quiet quality of venom. She does not need to yell to cause Marshall's Horace harm, the reserved intensity in her voice and in her eyes is more than I enough. I particularly love the brutal inhumanity in her speech about the only reason why she married Horace)

Wright - 4.5(Well look no further for the most genuine sweetness than for Wright, but there more to that than that here. Wright is very effective in a way combining both Marshall and Davis's work. There is that honesty of her emotion but also that cold forcefulness in moments as well. She shows the two influences incredibly. Her final face off is particularly compelling as she brings the needed passionate to show her character's absolute hate for her mother's actions)

Deiner:

Collinge - 4(Collinge has a somewhat brief role but she's very good in realizing the specific place of her character. She shows the history of her own abuse through her constant cheer that has such a painful despair within it)

Michael:

Davis would be my #3 in lead. Wright would be my win in supporting.

Fritz said...

I love him. He would be my personal winner.