Thursday, 7 May 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1936: Edward Arnold in Come and Get It

Edward Arnold did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Barney Glasgow in Come and Get It.

Edward Arnold most often played the rich and the powerful and he once again plays such a man in Come and Get It. There is a difference in this case, well other than that Arnold is the lead in the film, in that here we actually are given a view of how he earns his position in society, unlike his appearances in Frank Capra picture where he apparently lost his heart long ago. In this film we are first introduced to Arnold's Barney where he is the head of a crew of lumberjacks. Arnold does something important in these scenes because the film really does not do much to age him in terms of makeup between the twenty year gap of the story, which is to convey the youth of the character. There is the enthusiastic spirit of a younger man projected through Arnold's performance as he expression very specifically the fun that Barney is having as he works with his crew in the woods. The love of life seems to be simply a part of him as Arnold so well brings across the idea of a man ready and willing to live life to its fullest at this moment. Of course within these scenes though we are also given sight for once how an Edward Arnold character gets to become the rich and powerful man he is.

Arnold is very effective in portraying the ambition of the man in his performance as well. Although he's clearly having a good time there is always a certain intent that Arnold gets across well. In the dealings that Barney is making, in order for his jobs to propel him forward in terms of riches, Arnold brings a needed command in his manner. Arnold realizes the power of personality in Barney in these scenes particularly well as a man who would be able to scale the world to become the powerful man he desires to be. What Arnold does so incredibly well in these scenes though is that he in no way plays it as some sort of evil brewing in Barney. Instead Arnold is very good in bringing even an idea of a nobility of sorts in the act. Arnold does not portray it as though Barney is a thief taking away from others, but rather a man completely fulfilling his own desires through his own abilities. This is particularly great work from Arnold here in that you can see technically speaking perhaps the beginnings of so man of the characters he played. We always see him after he's a man of riches and power, but he we actually are given the journey. Arnold makes the most of this and actually earns the riches so to speak by believably showing us the rise to power.

Just before his rise is basically complete Barney decides to party with his best friend Swan (Walter Brennan) at a questionable bar where he meets the saloon singer Lotta (Frances Farmer). Arnold brings such a surprising yet genuine sweetness in the scene. This is especially important though given that the romance between Barney and Lotta is really the crux of the film yet it is only set up in technically a few scenes. Arnold though manages to make it work through his portrayal of Barney's love for Lotta. There is the more obvious and understandable immediate infatuation, but Arnold gives it more depth than a mere lust in the man. Arnold is excellent in the way he brings a certain tenderness and most necessary and understanding in the moments between Lotta and Barney. Arnold manages to make it work to the point that it manages to overcome the brevity of the scenes as he realizes the romance as something special. This is very needed since Barney has already decided to marry a different woman who would further allow him to advance in terms of his position. The honesty that Arnold brings to Barney's relationship with Lotta effectively creates the tragedy behind Barney's decision to favor wealth over love. This leads Barney to take off without a word to Lotta, and leads to the film's twenty year flash forward.

This section begins with Glasgow's family at breakfast with Barney being referred to in an excessively formal way by his wife. We meet Barney as the man he technically wished to become and Arnold now fits into the role he most often played. Well there was a reason for that because Arnold was good at it as he so well personifies a man defined by his wealth. Arnold though with this does show what has happened to Barney. That old enthusiasm is gone, and there is still an ambition of sort though much colder without that energy of the old days. In his relationship with his wife, and to a certain degree his son (Joel McCrea) Arnold brings a considerable distance portraying a relationship more based around responsibility than any sort of affection. What I really liked about Arnold's performance though is he does not make Barney irredeemable at this point. In Barney's relationship with his daughter Arnold alludes just every so slightly to the old Barney. Although he still has a coldness as he goes along with his wife's ideas for who his daughter can marry, his interactions with his daughter carry a hint of that old warmth alluding to the fact that the old Barney is not completely dead. This becomes awakened all the more when Barney goes back to see his friend Swan, who married Lotta, and finds Swann's daughter Lotta, with the now deceased Lotta, looks just like her mother, after all she's also played by Frances Farmer.

Arnold is excellent in his portrayal of Barney's relationship with the young Lotta, since it's actually quite tricky. It's easy to see how a lesser actor would have made Barney just seem like a creepy old man, since Barney kinda is. Arnold does not allow it to be so simple with his performance. He portrays an infatuation with her to be sure, but also Arnold brings a certain confusion in the man as though he can't quite comprehend her since it's his past mistake staring at him right in the face. Most remarkably though is the way Arnold brings a greater pathos in the relationship. When he hears her sing in particular Arnold creates such a haunting quality in Barney as Arnold shows him clearly thinking to the past, and the mistake he made. Barney's wealth though essentially allows him to convince Swan and his family to do what he wants, and brings Lotta closer to him. Arnold again is terrific though as he manages to seem far less problematic than it technically is through his performance. Arnold presents Barney as almost being lost in the nostalgia as parts of that youthful spirit appears, and he is attempting to recreate his lost love without exactly realizing it himself. Barney's plan falls apart though when Lotta becomes naturally far more interested in Barney's son than Barney. Barney eventually comes to blows with his son, leaving Lotta to save Barney from being hurt by his son by reminding him that Barney is an old man. Arnold reaction is perfection as Barney dream shatters in a moment, and Arnold shows that Barney finally realizes that he will never be able to relive the past. Arnold's in his last scene portrays Barney being emotionally overwhelmed by finally understanding what he has lost, and is heartbreaking in his depiction of Barney knowing he has wasted his life.


GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Wow this sounds like a winner's review. Although we'll wait for Laughton.

Thoughts/ratings on the rest of the cast, as well as the film itself? I thought, on re-watch, that it was much more powerful than I remembered and that ending killed me.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I can't believe Arnold never got an Oscar nomination, he must've come close for this, Daniel Webster and You Can't Take It With You.

Question Louis, how have your thoughts changed towards these following actors over the course of this blog:
James Cagney
Spencer Tracy
Claude Rains
Fredric March

luke higham said...

Louis: Can I have your rating for Dern in Blue Velvet, I can't find your thoughts on her, but no matter.

luke higham said...

Cagney- Up
Tracy - In the middle, leaning down (Louis has stated before, that he's one of the most overrated actors of all time, despite being terrific in Bad Day At Black Rock)
Rains - Way Up
Fredric March - In the middle, leaning up

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Luke: From Hopper's review

Dern - 4(Does the naive schoolgirl well by making that aspect known but not overplaying that element. She also is effective, in a similar was like MacLachlan, in showing how the events of the story change her character

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Nice exchange :D

luke higham said...

GDSAO: Thanks.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Luke: What are your top 10 films of the 1930s?

1. Angels with Dirty Faces
2. City Lights
3. Goodbye, Mr Chips
4. Mr Smith Goes to Washington
5. All Quiet On the Western Front
6. Modern Times
7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
8. M
9. The Spy in Black
10. Come and Get It

luke higham said...

1. Gone With he Wind
2. The Wizard Of Oz
3. M
4. It Happened One Night
5. All Quiet On The Western Front
5. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
6. City Lights
7. Modern Times
8. Frankenstein
9. Little Caesar
10. Public Enemy

All of them were Great to Masterful, although I should re-watch them, down the line.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what's your ratings and thoughts on the cast of Batman Forever?

Louis Morgan said...


In terms of never being nominated I can't help but feel Arnold was taken for granted, like it was just assumed he was going to be good so there was no reason to reward him.

Farmer - 4(Mainly her score is lower because I do think a few of line readings feel a bit melodramatic especially when standings next to Arnold. I do actually rather like her performances as both Lotta's as I feel she manages to create two character without doing anything vocally or physically to distinguish them. With the older Lotta she brings a more sultry and hard bitten quality to her performance. She has a vulnerability but with a certain toughness suggesting what's her character has been through. As the younger though Farmer brings a softness to her as she has obviously had an easier life, but also with it a more naive ambition about her making it so her stringing along of Barney does not seem quite as cruel as it might be)

McCrea - 3(He's fine as his usual charming self but he does not get to do much past that here. He's mainly there to facilitate a few scenes for Arnold and really he's overshadowed by him)

Nash - 3.5(Watching the film again she had no right to be as good as she is considering she just has the role of the cold wife. She does that well but watching the film again I was surprised how much nuance she bothered to bring to the part. She's especially good in the scene after Barney's been turned down, as she expresses a genuine relief that she has not lost her husband)

Leeds - 3(She only has a couple of scenes but I quite like that easy going chemistry she strikes up with Arnold)

(As for the film: that ending is definitely a knock out to be sure. I also like the rest of the film too particularly those early scenes. I do feel there is a bit of whiplash found from the two directors near the end, but I actually think Arnold is the one who manages to carry the power of the story home even when the direction becomes a bit dicey)

Cagney - (I always liked him so I guess the same, although I do feel bad about underrating him for Angels With Dirty Faces in my original review)

Tracy - (Way down as I had only seen a few of his later films, including Bad Day At Black Rock, and I assumed his reputation was well earned. That changed once I saw his first Oscar win I would say)

Rains - (Up simply because I saw more of him. I always liked him in everything I saw him in before that point anyways though)

March - (About the same)

Louis Morgan said...


What you don't think Jones and Carrey are a shoe-in for the alternates?

Klimer - 2.5(I actually think Kilmer was trying to go for something with his performance, trying to find what made Batman tick, unfortunately Joel Schumacher was not which makes it look like Kilmer is mopey around within all the insanity. It's only made worse that he still has to say some really goofy lines)

Jones - 2(To be honest I don't quite know how to feel about this performance. Jones is clearly having a ball, but I don't think he pulls a Raul Julia (an act that is very difficult to pull mind you). Of course it does not help that Schumacher is a horrible director and the tone is all over the place to the point that almost any performance doesn't seem to work. Anyways Jones is over the top those are my thoughts)

Carrey - 1.5(Carrey is also over the top, but I think Jones was little more onto something in terms of creating a character. Carrey just is doing trademark Jim Carrey antics with a Riddler suit on)

Kidman - 1.5(She's pretty goofy while kinda trying to be serious which is a much worse offense than what Jones or Kilmer are doing)

O'Donnell - 1(Well bland O'blanndell found a tone actually that being to be as bland as one possibly can be bland)

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I wouldn't even hesitate to give Jones a 1.

Matt Mustin said...

I'd give Jones a 1 and Carrey a 2, oddly enough.

Louis Morgan said...

I should note I haven't watched it in quite some time.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I at least give Carrey credit for trying to go Frank Gorshin in the role. I think he understood the tone the best of the cast. I'd actually give him a 2.5 or 3.

Matt Mustin said...

Yeah, I agree. But no one will ever match Frank Gorshin.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Of course not, I'm not insane.

Matt Mustin said...

You know what, add a .5 to my rating for Carrey.

Michael McCarthy said...

It's very difficult for me to say anything too bad about Carrey as the Riddler, I kinda have a huge soft spot for everything he did in the 90's.


Matt Mustin said...

I tend to be kinder to Jim Carrey overall than I possibly should sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Louis, toughest an drawings on

Meryl Streep In The Deer Hunter

Uma Thurman/Kill Bill 1&2

Sacha Baron Cohen/Borat

Diane Keaton/The Godfather Trilogy

Susan Sarandon/Thelma And Louise

Anonymous said...

And ratings i meant

Michael Patison said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor in Dodsworth

Anonymous said...

I'd easily give Jones a 1.5 for Batman Forever, he really was an overblown caricature. Kidman gave her worst perfornance ever, she was just lifeless. I really like Kidman though in general, Louis what is your rating for her work in Cold Mountain? You gave your thoughts on her but you forgot to add the rating.

luke higham said...

Streep - 4(She is certainly overshadowed by her co-stars but she gives a moving and honest portrayal of her rather limited character)

Uma Thurman/Vol. 1 - 4.5(She great at being an action hero and intense bad ass in the first film. She also manages to be effective in the film's few quiet scenes as well showing that there are some truly strong emotions that are driving the Bride in her vicious revenge)

Uma Thurman/Vol. 2 - 5 (Builds upon her earlier more action orientated performance from the first one. She still carries herself as the right type of vengeance, but with a greater emotional impact this time. She also is particularly good in the flashback scenes in creating the less world weary Bride)

Hasn't seen Borat


I - 2.5(She's okay for the most part and her final reaction is great but some of her line readings her just seem a bit off as she almost tries to over accentuate her character's background)

II - 3(She's surprisingly not in it all that much mostly reduced to reactions here. Keaton seems far more assured as a performer at this point though and those awkward moments are gone from her performance. She also certainly does deliver in her final confrontation with Pacino even if she's a bit overshadowed by him)

III - 3(Interestingly the one where she and Pacino probably have the best chemistry even if they are separated. She is good with Pacino as they convey the history between the two rather well)

Sarandon's a 5 for Thelma & Louise.

Cold Mountain - 3.5 (She's maybe a little overshadowed by those coming and going in the film, but she's effective does the transformation from pampered Southern Belle to a desperate woman enjoying what she has left. She's certainly no Vivien Leigh so to speak, but she does a decent job)

Anonymous said...

Whoops I'm sorry, I guess I just didn't see the rating

JackiBoyz said...

Luke and RatedRStar: What are your predictions for the Baftas this Sunday?

luke higham said...

Male Lead - James Nesbitt
Female Lead - Sheridan Smith
Male Supporting - Ken Stott
Female Supporting - Gemma Jones
Female Comedy Perf. - Olivia Colman
Male Comedy Perf. - Tom Hollander
Single Drama - Marvellous
Mini-Series - Cilla
International - Orange Is The New Black
Audience Award - Game Of Thrones (Should win by a Landslide)

RatedRStar said...

JackiBoyz: A lot of people and betting sites have got Benedict Cumberbatch as almost a lock to win best actor, but I agree with Luke I think Nesbitt will win, you have to look at the last couple of years, the baftas dont go for the audience choice they go for the performance that was best reviewed, the audience wanted Jamie Dornan and Sean Bean to win when they were nominated, but Sean Harris and Ben Whishaw won instead because they were the critic choice essentially, and thats the same case here, it is between Cumberbatch and Nesbitt but I think Nesbitt will win, also Sherlock recieved hardly any nominations besides Cumberbatch so.

Best Actor - James Nesbitt
Best Actress - Sheridan Smith (she is playing a real life figure, easy win)
Best Supporting Actor - Ken Stott, (James Norton is getting a lot of buzz but I think the veteran wins it here)
Best Supporting Actress - Amanda Redman (another real life figure)
Female Comedy Performance - Olivia Colman (Bafta love her)
Male Comedy Performance - Tom Hollander (Who else?)
Single Drama - Marvellous
Mini Series - Cilla
Drama Series - The Missing
International - Orange Is The New Black
Audience Award - Game Of Thrones

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I forgot about Drama Series, my pick is also The Missing.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I really want to watch Marvellous, I'm sure Toby Jones is great in it.

Michael Patison said...

It's a shame BAFTA rarely ever nominates a series in multiple years. I would've loved to have seen Broadchurch and/or The Fall get nominated for something this time around, especially Olivia Colman (she deserves every single one of her plaudits) and Gillian Anderson.

RatedRStar said...

Michael Patison: The Baftas seem to be really picky with nominating the same show again, something the Emmys have no problem with.

One thing that is quite interesting is that nearly all of the drama shows this year are of the same genres

Police Dramas;
Happy Valley
Line Of Duty

The Honourable Woman

The Missing

Biopics of sorts
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

RatedRStar said...

Thankfully I have attempted to watch quite a few of them out of curiosity =D.