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