Alec Guinness did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying John Barratt and Jacques De Gué in the Scapegoat.
If someone is coming in expecting this to be Alec Guinness's Dead Ringers they will be disappointed. Guinness does play a dual role, but the two men are not twins. The character of Jacques De Gué is also only in a few scenes, and the film does not strive to make much of a dynamic between the two. Yet the scenes of their interactions are perhaps the most interesting in the film thanks to Guinness. Guinness certainly can handle a variety of voices, as well as transform himself considerably in a role, but he does not do this in his portrayal of the two men. This is not to say that he does not realize each man in their own unique fashion. Our main character John Barratt Guinness realizes as a modest enough proper British Gentlemen. He finds him well simply as a man without presumptions, but also without much of anything in terms of his outlook on life keeping him quite meek in his disposition. As Jacques De Gué he does not acquire a French accent, with good reason since, save one, all the other French characters in the film are played by British actors.
emphases. I would not have minded more the two together because Guinness's work is quite fascinating since he able to realize these differences while still making it convincing that the ruse would not be questioned.
The majority of the film though is not on the two of them together but rather John being placed in to Jacques's life. Guinness portrays John's earliest reactions as particularly straight and realistic as he's just taken aback by the situation, and refuses to recognize that he has been placed in this ruse. Everyone around him refusing to believe that he is anyone but Jacques begins to wear him down. Guinness does not depict this as though John is convinced to participate in the ruse simply because no one will accept his actual story, but rather Guinness conveys very nicely the moments where he begins to interact with the film, especially Jacques, daughter an understated happiness that begins to develop in John. Guinness strikes up an interesting dynamic because he does not play it as though John is exactly purposefully perpetuating the ruse in terms of his own performance. He still keeps John as his modest self, which is quite different form Jacques, but Guinness makes the ruse believable as the sort of modesty that Guinness depicts could easily be misinterpreted as either a sort of joke, or attempt at being apologetic from a more flamboyant individual.
The succeeding scenes essentially follow John as he goes from one aspect of Jacques life to another, and frankly this calls upon the genuine class it takes to spell out Alec Guinness's name. Guinness presents John to be as dignified of a figure as possible as he goes about seeing various members of Jacques's family who all have something at least slightly strange about them. Guinness plays this scenes out with a quiet reserve though exudes a certain understanding and warmth as he interacts with each with a slight detachment though with a complete respect for their individual needs. There is a certain sweetness that Guinness is able to develop with almost all the members of Jacques's immediate family, as well as even his mistress. The relationship Guinness develops between John and Jacques's daughter is particularly charming, and Guinness is excellent in showing the way that the relationships gradually develop in creating a stronger familiarity between the stranger and the family. The conceit of the story is that John helps almost all of them through their problems, the writing does not do enough to provide reason for this, but Guinness's performance manages to give at least some sense to these developments.
Eventually something drastic happens, where the purpose of Jacques's ruse comes to light, and Guinness is quite effective in portraying just how much the people in the family have come to mean to John. This leads to a final confrontation between Jacques and John. It's a fantastic scene for Guinness as he fully reveals the cruelty to Jacques, only suggested by the state of his family, bringing such venomous pride in his words as he describes what he has done as well as states his specific demand to have his life back. In turn Guinness brings the right sort of poignancy as he portrays the refined yet palatable passion in John as it becomes clear that he has no intention to give up the life, a life Jacques only gave up in order to commit a despicable act. This confrontation is indeed a high point to go out for the film because he mostly focuses on Guinness's assured performance as both men. The weaknesses of the film reveal themselves when the actual final scenes suddenly suggest as though John's relationship Jacques was suppose to be particularly meaningful, which it was not, and the film adds to far less than it should. Guinness's own work can never be faulted though as he elevates what good there is in the film, and gives a compelling portrayal of both characters.