Anthony Franciosa did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning a Golden Globe, for portraying Sam Lawson in Career.
Anthony Franciosa is not an actor I have been fond of, in fact I found every other performance of his that I have seen pretty atrocious including his Oscar nominated performance. Well this perhaps brought him close to another nomination since he did indeed win the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama, which usually translates to an Oscar nomination. That was not the case for Franciosa. Well this seems like a good thing right? After all this part seems ready to come off poorly since one thing they keep mentioning is that above all else is that his character Sam Lawson is a talented actor. Well I have to admit Franciosa's not bad at all here. I don't know what happened maybe Dean Martin playing it so low-key made him relax a bit, or perhaps Shirley MacLaine chomping down the scenery whole sale made him decide to play it down, because Franciosa plays the part in a pretty calm fashion here. He almost comes across as a different actor as he does not just fall down upon his old tricks as he usually did.
Franciosa is actually likable, that's right likable, as he portrays the early scenes of Sam trying to make it in New York with his wife, despite success seeming so difficult to obtain. Franciosa manages to convey his particular passion quiet effectively actually and is able to realize his dream of the stage in a way that does not at all problematic. It would be very easy for such a character to seem far too self-indulgent but Franciosa manages to bring an honesty in this passion that makes you understand why Sam has this dream. Things do not get better though as he is unable to find steady work and his wife Barbara (Joan Blackman) begins to have some particular strong second thoughts about the venture. Now in these scenes something so bizarre happens, it's almost impossible to comprehend the strangeness of it all, in the scenes where Blackman gets kinda melodramatic and over the top Franciosa stay understated in his performance. Inconceivable. Franciosa goes past that though and is even quite good in portraying just that powerful yet desperate desire in Sam to achieve his dream no matter what, that you do feel sorry for Sam when she leaves him.
The oddity continues in his scenes with his agent Shirley (Carolyn Jones) who is trying her best to find him parts, but nothing ever seems to quite work out. Franciosa and Jones are just really charming together actually, and it enjoyable to see their little reactions with each other as they stay casual as Sam faces one defeat after another. There is such a nice warmth about the two's interactions that is not a traditional sort of romantic chemistry but Franciosa and Jones really make you see the unsaid love the two have for each other. Their relationship being the always the bright spot within the film and both actors earn this wonderfully well. The other main relationship is with another wannabe Maury (Martin), who Sam always comes across throughout his career. Although that start out together in a chummy enough fashion, when Maury finds any success he quickly forgets about Sam. Franciosa does a lot in his moments with Martin by portraying so well the intensity that grows in Sam through the frustrations he faces while dealing with the amoral Maury.
When later on Sam becomes somewhat amoral himself for a brief period, by stealing Maury's girl (MacLaine), Franciosa earns the darker side of Sam as he seems to hate everything, by building it up in the previous scenes. At the same time Franciosa effectively conveys the discomfort in Sam in being such a cruel man, and falling back into a better man feels just as natural. Before that happens though there is one last challenge to be performed. That's when Maury does one betrayal too many, and at a particular painful time leaving Sam to attack Maury while threatening to kill him. Time for good old Franciosa right? Wrong. First of all its though only scene this extreme in the performance, and deserved of the situation. Secondly though Franciosa delivers in making feel like the genuine hate from Sam towards a man who has pushed him too far. This performance is quite frightening to tell you the truth its breaking my whole reality, where things seemed so simple and Franciosa was only capable of a terrible performance. Saying this is the best I've seen from him is not good enough. He's actually good here, and not only that I found him endearing. That's right the film had classic feel good moment at the end thanks to how much I found myself caring for Sam as a character thanks to Franciosa.