Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: George Sanders in Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent

George Sanders did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jack Favell in Rebecca.

George Sanders plays one of the three villains within the film, the other living one being Judith Anderson as the sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, and the third being the deceased Rebecca whose actions in life still torment her husband Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), and his new wife (Joan Fontaine) as well motivate Danvers, and Sanders's Jack Favell. Sanders only has one appearance in the first half of the film as the second Mrs. de Winter is still lost within the mystery of Maxim's country estate Manderley. Sanders appearance is that of the odd stranger at first who seems to be in some collusion with Danvers about something. Favell catches the new Mrs. de Winter overhearing leading him to introduce himself. Sanders carries himself with quite the charisma as Favell although what makes it so good is just how sleazy Sanders comes off while being this charismatic. There just such an overabundance of confidence that Sanders brings in his manner that it is rather off putting though in a unique manner. Sanders is brilliant because he shows a certain persuasive sort of personality that likely would work in some sort of situation, yet makes it such a curiously obvious routine fitting for a cars salesman, which is just what Favell happens to be.

Sanders does not make another appearance until the last act of the film although we do learn that Favell was one of Rebecca lovers, although honestly Sanders makes that clear in his first scene. We do not meet him again until after new evidence regarding Rebecca's death has risen leaving another inquest that potentially threatens Maxim. Favell naturally turns up at the inquest and although there was plenty of indication to this in that first appearance, his next series of appearances Sanders shows that Favell is well, how should one put this eloquently, well he's a bit of an asshole. Though what a hole that Sanders makes him out him out to be. The way Sanders plays it does not just have Favell simply a man who has no regrets about the affair with Rebecca, although he certainly does that, he also makes it seem so vapid of an affair actually as the way Sanders mentions it you can see only the pleasure that Favell gets from the idea of it. That's not bad enough, not by a slight margin though, as Sanders takes it a step further by making it so whenever Favell makes an indication towards Maxim about the affair, basically gloating about it in his face, Sanders seems to exude the most despicable pleasure from this.

Potentially incriminating evidence against Maxim begins arise against Maxim, which Favell quickly jumps the chance. The scene where Favell just walks right into Maxim's car and starts eating his food, Sanders captures just how obnoxiously Favell behavior he is by the way he insists upon himself. Favell decides to attempt to blackmail Maxim over information he has, which Sanders again is terrific because he does not suggest Favell is trying to avenge his former lover or anything close to that. Sanders keeps Favell quite hollow as he states with such glee about how he'd love to be able to drive the fancy cars he sells, and just is so lacking in even the slightest respectability in his proposition towards Maxim. As Favell continues to attempt his plot, even though Maxim is not having it, Sanders continues to be so perfectly hate inducing that when Max finally does punch him that he perhaps is acting on the audience's wishes as well as his own. Sanders is so entertaining in the role by not holding back for a moment in reveling just how wretched of a man Favell happens to be. I especially love his final scene where the truth about Rebecca is revealed. Sanders makes it incredibly satisfying by his reaction in the scene as all the confidence just instantly leaves his face in a moments notice. What I like most is that Sanders still gets the chance to just make Favell all the more detestable just when there might be a slight chance for sympathy. Favell afterwards quickly puts on a sorrowful act of grief, but Sanders cleverly alludes that Favell is probably just fishing for some gain as he looks around for a supportive face then when seeing none he instantly turns back to his usual wretched self. This is a fantastic performance by Sanders that makes a great villain out of a man who simply is without scruples.
Sanders was not nominated for his performance in Rebecca, leaving supporting actor to be the only acting category where Rebecca was not recognized. To make things only worse though Sanders was also ignored, despite his co-star Albert Bassermann being nominated, for portraying Scott ffolliott in Alfred Hitchcock's other film from 1940 Foreign Correspondent. It is interesting that the two films were paired as Rebecca is an example of one of Hitchcock's more cerebral and internalized film while Foreign Correspondent is of his more direct and extroverted style. Both films though have George Sanders though and in this film George Sanders is allowed to use his talents for good instead of evil, character that is. Sanders makes his appearance into the film well into it as he aids our main hero Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea) is in pursuit of an assassin. Sanders this time utilizes his considerable charisma for the benefits of humankind with ffolliott as he this fits right into the world of international espionage that Foreign Correspondent covers.

It is intriguing how Sanders works in this as he portrays simply a secondary hero for the film since he's certainly not Jones's sidekick, and at the same time ffolliott has the same good intentions as Jones. What Sanders does though is make the film all the better by adding a nice variation in the dynamic seen right for the beginning of his appearance as he so calmly explains the reason for the doubled and lower case f's in his last name while dodging bullets while chasing after the assassin. Sanders is pretty marvelous in realizing a James Bond sort of style for ffolliott, whereas McCrea's Jones is a far more straight forward sort. There's few moments that go by where ffolliott does not have a quip to go with the occasion. Sanders delivers these all quite flawlessly hitting his mark every time. Sanders makes ffolliott's wit as effortless as it should be. He adds so much character to the film through his mere presence, after all perhaps one could get along with simply one hero, but Sanders makes it worthwhile to have two heroes because he's just so much fun in the role.

Sanders is wonderful in finding just the right tone between the quips though and the actual severity of the situation. In the scene where ffolliott reveals to Jones that he's actually been more driven than he perhaps alluded to all along, Sanders is excellent in conveying the quiet passion in ffolliott to do the right thing as well. A funny thing about the film is that the heroic act to find the central figure of the plot is done by ffolliott and note Jones. In fact in the scene Jones really is ffolliott sidekick as ffolliott is the one who takes the needed steps to follow the villain's tracks, and to well save the day. Sanders is great in the scene as he reveals just how much ffolliott does care about the situation, he helps to create the severity of the moment by showing that it is not simply a game for ffolliot making the scene surprisingly powerful. Although this may merely be his second best performance of 1940 its a very good one that proves Sanders not only can be the man you love to hate, but also just the guy you can love without the hate.

19 comments:

tahmeed chowdhury said...

Louis, you forget my request for your ratings and thoughts on Felix Bressart (Pirovitch) in The Shop Around The Corner.

Calvin Law said...

Lovely!!

Also Louis, what are your thoughts on the cast of the Daredevil series, as well as the series itself, I personally think it's fantastic.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: You forgot to write 'George Sanders did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Scott Ffolliott in Foreign Correspondent'. :)

Anonymous said...

Louis: So the part of Pearl in Duel in the Sun was written with Teresa Wright in mind. You would have liked her in the role for sure. Who would have been better choices for Lewt for you? I think Robert Mitchum would have been amazing.

Anonymous said...

Louis: But I think you would say she would be huge miscasting and that Rita Hayworth would have been better suited for the role.

Deiner said...

I haven't seen Foreign Correspondent, but he was wonderful in Rebecca, just as every other member of the cast.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

Anonymous: I think the movie was doomed once Selznick took control of it. It appears that the screenplay credit went to him. I still love the movie regardless of its many flaws.

Anonymous said...

ruthiehenshallfan99: I still think that the film is shot beautifully, even if I don't like it.

Luke Higham said...

Saw The Martian, it's Scott's best film since Kingdom Of Heaven and I'm glad he's proven me wrong, though it's only one film. It's a very entertaining thrill ride with career best work from Damon.
Ratings
Damon - 4.5
Chastain - 3.5/4
Ejiofor - 3.5
Wiig - 3
Daniels - 3.5
Pena - 3
Mara - 3
Bean - 3.5

Anonymous said...

Luke: Let's see if Scott doesn't disappoint again with another film.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I hope so, though it's not very likely. :)

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I finally saw Legend. I quite liked it even though I could definitely see how it would hit some people the wrong way. Some of the tonal changes were a bit awkward and it's perhaps a bit too ambitious in its whole scope and would've benefited from more focus. Overall though I thought it was a very entertaining flick and greatly bolstered of course by...

Hardy: 5 (he hasn't and probably won't supplant McKellen as my win for the year. Nevertheless he's fantastic as Reggie and Ron, the former a showcase for his more subtle and understated dramatic talent, the latter just a whole lot of gruesome fun to watch. Perhaps a tad bit of a reservation with regards to his choice of voice as Ron which does verge close to caricature sometimes, but mostly it works really well)

Browning: 3 (her narration I thought was actually rather lackluster, thankfully she's rather good in the rest of her performance and actually quite haunting in her final moments, but still that narration grated a fair bit)

Egerton: 3.5 (verging on a 4. He was just a whole lot of fun to watch and forget my comments on Hardy's Ron as a caricature, because he was fantastic in scenes with Egerton, funny and actually quite moving in showing the love between the two)

Thewlis: 3
Palimentari: 3
Morgan: 3
Bettany: 3

Calvin Law said...

Luke: thoughts on Damon, Chastain, Ejiofor, Daniels and Bean.

Louis Morgan said...

tahmeed:

Bressart - 3(He's charming enough in a fairly simple role though but he he never feels like just a caricature. He brings out the unassuming warmth in an honest and effective fashion)

Calvin:

Cox - (In terms of the specific Daredevil scenes Cox is just find by bringing enough of a certain menace, although I do have to say he is somewhat let down by the final costume. As Murdock he's very good in creating the two dueling sides of the man one side being the less emotional though quietly charming and commanding lawyer, while being very effective in realizing the the intense passion as well as pain that comes from dealing with the corrupt underworld he must take on. He in particular made the whole to Kill or not to kill conflict resonate well in his portrayal because he brought a certain complexity showing both the desire to be righteous though also the desire to end evil in a far swifter manner)

Woll - (There are times where I feel she overdoes the spunky go-getter thing a bit much, though I think she does well in her more directly emotional scenes, and is fine fro the most part)

Henson - (Eh his performance still feels a bit too much from the Mighty Ducks. He just kinda over does it far too often and is more annoying than endearing. He has a good moment here or there, but for the most part he's a weak link)

Dawson - (She offers some very fine straight forward sort of support for Cox in their scenes together, and I quite liked her presence throughout)

D'Onofrio - (I'm apparently in the minority on this one but I just can't say I find his Kingpin quite works. I appreciate the fact that he does take a completely alternative take with the character, but it does not work perfectly. I think he realizes the character well in terms of the vulnerabilities of the man. My problem comes in that I did not find him menacing in the least which is a bit of a problem when he's the main villain. I might have been more forgiving if there was a bit less build up before the first appearance of his character.)

Louis Morgan said...

Curtis-Hall - (He's very good in just being appropriately haggard yet with that quiet drive beneath the age. He's particularly good at elevating the scenes with Woll, as he plays them in a decidedly less forced fashion, and does a great job of providing very genuine reactions throughout adding needed gravity to the story)

Gunton - (He tends to be good a weasel and this is fine example of that)

Leonard Moore - (It's a shame about his run time, since he offers quite an intriguing variation on the right hand man type. He just fine in the usual scenes of being so cold and cool when making the coldhearted deals for his boss. What I liked so much about his work was that in his scenes with D'Onofrio, even though he does not break his reserve, you really get an idea of how much Wesley cares for his friend with it obviously going beyond just being a job for him)

Zurer - (I really liked her performance actually as she finds the exact sort of grace and class needed for her character. Within that though I like the way she conveys a darker edge to her, and even though its not directly stated you understand how Vanessa is so complicit with Fisk's endeavors. In addition she and D'Onofrio have a very good chemistry with one another.)

Glenn - (Great one episode wonder as he's very entertaining as he proves the right acerbic touch to the mentor role. He carefully avoids to much simplicity in this as well doing well to convey both the harsher and lighter sides of the character)

As for the series as a whole I liked it though I did not love it. I do think it has potential to become great. The examination of both Murdoch and Fisk as characters is very well done. The action is pretty great, the plotting is decent though somewhat shaky. I think its tone isn't quite perfect, something worrying as it will likely deal with more directly comic book ideas next season. I don't think those elements are the problem though as its attempts at humor unfortunately tend to come off as just that. Is darker elements were usually well done though there was still the occasionally cheesy moment there. It's a good start though, and hopefully the few kinks will be worked out next season.

Luke:

I did not forget. I felt I covered that in the first paragraph on Foreign Correspondent.

Anonymous:

I love Wright but she indeed would have been painfully miscast with Hayworth being a far better fit for the role. Mitchum could have potentially been a great Lewt.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I'm so pleased that you loved Hardy and agree with your feelings toward the film. :)

Damon (My favourite performance of his, as he portrays his desperation and anger really well, It's the most entertaining he's been and delivers completely in one fantastic scene, that involves a surgical procedure)

Chastain (She's quite good portraying a sense of guilt, when leaving Damon's character behind and an eagerness to save him)

Ejiofor, Daniels and Bean were all very good in their expository roles.

Luke Higham said...

Everyone: It seems that Vikander's gonna be campaigned in Supporting for The Danish Girl.

Robert MacFarlane said...

The year of category fraud, it seems. Making up for last year's lack of it, no doubt.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Well at least there are a sometimes when they don't buy it, though not often enough, and unfortunately usually when the person can very easily be argued supporting like Patricia Neal in Hud and Kate Winslet in the Reader. How often does the fraud result in a win though?

This sounds like a particularly obvious case of it though as I'm pretty sure it is just so the studio can possibly have a winner in both actress categories.