Sunday, 15 November 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1995: Gene Hackman in Get Shorty

Gene Hackman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Harry Zimm in Get Shorty.

Get Shorty is an entertaining film about a mob enforcer Chili Palmer (John Travolta) attempting to make it in the movies which gets a bit complicated.

Gene Hackman plays the man who seems to potentially be Chili's "in" into the industry as a B-movie producer that Chili comes across due to the various debts the man owes. Now Hackman comes into the film, and instantly seems like he'll be a highlight of it just from the way he so earnestly ponders about what happened to the dog woman he's sleeping next to, though not sleeping with. Things only continue along this course for the rest of the film every time in which Hackman makes an appearance. Hackman interestingly does not really play Harry with much sleaze, though it would have been easy to see how the character could have gone that way, considering his shady dealings, and that some his actions are not exactly the most noble. Oddly enough Hackman plays Harry Zimm in a rather likable fashion, and it certainly would be easy enough for Hackman to go despicable since he's certainly quite good at that as well. Hackman instead plays Zimm with kinda of a twinkle of sorts in his eye as a wannabe Hollywood player himself, just the strange thing happens to be that Harry has managed to fairly successful in his making of B-movie creature features.

Hackman's performance is actually rather essential for Harry working as a character, or at least making much sense in his existence. Harry again is kinda sleazy in his own short cuts at getting ahead, as it does not even seem like he's above potentially selling someone else out, and obviously has difficulties with his own abundance of debts, yet Harry is indeed left standing by the end of the film with no one seeming to mind him in fact many seem to like him. Again this works because of Hackman's endearing portrayal of Harry with this certain constant energy of his presence. Hackman makes Harry very active with this whole up beat quality to him that is more inspiring than off-putting, as Harry is always trying to work some sort of angle which Hackman handles in with an engaging vigor about it. What's so good about this is that Harry not very good what he does, and Hackman is so much fun in basically putting a smile on Harry's face every time he falls flat on that same face with every foolish decision he makes. The audience and Chili probably should hate Harry for all his shenanigans, but due to the way that Hackman portrays them you never do, and it is convincing that Chili doesn't either.

Hackman is a hoot here and the remarkable thing is just how effortless Hackman is in achieving that. Hackman makes Harry a hilarious character yet there is never a time when Hackman seems to actively be trying for laughs, it always feels very much within what should be Harry's behavior in any given situation. This works so well because of how vividly Hackman manages to draw Harry as character. Hackman ends being funny just by making Harry be Harry, and his behavior just ends up being comedic gold. This is particularly needed for one part of the story where Harry deals with one of Chili's gangster associates. Harry tries to act tough with the guy over the phone, Hackman who certainly can be quite intimidating when he wants to be, is just wonderful in not being menacing in the least as Harry is all bluster in his attempt to be tough guy. This leads quite quickly to Harry being brutally beaten ending up with two broken hands as well as several bruises. This scene potentially could have messed up the film's tone but Hackman manages to maintain it by making the beaten Harry just so amusing, while in no way underplaying the amount of pain he suffered. Hackman just always finds the right approach for the material, and this is yet just another strong performance from the great actor.


Anonymous said...

Louis, is Hackman still your favorite American actor?

Anonymous said...

Also, what are your thoughts and rating for him in Crimson Tide?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Stanford Prison Experment with ratings & thoughts on the casts.

Luke Higham said...

Louis and everyone else: Your Top 5 Trailers of 2015.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Yes, Hackman is still Louis' favorite American actor.
Louis: So, do you think Wellman and Curtiz might have been better choices to direct Muni? By the way, what are your thoughts and ratings for Captains Courageous, Sergeant York, Tortilla Flat, Pride of the Yankees and The Postman Always Rings Twice?

Calvin Law said...


1. The Force Awakens trailer #3
2. The first Bridge of Spies trailer
3. Mad Max Fury Road trailer
4. Brooklyn trailer
5. Joy trailer

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts and ratings for the rest of the cast of Get Shorty?

Anonymous said...

Luke: The Revenant is my 1# trailer of this year.

Anonymous said...

Luke: And I guess that the other top 4 trailers are from The Hateful Eight, Mad Max Fury Road, Bridge of Spies and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

RatedRStar said...

I am very excited about 1927/28, I wonder how The Man Who Laughs and Napolean will do.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous: Of course.


Crimson Tide - 3.5(I do feel he was too often placed as simply the authoritarian guy in command, I mean there was a reason for that though because he was always good at it still. This is not one of Hackman's best roles, but he's still good in bringing the needed passion for his character as he does his best to make him less obviously villainous as the film seems to want him to be)


U.N.C.L.E - (Thoroughly enjoyed the film, I guess give me as many spy thrillers as you want as I've liked all of them so far. It was just a lot of fun, again in the vein of older Bond, and realized that particularly style rather well to make for quite the fun romp)

Cavill & Hammer - 3.5(Both actually give very stylized performances in that Cavill's accent is as over the top in doing a Ameeeriaacaaan accent as Hammer does with his ROOOSIAN accent. Both I think work well within the film's tone and I enjoyed their performances particularly their chemistry as they both kind of try to out ham each other, though in a good intentional sort of way)

Vikander - 2.5(To be honest she probably should have went a little bigger to fit in, instead she tries to be a bit more down to earth in turn ends up being far more muted than Cavill and Hammer. It she was trying to be the straight man, it just does not quite work as well as one would like)

Grant - 3(The funny thing is about him is he's doing his usual thing, which fits right in the far more stylized work of the rest of the cast besides Vikander.)

Groth - 3.5(Enjoyably despicable and sleazy in really playing up the slime of the evil German type, that once again fits right in with the film's approach)

Debicki - 4(A very good villainous and only wish there had perhaps been a bit of her. She's so good in being a femme fatale as every word she says is so ice cold and carries quite the palatable menace even within still having this certain style and grace about herself.)

The Stanford Prison Experiment - (Although I don't think it exactly goes beyond what it is, in terms of attaching to anything all that greater, I think it works as quite simply a dramatization of the events. Although it technically goes point by point it stays compelling and is quite effective in its straight forward take)

Louis Morgan said...

The whole cast is good in seeming in place but here are those who stood out.

Crudup - 3.5(Crudup is good as he starts out as he realization the frustration of Zimbardo just wanting a break, then the fascination of seeing something happen that he creates, and convincingly shows the way he seems to become engrossed in his own power that he's created. Then he is very good in just quietly expressing the moments of clarity then eventually the full realization that he's gone too far)

Miller - 3.5(Miller can be a little over the top but I think it works in releasing the way his character is kind of play acting the part then making it so his later freak out is acted in a certain way, as he does it extra to get out, but also with real honest emotion behind the act)

Sheridan - 4(Sheridan is very good in just expressing the whole transition of his character to a certain disbelief, then slow emotional break down as it becomes obvious the guards are only becoming worse. Sheridan is particularly moving in his final interrogation of sorts as he feels so genuine as a young man just spent by the mistreatment he suffers)

Angarano - 4(He very good in finding the exact tone for his performance as it is a performance of this student, giving a performance as a sadistic guard in the vein of Strother Martin. He does it very well in that he reveals how it is play acting, though still disconcerting because it feels real enough with his actions around it. I especially love his final reaction in the prison as he instantly drops the act and is just a young guy concerned about his pay.)

1. The Revenant #1
2. Mad Max Fury Road
3. The Program (great trailer still)
4. The Force Awakens trailer #3
5. Legend Teaser


Travolta - 4(It's a variation on his Vincent Vega, though slightly lighter, but it still works quite well for the film as he's both humorous while being believable enough as a tough.)

Russo - 3.5(She's enjoyable as the straight woman of sorts as she deals, with slight exasperation, with all the men and their rather random behavior)

DeVito - 3.5(He's really quite miscast, I mean like DeVito but he just does not have the look of a "Great Actor". Nevertheless DeVito is pretty entertaining in just revealing the constant ego of the man, he's especially good in the scene where Weir tries to come up with the perfect expression for Chili)

Lindo & Farina - 3.5(Both find just the right tone for their performances as they manage to be funny in realizing the character's blustery personalities, while actually being effectively intimidating as well.)

Gandolfini - 3(Did not quite buy his accent but found him fairly enjoyable in portraying the soft hearted "tough".)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Since you said that Dana Andrews would be one of your choices for the cast in a version of Shutter Island in the 40's, who would be the director and the rest of the cast?
And also, who would be your cast for Reservoir Dogs and True Romance in the 1930's?

Luke Higham said...

My Top 5 Trailers Of 2015.
1. The Revenant #2
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens #3
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Macbeth #1
5. Legend Teaser

Louis Morgan said...


Probably not in regards to Muni since Curtiz directed him in Black Fury.

Captains Courageous - 4(It works well as the parable of the young boy's maturation through the life on the ship thanks to the lead performance, although not thanks to the actual Oscar winning performance from the film. The rest of the supporting cast helps well to make it a fairly moving tale)

Sergeant York - 2.5(The film has its occasional moments, the walking into the church to embrace his reform, or when York performs his actions, and I don't think there is anything too bad in just the storytelling itself its weaknesses lie most in two of the central performances that hamper down the film a bit)

Tortilla Flat - 1.5(The lead performances are pretty embarrassing to the point that its already a knock against the film as a whole. It's actually pretty hard to recover from that but it's not helped by the story being pretty dull as well.)

Pride of the Yankees - 3(It's not great though it does tell its tear jerker story with an endearing earnestness and heart to be a successful enough film)

The Postman Always Rings Twice? - 2.5(It's a great double feature with Double Indemnity since you can see what makes the former so great. This one just becomes engaging that previous film became, or any of the sordid murder plot films can be. This is partially due to the leads, but also Tay Garnett's direction does not give any extra life to the material. The film just lacks that needed intensity for this sort story, and its at its best when Hume Cronyn appears since he gives the proceedings some much needed energy)


Shutter Island 40's directed by William Dieterle

Teddy Daniels: Dana Andrews
Chuck Aule: Victor Mature
Dr. Cawley: Claude Rains
Dr. Naehring: Eric von Stroheim
Dolores Chanal: Jennifer Jones
Dr. Solando: Barbara Stanwyck
Warden: Boris Karloff
George Noyce: Peter Lorre
Deputy McPherson: Laird Cregar

Reservoir Dogs 30's directed by Mervyn LeRoy:

Mr. White: Edward G. Robinson
Mr. Orange: Robert Montgomery
Mr. Pink: James Cagney
Mr. Blonde: Humphrey Bogart
Mr. Brown: Mervyn LeRoy
Mr. Blue: Harry Carey
Joe Cabot: George Bancroft
Nice Guy Eddie: Frank McHugh

True Romance 30's directed by William Wellman

Clarence: Joel McCrea
Alabama: Carole Lombard
Dick Ritchie: Ralph Bellamy
Elliot Blitzer: Elisha Cook Jr.
Lee Donowitz: Thomas Mitchell
Virgil: Humphrey Bogart
Drexl Spivey: John Carradine
Don Cooccotti: John Barrymore
Clifford Worley: Lewis Stone
Floyd: Van Heflin

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