Sunday, 13 March 2016

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1939: Cedric Hardwicke in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Cedric Hardwicke did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Judge Jean Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Sir Cedric Hardwicke is an actor whose very name seems to suggest a regal individual and fittingly Hardwicke was often cast as authority figures if not actual kings. More often than not though it seems he was often cast simply for that sort of stature as many of his roles were not particularly substantial. It is interesting then to take a look at his performance here as Judge Frollo, which seems like a juicy role. Well either way Hardwicke is once again as a man of power, though technically in a subservient position as he can only advise his King on matters. Hardwicke's earliest scene is with the King were Frollo attempts to convince the King that the printing press is a dangerous instrument and must be destroyed. Now this seems simple enough as the evil guy who wants to stop book from being created, however Hardwicke is particularly effective in his portrayal of Frollo's sentiments. He reveals this considerable passion in his words, no matter how terrible, as Hardwicke does not portray this as evil blathering. He rather succeeds in revealing the sentiment, at least in Frollo's eyes, about the dangers of the press. He brings the needed conviction in the words as he quickly realizes Frollo's particular sort of philosophy in his very first scene.

Hardwicke's performance is terrific in the way he so well captures the authoritarian attitudes of Frollo. Hardwicke's presence is indeed perfect for the role to begin with as the authority of his position just seems to exude from his very being. The command of his character is notable in Hardwicke's cold delivery of Frollo's beliefs. What I really like about Hardwicke's performance though is he does not use this set up for the character to turn him into as obvious of a villain as he could have been. The way Hardwicke carries himself never has a hint of sadism in Frollo, which would be wrong for the character. Hardwicke instead keeps this underlying intensity of a man who seems almost burdened by his position and his view of the world. He is a most unpleasant man indeed yet Hardwicke does not simplify this notion importantly. He instead is able to realize how it seems to come from his convictions to what he sees as his personal duties, and how he attempts to live out his life. The burden of this is made a part of Frollo brilliantly through Hardwicke's performance as he makes Frollo a man who seems ill at ease with life itself because of all that he sees is wrong with it.

Frollo is not a purely evil man evidenced by his choice to save the Quasimodo, which he did purely out of the good of his heart in this version. Hardwicke finds this in his first reaction to Quasimodo as Frollo is about to take action against the crowd's decision to parade him out as the King of fools in the festival of fools. Hardwicke does not portray the react as a mean man who wants to stop Quasimodo's joy, but rather reveals a genuine dismay in Frollo for Quasimodo being used a mere spectacle by the crowd. Hardwicke is exceptional in the way he is able to find the conflicting nature of Frollo. There is one particularly fantastic moment with the Gypsy Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) where he initially goes on long about his hatred for Gypsies first. Hardwicke brings the needed harsh authority in these words as man trying fervently to insist upon the sins of others, which he believes he will purge. When she mentions her love of animals though Frollo is forced to agree. What's marvelous is Hardwicke makes this revelation completely genuine yet he shows this to be almost painful for Frollo to admit. There is a terrible unease that Hardwicke conveys as he presents the way Frollo constricts. As he reveals his true ability for some tenderness in his eyes, yet Hardwicke tightens his manner all the more, as though he's trying to purge this possible joy out of his system as though anything pleasant may be sinful.

Now one of the greatest challenges to Hardwicke comes in Frollo's relationship with Esmeralda. This element actually is far less verbalized than even in the Disney version, he had a whole song just on that point after all. Much of this is left to Hardwicke's performance which is more than enough. Hardwicke's outstanding in every aspect of this. This starting with his original reaction to her where the glint of lust seems to become awakened in him. As he interacts with her at any point Hardwicke creates the sense of how in the grip of his desires that he is in. There is a great moment when Frollo comes to directly confront Esmeralda with his desires. Hardwicke makes Frollo such an emotional mess in the moment as he attempts this odd warmth in his declaration of "love", and he's so good as he suggests the way this tears him asunder. His final quest that turns him into true villain could lead him also to a simplicity but again Hardwicke shirks this. He instead is able to portray within his determination to rid himself of his desire, an active effort in Frollo to remain the destroyer of sin. This is made without heart by Hardwicke, instead it's most unsettling as he shows a man fighting against himself in order to be something worse than he could have been. Cedric Hardwicke gives an outstanding performance as he manages find nuance in the role, even when hidden by the standards of the time, in his powerful portrait of a man ruled by his perverse attempt to rid the world and himself of sin.

84 comments:

Calvin Law said...

YES. He was genuinely great. I'm so tempted to give him my win for the year but I couldn't possibly cheat Rains this way.

Calvin Law said...

So finally saw The Place Beyond the Pines. Thought the first act was incredibly dull and half-tempted to turn it off, but thought the film progressively got better after a certain someone's departure. Cooper was definitely the standout, but I thought Mendelsohn, DeHaan and (let hellfire rain on me) Cohen were pretty good.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, can I get your rating and thoughts on The Thin Red Line?

mcofra7 said...

Calvin: Funny you should say that. I thought that the first act was pretty amazing, but after that the film wasn't worth watching.

Anonymous said...

He was amazing.
Louis: What are your overall thoughts on Jack Palance, James Coburn and Yul Brynner as actors?

Alex Marqués said...

Louis: are you going to upgrade your rating for Crowe in Gladiator?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Really, 4.5 for Galdiator?

Anonymous said...

Robert: You mean a 4 for Gladiator, he's currently a 3,5.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Robert meant the film, as Louis gave it a 4.5, whereas Crowe's a 3.5.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Oops, my bad, sorry. :)

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I'm kinda in the "Gladiator sucks" camp.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Palance - (I've yet to see a great performance from him but what I have seen are several good ones. He had a consistency with his work and thrived in the hard man roles he was so frequently cast in)

Coburn - (He was one of the all time great onscreen badassess to be sure, but he was really much more than that. He also had quite the emotional range as his performances could be surprisingly heartfelt such as his work in a Cross of Iron and Duck You Sucker)

Brynner - (He was very much an ill fit as the casual romantic lead. There always seemed to be a lack of comfort on his part and it was difficult to see any charm come threw from him. He was better in either straight forward non-romantic turns, and especially in villainous parts which he excelled in.)

Alex:

Probably.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I think that McQueen would have been great as either Willard or Kurtz, but I think that McQueen would have been more interesting as Kurtz, despite being my choice for Willard in a 60's version. What do you think?

Calvin Law said...

Just seen The Straight Story.

Damm. You were right Louis. I thought Crowe was untouchable but what do you know.

tahmeed chowdhury said...

Just finished watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Absolutely brilliant comedy, even if the ending kind of undermines it. If I win this prediction (hopefully), I'm going to suggest Graham Chapman or Michael Palin for the bonus rounds.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings & Thoughts on:
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return Of The Jedi
Memento
Insomnia
Batman Begins
The Prestige
Inception
The Dark Knight Rises
Interstellar

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: They were reviewed for Life Of Brian, Louis hasn't seen Holy Grail yet. :)

RatedRStar said...

Palin was already in my bonus list, Chapman I am not sure deserves to be reviewed, certainly not over the 5 I have in my list, I just thought Chapman was sorta fine.

Calvin Law said...

Oh damn haha once again, sorry Tahmeed and Luke :)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on these films:
The Westerner
The Virginian
Duel in the Sun
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit
In a Lonely Place
White Heat

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings & Thoughts On:
Wolf Hall
An Unexpected Journey
The Desolation Of Smaug
The Battle Of The Five Armies
Hard Eight
Boogie Nights
Magnolia
Punch-Drunk Love
The Master
Inherent Vice

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Can I have a list of films from the 1920s, that you would give a five to.

Anonymous said...

Louis: When is the next review coming?

Anonymous said...

Louis, what are your opinions on Richard Harris, Michael Caine and Peter O'Toole?

Anonymous said...

Just watched The Hanging Tree with Gary Cooper. Nice enough film, but Scott and Malden steal the film from Cooper. God, with every film I see from Cooper I get disappointed by this so-called realistic and natural actor.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous: I could see it.

Calvin:

I'm glad you liked Farnsworth.

Anonymous:

Not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Luke:

Off the top of my head, and really I have many I need to see form that period.

The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Gold Rush
The Man Who Laughs
Nosferatu

Anonymous:

Harris - (It must be said that Harris was one of the most entertaining actors that one will see in an interview. Now past that he was a rather talented actor though I would say somewhat unwieldy, just as his personal life evidently. In that Harris always seemed like this ball of raw talent that if pointed in the right direction would result in great dividends though there's not a performance of his that I've seen that I would consider outright bad though he had a few somewhat hammy tendencies at times though again even those would be rather entertaining to see.)

Caine - (Now Caine has an inherent charm as a performer and even quite the range and talent when he calls upon it. In fact I really like Caine as a performer. That being said he can phone in a performance like no one else in that many of his performances feel too similair, and can have a lack of energy that fail to make up for that fact. However as many of those performances as he probably has an equal number of turns where he does deliver)

O'Toole - (A great deal like his old buddy Harris yet the more refined, at least onscreen. O'Toole has the higher heights as a performer though I'd say in his lows he's less inherently entertaining the same goes for interviews. O'Toole though when he hit the heights he was one of the all time greats though, and had such a considerable talent when the material allowed him to call upon it)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Do you find Wayne more consistent than Peck as an actor?

Louis Morgan said...

Their early years it's not even close, Wayne was for more consistent, though Peck gained some ground when he got older.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I think Peck should have tried to play more complex characters something that Wayne played. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

*like Wayne did.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

If I'll be honest I just don't think Peck was all that good of an actor early on. I mean he had some very different roles early on and seemed awkward in a whole lot of them.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Peck admitted he had emotional limitations. I found out that Cooper got angry when he screwed up a scene in Sergeant York. There are bloopers of old movies on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Aside from Spellbound, Duel in the Sun and Moby Dick, do you think there's a film where another actor could have played Peck's role better than he did?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Gentleman's Agreement (someone could have come off a whole lot less sanctimonious), The Paradine Case, The Man in The Gray Flannel Suit (that role was pretty much tailor made for Montgomery Clift).

Anonymous said...

Louis: For Gentleman's Agreement, who would you have chosen?

Louis Morgan said...

Well it was terrible role anyways, but someone like say Richard Widmark, or Kirk Douglas would have come off as less pompous I think.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I am a Star Wars fan, but do you think the hate Lucas gets is way overexaggerated? Of course, I can see what he did to the prequels, but I think it's way overblown. What do you think?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Throwing my two cents in : No, in fact he deserves more hate.

Alex Marqués said...

Has Louis ever given his rating/thoughts on Cage in Vampire's Kiss?

Luke Higham said...

Alex: He hasn't seen it.

Anonymous: I'm somewhat in the middle, leaning towards Robert's view.

Louis: What do you think of Indiana Jones returning, I'm a bit optimistic, especially with Ford giving a really good performance in The Force Awakens and Spielberg being on a good run as of late.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I would not say the hate towards him only comes from the prequels. That's part of it, but once good directors can always hit a rotten period. Some of his attitudes in relation to those films was pretty questionable though, such as his "They're for kids", well sure, but kids like good movies too and don't need to be pandered to in such an obvious way. I think the most severe disdain, which is warranted, is in terms of the special editions with his frankly childish behavior of seemingly purposefully trolling his fans. When you do that you deserve the hate, especially when many of the changes are rather disrespectful to many of the people who worked on the original film like the original voice of Boba Fett, the original effects team and Sebastian Shaw.

Luke:

Well keep Lucas away from it. However I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic about it.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I'm aware of what he did and he does kind of deserve the hatred for that, it's just that I think it's way exaggerated when fans sent death threats to him. I guess that I should have said that the exaggerated hate he gets includes death threats.

Anonymous said...

*for those things he did

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I agree with you on that.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Well death threats in regards to purely creative output no matter what is downright ridiculous.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I know you're hesitant in giving ratings out to television performances at the moment, but would you give Rylance a 5 for Wolf Hall.

Robert MacFarlane said...

The question I whether Spielberg has the desire to do a fifth one. Even he admitted Crystal Skull was a bust.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Aside from For Whom The Bell Tolls, do you think there's a film Cooper shouldn't have done?

Louis Morgan said...

Hey everyone want to see something hilarious?

https://youtu.be/3BmeR9GYdDU

Luke:

Do you need to ask?

Robert:

Also hopefully not David Koepp as the screenwriter.

Anonymous:

Well Love in the Afternoon is a given.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot about Love in the Afternoon. He was bad in that, too old.

Luke Higham said...

OH MY GOD!, Heston, Boyd and Griffith will be spinning in their graves.

Anonymous said...

That Ben-Hur trailers was just lol.
Louis: Rating and thoughts on Hedy Lamarr in Tortilla Flat? Despite being a great beauty with lots of brains, she was not good as an actress IMO.

RatedRStar said...

This remake just looks awful, the chariot race in 1959 was real and that was in 1959, ud think in 2016 it would be real as well, more safety precautions and stuff but nope 100 percent CGI.

Louis: I am having nightmares about that time Sage Slowdive thought that Akim Tamiroff was the best performance in 1943 supporting lol, dont mention that horrible film (I do like the color cinematography in 1943).

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Is the spreadsheet finished.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: 1995-2002

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I barely remember her performance, which means she was better than Garfield and Tracy who I remember clearly how bad they were, but from what I recall she was rather bland.

Luke:

Toby Kebbell looks like he's playing dress up, and Morgan Freeman looks like he trying to give a new definition of phoning it in. I guess he was trying to make that wig of his look convincing by comparison.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Not quite, could do with some help with 1997 lead and 1997 supporting, possibly 1998 lead as well.

RatedRStar said...

Actually I forgot about Calvins message before, in which case, just 1998 lead.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar:
Peter Mullan - My Name Is Joe (Best Actor - Cannes)

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Damn lol that is the only other nominee in the 1998 besides Sean Guilette that I had on the sheet that I had locked in lol, and I knew he would be mentioned lol so, anyone else?

RatedRStar said...

The other 3 that I wasnt too happy with are Christian Bale, James Woods (Gene Siskel thought he deserved an Oscar nomination) and Bill Nighy.

RatedRStar said...

Michael Caine in Little Voice looks like a supporting player (havent seen it but he doesnt look like a lead)

mcofra7 said...

RatedRStar: Does that mean you've seen Pi then? I am curious to see what someone else thinks about the movie.

RatedRStar said...

Mcofra7: I actually haven't seen it yet although I will definitely see it before 1998 happens, I merely had him in because he was requested by you I believe, and I am sure you didn't suggest a bad performance so it must be good lol.

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: I haven't seen this performance, but I suggest Anthony Quinn in Lion of the Desert. He said it was his favorite role.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Holy shit, it's like Huston, Kebbell, and Freeman showed up to set, said "Oh, it's that kind of movie", and didn't even bother.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: What's your current 2011 Supporting lineup.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I suggest Sam Worthington in The Debt for 2011 Supporting. He was surprisingly wonderful in it.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Rodrigo Santoro in 300? I found him laughable.

Calvin Law said...

Omg I die.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: This is my current lineup, of course it will likely change at some point
Nikolaj Coster -Waldau - Headhunters
Patton Oswalt - Young Adult
Trond Nilssen - King Of Devils Island
Ezra Miller - We Need To Talk About Kevin
Paul Giamatti - Ironclad

RatedRStar said...

Worthington is usually a bad actor but ah maybe I might put him in ahead of Ezra.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Miller is TERRIBLE in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Calvin Law said...

I really liked Miller in We Need to Talk About Kevin, though I can certainly see why it's a divisive performance. His best performance is definitely in Perks of Being a Wallflower though.

RatedRStar: Really interesting choices. Worthington could be a good choice since I always like seeing usually awful actors prove themselves.

RatedRStar said...

Robert and Calvin: I actually have mixed feelings towards Miller in Kevin but I thought he did better than worse and I think Louis would be interested in reviewing him since it is a curious performance, and I did really like him in Perks as well, he was quite adorable and lovely.

I am sure everyone would love to see Nikolaj Coster -Waldau appear on the blog and I think Louis would be interested as well. As for Worthington, we will see, it isnt final list although I am definitely keeping Waldau.

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: Your choices for 2012 supporting and 2005 supporting?

RatedRStar said...

Anonymous: I am going to bed now so final post...

Ghassan Massoud - Kingdom Of Heaven
Edward Norton - Kingdom Of Heaven
Alexander Siddig - Kingdom Of Heaven
Stephen Dillane - Nine Lives
Cillian Murphy - Red Eye

Simon Russell Beale - The Deep Blue Sea
Garrett Hedland - On the Road
Ronald Cheng - Vulgaria
Domhnall Gleeson - Shadow Dancer
Cillian Murphy - Broken

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your 2010s cast for the Original Star Wars Trilogy.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I got a better one:recast the prequels for 2010's, and don't use and of the actual ones cast, no matter how good they could have been with a better director. Cast under the assumption of better director and writer.

Luke Higham said...

Anakin: Ben Foster
Padme: Carey Mulligan
Obi-Wan: Michael Fassbender

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Santoro - 1(Just a terrible performance that they even had to amplify his voice, make him look extra tall, and he still wasn't menacing. His whole performance is just ridiculous, but not even in a funny way unfortunately. He just is trying so hard to be this imposing figure, and he's not in the slightest.)

Luke:

Can't disagree with those choices really.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What do you think of a premake of 300 with Heston as Leonidas?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Schoenaerts your 2010s choice as Yuri Zhivago.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Directed by William Wyler? I'd take it.

Luke:

I think he'd work quite well.