Saturday, 22 October 2016

Altenate Best Supporting Actor 1960: Robert Mitchum in Home From The Hill

Robert Mitchum did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Capt. Wade Hunnicutt in Home From the Hill.

Home From the Hill is a decent melodrama about a young man Theron (George Hamilton) who attempts to make something of himself but in doing so discovers the dark secrets his family holds.

Robert Mitchum plays the central figure that all the other characters revolve around in this film but he is not the lead. His lack of screentime and perspective make him a supporting character, though the story could not exist without Captain Wade Hunnicutt. The reason being everyone in his home, and the town around seems affected by the man in some way, usually in the negative sense. This is made clear in the film's opening scene where the Captain is shot by a man for having an affair with his wife. The Captain scoffs off both the man and the wound as though it happens all the time. The film builds up the character, mostly through exposition of both just how great the man is at first, then soon followed by how terrible he is. They make him into as though he is some sort of living legend and it is easy to see how this character would've wholly fallen flat with the wrong actor in the role. Luckily they cast Robert Mitchum.

Robert Mitchum is perfect for the part and he absolutely knows it through his ease onscreen throughout the film. Mitchum makes the reputation of the character earned since he seems rather larger than life himself. Mitchum just exudes the confidence of Hunnicutt as he should, as he suggests a man who has always gotten what has wanted but also always has taken what he has wanted. Mitchum though is able to do something essential for the part which is to create the idolization of the man that we see in his son. Mitchum effortlessly brings an undisputed charm about the man that actually comes in part in that confidence as he shows a man who is truly comfortable with himself. He even makes the opening scene work where he scoffs getting shot, as Mitchum successfully makes sense out of the moment by portraying him as a man completely comfortable with who he is to the point that he also wholly accepts the violent consequences of his actions.

A pivotal relationship in the film is the Captain's relationship with his wife (Eleanor Parker) who is bitter over his lecherous ways, and basically wants to keep her son away from the man's influence. Mitchum is excellent in the way he maneuvers scenes between the two of them. In the confrontational scenes Mitchum technically presents a very sleazy man as the Captain wears his transgressions with pride, however again the sheer power of his presence overrides this in a most curious way that only few actors could possibly get away with. Mitchum though also utilizes this approach to actually earn the other side of the relationship that we see a few times where the Captain attempts to win back his wife. The warmth that Mitchum brings suggests a genuine love for his wife and is convincing that he could ease any of her bitterness. What's so interesting about this is that Mitchum does not define these moments as lying, but still the Captain being a man who, for better or worse, is himself no matter what.

Eventually the Captain's son learns that one of their workers, Rafe (George Peppard), is in fact the Captain's bastard son, which leads to central conflict of the film, as the son's image of his father is shattered. The film is directed by Vincent Minnelli who in a few of his other efforts in similair stories does not exactly avoid over the top melodrama. Now it is easy to see where that could have come most strongly with the character of Captain Hunnicutt, but is avoided through Mitchum's work. As this point comes as his son demands answers, and the Captain still stands by his choices no matter what, Mitchum holds his ground. He stays in a measured work that's true to the way he set up the character. There is a moment where the Captain explains the refusal, as basically he gets to do what he wants, Mitchum is great in the moment because his portrayal makes it so the Captain simply stays with his personal resolve. This is a very strong performance from Robert Mitchum as his low key approach not only earns the two perspectives of the character but also successfully merges them as one man.

34 comments:

Calvin Law said...

Sounds interesting.

Louis: If Night of the Hunter and Cape Fear were made today, who'd you pick? I'd go for Ben Mendelsohn, and Sam Rockwell in Green Mile mode.

Calvin Law said...

For Mitchum's roles that is to say.

Louis Morgan said...

I can certainly see your choices but for alternates how about Chiwetel Ejiofor for Powell and Russell Crowe for Cady.

Calvin Law said...

Whew, those are great choices.

Calvin Law said...

Although actually now the more I think about it I'd love to see Paul Dano as Harry Powell.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: When you review the official 2016 nominees for Best Actor and Supporting Actor, will you go back to using Jacks and Brennans, or continue using Mifunes and Shaws?

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

For the official nominees I'll switch back to Brennans for the supporting, but I think I'll use Day-Lewis for lead since he's the record holder.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: That makes sense. Which performance of Day-Lewis's will you use for the rating picture? My guess would be There Will Be Blood :P

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

What are your thoughts and ratings for Eleanor Parker and Luana Patten?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 10 Best Adapted Screenplay winners.

Louis Morgan said...

ruthiehenshallfan99:

Parker - 3.5(Now Parker as usual can go a little too big at times. I still liked her performance here. Less so for those more intense scenes but rather her quieter ones. She's particularly good in the scene where Mitchum tries to win her back, and she's rather moving in her final scene. In those scenes she really gives a stronger understanding of the good nature of the character beneath the bitterness.)

Patten - 2.5(She has decent enough chemistry with Hamilton and is decent enough altogether. She doesn't make too much of an impact one way or another, but is completely fine in the role.)

Anonymous:

1. Amadeus
2. L.A. Confidential
3. The Bridge on the River Kwai
4. All the President's Men
5. The Treasure of Sierra Madre
6. The Last Emperor
7. The Best Years of Our Lives
8. Casablanca
9. To Kill a Mockingbird
10. The Godfather Part II

94dfk1 said...

Excellent choices, with Amadeus being #1, of course. Plays must be a hell of a mission in adapting for the screen and it seems that Schaffer nailed it.

L.A. Confidential was also brilliantly adapted in that it pruned what was necessary, yet kept the spirit of the book alive. The Godfather Part II is also a very good script.

Louis: Your 10 Worst Adapted Screenplay winners?

Has anyone here seen The Accountant by any chance?

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

1. Cimarron
2. Gigi
3. The Big House
4. The Big Short
5. The Cider House Rules
6. The Descendants
7. Out of Africa
8. Around the World in 80 Days
9. Dances With Wolves
10. The Country Girl

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Your ratings and thoughts on Martin Stephens in Village Of The Damned, Peter Sellers in Never Let Go and Renato Salvatori in Rocco and his Brothers.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Did anyone else see The Girl on the Train? I want to talk about how awful it is.

Calvin Law said...

Unfortunately hearing about how awful it is has put me off for the time being. I usually see anything Emily Blunt is in, but this...eh.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Blunt wasn't very good in it, either. (Though you can tell Taylor was not giving her good directions)

Alex Marqués said...

Sorry, I'm not planning to see it.

RatedRStar said...

Tell us about it, it might make a fun read =).

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Sydney Greenstreet in Conflict.

Varun Neermul said...

Robert: Plz share your thoughts on the film, hard about how awful it is. Which is a shame since Blunt has been very good in the movies i have seen her in.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@RatedRStar: It's basically Baby's First Thriller, since Tate Taylor clearly had no idea what he was doing. Murky dime-store Fincher-lite camera work, complete with that choppy slow-mo technique you'd see in a TV movie. Script is inane and predictable. Actors all uniformly one-note, and more than likely due to Taylor's direction. Blunt is mostly forced into the same look of furrow-browed severity even when the scene doesn't call for it (unless she's drunk, in which case the less said the better). Bennett has one good scene and is mostly a blank for the rest of it. Ferguson seems totally left adrift. Theroux gives Eisenberg and Sarsgaard a run for their money for lamest villain of the year. Evans tries, God bless him, but man his American accent is distracting.

Anonymous said...

Luke: He's a 4.
Louis: Since there's gonna be a remake of High Noon, who would be your choice for the role of Will Kane?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Seen anything new lately.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: Same right here. Blunt is having a bad 2016. And she won't be back on the screen until 2018, since her other roles are voice.

Robert: I had no idea Theroux was bad in it, though there were signs of it in some of the clips I have seen of the film. Seems like Jared Leto and Chris Evans dodged a bullet.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'll say Theroux's biggest problem was the writing on his character, but the way he plays it at the end were awkward and misjudged.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Josh Brolin

Luke:

The Infiltrator
The Man Who Knew Infinity
Swiss Army Man
Captain Fantastic

Also kind of watched Love and Friendship, but I'd rather give it a re-watch as the conditions were not ideal.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on all of them and ratings and thoughts on the casts.

RatedRStar said...

I am sure Emily Blunt will get an Oscar nomination one of these days lol.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Please tell me you're saving Mortensen.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

The Infiltrator - (A potentially very interesting story bogged down just by a lackluster presentation. It is always lacking in tension even in scenes where it should just come naturally. When compared to say a The Departed or Donnie Brascoe it comes very short as undercover films go. There's no real energy to it. It's not truly bad, but it feels as by the numbers as a film can get though. No relationships are that well developed, few of the characters are, and there is a strange lack of urgency to the whole film.)

Cranston - 4(I'd say this is his best post Breaking Bad performance. He really dials it back considerably from his other performances of late, except the scenes where he is portraying the callous buisnessman which are wholly earned. He gives a good portrayal though of covering the two sides one being the amoral man eager to get in on the drug business, against always conveying the underlying fear of a man who knows one misstep will mean his death.)

Leguizamo - 3.5(Hey a good performance. Leguizamo matches Cranston well in also doing the two sides. He has one particularly effective scene where his cover is narrowly blown. He and Cranston both did their best to elevate the film's shortcomings and I really wanted more scenes with the two of them together. Instead you only get glimpses of their relationship, though the ones that you get are the highlights of the film)

Everyone else doesn't leave much of an impact one way or the other.

The Man Who Knew Infinity - (A more than decent biopic. It's straight forward but I felt effectively so.)

Patel - 3(The best performance I've seen from him. That's of course not saying too much. Patel though tones down some of his more problematic mannerisms to give a decent enough portrayal of the man. He leaves all the heavy lifting of the film to Irons, which I don't think had to be the case. Nevertheless Patel gives a believable performance which is much more than I can usually say about him.)

Louis Morgan said...

Irons - 4(Bordering on a 4.5. Watching this performance I did ponder if David Thewlis couldn't do a bit more in his similair roles. To be fair though Irons has more to work with and makes the most of it. He of course projects the proper intelligent professor type as you'd expect. However he's terrific in portraying the gradual change in his character to treating Patel's character as not only an equal but a friend. He not only makes it convincing but also very moving.)

Jones - 3.5(Alright Thewlis isn't doing enough. Jones really has a minor role, but infuses just so much character in the margins. You really understand his part and he adds such a nice bit of genuine warmth to the proceedings.)

Swiss Army Man - (I found it emotionally engaging in its weirdness until it stops being a two man show. Before that point though I found it wonderfully bizarre with a strange poignancy to it. The final minutes though I felt the film ran out of gas (pun intended, why not), and just didn't seem like it knew how to end.)

I'll save Dano and Radcliffe (which no matter what would be a fun performance to examine).

Captain Fantastic - (Looking upon this film I probably should like it even more when thinking about how it would have been handled in different hands. I love that this film does not do the standard thing so many quirky indie dramas do, which is to constantly have their main character one up the caricatures they comes across. It actually bothers to give a bit of complexity and does not make clear villains and heroes for the story. There were facets that I think could have been explored a bit more, the rebellious son in particular, and it takes a bit to get going. Nevertheless it works as an intriguing character study and is a great acting showcase for someone.)

Saving Mortensen.

MacKay - 2.5(Felt his dramatic scenes really worked well, but his more comedic scenes I felt were somewhat awkward though. He just did not make clear transitions in these scenes going a little too broad for the comedy and it never felt natural.)

Isler, Basso, Crooks, Shotwell - 3(All did a good job in creating a real authentic feeling to the family dynamic, and much more effortlessly brought the comedic moments as well.)

Hamilton - 2(The weak link for me as he just seemed one note angry. I'll admit his character seemed under served to begin with though.)

Zahn and Hahn - 3(Both are good in not being caricatures in any sense and carefully give honesty to their characters side of the argument.)

Langella - 3.5(I really liked his performance as he brought so much warmth when reacting to anyone that wasn't Mortensen showing just a likable grandfather. Then with Mortensen he properly conveyed years of anger and disdain towards the man.)

Calvin Law said...

So glad you're saving Hank and the Swiss Army Man (who is now my win for 2016 so far). Really need to see Captain Fantastic.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I have similar thoughts about Swiss Army Man. Glad you liked Mortensen.