Edward G. Robinson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Nick Donati in Kid Galahad.
It has to be said that Edward G. Robinson is one of the most consistent of actors of the period as he just has a certain grace that was so rare from the period and seemed to so easily avoid that stiffness that some of even the better actors of the period would fall into. Kid Galahad is yet another example of Robinson just, well, owning a part with such from the first scene we see him in. Robinson just has his grasp on the material from his first scene as we see Nick trying to direct his boxer alongside his girlfriend "Fluff" Phillips (Bette Davis). Robinson brings that energy that does just jump of the screen which is a perfect fit also for such a character. He finds the sort of spark needed essentially to represent the fight of the fight granting the right passion as he attempts to control his fighter and win the match.
That fighter proves to be a bad investment and Nick begins to attempt to find anyone in order to beat his mob connected rival Turkey Morgan (Humphrey Bogart, by the way it seems one should never make any deal with Bogart in a pre-Maltese Falcon film). Robinson is quite good at being just kind of the man near the top but not quite. Robinson infuses the right personal style that is just big enough to be befitting of a guy who knows exactly what he wants even if it seems just a bit out of reach. Again Robinson is someone who usually is just fun to watch, and that is the case here. He enlivens even the weaker a scenes a bit by just his mere presence as he makes Nick a surprisingly endearing figure despite the fact that he doesn't exactly hide the fact that he is kind of a jerk. The Robinson though plays into this though grants again this certain elegance to Nick that somehow makes him for whatever reason the better jerk against Bogart, who is in full heel mode here.
The major flaw perhaps of the film is there is not quite enough Nick to go around, he's almost supporting though I will say that Robinson still is lead. The film though often drifts its focus towards hayseed boxer Ward "Kid Galahad" Guisenberry who just is an all around swell guy, and is purposefully as straight forward as it gets. All the drama really comes from Nick, and Robinson's performance. Again Robinson doesn't avoid the nastier side to the character as when Ward gets interested in Nick's kid sister, which Nick doesn't approve of. Although Robinson brings the needed intensity to Nick's anger he does still bother to attach it to this certain emotional devotion to her that conveys effectively the motivation. Robinson does not simplify the motivation at any point. Robinson delivers the right sort of disdain as he purposefully sets up the "Kid" to take a hard fall in a fight, though of course his friends prod him to reconsider. Nick has the last minute change of heart, which although I wish more time had been spent on it, Robinson absolutely delivers. He somehow even makes it work conveying his crisis of conscience though partially because of the motivation he had granted to earlier outrage. He not only makes it work though but he actually manages to make it quite moving by showing Nick's breakdown in such a restrain yet honest fashion. This might not be Robinson's best work, but it is an another example of the man's considerable talent.