Friday, 3 March 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1937: Robert Donat in Knight Without Armour

Robert Donat did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying A.J. Fothergill also known as "Peter Ouranoff" in Knight Without Armour.

Knight Without Armour is a somewhat effective film that follows a British spy within the Russian revolution attempting to save a Russian countess.

Robert Donat again is one of the more underrated actors from the period known only today, if at all, as the man who beat James Stewart and Clark Gable for the 1939 best actor Oscar. Donat deserves more and here's a good example why in his role as a British ex-patriot recruited to spy for the Russians. The film's synopsis though might sound like it might offer a bit more complications with the whole being a spy thing, but really that is just the set up to place our hero into the setting. Old Fothergill's close calls come just with the habit of the Reds and the Whites executing whoever they feel like whenever they feel like it, they almost never come from him actually being a spy. This makes his performance perhaps a bit less duplicitous than you might expect, although this is not a criticism against Donat by any means. The character of Fothergill is simply a hero for us to follow through the chaos of the Russian Revolution.

Donat of course works very well as that hero as he has this very low key appeal to him. Donat finds charm just basically in his unassuming style which works particularly well for this role where his character wants to keep a low profile. Again though the spying is not focused upon too much in a way Donat does a good job of showing the way he fits in by being basically that guy off to the side in any given situation. Donat exudes the right lack of pretense showing a man who there is no reason to notice since it does not appear as though he means any harm to anyone. Although this approach works for awhile for Fothergill a problem arises when he crosses path with the Russian Countess Alexandra Adraxine (Marlene Dietrich) who he decides to save from certain death from the revolutionaries due to her family heritage and social standing.

Now I have to admit the biggest surprise for me in this film as Dietrich's performance since she's not doing that worldly colder style that defined many of her performance. Dietrich plays her character here with a certain naivety which I actually took be aback I have to admit. As one would expect the focus in the film becomes a romance between the two as they attempt to escape Russian alive. Donat, from what I've seen, seems particularly proficient at striking up chemistry with his co-stars. Even in very rushed circumstances he just seems to make it work, and that's is the case herre as well. They become quite the endearing pair and the romance feels honest, perhaps it's because Donat is just so likable. The two make it work and in turn make the film actually work as they manage to create an investment in seeing the two get out of it alive together. Donat furthers this though by offering such a genuine presence throughout the film. He creates so much of the tension through his silent reactions throughout the film, and is particularly effective later on in realizing the horror of the constant executions in such a nuanced fashion. Although I will admit going in I did expect a more complex character for Donat to work with, this is still another strong performance from the underrated actor.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Dietrich.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Dietrich - 3.5(A pretty limited role but again her chemistry with Donat really does work. Also again, she proves quite capable of playing against her usual type here by playing well into the character's naivety. Her usual style wouldn't have worked for the role at all, and she successfully changes from her usual approach to offer a much warmer presence which fits the character)

Calvin Law said...

Love Donat in everything and I'm sure this won't be an exception!

94dfk1 said...

Logan: Great send-off to Wolverine. Action sequences are better than expected. Quite a good villain in Holbrook. The humor fits well. Like 2016, the first superhero movie of the year is a good one.

Anyone who knows about this: Bit of an odd question, but do Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson actually resemble Portuguese people as they portrayed so in Silence? I don't want to start an argument or anything. Just genuinely curious here. I do know they are somewhat light-skinned.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Louis: new rating and thoughts on Portman in Jackie? Because it seems from your comment under my review that she didn't hold up well on repeating viewings.

Calvin Law said...

94dfk1: I didn't think any of them looked very Portugese, especially Neeson, but it didn't really distract me. On that note, Louis and all how do you think the original trio of Bernal-Del Toro-Day-Lewis would've fared?

Robert MacFarlane said...

As someone who doesn't usually like Portman or biopic mimicry, I honesty hope Louis keeps her a 5.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Robert: Me as well, I thought she was brilliant and I'm not a fan of her. But both the movie and her performance won me over.

Louis Morgan said...

Giuseppe:

It was the film itself rather than her performance, as on re-watch only the Crudup scenes, the assassination scene, and the funeral procession really worked for me.

Calvin:

Day-Lewis, of course, Del Toro, of course, Bernal, not sure. He's a good actor, but I haven't seen anything from him that convinces me he could have, without question, pulled off Rodrigues's journey. He could have, but again more of a question mark for him.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Even when she went down to fifth for the year, I knew she'd still be a five. It feels like another case of Fassbender/Shame.

RatedRStar said...

It is always great to see underrated actors like Robert Donat and Ronald Colman get the recognition that they really didnt get after they passed away.

Charles Heiston said...

Glad Donat is staying strong on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the cinematography of Night of the Hunter.

Alex Marqués said...

Everyone: how would you rank this decade's Oscar winners in the acting categories?

Luke Higham said...

Supporting Actress (Easily the weakest, this decade)
1. Davis
2. Hathaway
3. Vikander
4. Spencer
5. Nyong'o
6. Leo
7. Arquette

Supporting Actor
1. Simmons
2. Rylance
3. Waltz
4. Ali
5. Leto
6. Bale
7. Plummer

Lead Actress
1. Stone
2. Larson
3. Moore
4. Blanchett
5. Portman
6. Lawrence
7. Streep

Lead Actor
1. McConaughey
2. Dujardin
3. Day-Lewis
4. Affleck
5. DiCaprio
6. Redmayne
7. Firth

Anonymous said...

Alex:
Lead Actor
1. DDL
2. McConaughey
3. Affleck
4. DiCaprio
5. Dujardin
6. Redmayne
7. Firth

Lead Actress
1. Stone
2. Larson
3. Blanchett
4. Moore
5. Lawrence
6. Streep
7. Portman

Supporting Actor
1. Simmons
2. Rylance
3. Waltz
4. Leto
5. Ali
6. Bale
7. Plummer

Supporting Actress
1. Davis
2. Vikander
3. Hathaway
4. Spencer
5. Nyong'o
6. Leo
7. Arquette

Charles Heiston said...

1. Davis
2. Hathaway
3. Spencer
4. Vikander
5. Nyong'o
6. Leo
7. Arquette

Supporting Actor
1. Simmons
2. Waltz
4. Rylance
4. Ali
5. Bale
6. Leto
7. Plummer

Lead Actress
1. Stone
2. Larson
3. Blanchett
4. Moore
5. Portman
6. Lawrence
7. Streep

Lead Actor
1. McConaughey
2. Day-Lewis
3. Dujardin
4. Affleck
5. DiCaprio
6. Firth
7. Redmayne

Robert MacFarlane said...

Lead Actor:

1. Day-Lewis
2. McConaughey
3. Affleck
4. Dujardin
5. Firth
6. Redmayne
7. DiCaprio

Best Actress

1. Blanchett
2. Stone
3. Larson
4. Lawrence
5. Moore
6. Portman
7. Streep

Supporting Actor

1. Waltz
2. Ali
3. Bale
4. Plummer
5. Rylance
6. Simmons
7. Leto

Supporting Actress

1. Davis
2. Leo
3. Nyong'o
4. Spencer
5. Vikander
6. Arquette
7. Hathaway

94dfk1 said...

Only ranking the ones I've seen

Actor (Very good group. I do like Firth in The King's Speech.)
1. McConaughey
2. Day-Lewis
3. Affleck
4. Dicaprio
5. Redmayne
6. Dujardin
7. Firth

Actress (Good group of winners. Lawrence and Portman are solid and they're at the bottom.)
1. Larson
2. Stone
3. Blanchett
4. Moore
5. Lawrence
6. Portman

Best Supporting Actor (Pretty top-heavy IMO)
1. Simmons
2. Rylance
3. Bale
4. Waltz
5. Leto
6. Ali
7. Plummer

Best Supporting Actress
1. Davis
2. Nyong'o
3. Vikander
4. Spencer
5. Arquette
6. Leo

Haven't seen Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Lead Actor:-
1. Daniel Day Lewis
2. Casey Affleck
3. Mathew McConaughey
4. Jean Dujardin
5. Leonardo DiCaprio
6. Colin Firth (not gonna lie, I love this performance for personal reasons; he gets a 4.5 from me, but I understand why people might call it overly mannered. However, it does work for me)
7. Redmayne (a 4.5 as well)

Lead Actress
1. Stone
2. Larson
3. Blanchett
4. Moore
5. Lawrence
6. Portman
7. Streep

Supporting Actor
1. Simmons
2. Ali
3. Waltz
4. Rylance
5. Bale
6. Leto
7. Plummer

Supporting Actress
1. Davis
2. Vikander
3. Leo
4. Nyong'o
5. Hathaway
6. Spencer
7. Arquette

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis and everyone else: The state of music currently is definitely a desolate one, but I was wondering if you guys could name 3-5 contemporary acts that you like (could be of the 2010s, or even 2000s if you prefer)
For me-

Ed Sheeran (the only consistently good male pop act, I've come to find. I love many of his songs, and while I did lose a bit of faith in him with "Shape of You", that's still catchy and the rest of the Divide album is great)

Adele (Yes, her new album doesn't exactly showcase a new range for her. But what she does do, she does it well: "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" are two of my all time favorite songs, and she's also been consistently good)

Twenty One Pilots (Their music is off-brand in a very good way, and I do like all of the stuff I've heard from them. They subvert pop music without outright rejecting it, and their songs are quite memorable)

Coldplay (Ok, they've definitely rebranded themselves into having a bit more of a pop sound, even stooping as low as to collaborate with that upstart duo that shall not be named. Their earlier songs, particularly their first 4 albums, are outright brilliant, and you know what? I don't quite mind the other 3 albums they've done)

OneRepublic (I've loved them since I was quite young, and I still do. They have that perfect, memorable sound and I find that they make songs that are equally heartfelt and relatable, in the best way possible. Also, when they branch out into having a more "modern" sound, they do it better than 95% of the other acts that do it.)

Calvin Law said...

Lead Actor
1. Affleck
2. Day-Lewis
3. McConaughey
4. Dujardin
5. DiCaprio
6. Redmayne
7. Firth

Lead Actress
1. Stone
2. Larson
3. Moore
4. Blanchett
5. Streep
6. Portman
7. Lawrence

Supporting Actor
1. Waltz
2. Simmons
3. Bale
4. Ali
5. Rylance (love all these 5)
6. Leto
7. Plummer

Supporting Actress
1. Davis
2. Leo
3. Hathaway
4. Spencer
5. Nyong'o
6. Vikander
7. Arquette

Calvin Law said...

Tahmeed:

Sia

Ed Sheeran

Adele

Lana del Rey

Florence and the Machine

Luke Higham said...

Muse Muse Muse Muse Muse

Robert MacFarlane said...

Tahmeed: CHVRCHES, Ellie Goulding, Of Monsters and Men, Sia, Bastille

Charles Heiston said...

Tahmeed: Very difficult list to do. Barely any i can think of that i think are good.

My Chemical Romance(because personal reasons)
Ed Sheeran
Twenty One Pilots
Adele
Sia

RatedRStar said...

Tahmeed: My genre has always been rock or metal, I have always had a problem with numerous pop singers in that I hate artists that lipsync or have the producers do all the work for them, like if the music is done on a machine rather than with drums and guitar for example.

Luke Higham said...

I concur with Daniel.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: What do you think of Muse.

Charles Heiston said...

I agree with Daniel, as well.

Robert MacFarlane said...

My music taste swings towards indie synth/pop. CHVRCHES has basically became my all-time favorite band.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: I really like Muse and find that their music to be a very interesting in how the sound can go from horror like to being very fast paced, to be fair I like most rock bands lol a question to narrow down the bands I like would be which rock bands I dislike lol.

RatedRStar said...

Robert: CHVRCHES use intruments at least lol, and I do like The Mother We Share =D.

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: How about this? a friend asked me this in terms of bands that are similar to each other.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones
Sum 41 or Blink 182
Taking Back Sunday or My Chemical Romance
Tokio Hotel or Cinema Bizarre
Blondie or Sonic Youth
Blur or Oasis

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oh shit, forgot to mention Paramore. For my money kicks MCR's ass.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Thing is, I pretty much love all of Muse's work, yet with these pop artists, I like about 2 - 5 of their songs and the rest just don't work for me. I'll say that I probably like Adele and Rihanna the most from that genre.

Couldn't care less about Sheeran. I like Gravity by Coldplay, but not much else from them. Sia doesn't work for me, I'm afraid. Lana Del Ray has two songs that I really like and only ever liked Seven Devils by Florence Welch, though that might be because, I first heard it in a trailer for GOT: Season 2.

Luke Higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'll give my two cents on two of those.

The Rolling Stones over The Beatles
Oasis over Blur

Luke Higham said...

I'll backtrack slightly on Sia, I hate Chandelier but don't mind her as a featured artist.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I love everything I've heard from Sia, even though I can never understand a single lyric she's singing.

RatedRStar said...

Robert: From Of Monsters and Men, Crystals is easily my favorite song, what an epic chorus...."I know....Ill wither..

Anonymous: I find all of those bands to be solid/good/amazing, except Sonic Youth who I find to be so sluggish for a punk band that they are just meh.

The Beatles
Sum 41
My Chemical Romance
Cinema Bizarre
Blondie
Oasis

RatedRStar said...

Robert: I do like Paramore a lot, my only problem with them is that, it is one of those bands where it might as well be called the Hayley Williams band in that she is really popular and then you dont give a shit about any of the other members lol.

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: Paramore is pretty good. But as i said, MCR for me.

RatedRStar said...

I always think that compared to films where you dont really have to like the actor as a person to respect their work, I think that sometimes it is a bit harder to do with music because they are being themselves, so I find myself struggling to listen to some artists if I find the person singing completely unlikable coff...coff.. Lost Prophets..

Michael McCarthy said...

I mostly listen to classical music amid Broadway, but I'm REALLY into Jon Bellion lately as well.

Anonymous said...

Louis: If they ever decided to do another Fantastic Four reboot, who would you choose for Dr. Doom? Personally, I'd go with Mads Mikkelsen.

94dfk1 said...

Michael: I really do like All-Time Low by him actually.

My top 5 contemporary artists (Not in order):
Drake
Adele
Migos
Kendrick Lamar
Kanye West

Calvin: Just read your tribute to Andrew Garfield's 2016. Well-written! I liked him more in Silence but I do like Hacksaw Ridge as a movie more. Oh and I'm content with your choice as the worst Supporting Actor performance of 2016 in your Overall :)

Charles Heiston said...

Oh, and John Legend can also be pretty good.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oh shot, forgot The Naked and Famous. I seem to have thing for the under-the-radar stuff.

Alex Marqués said...

Louis: do you think Moaadi could go up to a 5 for A Separation?

Calvin Law said...

94dfk1: Thank you! And yes, Leto has stayed with me as the second-worst performance of 2016 after Linney in Nocturnal Animals. I think I'll wait for the CinemaSins video for Collateral Beauty, although I had a hard time getting through the Girl on the Train version of that.

Robert MacFarlane said...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch6Y7SPkxD0&feature=youtu.be

Calvin Law said...

Robert: I'd pay to watch that.

Alex Marqués said...

Robert: Brilliant lol

Anonymous said...

Robert: That's funny.

Charles Heiston said...

RobertL I'll have to start calling you, Mr. YouTube links.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: You're welcome!

Oh and I also think Ellie Goulding is pretty decent.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@94dfk1: I was a little disappointed with her last album, but I really adored her first two. I just wish she'd stop writing songs for movie soundtracks and go back to her roots.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What rating would you give Sarah Miles in Ryan's Daughter.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

It's masterful in terms of the way it so dynamically juxtaposes the dark against the light so fitting to the conflict of pure good versus pure evil found in Harry Powell's speech and in the central conflict between him and Rachel while further amplifying the dark fairy tale style of the film. A great deal of the horror in the film comes from this camerwork such as the chilling image of Harry on horseback, or the murder beneath the lake. It is one of the best shot black and white films of all time.

Anonymous:

Mikkelsen's a great choice. That's one property I do hope goes back to Marvel who I imagine would focus on the family dynamic which is what separates the Fantastic Four from other superhero teams.

Alex:

No.

Luke:

4

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm glad to see, you'd rather have X-Men remain where they are.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Yes with Logan, Deadpool and Legion I want the X-Men to stay right where they are.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Would you say the 2005 and 2007 F4 movies are better than the 2015 one?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He hasn't seen the 2015 version, yet doesn't have to because it fucking sucked. 05/07 by default, yet they were mediocre as well.

Calvin Law said...

I'll admit I actually enjoyed the first Fantastic Four film, and unlike Louis thought all principles bar Alba and whoever played Von Doom were well cast.

Anonymous said...

At least the old F4 films had that lighthearted tone that defined the F4, unlike the 2015 who took itself way too seriously.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I think Fantastic Four could work as a pseudo-comedy in the MCU. Have it take place in the 60's, and the team fighting Dr. Doom in a sort of Cold War allegory.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your thoughts and ratings on the cast of Lonelyhearts (1958)?

Calvin Law said...

Will Poulter as Human Torch.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Your casting for the rest of the F4.

Calvin Law said...

Hm. Patrick Wilson for Reed Richards, Kate McKinnon for Sue Storm, and Mahershala Ali for Ben Grimm?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Jemaine Clement as Dr. Doom.

Robert MacFarlane said...

So concerning the trailer for The Circle: Does anyone else think Tom Hanks looks amazing in it? Casting him as a Steve Jobs-like villain seems so brilliant.

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: He's been giving his best lately, so yeah. Hanks seems awesome for the role.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Robert: Hanks indeed does seem like a perfect fit. Oddly enough, before he gave 3 great performances in Captain Phillips, Bridge of Spies and Sully, I thought of him as an actor too wholesome and All-American to even consider playing a villain. But from the trailer, I reckon it'll be a 4/4.5 performances from him.

Has anyone seen the trailer for Gifted? I 'm not quite sure what to make out of it, but I think Chris Evans might be decent in it.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Tahmeed: I've seen it. I'm not sure what to make out of it either, seems a bit cheesy but Evans, Spencer and Slate look good enough. The kid seems to be bit annoying and Lindsay Duncan' role and performance looks rather one-note. Anyway not a movie I'm particularly looking forward to.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your thoughts on Hell's Angels from 1930?

Anonymous said...

Louis: So, when is the next review coming? Tomorrow?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: It should come within the next 6 hours.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Clift - (Not exactly Clift's best performance, and feels a bit miscast given that he's "broken" Clift here. He just doesn't really work as the wunderkind type of writer by any means. He's still not bad by any mean, I don't know if Clift can be bad, but the film's scattershot writing does him no favors.)

Loy & Ryan - (They are both pretty good as the bickering couple offering a certain realism to the roles by downplaying some of the melodrama. The film's random focus though doesn't make particularly good use of either of them though.)

Stapleton - (She's more than decent in portraying the emotional state of her character, but she still does not make all that much of an impact on the film.)

Anonymous:

Didn't really care for it. Found it to be almost wholly based around the spectacle which doesn't really hold up all that well today.