Friday, 31 March 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1973: Cyril Cusack in The Homecoming

Cyril Cusack did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sam in The Homecoming.

The Homecoming is a bare bones play adaptation detailing the turmoil resulting when a man takes his wife to visit his strange family. 

Cyril Cusack is rather unique character actor from the period as his even in small roles there is usually something a bit different based on his atypical screen presence. This is a particularly effective quality for his role here as Sam the brother of the family patriarch Max (Paul Rogers). Cusack from the start makes Sam standout against the curmudgeon Max, Max's equally miserable son Lenny (Ian Holm), and his other seemingly stunted other son Joey (Terence Rigby). Cyril Cusack in his first scene comes in with Sam discussing his success as a chauffeur do to his refusal to impress himself on others. Cusack carries himself as the proper chauffeur through much of the scene. He has such a pleasant smile and apparent likability as a man who seems to aim to please. Cusack makes Sam seem like just such a gentle soul, unlike the other men, as he so kindly speaks with his nephews and his brother, taking such a quiet pride in his apparent abilities to please his customers as a chauffeur.

Cusack's sunny demeanor earns an impression since he always feels a bit separate for the rest of his downtrodden kin. Cusack does not use this for a simplification of a character, nor does he show that Sam is in some way blissfully unaware. Cusack instead shows this to essentially be a defense mechanism of sorts, a fashioned state for Sam to always try to keep a smile on his face. Cusack makes sense of this by how we see his brother and nephew Lenny in particular who rarely have anything to say that isn't a complaint or a put down of another. Cusack shows the jovial front of Sam as his way of trying to stay beyond the rest of his house hold, and it alludes to this long history. Sam after all has been part of it longer than the rest and Cusack shows this as this built conditioning in Sam to deal with his often intolerable brother. Cusack goes further in revealing Sam's relationship to his brother even when smiling. Cusack does so much with just eyes even at times as every glance to his brother has these quiet hints of disdain towards him, and shows that Sam does not ignore his brother's severe character flaws.

I love the way Cusack's performance is one that cuts through the nonsense in a way even though he shows Sam technically having a personal shield. Cusack does this with such an ease though such as when Max goes off on his stories about the film, and Cusack's reactions say so much through just subtle facial suggestions. There is a moment where Max is going on and on, and Cusack creates the sense of knowing of a man who has heard all the nonsense before. He only occasionally gets into verbal spats, which Cusack reinforces the idea that Sam has his own way with things. There is a moment where he defends himself for example but Cusack portrays this as merely a lapse for him. As he briefly makes his case, but Cusack again in just in his eyes conveys Sam is  just quickly remembering who he's dealing with giving sense to his instant departure from the conversation. Other times though Cusack's terrific in showing Sam managing to get in his own snipes in. Cusack carefully delivers these lines though in that jovial way showing that Sam is getting to enjoy insulting his brother, but making it so it basically goes over the man's head. Now Cusack, despite having only a few lines, is pivotal in the last act of the film when the family, besides Sam, decide to steal away the last brother, Teddy(Michael Jayston)'s, wife Ruth (Vivien Merchant). Cusack gives the most cinematic performance in the film since he never is merely there, his work suggests he knows the camera will pick up anything he does as long as it's onscreen. Cusack uses this to offer the only empathetic man as Cusack is rather moving by showing that Sam is so quietly horrified by the terrible idea the rest of the family has to steal the wife and make her work as a whore. Cusack, wholly in the background, builds towards Sam finally saying something fully without a facade in a broken attempt to warn Ruth about his family's intentions in a very effective moment. Sam though collapses seemingly dead, though he is said to be breathing. Cusack allows for an interpretation of the moment by how he builds towards the short breakdown. Cusack's work suggests that while not quite physically finished, Sam is emotionally finished with dealing with his horrible family. This is a brilliant performance by Cyril Cusack as with such ease he realizes his character in such vivid detail, adding a real substance to the history of the film, as well as giving a quietly poignant portrayal of a semi decent man entrapped in a deranged family.

41 comments:

Charles Heiston said...

I really love this performance, i hope to see more Cusack on this blog in the future.

Calvin Law said...

Really curious about this performance.

Louis: could you see an argument for Mifune being in supporting in Seven Samurai?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Actually I think you can fairly easily argue that he is supporting. He isn't given truly more importance than the other samurai. Shimura has far more perspective and Kimura might have more perspective as well. He has some of the best moments, but that has a lot to do with Mifune's performance.

Calvin Law said...

Exactly. I think it's testament to Mifune's ability in the role that he makes supporting material feel like lead material.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

In response to Robert's question, the most drastic turn arounds I've ever had when it comes to a performance -
Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network - The performance which is now my win for 2010 was originally a 2.5 for me in my first watch. Garfield had the bigger impact on me, although that switched around the second time I saw the film.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 10 Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and James Coburn acting moments.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

The first episode of Attack on Titan's second season has been released, I'm so damn excited =D

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Marvin:

1."Right between the eyes" - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
2. The Ending - The Big Red One
3. Hickey's taken away - The Iceman Cometh
4. Steak confrontation - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
5. World War I's over - The Big Red One
6. Bartlett hears the report - Attack
7. The Beetles arrive - The Wild One
8. Kid Shelleen hears who he'll be facing - Cat Ballou
9. Acid - The Big Heat
10. Kid Shellen's celebration - Cat Ballou

Coburn:

1. Garrett kills the Kid - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
2. Bar Room flashback - Duck, You Sucker!
3. Glen needing a drink - Affliction
4. The Ending - Cross of Iron
5. Dealing with the kid's men - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
6. Talking about Revolution - Duck, You Sucker!
7. Meeting Stransky - Cross of Iron
8. Finding his wife - Affliction
9. Britt's introduction - The Magnificent Seven
10. "Hey that's just mean man" - Payback

Hold Bronson for the time being as there's a performance of his I'd like to review, that would fill up much of the list.

Anonymous said...

Tahmeed: Is Attack on Titan any good?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I assume we're getting 1968 after 198? and 2012.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Anonymous: It's one of the very best anime I've ever seen. The only fault I can find with it is the slow pace towards the end of the first season. The action is great, there is amazing character development, and its world-building is simply phenomenal. It is, however, not for those who can't stand violence or high emotion.

RatedRStar said...

I like Attack On Titan a fair bit, its not one of my favorite animes but I like it well enough.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Do you have any predictions for the TV BAFTA Nominations.

RatedRStar said...

Since Wrestlemania 33 is tomorrow ill put my predictions in for the winners

Brock Lesnar
Kevin Owens
Sasha Banks
Baron Corbin
Claude Reigns
Enzo and Cass
Naomi
Cena and Bella
AJ Styles
Seth Rollins
Bray Wyatt
Braun Strowman wins Battle Royale
Neville

RatedRStar said...

Luke: No idea if I am honest, what about you?

RatedRStar said...

Bafta TV predictions are so hard because, sometimes franchises get in but then small one time dramas as well, I find the voting quite odd with the Bafta TV awards.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Hopefully Paul Dano for War And Peace, yet unlike the film awards, there's a bias against foreign talent in British shows.

In regards to Wrestlemania. Styles has to go over, he's by far the best in-ring worker in the company and it'll be a disgrace for him to lose to the only McMahon family member that I have any respect for.

I want Lesnar to win, as well as Owens. I hope Reigns wins just for the crowd reaction alone.

I'll be supporting Miz and Maryse, yet that overrated jackass and his irritating girlfriend will bury them as always.

Charles Heiston said...

My WM predictions.

Undertaker
Enzo and Cass
Brock Lesnar
Kevin Owens
Sasha Banks
Baron Corbin
Naomi
Cena and Bella
Bray Wyatt
AJ Styles
Seth Rollins
Braun Strowman for Battle Royale
Aries

Charles Heiston said...

And i'm not a huge fan of Attack on Titan, but i will admit it's good.

Anonymous said...

One anime I love to watch is Black Lagoon. It was dubbed by the guys who dubbed Death Note.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: if your statements on Bronson means he's potentially reviewing/re-evaluating his performance in Once Upon a Time in the West...hm. I'll be VERY pleased.

If you've another performance in mind...could be interesting. House of Wax (lol)? Machine Gun-Kelly? Hard Times?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I liked Attack on Titan at first, but then when it became clear that none of the main characters never seem in actual danger, it lost me. If you're going to start that sort of show off with the promise of handling the full gravity of death, you have to have the balls to kill of characters with actual names.

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: You're right on the point.

RatedRStar said...

Bronson could be great as like the 6th review because I dont think he should really take a spot from one of the 5 bonus nominees for 1968, 1968 is one of the years where the bonus Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor lineups are excellent, it is definately not a weak year.

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: Bronson was in the House of Wax?

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: He'll be a 6th review if the field is indeed strong, which I don't doubt.

Charles Heiston said...

I actually expect new winners for 1968, there's much more to see.

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

Lead
Malcolm McDowell in If....
Vincent Price in Witchfinder General
Jean-Louis Trintignant in The Great Silence
Max Von Sydow in Hour Of The Wolf
Toshiro Mifune in Hell In The Pacific

Alt.
Max Von Sydow in Shame
Lee Marvin in Hell In The Pacific
Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer

Supporting
Klaus Kinski in The Great Silence
Tony Curtis in The Boston Strangler
Ossie Davis in The Scalphunters
Tom Courtenay in A Dandy In Aspic
Ian Holm in The Bofors Gun

alt.
Gunnar Bjornstrand in Shame
Robert Helpmann in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Oskar Werner in The Shoes Of The Fisherman

Anonymous said...

Luke: Lancaster should be reviewed in my opinion.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'll switch Mifune with Lancaster.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: Yeah, one of those Lancaster performances would need a review. And i wouldn't mind Bjomstrand getting a review either.

RatedRStar said...

Trevor Howard could get in for 68 supporting as well, Calvin will vote for him, I likely will as well, only problem is I really want to see the other 5 seen if they are not reviewed, Tom Courtenay and Tony Curtis playing evil characters is pretty amazing to hear.

Louis will pleased to hear that David Warner is also great in The Bofors Gun alongside Ian Holm.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: From what I've listed, I think Kinski and Curtis are very likely and I'm interested in Courtenay and Howard. I'm sure Louis will review a 'five' performance that didn't make the lineup like Donald Pleasence in Wake In Fright.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: I don't want to make it sound like a knock or anything, but the review of Sean Penn's work in Mystic River feels slightly incomplete.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I think some of the Oscar reviews that were posted before the alternates do need an adjustment. Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood for example really needs an update, as it still feels like it's not one of his favourite performances from him.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: I agree with you. The baptism scene from There Will Be Blood, which Louis originally didn't seem to take to, is now actually his favorite DDL moment, so I'd also say that review needs to be altered slightly.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed;

Feel free to knock my early reviews. Many of them are in dire need of a rewrite.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do so, whenever you feel like it. We won't try to rush you.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Since your analysis has clearly improved over the years, feel free to edit your earlier reviews at your leisure.
Also, what are your top 10 Gene Hackman acting moments?

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Hackman:

1. Cold Turkey - French Connection II
2. Hotel Room - The Conversation
3. About gunfights - Unforgiven
4. The Dream - The Conversation
5. "I was building a house" - Unforgiven
6. "You trying to steal my Woman? Coltrane" - The Royal Tenenbaums
7. Being bugged - The Conversation
8. The Hospital - Scarecrow
9. Rough year - The Royal Tenenbaums
10. Beating English Bob - Unforgiven