Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1968: Ian Holm in The Bofors Gun

Ian Holm did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning BAFTA, for portraying Gunner Bill Flynn in The Bofors Gun.

The Bofors Gun I found to be a little bit of a hidden gem about the conflict that develops one night between a recently promoted Lance Bombardier, Terry Evans (David Warner), and a self-destructive Gunner, O'Rouke (Nicol Williamson).

The film focuses on one small section of men through a night where they are assigned to guard a useless gun for an extended period. There is a difficulty to begin with with Warner's Evans being put in charge the small group of men he use to be part of as just one of the regulars. Further complications from Evans's success of the night determines his ability to go home and attempt officer training. Most of the men of the section have little respect for Evans and are at best indifferent to him, his only friend in the group is Holm's Gunner Flynn. Holm makes important use of his early scenes by providing just this warmth in his early interactions with Warner. Holm provides a most genuine support in these moments just providing earnest encouragement presenting Flynn well as just looking out for his friend. This is even found when Evans takes command, and Holm even utilizes a few important reaction shots. In these moments he shows Flynn watching Evans, not looking for flaws to exploit but rather watching with an honest concern hoping his friend will not falter.

As the night goes on O'Rourke's behavior becomes more and more problematic with the other men either partially encouraging it or doing nothing to prevent it, and with Evans hesitating to do anything since it may compromise his return home. Flynn appears for a while as Evans's only solace, but only a solace of sorts as provided by Holm's performance. Holm portrays very specifically a directed delivery representing Flynn attempting to encourage Evans to do the right thing. In each scene we see him in though Holm also reveals a slowly growing frustration in Flynn as Evans keeps avoiding directly dealing with O'Rourke, and allows the problem to continue to grow. Holm builds those frustrations until a scene with Flynn and Evans are alone together, and Flynn tells Evans the blunt truth. Holm is excellent in this scene as he brings such a incisiveness to every one of Flynn's words towards Evans, as he tells him that he is doing the wrong thing. Holm is careful though as he does offer such an intensity in revealing anger towards his friend, but he still shows that Flynn is remaining a friend. Holm's delivery does not go towards hatred just a striking disappointment, portraying Flynn's words as tough love. This stands well as a foil to his scene where he goes and confronts O'Rourke over his behavior. Holm is as incisive in this scene as well but this time offering a strict hatred towards the man. Every word Holm gives a strong coating of venom as Flynn reveals his severe disdain for O'Rourke, and it is cathartic moment through Holm's work as the one man willing to stand up to the out of control O'Rourke. Although the film ends away from Flynn, focusing naturally on a more direct confrontation between Evans and O'Rourke, Holm though in his limited screentime makes his impact particularly through those two aforementioned scenes. Holm gives a terrific performance as he delivers the needed uncompromising sanity that ensures Flynn stands out by being part of the group, but never exactly one of them. 


Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and Thoughts on the cast.

And 2003 next please. :)

Luke Higham said...

Looks like no one has won.

Louis: Could Holm go up for Fellowship Of The Ring and The Madness Of King George.

Charles Heiston said...

Holm is decent here. I'm hoping for 2003 next.

Calvin Law said...

I thought Holm was pretty good in this, but Williamson was easily the highlight for me.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: apparently John Lithgow was pegged to play The Joker. How do you think he'd have fared?

Louis Morgan said...


Warner - 4.5(He's the more unassuming of the leads, though I'd say he definitely has more screentime between the two. Warner though gives an effective performance in a very tricky part. Warner manages to make his Evans both sympathetic and quite the problematic sort. He does garner sympathy by portraying his desire to go home so earnestly, but not thinly. Warner shows that Evans is never single minded in this and importantly portrays in every moment the conflict in himself to do what is right or what is easy. Warner's great in being able to capture the meekness of the role in a very specific way. He does not over do it though but instead attaches it effectively to whenever Evans really has to step up. He captures so honestly that sort of person who just can't quite do what he needs to even though he does recognize the problem. When O'Rourke acts up Warner is terrific by showing Evans taking in the problem, recognizing it, then stopping himself from really acting on since it will prevent his return home.)

Williamson - 4.5(Williamson gives a brilliant performance in a most difficult role. Williamson's work is fascinating in the way in the early scenes he sort of presents what might often be considered the soldier's soldier in a different kind of film. He delivers in bringing that larger than life presence needed for such a character, but always is careful to underline it with the real pathetic humanity within the behavior. Williamson shows the way O'Rourke attempts to build himself up but sabotages himself all the same. There a great moment where he speaks of the devil, as though he this soldier of the world, yet in the story Williamson brings such a vindictiveness towards all those listening by saying they don't understand it and Williamson with this shows O'Rourke reinforcing the idea to himself that the story is meaningless. Williamson portrays the way O'Rourke is constantly beating on himself as much as he lashes out at everyone else. Williamson creates this terrible mess of a man that only becomes worse and is remarkable the way he captures just how miserable his character is while realizing in this particular way natural to a "true soldier")

Madness of King George maybe.


Lithgow's rather unwieldy so he might have been great or he might have been terrible depending on the day.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: I'm not sure if they originate from 'The Graduate'but could you give thoughts on 'Mrs Robinson' and 'The Sound of Silence'?

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: The Sound Of Silence came out in 64 and Mrs. Robinson was written for The Graduate.

Louis Morgan said...


Mrs. Robinson - (Now in terms of the actual film it doesn't make much sense, but it does make sense when the title was just a quick renaming. It's a great song very much Simon and Garfunkle going for a Beatles style hit right down to "Coo-coo-ca-choo". Hey but it works in that way in being such an invigorating upbeat tune, that in addition works so well in context in the scenes its used in the film.)