Thursday, 8 June 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1968: Trevor Howard in The Charge of the Light Brigade

Trevor Howard did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Lord Cardigan in The Charge of the Light Brigade.

The Charge of the Light Brigade depicts the titular event during the Crimean war, unlike the original film that bared the title this one takes a harsh look at the British military. It's a film where the effort to make a great film seems apparent, but never is it successful in becoming one even for a single scene.

Trevor Howard plays the pivotal role of Lord Cardigan who lead the titular charge that led many British soldiers to their deaths, but without any actual ground gained on the battlefield. The film acts as a build up towards the titular event where we meet the unit and the various personalities in the battalion. The unit includes the somewhat rebellious yet seemingly heroic Captain Nolan (David Hemmings), the amiable yet ineffective leader Lord Raglan (John Gielgud), and Howard's Cardigan. Howard's a natural fit for the character who is a brash and bold leader which is a quality Howard is obviously quite capable in realizing. Howard's performance is fairly broad in his approach but it does make sense for the role of Cardigan. After all Cardigan is a man who in the film, and in real life, demanded punishment for bringing a black bottled wine, to a champagne only dinner. Howard's work makes sense of this insane sort of mentality as he gives the part this innate intensity fitting to such a man. Howard always keeps Cardigan with underlying strictness to the idea of soldering.

Howard's approach is rather clever though in that he shows this idea to be very egocentric as it is to Lord Cardigan. In that Howard always gives himself this stiff manner always in his physical portrayal particularly in his rather tight jaw throughout, along with delivery that is most often this very exact bark as though he is always giving orders even when he is not. Howard does not present this as a man being a great soldier though instead he presents it as a man very much abusing his power as a commanding officer, in that he shows a man so caught up in himself that he only cares about the soldiers in the context that they do not reason why they just do or die. Howard in his approach effectively creates the internal logic in the man that manages to realize the mindset behind such a man who would hound one of his men merely for not for drinking what he's drinking. Howard in that intensity presents the weakness and sensitivity in a way, since Howard shows with a man so wound up that the outrage just seems to come so naturally.

Now this is a film where you can tell it was cut up by studio mandates as there are scenes that indicate subplots that either having been started or are not properly resolved. It makes for a messy film, though it does give us a scene where Howard gets to play more with Lord Cardigan. That is a moment, a historically inaccurate one, where Cardigan goes about having an affair with the wife of one of his fellow officers. Howard makes the most of it by portraying the awkwardness of the career soldier in the scene, as he portrays it with all the needed vigor but in a most improper way. Howard again maintains Cardigan as always the officer and treats the woman less as a woman, and more a horse he's breaking in. Now that scene seems somewhat arbitrarily thrown in but at the very least Howard thrives with Cardigan in different circumstances. That scene though is just a moment before leading to the titular event, which is a strangely muted scene for the most part, and does not deliver the impact it should, like say maybe the ending of Gallipoli does. One can barely sense the climax as it occurs. Howard is consistently good even in the ending though and stays with the terrible man that he has set up Cardigan as even through the charge. In that he still shows the man staying true to who he has always been. When the time comes to name the blame Howard gives just the right bit of final bluster to a man who has learned absolutely nothing from his experiences or from the deaths of his men, adding actually the right bit of cruelty to it all. This is a good performance, in fact most of the performances in the film are good, though it's a shame it is part of a film that almost wastes the great potential of the story.

45 comments:

Robert MacFarlane said...

Well shit, so much for a prediction.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings & thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Curtis Wins.

Michael McCarthy said...

Yeah he was good here, but I was baffled that everyone was predicting him over Curtis.

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: I only ever saw bits of it. Anyway, I was waiting for you to make your prediction, since you tend to have the same opinion as Louis most of the time.

Charles Heiston said...

Well i'm screwed. It's between Curtis and Courtenay now.

Michael McCarthy said...

Curtis is in a completely different league from the rest of these guys. Although Courtenay has stayed with me quite well.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Thankfully I changed my prediction after seeing Michael's ones.
Also, I'm seeing I Saw the Devil for the first time. It's probably not my wisest move to see it while fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan xD

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I finished I Saw the Devil. Min-Sik and Byung-hun Lee are my #1 and #2 for 2010 ahead of Jesse Eisenberg, and I loved the film immensely as well.
Louis: Would you consider upgrading Lee Byung-Hun for I Saw the Devil?

Luke Higham said...

RIP Tom Hardy's Dog Companion Woody. :(

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Could Olivier be considered to go up for Henry V?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could Branagh go up a tad for Henry V.

Luke Higham said...

I wanted to ask, are there any video game enthusiasts here, who'll be watching E3 this weekend.

Louis Morgan said...

Saw It Comes At Night, I concur with Robert. On a side note the trailers and tv spots are misleading as they use dream sequences to make it out to be a different film than it is.

Luke:

Hemmings - 3.5(His performance is effective in that he does not play the part as this overt hero which is an interesting idea one that the film doesn't quite explore enough. He portrays his own ego clashing with Cardigan's as much as he is doing "the right thing". Hemmings though creates the underlying sense of a stronger conscience in his character particularly in the final sequence where he offers the only real visceral moment to the charge.)

Gielgud - 4(Gielgud's performance is actually incredibly interesting in the way he actually portrays the way an essentially good man can create such a disaster. He never portrays the Lord Raglan as a bad man for even a second, but just a man wholly out of his element. Gielgud even is rather moving in the way he conveys that the Lord even understands he is the wrong man for his position.)

Andrews - 3(Doing an not too complex version of his usual thing. He serves his purpose but just that.)

Redgrave - 2.5(Feels as though her scenes where cut in that there is no real reason she needed to be there at least in the final version of the film. She's fine though.)

Branagh no.

Charles:

Olivier yes.

Tahmeed:

He could move up the rankings at the very least. Glad you loved it.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on the film and Ratings/Thoughts on the cast.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

The film offers absolutely no surprises as I predicted just about everything that was going to happen, and it did not take any brilliant deductive reasoning on my part. Although the film is short to begin with it probably would have worked as an hour long episode of a horror anthology series. While the writing is perhaps too simple it is executed rather while and does create a lurid atmosphere, though will say it perhaps became a little too obvious when the overt horror moments were going to happen. I would say the film is effective, but somewhat underwhelming.

I'll save Edgerton's "Last of Us" audition tape for now.

Harrison - 4(His role is extremely reactionary, despite being even more so the lead than Edgerton is. Harrison though does make the most of these reactions to infuse the film with the very much needed pathos by portraying someone who is still very much affected by all that is happening to his family. Harrison makes everything that happens matter, but is careful to balance this with the little moments that show the teenager just trying to live the little life he has. It's a moving performance that stands well as the heart of the film.)

Abbott, Ejogo, and Keough - 3(This is partially the problem with the film as all three give good performances in what are very underdeveloped roles. Ejogo and Keough could just both be described as "the mother". Abbott has just a little more to work with, but still his role also feels a bit too limited. All three though essentially work though in terms just portraying the most intense moments well and balancing them with some quiet if simple "normal" moments as well.)

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'd actually go higher for Harrison.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast for a 50's version of Murder on the Orient Express.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Poirot: Laurence Olivier
M. Bouc: Charles Boyer
Harriet Hubbard: Myrna Loy
Greta Ohlsson: Irene Dunne
Countess Andrenyi: Ava Gardner
Count Andrenyi: Christopher Lee
Pierre Paul Michel: Jean Gabin
Colonel Arbuthnott: David Niven
Edward Masterman: Clifton Webb
Princess Dragomiroff: Sybil Thorndike
Hildegarde Schmidt: Mary Astor
Hector McQueen: Karl Malden
Rachett: Edward G. Robinson

Calvin Law said...

Louis: would that Chris Pine reaction shot (you know which one) in Wonder Woman make it into your top 10 Chris Pine acting moments? Because the more I think about it the more I marvel at how he performed that scene.

Calvin Law said...

Also, would you have preferred Sebastian Koch in Huston's role.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: I was going to ask Louis about that moment and what he thought of it as well actually haha. It definitely makes my list of his Top 10 moments.

Anyway here's my thoughts on Brad Pitt in War Machine.

Pitt- 2.5 (It appears Pitt the bland leading man and Pitt the colorful character actor clash, but unfortunately, the former wins out. He's not terrible but he seems to play the character as an idea rather than as an actual person.The voice he uses doesn't completely work. )

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Legends of the Dark Knight episode and the voices for the Silver Age Batman and Joker and DKR Batman.

Anonymous said...

*and the voices for the Silver Age Batman and Joker and DKR Batman in that episode.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

It most certainly would.

Possibly in regards to Koch though I think it probably would have been best to go with a classic heavy like Clancy Brown or Ted Levine.

Anonymous:

The Silver age voices are all brilliant given how pure they are to that Super Friends style delivery, which is pure gold and absolutely hilarious, though this time intentional. I'm so glad they had that detail and did not just use Hamill and Conroy actually. I have particular affection for Batman's delivery of "roll robin" and Joker's "Mother always said I had talent.

Although Conroy is a hard voice to replace I'd actually say Michael Ironside is a suitable replacement though of course for the Frank Miller hard edged style Batman. Miller's stylistic dialogue can be quite unwieldy, and they take it mostly verbatim but Ironside makes it absolutely sing. I honestly wish the adaptation of Dark Knight Returns had been in the style of the animation from this episode, and with Ironside providing the vocals.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What about Ron Perlman? I also think he could have nailed Miller's Batman.

Calvin Law said...

RIP Adam West.

Luke Higham said...

RIP Adam West. A Television Legend.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Adam West. He was a great Batman.

Charles Heiston said...

R.I.P Adam West. All time great TV actor.

RatedRStar said...

RIP Adam West, LEGEND.

Robert MacFarlane said...

RIP Adam West

You know, It Comes At Night is sitting better with me the more I think about it. I can't shake some of the images or Edgerton's and Harrison's performances. The lack of denouement feels less significant than it did in the theater.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: your thoughts on the Black Panther teaser trailer.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Sure.

Calvin:

As a series of images type trailer not all the images looked great. I assume some of the CGI is far from finished, and I do kind of hate that Coogler has to work within the Marvel's constrictive visual style. Also I fear the worst when it comes to Forest Whitaker's performance. I do think the film will probably be good, but that did not get me any more excited for it.
























RIP Adam West

Luke Higham said...

I'm with Louis on this one. It didn't leave a great first impression on me.

Michael McCarthy said...

I actually really liked the trailer. The visuals were very Marvel in a lot of ways but in the way that I liked. Also it seemed distinctly non-quippy.

Calvin Law said...

I'm just really excited for Michael B. Jordan and Andy Serkis as the villains.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I wish I could be excited for them as villains, but after they basically wasted Mads Mikkelsen I have very little faith that they'll use them properly.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: That's true, Mads was very wasted. Could I have your thoughts on the soundtrack to Wonder Woman?

Michael McCarthy said...

I don't think Jordan will be wasted, he's popular enough right now that I imagine Marvel's going to want to milk him for all he's worth.

Calvin Law said...

And also, your thoughts on the train sequence in Spider-Man 2, and Bruce escaping from Bane's prison in The Dark Knight Rises.

Calvin Law said...

Michael: Yeah, I have a feeling they won't necessarily kill him off either.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the first Bane Vs. Batman fight and Talia Al Ghul's death.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Personally, I don't think the Bane fights in TDKR were that good.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: The only thing I like about that scene is Bane's dialogue.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Aside from the main theme, which is still great and it is notable that one success of the DC films is to create actually recognizable themes, I found to be rather effective score. It very much goes for John Williams Superman style I feel, particularly in the opening of No Man's Land, and though I don't think it will become that iconic it succeeds in offering the same sort of inspirational and emotional power. It brings that grandeur fitting to a superhero like Wonder Woman while also offering the right optimism as well.

The train sequence in Spider-Man two is just a stellar action set piece playing to Raimi's strength as a kinetic director. It really what should have been probably the climax of the film since it builds its intensity so well throughout and is one of those scenes that just feels what a superhero film is all about. As it gives us the hero in a demanding, and visually engaging sequence, while also playing with the idea of the the actual hero who saves people while fighting the villain. My only negative would be the extras and featured extras really ham it up a bit too much.

Although the Dark Knight Rises has its flaws, a lot of flaws, the prison escape scene is not one of them. It importantly actually invests us into Bruce's personal story and in the sequence actually creates a moment that realizes the thematic point of the film in an effective way. Nolan's abilities as a director come at as he brings right there with Bruce as he jumps, and I'll admit I got chills when I saw it in the theater the first time.

Michael:

I hope you're right.

Luke:

There are things I like about the scene all of Bane's lines, the breaking of the back, Bane's super punch, and the "i was born in the darkness moment. Overall though Nolan struggles filming fisticuffs and too much of it are awkward punches between the two of them that looks pretty silly. Also it features the odd "secret base" beneath "secret archives" plot hole that is so obvious that it seems to support the idea of single draft.

Talia Al Ghul's death is Cotillard's nadir as an actress to the point that it is just as much Nolan's fault. She's certainly a good enough actress that she could have pulled it off, though it would have automatically looked somewhat silly due to the complete lack of visual injury. Nolan should have done another take.