Saturday, 9 October 2010

Best Actor 1929: Warner Baxter in In Old Arizona

Warner Baxter won an Oscar from his only Oscar nomination for portraying the Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona.

In Old Arizona is an odd film which was the first talkie film to be filmed outdoors. It is odd because it does not seem to know what type of story it is telling, and its tone is all over the place. Especially with its light comic tone most of the time then ending with a pretty dark tone.

Warner Baxter plays an outlaw known as the Cisco Kid who is wanted by the authorities for his constant armed robberies and occasional killings during the robbery. Baxter's character adds to the oddness of the film because I was not sure if he was suppose to be a hero or villain, since it is about him but at the same time he is a criminal who at times is rather cold blooded. I would say the film harms Baxter's character just a little due to his bizarre costume. It looks a little tight actually, and makes him look a little strange, but still it does not technically harm the strength of his performance.

Baxter is in the older acting style to a degree. There is never extreme subtlety but that is also due to the fact that the script wants just about everything said. He does not fall into the pitfall though of being boring though. He is rather interesting and charismatic in his performance, much more than I really expected before the first time I saw him. The Cisco kid talks to himself and Baxter is very good at attempting to make these scenes interesting just due to his unique delivery, he does not always succeed but he certainly tries hard and deserves credit for it. I like the way he shows the Kid's joy in his robberies, and the way he talks very happily about what he does.

He also is very good at being old timey romantic with his local girl. He has the right charisma and really does create a memorable character as the old singing bandito. He really does make Cisco Kid memorable which caused a whole slew of characters to be based on this performance.  He is properly charismatic in all his scenes but he really is strongest in the scenes where he shows the dark murderous side of his character. Even if the script is strange in having the Kid have such wild changes in personality, Baxter amazingly actually does make it work. He transitions well showing that the Kid sees killing as part of his job, and does it rather fittingly. Although when someone really tries to kill him he is rather brilliantly cold. His dark delivery really is perfect when he kills some who tried to kill him, or the way he says his darkly comic line.  His performance does suffer a little from age, but he still gives a memorable performance, that is especially strong in certain scenes.

1 comment:

joe burns said...

I think he'll win... Sounds intriguing.