Sunday, 17 October 2010

Best Actor 1943: Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine

Paul Lukas won an Oscar from his only nomination for portraying fascist fighter Kurt Muller in Watch on the Rhine.

Watch on the Rhine is not a very good film. It is another World War II support and moral film from this year, and seems far too heavy handed in its approach to the matter, far more than The Human Comedy. Many scenes are very boring, and it has three horrendous performances, by the actors who player Lukas, and Bette Davis's Children. Especially the youngest boy who is atrocious, they are suppose to have some sort of emotional power but they fail completely. The film itself does have some strength but all of that comes from Paul Lukas.

Paul Lukas is the only interesting part of the film, because he makes every scene he is in interesting because he is in. His character is actually the best written too, and Lukas makes more than the most of him.  No other actor comes close to him at all in this performance, not Bette Davis who is always emotional as Muller's wife, but she is all emotion without real substance. For most of the film, Lukas as Muller shows some emotions brief at times, but always suggest more than the obvious emotions on display. He is always doing something in a scene, where others may be overacting, or just dull, he is routinely excellent, always showing that his character is constantly thinking, and understanding his situation. Lukas shows the most, without ever seeming to do anything in certain scenes. 

I like the charm, and passion he always displays as Muller. He shows him to be a loving father and husband, very devoted, but even more concerned with the troubled way of the world, and how he must do what he can to make the world a better place. He really shows an incredible want and need to do this, and I find the scenes where he tells of his fascist fighting to be particularly powerful due to Lukas's powerful portrayal. I think Lukas really is superb with the intensity in his voice, and the memories he presents, when he speaks about his efforts against fascist. He is exceptionally spectacular in his scene where he plays the piano and sings about his efforts. He shows a hatred for Fascism, that really give the sense of a true hatred, but also a love and energy for his fight, that really gives a spectacular display of combining emotions to create an incredibly effective scene.

Lukas still even when he is talking about fascism, he keeps his emotions mostly conveyed in a restrained but brilliantly way through his face and only somewhat through his voice. He greatest scene though involves when he must deal with a Nazi sympathizer who threatens to prevent him from potentially saving other Anti-Facist friends of his. What is so interesting, and perfect about Lukas here is how he stays almost completely quiet at first. In the way he just listens and comprehends the situation while the sympathizer tells of want for money to keep quiet. Though eventually Muller takes matters into his own hands, and deals with the situation, after allowing the man to think he has had his way. Lukas in his final scenes is absolutely compelling and chilling in his own way. It is an astounding scene because Lukas is so incredibly powerful. He commands the scene, and finally shows absolute truth of the character and his true extent in terms of his devotion to the cause. This final scene actually stands far above the rest of his scenes simply due to how great it is, and I would say is one of the best scenes of any Oscar winner performance. Still though his whole performance is brilliant, and almost makes the film worth watching simply because of its power.


joe burns said...

He'll win, easily, I think...

Malcolm said...

Hi, Louis!

This is Malcolm, and this is to just let you know that I have moved to a new blog since my first account using mylastoscar was suspended. So, I'm going to use thefinaloscar instead. Here is the link:


dinasztie said...

He will win.