Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Best Actor 1937: Fredric March in A Star is Born

Fredric March received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Norman Maine in A Star is Born.

The original Star is Born really does not work all too well especially when you have seen the 1954 version which is better in just about every single way. This version seems rushed, and the whole story of Vicki Lester does not work particularly well, since in this version it seems her success really is entirely because of Norman Maine.

Norman Maine actually takes little bit to show up and does not appear until being bothered by paparazzi in an opera house and violently reacting toward them bothering him. Later he meets Vicki, and that get on famously as he moves to have her become a star. March is just fine in these early scenes he has the right amount of charm as Maine in these early scenes, along with adding a little humor when he can as well.

His chemistry with Janet Gaynor as Vicki is not anything all that special unfortunately even though I feel that is because of Gaynor more than March. March tries his best to be charming and romantic scenes in their scenes together, and I think he does a good job. The problem though is Gaynor always stays basically the same throughout her performance, and really does not adjust well along with March, to really be convincing in their romantic scenes. March I do think is charming in these scenes but the scenes remain unspectacular due to Gaynor.

One aspect of Maine that is very underdeveloped is Maine's alcoholism. In the 1954 there is always an inkling of  it with Maine at almost all times. Here it is not consistent, March does not make it so nor does the film. His whole presentation of Maine's alcoholism is not perfect because the film is incredibly inconsistent. It never really shows it to be that much of a problem for him, until the plot requires that it be.

I will say March is fine when showing the alcoholism or his problems involving this problem but unfortunately this whole aspect of the film is poorly done because it is not given enough time, and again it is not consistent. For example in the 1954 his drunken tirade at the Oscars is well lead to and well handled, in this version it sort of comes out of nowhere, and the actual occurrence of the scene seems strange. March handles it well, but the film certainly holds him back, from giving a great performance. Like Boyer's performance from this year there are certainly good examples of the performance throughout the film especially his final scene, but still the film has a character written fairly poorly disabling the actor to be truly effective. I moved up to a 4 because he is still very charming, and I felt he deserved more credit for what he did well.


dinasztie said...

Intersting read, but I haven't seen this version. Gosh, I still have so much to see.

BTW I'm done with 1990. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised because I always thought he was very good, even better then Gaynor from what I remember.