Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Best Actor 1950: Jose Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac

Jose Ferrer won his Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Cyrano De Bergerac.

Cyrano De Bergerac is not a particularly good film, many of the scenes are very stagy, and most of the actors beside the lead are either terrible or very dull.

Cyrano De Bergerac and Jose Ferrer's portrayal of him defies my standard method of reviewing. For one thing Cyrano is an incredibly theatrical character, and Ferrer portrays him in the same sort of fashion. Now I would say for other characters a performance like this would be outrageous or over the top but here it is rather different. The rather loud nature of his performance works rather well, and goes along with the character of Cyrano. Cyrano has to be theatrical because that is the way Cyrano is. The character is loud, always going off with his speeches and poetry whenever he has the chance. This is the way the character is written and the actor has to be equally theatrical back.

Ferrer does just that and  goes for utter theatrics with his performance. He certainly throws himself into the role, and is on for every moment of the film. He always makes sure that he is front and center for almost the entire film which is a good things since his performance is the only thing in this film. Ferrer goes always for larger than life portrayal of Cyrano which is the right portrayal. Since he always has so much conviction in his performance, I actually found myself believing in Cyrano as a character, which he could have easily seemed like a false character due to the nature of the character but since Ferrer always is completely confidant in his performance Cyrano works as a character.

Ferrer has a whole lot of speeches to make of many different types. He has romantic speeches, poems to says, and rather dramatic story telling speeches. Ferrer excels in all three types of these speeches. He always puts the right amount of gusto in all of his speeches, he moves around and acts out each one with the utmost amount of energy. I will admit not every speech is as good as the last, but Ferrer always attempts his best to make them entertaining since most of the movie is just a whole bunch of speeches from him. His best speeches I would say are his early strings of them where he makes these string of scenes as effective as they can be considering the weakness of the other actors. Also his final speech is incredibly well handled and finds the right amount of poignancy despite the fact that Mala Powers as Roxanne adds basically nothing to the scene.

The only time he is not making speeches is whether he is sword fighting or teaching an inept but good looking man Christian how to make speeches to woo Cyrano's own secret true love Roxanne.
Ferrer puts his usual energy in Cyrano's fight that does add to them, he always shows the rush in Cyrano's face he gets from the fight, and again succeeds well in making a speech at the same time as sword fighting. Cyrano's scenes of helping Christian I though actually were the best in the movie, because Ferrer added actually a lot of humor into these scenes. His correcting and amusement at Christian is really well handled by Ferrer adding much needed actual humor in the film. I would say the biggest weakness of the performance is the film, and this really is a film not deserving of a performance. Ferrer performance is in fact weakened by the film since he has almost no support.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I just didn't get into kinda strikes me as a strange choice for the award considering the stars he was up against.

Anonymous said...

Thats what I was thinking too about Judy Holliday - it seems strange today, but then I'm sure they were new and exciting to movie goers.

Louis Morgan said...

Accidentally deleted my earlier post, but I guess they were very into the primarily stage actors, and stage performances that year. Also Ferrer seemed to pretty popular that year since his party he held on the awards night was quite popular.

joe burns said...

He'll win,I think.

Fritz said...

I think he's wonderful and I love his voice!
I think Ferrer was very popular back then, he had won a Tony for the role. And Holliday was simply a very big 'thing' on Broadway. She had played the part for 3 or 4 years and I guess that every Academy member at one time or the other had seen her on stage.