Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Best Actor 1947: Gregory Peck in Gentleman's Agreement

Gregory Peck received third Oscar nomination for portraying crusading magazine writer Phil Green who pretends to be Jewish.

Gentleman's Agreement is most certainly very heavy handed with its constant repetition of its point over and over again. I think though it does hold a certain interest despite how obviously it is written, and directed.

I think something that makes Agreement so heavy handed is the character of Phil Green. Green is simply made far too perfect,and always more than ready to tell everyone else about their imperfectness. Now I will say because of this Peck will has a pretty much thankless role. His character is pretty one dimensional, and good guys do not have to be one dimensional but I think Phil Green here is all the way. The whole film is him saying oh the world needs to now about Antisemitism, and how others do nothing to prevent it, or do things to contribute to it.

He does two things most of the time. One are his constant speeches about what is right, and what is wrong. I think Peck does a fine job making these speeches, even though he cannot get over the fact that Phil makes the speeches over and over again. He does have the right passion, yet he seems to be forcing them after awhile. He never seems to be completely authentic, unable to get over the forced nature of the writing. This is something I feel is overcome by fellow nominee John Garfield who plays Peck's Jewish friend. Garfield really sells his couple of speeches, and makes pretty strong impact, much better than Peck's constant ones.
 His thing he does is this one look he gives to people who are antisemitic. He gives this one look, that I found sort of unintentionally funny after a while. Peck possibly could have diversified his looks a little, either way the look is not a problem exactly for old Phil's one dimensionality but it is nothing special when it comes to a performance.

The one other part of his performance that still has plenty of telling people what is right, but is slightly different is his romantic scenes with Dorothy Maguire. This romance is not at all convincing and is terribly forced feeling. I would of course blame the script, but not entirely, I think the actors themselves needed to sell the romance a little which they fail to do. Maguire and Peck lack chemistry, and their scenes together seem incredibly forced, which is very problematic since their relationship is sort of suppose a driving force of the film. Overall Peck's performance mostly simply served the purpose of a very boring and uninteresting character. Peck though does not always even serve this purpose do to the failed romantic moments, and his inability to really sell all of his character's speeches.


Anonymous said...

I agree - the whole movie was on the same level for me.

Louis Morgan said...

Oh it was, the only interest I refer to is purely in terms of history.

dinasztie said...

Well, I quite strongly disagree. He's quite effective in my opinion. But to each his own.