Friday, 10 December 2010

Best Actor 1947: Michael Redgrave in Mourning Becomes Electra

Micheal Redgrave received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Orin Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra.

Mourning Becomes Electra is a strange film, not because of the subject matter but more of the film's quality. It certainly has interesting facets, yet it seems in many ways the director thought the play was so good that his effort was not required. This is a movie I will say one should see for oneself, I certainly cannot condemn as a truly bad film or praise as a good film.

I have to give Redgrave credit for taking the role, from what I see in the film Orin seems to be the most challenging character. He is an incredibly odd and strange character who goes through many extreme changes throughout his scenes. He seems to be one of the most weak willed characters ever too, or at least made by the film with him being constantly being pushed around by the other characters. He actually takes a long time to finally appear in the film. He appears very quietly after Orin's and Lavinia (Rosalind Russell)'s father (Raymond Massey) is killed by their mother (Katina Paxinou). His first scene is well handled by Redgrave as he quietly introduces the character who shows a clear haunting from his past, quite well.

This quiet moment in the performance though soon is thrown out when Orin's mother tries to persuade him to her side. His odd reaction to her with his oedipal complex, seems very unnatural and forced unfortunately. I think it would have been an outstanding achievement if any actor could have made this seem natural, but it is not. Redgrave becomes very theatrical in these moments when Orin changes from mama's boy than instantly to sister supporter, and back and forth so instantly that again if Redgrave had pulled it off it would have been amazing, but he doesn't. He instead of making it natural, goes for theatrics, which I will say have an emotional pull. Redgrave does attempt to get under Orin's skin and succeeds a little but not nearly enough.

Redgrave throughout the film has two types of scenes that juxtapose against each other bizarrely. He has his intense over the top emotional scenes, which I do not think are completely failure because I certainly liked watching him "act", but they certainly did not make his character any more believable. His other scenes are the quiet ones sprinkled throughout his scenes and conflict oddly with the theatricality of the rest of his performance. His quiet scene I feel are better and more effective especially well shown when he "speaks" with his father. That scene is terrific for that moment, but later in the scene he goes for the theatrics. Orin is obviously a tough character, and I think Redgrave made a go at it, that is at least interesting to watch if a bit disconcerting at times. This is not a bad performance at all, and certainly is more interesting in a lot of ways than performances that technically succeed more but with less odd and complex characters.


dinasztie said...

He did nothing for me. The movie was pretty lame.

dinasztie said...

Gee, I haven't predicted for a while.
Now, it's quite easy and late, but I realized now:
5)Peck :-(