Monday, 20 July 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1966: David Warner in Morgan - A Suitable Case For Treatment

David Warner did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying the Morgan Delt in Morgan - A Suitable Case For Treatment.

Morgan - A Suitable Case for treatment fits within the English comedies of the time which typically were particularly chaotic, often to a fault, satires. Here we have a less than okay one about a failed artist dealing with his wife (Vanessa Redgrave)'s affair, sorta

David Warner takes on his first leading role here as the titular character. This being a different performance for him in many ways, as Warner is typically best known for his rather controlled individuals, even when playing evil men, they are more often of the calm and collected sort. David Warner though plays a man who is a suitable case for treatment after all, so it is fair to say that mentally he isn't all there. Warner's performance is pure madness here, that isn't helped by Morgan's situation where his wife is sleeping with his former best friend. What doesn't help matters though is she seems as bonkers as he is, just a little more low key about it, but in turn entirely encourages the madness of Morgan as he attempts to win her back. This is not some traditional endeavor though because Morgan isn't a normal man. Warner's performance is remarkable just in the overall setup of this as he has a ferocity in his energy, as he brings his typical intensity here but externalizes it more. This as he succeeds in creating a less controlled individual where there is a manic quality in his manner, particularly that of the physical. At the same time though he does have that Warner sort of power within his performance that does create the best moments in the film. This being in the manner in which he tries to kill his former best friend, and in these moments Warner is hilarious. This with what is best described as casual intensity Warner brings as he threatens the man while also maintaining a certain courtesy about it.

There are some enjoyable bits just through Warner's off-beat delivering that combines his typical presence though in a more unwieldy sense. Warner though also does offer a touch of depth within his moments with Redgrave. This as much as he still makes Morgan a raving lunatic who seems both pent up with lust and range, there is a minor sense within his expressions a more earnest need or concern for his wife.  This though is randomly interspersed with the eccentricities of the character, that frankly feels a bit over written and under written in the same measure. This as we get that he has some strange ideas of communism, not as a believer of the views but just that he holds himself attached to the figures therein. This really doesn't add up to much other than acting as a fodder for in which Morgan can rave about. Enjoyable ravings in Warner's performance, but not much more than that. We also have his animal obsession than naturally, or maybe not so naturally, eventually leads Morgan to wear a gorilla suit while trying to foil his wife's remarriage. Again Warner is more than up to the task in terms of granting the idea something in his own performance. His physical manner, which often takes upon a simian like  manner, is well drawn, and again creates the madness of Morgan in at least an entertaining way through his own work. Here is the problem with this film, which I guess I probably had a bit less patience for after watching a similarly styled Lord Love a Duck, as it like that film it introduces general ideas but really lets itself be just a chaotic mess with thinking that the mere introduction of an idea is enough. It isn't enough this as the film gets repetitive quickly because it doesn't grow or examine its ideas as bits, and the bits themselves end up losing their oomph after awhile because they don't change. We really don't get to explore Morgan beyond a comic idea, those eccentricities really don't have any real depth to them, and seem almost created as an illusion of depth. This as the film seems to suggest one can satirizes a communist radical by merely having the words, but it doesn't do anything with it of note. This leaves the talented David Warner to effectively create the setup for the character, and even thrive enough within the repetitious nature of the film. It sadly though loses its momentum by never reinventing itself and only getting more indulgent as the film proceeds. I wish the film really let Warner do anything with the part, but it is content in thinking a generalized off-beat weirdness will carry itself. This leaving a film that isn't funny enough to be so surface thin in its satire. Warner is good in showing a different side of his talent as a performer. Although even this is troubled as the film doesn't even filter his performance properly, as Redgrave is in a way underused, and the film fails to create a proper straight man dynamic against Warner. He's just kind of there to try to make scenes work, notable then that he doesn't entirely fail. I just wish the film had either given him better comic setups throughout or actually progressed its story in some insightful way.


Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Luke Higham said...

And could you possibly do a rewrite of De Niro's review for Taxi Driver.

Louis Morgan said...


Redgrave - 3.5(As noted she is a bit underused, however she is good in portraying sort of the balance between being intrigued by Morgan but also cold to him. This though with this certain wily glances in her eyes that allude towards a bit more of her own insanity that occasionally breaks out in effective moments. She honestly needed more scenes with Warner, but she is good with what she has.)

Stephens - 3(Also underused as in many ways he should've been a straight man to Warner. He is that briefly, and enjoyable in the few moments he does play against him so blankly. Sadly though the film refuses to really explore the dynamic properly.)

I mean, there's a number of my earlier reviews I'd love to re-write, but I don't foresee myself doing it right now, unless it is a major opinion overhaul that I've done so far. I don't view the performance *that* differently.

Tim said...

your thoughts on Lou Jacobi in Irma La Douce?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I definitely am glad you went with a lineup of five here because I really overestimated the strength of this year.

And hopefully Warner will end his fiveless run with Time After Time.

Luke Higham said...

And to save you the bother, I doubt anyone won the prediction because Warner's 5th in my opinion.

Louis Morgan said...


Honestly don't really remember him.