Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1931: Boris Karloff in The Criminal Code and Updated Overall

Boris Karloff did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ned Galloway in The Criminal Code. 

The Criminal Code technically follows the relationship between a new warden and his prisoner valet.

Who cares about all that as the one good part of the film is Boris Karloff as veteran convict Galloway. The same year where Karloff actually balanced a vulnerability with the obvious menace of his makeup as the monster of Frankenstein, Karloff delivers a different kind of almost anti-hero here, even as technically a supporting character. Karloff brings a much needed grit to the prison drama, just even in the naturalistic way we see him just reading the newspaper casually in his cell as the idea of escape is spoken. Karloff presenting a man who is quite comfortable in his setting, at least in his own way. The rise though that Karloff brings is with a remarkable intensity where he notes his extended "stay" came from being punished for drinking during prohibition after getting out of prison. Karloff speaks with a calm sneer and a real sense of deadly hate in his eyes. A rare thing though for the time in the way Karloff in a way underplays it. This just with calmness about it as the man speaks towards getting his revenge within his time in prison. This as he speaks almost with a contentment for it. This with almost a glint in his eye that Karloff expresses as though this is one true dream for Galloway. In this way Karloff showing Galloway as a man so comfortable in prison in a way because he has an objective for himself. 

Karloff owns the screen here to the point one would wish he were the lead of the film, again in a way that is particularly remarkable when compared to the often stilted and dully broad performances of some of his co-stars. Karloff here expresses an understanding in the ease that one can bring to deliver his menace. This in the moment where a guard, a guard who is the man who caused Galloway's imprisonment, attempts to interrogate the men of his cell. Karloff's quiet invitation towards the man to come into the cell to investigate further is brilliant, as he has all the killer intention yet speaks it so gently all the same. As the film goes on, and continues to be largely inert, a snitch leads to the death of the man. This as we find Galloway speak of the titular code with a strict conviction in Karloff. This leading towards a scene where basically follow Galloway as he carefully murders the man. Karloff is fantastic in this scene and is magnetic in the sheer physical presence he brings. This in the calm deliberate manner he brings to the sequence as he shows Galloway essentially slowly practicing his trade one step at a time. Only losing his cool when his innocent cellmate appears to early, and even here Karloff is great in bringing a true sense of sympathy showing Galloway truly only wishing for the right men to be punished. Nonetheless the man still is accused of it, leading really again for Galloway to be the true hero of the film, and also the only compelling character. Karloff again though is essential in this as he takes the blame while also inflicting his revenge. Karloff again captures a captivating energy that the film otherwise is in short supply of with his performance. This in again delivering on a real intensity where where he brings the visceral hate of the man though in a way where we all are granted almost a cathartic sense of the action as an act of justice. Boris Karloff shows here his capability to grant a captivating humanity in 1931 for two different kinds of "monsters".

Updated Overall

 Next: 1944 Lead and Supporting (Lineup again seems unlikely)


Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the lead performances you've seen.

Your Female top tens with ratings.

And 1931 wins.

Alexander Knox - None Shall Escape
Nikolai Cherkasov - Ivan The Terrible, Part I

Luke Higham said...

And a rewatch of Olivier in Henry V is a must.

Anonymous said...

Louis, how about a review of Laird Cregar's penultimate performance in The Lodger.

GM said...

Alenxader Knox, None Shall Escape
William Bendix, The Hairy Ape
Clive Brook, On Approval
Nikolay Cherkasov, Ivan the Terrible: Part I
Humphrey Bogart, To Have and Have Not
Dick Powell, Murder, My Sweet
John Carradine, Bluebeard
Stig Jarrel, Torment
Paul Lukas, Uncertain Glory
Errol Flynn, Uncertain Glory
Charles Laughton, The Suspect

Harry Davenport, Meet Me In St. Louis
Donald Crisp, National Velvet

Anonymous said...

Louis, you may want to do 2 seperate posts for Lead and Supporting if you have 2/3 reviews for the former and 1 for the latter.

Anonymous said...



Hey Louis
Say your TOP 7 of 1950 in the categories:
- SCREENPLAYS (original and adapted)
Tell your thoughts about Brazilian film "Limite" by Mario Peixoto

Luke Higham said...

Brazinterma: Do you mean 1931, because you've already asked for 1950 on a previous post.


Oh my mistake. Thanks for the correction Luke

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could you check out Smart Money with Robinson and Cagney before moving onto 1944.

Michael McCarthy said...

The only one I can think of is Joseph Cotten in I’ll Be Seeing You.

Robert MacFarlane said...

What's your rating and thoughts on Frye in Dracula?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: If there's a possibility of Boyer going up, do rewatch Gaslight.

RatedRStar said...

Alexander Knox - None Shall Escape
Charles Laughton - The Suspect
Charles Laughton - The Canterville Ghost
Nikolay Cherkasov, Ivan the Terrible: Part I
Stig Järrel - Torment

A Canterbury Tale is a Powell/Pressurger that you might wanna check out.

RatedRStar said...

Fredric March playing Mark Twain might be a curious watch as well although that could be a real hit or miss performance.

Mitchell Murray said...

Just a random question here; Has anyone else seen the "WandaVision" trailer?

I'll admit, while it won't be enough for me to get a Disney+ account, the idea of a "twilight zone" type show with those characters is rather interesting.

Luke Higham said...

I'm posting Films To Watch later on today.

Since we're nearly at the halfway point of the bonus rounds, what has been the most gratifying review or upgrade.

Luke Higham said...

My five are:
Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt
Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man
Max Von Sydow in Hamsun
Russell Crowe in Master And Commander
Paul Bettany in A Knight's Tale

Calvin Law said...

Stephen Rea in The Crying Game

Bryan L. said...

Luke: I’ve always liked Sean Penn in Milk, so seeing that re-evaluation was nice.

Also glad that my request for Firmino in City of God worked out.

I also really like Kurtwood Smiths review for Robocop, because I love the film & Smith was/is my MVP for That 70s the review came out on my birthday =D

Luke Higham said...

Films To Watch
Henry V (Re-watch for Olivier)
Gaslight (perhaps a re-watch for Boyer though you upgraded Bergman some time ago so not as likely)
Ivan The Terrible, Part I
A Canterbury Tale
This Happy Breed (David Lean)
Meet Me In St. Louis
National Velvet
The Children Are Watching Us
The Woman Who Dared
Murder, My Sweet
The Suspect
The Canterville Ghost
The Adventures Of Mark Twain
Till We Meet Again
The Most Beautiful (Kurosawa)
Mrs. Parkington
Dragon Seed
Wing And A Prayer, The Story Of Carrier X
The Fighting Sullivans
I'll Be Seeing You
The Hairy Ape
On Approval
Uncertain Glory
Summer Storm
Passage To Marseille
Phantom Lady
Great Freedom No. 7
Maria Candelaria
Address Unknown
The Way You Wanted Me
The Very Thought Of You
The Thin Man Goes Home
The Curse Of The Cat People
Cover Girl
The Scarlet Claw
Christmas Holiday
The Pearl Of Death
Miyamoto Musashi

Anonymous said...

Luke, what have you found most intriguing about the bonus rounds.

Luke Higham said...

Hidden Gems or Underrated classics
How much stronger each Lead and Supporting overall can get
The progression of Louis' opinions on certain actors or directors (Tarkovsky being a prime example)

Anonymous said...

Louis, can Alexander Knox go up for Wilson.

Mitchell Murray said...

Anonymous: One of the things I've found most interesting with the bonus rounds is learning about a strong performance I haven't seen. These can be from actors I already like in rather unworthy films (Ex, James Gandolfini in "The Mexican"), or they can re-invent my view of an actor entirely (Ex, Sam Worthington in "The Debt").

Beyond that, they can also show just how much the academy misses the ball at times; For instance, think of all the great supporting turns from 2010 and 2011 that could've recognized instead of Mark Ruffalo and Jonah Hill, respectively.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: Well, they'd be hard pressed to fuck up this year because to our knowledge, there isn't that one contender that really sticks out like a sore thumb and those unseen have potential.

Luke Higham said...

As well as Covid-19.

Mitchell Murray said...

Luke: To paraphrase a talented, never been oscar nominated actor - "The academy...uh...finds a way".

Louis Morgan said...


Simon - 4.5(The somewhat superior version of Scarlet Street, largely due to Simon and Renoir's direction, not that Robinson/Lang would be lacking later on. Simon's performance here, which finally will force me to not forget him on the my nominations page, is remarkable here in sort of the gentle simplicity yet also complexity. This as he portrays well a man of a simple view and taste. This in depicting the quiet yet earnest lusts of the man so easily duped. Simon finding the right tragedy in the purity of the man's interest. This though as the rug is pulled from him is effectively moving just as he is chilling in showing the man's shattered state that only becomes all the more vicious as the moment goes on in this moment of extreme desperation. His best moment though is the final scenes of the film where we see the man as a hobo forced into obscurity. Largely because Simon's shows this strange sort of contentment within the man's less than financially solvent state of mind. His final moment being a curious fascinating moment of enthusiasm in such a technically sorrowful state that Simon makes absolutely honest.)

Raimu - 4(Appropriately sort of warm work from just a loving father type of character. Raimu brings the right combination of sort of grace about the man where he grants the sense of the man's both love for his son but also sort of disciplinary qualities. The latter he doesn't make overt but rather grants the right sort of power in the man's manner to control the situation in his own easygoing way.)

Robinson - 4(Rock solid leading work from him. Somewhat typical Robinson, in a good way of course given he was always good as far as I can tell. This though only really having one scene where he breaks out generally good quality. He makes the most out of it in his righteous indignation speech that he sells beautifully.)

Okada - 4(An interesting charming little performance. This almost in his pseudo own kind of Chaplin routine though as a loving family man. A wholly charming silent performance in that regard however.)

Marchand & Cordy - 4(Speaking of Chaplin both are good in giving though different shades of a tramp style where their performances very much live within their physical manner in a given scene. Both excelling with what they have in their lively turns that are just energetic yet also somewhat sorrowful pieces. Don't quite achieve the greatness of their influence but remarkable nonetheless.)

Baur - 4(A film that is fine though as basically this progression of one mans slowly going towards a decay. Well Baur definitely delivers on this to be expected find the overpowering pathos within his performance that creates a real sense of the man's emotional decay as he suffers a curious amount of personal setbacks.)

Colman - 4(Rock solid Colman. Charming and effective a per usual, and above so many at the time in granting a much needed levity to his films. Not the best of this but a good example of it.)

Chevalier - 3.5(Standard good Chevalier.)

Schnoor - 3(He grants the sense of a general emotional quality but the film is entirely a director's film.)

Matahi - 3(Same as Schnoor honestly.)

Carey - 3(A slog of a film but Carey delivers a sort of needed grit to it just in his world weary manner.)

Gable - 3(Not the best use of Gable as sort of a cold man style performance. He's still fine in bringing a needed gravitas, but much prefer either heavy Gable from the time or truly charming Gable that was shortly forthcoming.)

Louis Morgan said...

McLaglen - 3(Stretching it to be sure but in his brief screentime he does bring a nice degree of sort of sinister sleaze. Not great, but decent enough.)

Novarrow - 2(Forgettable version of McLaglen's performance.)

Skelly - 2(Classic sort of stilted style performance of the time. Just dull more than anything).


1. Barbara Stanwyck - Night Nurse
2. Greta Garbo - Mata Hari - 4
3. Dorothea Wieck - Madchen in Uniform - 4
4. Joan Crawford - Possessed - 4
5. Sylvia Sydney - Street Scene - 4
6. Claudette Colbert - The Smiling Lieutenant - 3.5
7. Miriam Hopkins - The Smiling Lieutenant - 3.5
8. Marlene Dietrich - Dishounered - 3.5
9. Hertha Thiele - Madchen in Uniform - 3.5
10. Orane Demazis - Marius - 3.5

I did see The Sin of Madelon Claudet by the way.

Supporting Actress:

1. Jean Harlow - The Public Enemy
2. Miriam Hopkins - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
3. Emilia Unda - Madchen in Uniform - 4
4. Virginia Cherrill - City Lights
5. Paule Andral - David Golder - 3.5
6. Belulah Bondi - Street Scene - 3.5
7. Joan Blondell - Night Nurse
8. Emiko Yagumo - Tokyo Chorus - 3
9. Mae Clark - The Public Enemy
10. Janie Marese - La Chienne



1. City Lights
2. A Nous La Liberte
3. Frankenstein
4. Tabu
5. Marius

Too thin of a year for the category for any more.


1. M
2. City Lights
3. Frankenstein
4. A Nous La Liberte
5. Marius
6. La Chienne
7. Dracula

Some amazing posters this year.

Louis Morgan said...


1. M
2. The Public Enemy
3. A Nous La Liberte
4. Frankenstein
5. City Lights
6. Little Caesar
7. Tokyo Chorus

Original Screenplay:

1. M
2. City Lights
3. A Nous La Liberte
4. Chickens Come Home
5. Monkey Business
6. The Champ
7. Delicious

Note: M is said to be based on a newspaper article, however looking into it seems no more than a general inspiration without any real influence on the plot other than the nature of the killer. This opposed to Dog Day Afternoon which was essentially a plot outline.

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Frankenstein
2. La Chienne
3. The Public Enemy
4. Marius
5. Little Caesar
6. David Golder
7. Tokyo Chorus


1. Frankenstein's monster
2. Count Dracula
3. Rico
4. The Tramp
5. Mr. Hyde
6. Tom Powers
7. Doctor Frankenstein


1. M
2. Marius
3. Madchen in Uniform
4. City Lights
5. The Public Enemy
6. A Free Soul
7. Frankenstein

Limite is more than anything just a fascinating experiment. I wouldn't say it quite sort of makes the gap towards creating the full cathartic connection it seems to be seeking. Nonetheless for a film of its time it is striking in its attempt at creating this unique sort of connection through the characters and memories. I wouldn't say it quite sort of elevates beyond the experiment, but even as that it is remarkable.


Frye - 3(I honestly prefer his similar turn in Frankenstein, perhaps because there's just a bit less of it. I mean he does go for it, which is appreciated in the time where a lead like David Manners is boring most, but I do think he goes a bit too over the top overall. I appreciate the intensity he attempts to bring but it doesn't quite get over the hump of seeming like "acting" to me. I do think he still has an effectiveness, but don't think he's quite there for me.)


Hard no, the nature of the role keeps him there.


Hey now Goldblum like William Zabka are Oscar nominees...for best short film.


Probably not.

Louis Morgan said...


There I watched Smart okayish film, fine Robinson performance, but sadly disappointing as the only pairing between him and Cagney. Cagney is sadly barely in it.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thanks.

Thoughts on Fresnay along with the Female 4s and Hayes in The Sin Of Madelon Claudet.

Is Harlow a 4 or 4.5 for The Public Enemy.

Louis Morgan said...


Fresnay - (Fresnay gives a charming performance though he reduces this a bit in portraying sort of the somewhat troubled young man. Although his conflict in a certain sense is slight. He does well though in portraying the sort of romantic tension within his more nuanced moments. This though with the tension of the passion revolving around his sort of personal quest. A involving a performance that certainly suggested where he would go as a performer.)

Hayes - (Just a rather theatrical performance in every regard, and again in that way at the time that really just seems more stodgy than entertaining at least. Her work has some okay moments here and there not to be any lower, but so much her work is towards the overwrought unfortunately. She's better in Arrowsmith, even in a simpler role, only because she relaxes her presence just a bit.)

Harlow's a 4.

Anonymous said...

Louis, thoughts on Garbo, Crawford, Wieck, Sydney and Unda.


Thanks Louis!

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts on the suicide scene from Wings of Desire? Just rewatched and I honestly think Otto Sander deserves to be a bit higher on your ranking for 1987 based on scenes like that alone.

Also, your thoughts and rating for Solveig Dommartin.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: That is legitimately one of the most heartbreaking moments in cinema history.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

Does anyone here use letterboxd? I know I'm following Calvin on there, but I'm just curious if anyone else does?

Matt Mustin said...

I use it, it's just my name, it's easily findable.

Aidan Pittman said...

I use it too.
Here's a link to my account, for those interested:

Bryan L. said...

ruthiehenshall99: I do.

Emi Grant said...

I use it too, but I'm ashamed of mine. You all can find me through Bryan's followers.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Christopher Nolan being offered to direct Troy by Warner Bros. before getting Batman Begins.

Bryan L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaggy Rogers said...

My 1944 winners:

Picture: Double Indemnity
Director: Billy Wilder - Double Indemnity
Actor: Fred MacMurray - Double Indemnity
Actress: Barbara Stanwyck - Double Indemnity
Supporting Actor: Edward G. Robinson - Double Indemnity
Supporting Actress: Tallulah Bankhead - Lifeboat
Ensemble: Lifeboat
Production Design: Meet Me in St. Louis
Sound Editing: Henry V
Sound Mixing: Lifeboat
Score: Laura
Editing: Double Indemnity
Visual Effects: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Costume Design: Gaslight
Cinematography: Laura
Makeup and Hairstyling: Henry V
Original Screenplay: Lifeboat
Adapted Screenplay: Double Indemnity
Song: "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way

Louis Morgan said...


Garbo - (Interesting to see two films about Mata Hari essentially between this and dishonored with Dietrich. This being the lesser of the films though the better of the performances between the pseudo rivals. Although both deliver on the allure of the character, Garbo's greater grasp of English at the time grants her a far more dynamic presence when she actually speaks. Garbo's work as usual brings a nuance within her presence far greater than so many of her contemporaries. This is even a lesser character to work with yet Garbo still brings the general allure with a sense of the moral complexity in the role. Not one of her best performances, but a good one still.)

Crawford - (It is interesting that Crawford is honestly one of the more natural performers around in her earlier performances in contrast to her more dramatic reputation later on. Still though this is rock solid performance from her, without any connection to the later film of the same name. This just delivering well on the sense of the romantic drama and granting her striking presence to the role.)

Wieck & Unda - (The two sides of a coin in their performance both delivering on those two sides. This with Wieck granting the sort of authoritative warmth and grace of a proper mentor. A low key allure even in the film's surprisingly very prominent lesbian elements. This though balanced with just a strong sense of the character's will yet also a sweetness. This against Unda who provides the needed cold intensity to her character. This in just a brutal vicious quality that is to be expected.)

Sydney - (Sydney just delivers a nice sort of separated turn that gives a largely honest portrayal of the genuine humanity in reaction towards the surroundings. Although occasionally a touch overwrought, overall just an affecting performance.)


The film itself is so uniquely visceral in a certain sense by being both passive yet so involving all the same. I think that is in particular a remarkable scene regarding that. This as Wenders presents the man's decision and the act so matter of factually, yet everything around it has such profound visceral quality in the capturing of the atmosphere of space along with the stream of thoughts. This with just the minor touch of the Angel's attempts at consoling that are so poignant again its simplicity.

Also not sure why Sander is quite so long, but occasionally a performance will get lost in the shuffle of the long list.

Dommartin - 3.5(Wings of Desire is the "director's film" even with Ganz and Falk technically being tangible beyond it, but everyone serves that vision beautifully anyways. Her character as such where I think she delivers the right type of presence in that she is dream, but a realistic dream. She is warmth, bright and inspiring, but also just an honest person all the same not without understanding of issues, rather not being weighed down by them.)

Mitchell Murray said...

So on another random note, guys, the youtube series "Deathbattle" released there newest episode a couple days ago - Winter Soldier Vs Redhood. The episode is rather notable because it's the second live action fight they've done (after Nightwing Vs Daredevil), and if I may vouch for them, I think they did a damn good job overall.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Does anyone know if Louis gave a list of his top 10 or 15 favorite tracks by Ennio Morricone?

Bryan L. said...

Tahmeed: You can find them here.


Luke Higham said...

The French Dispatch is officially out of the picture.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Your Top Ten Films for 2002, and your Director win for that year?

Luke Higham said...

Bryan: Meirelles

1. The Pianist
2. City Of God
3. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
4. The Twilight Samurai
5. Punch-Drunk Love
6. Infernal Affairs
7. Catch Me If You Can
8. Adaptation
9. Dirty Pretty Things
10. Road To Perdition

Mitchell Murray said...

Luke: We've discussed the film before on this blog, but after a cursory search of "The French Dispatch" I just have to say...what a cast!

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: Agreed.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking the Supporting Actor category this year will be a bloodbath. You have Mank, who has at least 3 contenders in it (Dance, Pelphrey and Burke), Trial of the Chicago 7, which has a bunch (Redmayne and Cohen have gained praise but one could never deny Rylance, and Strong and Abdul-Mateen could be boasted by their Emmy wins, and who knows who elese will emerge as a contender), Bill Murray is almost definitely going for Supporting, and the late Boseman, who has Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, as well as Da 5 Bloods, which has its own contenders, David Strathairn from Nomadland if the praise gets him in (a la Richard Jenkins), and One Night in Miami also is a ensemble with a bunch of possible contenders. All in all, not a great year for predictions, and lots of ensembles. The noms will certainly be interesting.

Mitchell Murray said...

Anonymous: I'm pretty sure you can discount Strathairn, sadly. From what I've heard/read, "Nomadland" is purely McDormand's film, and I've yet to see him really be singled out. I suppose if his role was small yet memorable he could still get some praise (sort of like Hal Holbrook with "Into the Wild"), though that fact Straithairn's already been nominated throws the whole "career award" aspect out the window.