January 13, 2017

Spencer Tracy • Father of the Bride

as Stanley T. Banks

I've had a complicated relationship with Spencer Tracy - anyone who’s read some of my 30s reviews knows that. Though when I try to boil it down as to why - I don’t have a concrete answer. Part of it is attributed to a quick succession of (what in my opinion were) fruitless performances within that 1936-1938 timeframe - first impressions tends to stay with you after all. Another part of is due to Tracy as a performer - he’s not a showboater and he doesn’t exactly command your attention with his acting - his is a more simple style and presence, and I prefer actors and performances that resonate. And so, with Father of the Bride, I was expecting more of the same, albeit with a few more chuckles.

January 7, 2017

James Stewart • Harvey

as Elwood P. Dowd

And for the third stage-to-film adaptation wiggling its way into 1950’s Best Actor field, we have Harvey - a lighthearted and amusing little picture starring James Stewart in one of his more understated performances to have received an Oscar nomination.

December 31, 2016

José Ferrer • Cyrano de Bergerac

as Cyrano de Bergerac
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor • Golden Globe Award - Best Actor (Drama)

With it's unusual title and a goofy looking, oft-smirking main character bearing a giant honker of a nose while draped in doublets and feathered hats, at face value I had thought Cyrano de Bergerac to be some sort of cartoonish caper B-movie instead of the verbose tragic dramedy it revealed itself to be. Edmond Rostrand's story veers into an array of different directions, but the tale itself remains an intelligible and compelling piece of drama, all the more perpetuated by José Ferrer's magnetic work as the eponymous character.

December 26, 2016

Louis Calhern • The Magnificent Yankee

as Oliver Wendell Holmes
 photo Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 6.23.53 AM.jpg
The Magnificent Yankee is our first toe-dip into 1950, and it's undoubtedly a residual remnant of the decade which preceded it - it is a prestige, feel-good, stage-rooted biopic that plays to nationalist tendencies. In this case, this is a biopic focused on Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Justice whom I suspect few in 2016/2017 are familiar with. Yet more broadly, the concept of an entire film dedicated to the life of a Supreme Court Justice is baffling to me, and in this particular film's case, there's a heavy air of irrelevancy that looms over tale and performance.