February 14, 2015

Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver

as CLEM MINIVER
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The movie is called Mrs. Miniver. Walter Pidgeon plays Mr. Miniver. Mrs. Miniver is not about Mr. Miniver. Cue the big, bright red flag. It's funny because we often see unrewarding, glorified supporting performances coming from women the form of faithful and strong wives, and here's Pidgeon, breaking that glass ceiling for all men everywhere with his Oscar nomination for one of the most basic if not the most basic Best Actor nominated-performances I've seen thus far. What little I've seen of Pidgeon so far hasn't been too bad. He seems like an interesting enough actor. But man, is this nomination is a joke.

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 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.47.55 PM.jpgYou see, here I am typing up this post and I can't really remember anything about Pidgeon's performance aside from the fact that it's a big fat pile of nothing. Who is Clem Miniver? What makes him tick? What's so special about him? We're never given a chance to find anything interesting about Mr. Miniver. We don't really know what to make of him. He's just kind of there. Except not really, because whenever his wife is faced with grave situations he's not around! He dips in and out of the story quite often and doesn't really contribute to the story in any way aside from being hugging fodder for when Mrs. Miniver is distressed. So Pidgeon's nomination is so bizarre to me because there's no redeeming qualities about this performance that would substantiate a lead actor nomination. It's like one of those head-scratcher nominations you often see in the supporting category wherein there's nothing noteworthy...I can't fathom how Academy voters managed to usher this one onto the ballot because from my point of view even the blindest worshipper of this film can't possibly view this performance and think, "Wow! This deserves a Best Actor nomination!" because there's absolutely nothing there to warrant a nomination. I almost want to say that his inclusion in this movie is simply due to the fact that the story needed a husband, an interesting contrast to when we have pointless female roles because the lead male character needs to have a love interest. Clem Miniver is just a husband, quite literally, without any sort of interesting facets whatsoever, and in a way it's pretty funny that he did get a nomination. But looking back, I think about the scope of his performance, and all I can recall are shots of him smoking out his pipe, musing about something with his wife, shooting a blank and/or confused glance at someone or something, and...that's it. Nothing else. No emotional depth, no characterization, nothing to indicate a full-fledged individual. He's certainly not serving as the core to the film as we typically see with trophy wife roles. Nope, Clem Miniver is just a random stock trophy husband, and this performance is just really, truly pointless.

6 comments:

  1. Exactly.

    Mentally conjure DeNiro in Raging Bull, Paul Newman in The Hustler or The Verdict, Peter O'Toole in Lion In Winter, George C. Scott in Patton, Jack Lemmon in Days Of Wine And Roses or The China Syndrome, Richard Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Marlon Brandon in A Streetcar Named Desire, or Pacino in Godfather II or Dog Day Afternoon.

    Then try to argue that Pidgeon as Clem Miniver belongs in the same pantheon. Geez.

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    1. Certainly not a highlight in the category for sure. A very perplexing nomination to say the least.

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  2. I agree with you, but I did think that he and Garson had nice chemistry though. They were really believable as husband and wife. Not a bad performance per se, just really basic and nothing awards worthy.

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    1. very true! the two do have a great chemistry, obviously why they ended up co-starring in so many films together. i'm hesitantly curious about how he'll turn out in Madame Curie.

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  3. I don't remember a lot from his performance (although I've seen the film at least twice and, unlike you, I really liked it), which might makes sense corresponding to your 1 Oscar.

    However, I'd keep the 1s just for the actively bad (see "Anne Bancroft - Agnes of God") :)

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    1. Awful performances definitely deserve a 1--however, a lot of my evaluation is influenced by other factors as well...for instance, if it's not exactly awful but does absolutely nothing for me and is the type of nomination that makes you go "Wtf?", then I make down

      but more on that for another post :D

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