February 25, 2016

Susan Hayward, Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman


The Los Angeles Daily News called Susan Hayward's Oscar nomination for Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman "the most spontaneous nomination of the lot." That makes complete sense, given that the film comes off as extremely creaky and cheap. The B-movie quality of it all certainly doesn't help in Hayward's favor, though it's fairly obvious that she gives the part her all.

February 24, 2016

John Garfield, Body and Soul


From his very first moments in Body and Soul, John Garfield immediately caught my eye. It's not so much his looks, or the scars which are featured rather prominently on his face in the film, but rather his immediate intimacy with the camera. He has that way about him - he is considered a predecessor to method actors Brando, Clift, et al after all - and has an allure to him which draws you in inexplicably.

February 23, 2016

Ronald Colman, A Double Life

Won: Academy Award - Best Actor | Golden Globe Award - Best Actor
Ronald Colman's one of those actors who, no matter what he plays - a convict, an eccentric thrill-seeker, an amnesiac, an actor so method he inherits his role's murderous impulses - always invokes a heavy sense of self, meaning I'm never under the impression that he truly transcends his roles to become who he's playing. And when we're dealt with a role which literally involves a man consumed by the spirit of Othello, I think that that lack of metamorphosis creates a minor void, even if the performance itself ends up being enjoyable.

February 22, 2016

Joan Crawford, Possessed

Possessed opens with Joan Crawford's Louise wandering around town in a state of disarray, a not-so-subtle imitation of the opening for Mildred Pierce. In that moment I recall some skepticism on my end--was a this an afterglow nomination stemming from the leftover goodwill from her recent Oscar win? Would this film be a casual attempt to imitate something that had already been done, that I had already seen?

February 13, 2016

William Powell, Life with Father

Won: New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actor

What made William Powell an interesting presence in The Thin Man was that in spite of the fact that he wasn't necessarily doing much in the film, he still bolstered his performance with an inane charm, which in turn made him likably watchable. That is what's severely lacking from Life with Father and the character of Clarence Day, and that's what makes it such a task to finish up the film.

February 8, 2016

Rosalind Russell, Mourning Becomes Electra

According to Inside Oscar, it was the great Oscar publicist Henry Rogers who, fresh off two consecutive successful Oscar campaigns for Joan Crawford and Olivia de Havilland, singled out Rosalind Russell's performance in Mourning Becomes Electra as his Chosen One for 1947. Why? Because the role of Lavinia was the juiciest offering of the contenders. It's interesting then, that all the fuss which surrounds this performance--that of Rosalind Russell standing up just before it was revealed that Loretta Young was the true Best Actress winner, in turn forever marking the victory as one for the ages in Oscar Upset History--is more of a byproduct of a PR man and less-so rooted in the actual merit behind Russell's work. After all - reviews of the film aren't exactly praising her, and the film itself was a big flop at the box office.

February 6, 2016

Michael Redgrave, Mourning Becomes Electra


Michael Redgrave doesn't show up to play within Mourning Becomes Electra's crazed, stagey, melodramatic story until after a third of the film has passed. Still, once he arrives, what was most striking about him was the grip he had on the material and the moderate (but fresh) sense of restrain he brings, the very type that Rosalind Russell and Katina Paxinou do not choose utilize. And in doing so, I felt that Redgrave completely runs away with the picture.