Laurence Harvey – The Manchurian Candidate
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a year with some great nominees that give career best performances. It the end, it came down to two of them who had to fight it out, one a veteran actor who gave such a powerful performance and the other an unknown ethnic actor who made a splash wioth his performance in a epic film that overwhelmed everyone with lots of awards that night.
5. Victor Buono
4. Telly Savalas
3. Terence Stamp
2. Ed Begley
1. Omar Sharif
5. Birdman of Alcatraz – Lancaster is great in the lead role and deservingly was nominated for an Oscar for this role. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t work so well and something feels missing from the way this story is told. The bitter rivalry between inmate and warden feels a bit too convenient and tries too hard to show the warden in a bad light which seems to have been done solely for dramatic effects. Despite the fact that this film is apparently far from the way things really happened, it does a nice job of showing how an inmate can try and become more serene while going through the penal system. Lancaster’s character’s arc works quite well within the confines of the story being told but not necessarily through the context of historical truth.
4. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? – Davis and Crawford are both eerily superb here as the grown up actresses with lots of baggage. The devious plans of both of them are interesting to watch unfold and we never know who can really be trusted more between the two of them. Says so much about the lives of child actors despite not understanding the issues as well as we do today.
3. Sweet Bird of Youth – Interesting idea that was probably much more controversial when it was made due to the way things are presented than it seems now. This is based on a Tennessee Williams play and the dialogue is quite enjoyable to listen to. The cats is superb with Newman and Page giving great performances but Begley steals every scene he is in because of the screen presence of the character. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance here and it’s quite deserving. The undertones about small town life and the way politicians rule their small world with a heavy hand are shown quite well throughout. This is a film about power and fame that doesn’t back down at all and needs to be held on to by the characters at all cost.
2. Billy Budd – Great adaptation of the Melville novel. They manage to show the true innocence and optimism of the central character despite the dark and cruel world around him. Stamp is great in the quiet role of Budd but Ustinov is the true standout as the captain who truly has a conflict of conscious throughout the story. Stamp was able to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this performance. The way that the Navy is depicted is not flattering but that is supposedly the way things truly were at the time.
1. Lawrence of Arabia – Great Lean epic that is done amazingly. The only drawback is that it’s very slow in certain scenes.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No! EB gives one of his best performances of his career with this role and was quite deserving of winning eventhough it probably should have gone to OS who was also amazing in his work on LoA which won 7 of its 10 nominations that night.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!