James Harcourt – Night Train to Munich
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a year with 2 outstanding nominated performances and 3 average one. It came down to choosing between the two better ones.
5. William Gargan
4. James Stephenson
3. Albert Bassermann
2. Jack Oakie
1. Walter Brennan
5. They Knew What They Wanted – Interesting idea that comes across as being quite lackluster. Laughton is great in the lead and acts the part of an immigrant very well. His optimism on everything in life is great to see and it gives him a very jolly personality that is difficult to turn. The story moves along at a pretty slow pace and instead of feeling like a screwball comedy, things get much too dramatic and predictable which takes away from enjoying the story even more. Gargan was nominated for an Oscar for Best supporting actor as the foreman, but it’s Laughton who should have received much more accolades for his work here.
4. The Letter – Davis is great here as a woman who committed murder who she claims was in self-defense. The way they explore love, racism and even the way the court system work in foreign occupied countries are all done expertly by Wyler.
3. The Westerner – Mediocre western saved by the performance of Walther Brennan as Judge Roy Bean.
2. Foreign Correspondent – Great idea of sending a crime reporter “undercover” in a attempt to get more substantial stories than a “normal” foreign correspondent would be able to get. The fact that this plot was originally written 5 years before War actually broke out in Europe also shows a bit of prophesy that worked to everyone’s benefit in the end. Hitchcock’s genius in setting up a story and keeping us thrilled throughout is quite evident here.
1. The Great Dictator – Chaplin at his best. This is my favorite of all of his movies. It’s amazing how astute he was to what was going on without really knowing it. He does a perfect imitation of Hitler and we laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely! WB was great in this film and was quite deserving of being the very first actor to win 3 acting Oscars. Oakie comes in a close second with his amazing comedic performance especially since he is able to keep up with Chaplin throughout.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!