Monday, February 04, 2008


The Survivors

By Edward Copeland
Not all of the best actor winners had detractors. These actors listed below failed to receive a single vote in the worst best actor survey. Was it because few have seen them or no one has much passion for them? Who's to say? However, the winners below the fold while receiving some votes as the best received no votes as the worst.

Emil Jannings (The Last Command, The Way of All Flesh)(1927-28)
Warner Baxter (In Old Arizona) (1928-29)
Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) (1931-32)
Victor McLaglen (The Informer) (1935)
James Cagney (Yankee Doodle Dandy)(1942)
Broderick Crawford (All the King's Men) (1949)
William Holden (Stalag 17) (1953)
Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai) (1957)
George C. Scott (Patton) (1970)
Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) (1982)
Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies) (1983)
Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) (1990)

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I wrote a long piece about how much I liked The Informer, which is often derided as a lumbering antique. So I am very happy to see that McLaglen wasn't dissed. Alas, I suspect that this old Ford just doesn't get watched that much anymore.

If I had to pick the ones I think are on this list due to genuine regard from us, as opposed to lack of passion or familiarity, it would be Guinness, Cagney, Scott and Duvall. Possibly Holden too -- he's great in Stalag 17, wholly unafraid to be a bastard.
It's a great list of performances I think. McLaglen was on my list of the best, because I love his performance, but probably more so because I love all of his work and since this was his only Oscar it was my only choice. And Scott made mine as well but I must say of the the ones that didn't make my list of the best Cagney, Holden, Guinness, Duvall were all strong back-ups that definitely would've made my top ten.
Jonathan, McLaglen just missed my best list. So happy someone whose taste I admire likes this movie too.

It's possible though, that McLaglen's best-ever performance was in, of all things, Wee Willie Winkie.
I've not seen Wee Willie Winkie because despite the names of Ford and McLaglen attached there's that third name, Temple, that has always kept me away from it. But I must see it soon because now you're saying it's possibly his best work and if there's anyone's opinion I would trust on this it's you. Now I just have to steel myself for the Shirley Temple performance (if you're a fan of hers I apologize - she makes my skin crawl).
If I had gotten my ballot in on time, Baxter would definitely have been #1 on my most hated list, and Holden would have been on that list too. I don't like the film either, but I really don't understand his appeal in anything pre-Peckinpah except Sunset Blvd. and Bridge on the River Kwai. And Duvall was an also-ran on my worst winners list--there's meaningfully closed off, and then there's absent.
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