Sunday, 11 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Ian McKellen in Richard III

Ian McKellen did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe and a Bafta, for portraying the titular character in Richard III.

Richard III is a rather effective adaptation of Shakespeare's play which sets the story in an alternative version of 1930's England.

Well from perhaps Shakespeare's second most famous schemer to arguably his most famous. Richard III was previously adapted by Laurence Olivier in 1955. Olivier's version was in itself a particularly interesting adaptation for him. Unlike his Hamlet, which was cloaked in fog and smoke, or his Henry V with its most unusual way of setting the stage, the artistic license Olivier took with material was perhaps his most subtle, though also his most effective, as I say his Richard III was his most assured example as a director. This version, perhaps knowing that, takes the approach of throwing basically all subtly out of the window in order to tell the story of Shakespeare's most famous villain. McKellen, who also co-wrote this version, seemed to be well aware that successfully bringing something out of the material, without seeming try to ape Olivier, would be to take the character to a new extreme. Now this is really saying something as Olivier did not exactly soften the nature of the character with his absurd hair, apparently modeled have the same tyrannical theater director that the Big Bad Wolf was modeled after, his blood red costumes, and of course the character itself is written to be be an obvious, so where is it that McKellen can go?

Well before we get to that it must be said that McKellen is another master of the language. It comes off his tongue so naturally, and with such ease. McKellen never allows a line to seem laborious or forced no matter how often repeated, Richard's opening line in particular is overused, but McKellen delivery gives it purpose once again. Back to the question of where McKellen can go. Now I would be curious to see a purely subtle approach for the character, that would actually be opposed to the point of the character. McKellen, astonishingly does find somewhere to go though, without going in the opposite direction. This even goes to his other contribution to the film as screenwriter as the film which is considerably shorter than Olivier's version, as well as a simpler telling of the play. In addition though McKellen basically sets the stage for things by having Richard opening action be him crashing a tank through a wall, and personally executing the men who are standing in his brother's way from absolute power. If Oliver's Richard was a 10 out of 10 on the evil scale again where does that leave McKellen to go? well up even more where else? If Olivier's Richard is a 10 level of evil, McKellen takes old Richard all the way to eleven.

McKellen carries himself with purposeful broad strokes in his character from the opening speech which McKellen first delivers all the bluster and proud presentation of a great general promoting his King. Of course this is instantly washed away when he finishes the speech in the bathroom while relieving himself. McKellen brilliantly changes the tone to a biting insult as he makes rapidly evident that Richard has no respect for his brother, and seems him ill fitting for his position as King. In these early scenes we are given Richard's two faces, of sorts, by McKellen particularly in his interactions with his other imprisoned brother as well as sort of with his soon to be wife. What's interesting though about McKellen's performance is that he does not necessarily do a great job of portraying the sides of Richard, but this seems intentional and is extremely effective in creating his version of Richard. McKellen makes it all a bit obvious in terms of the presentation that Richard gives to others as though it is indeed just the act of an evil man trying to look one way or another in order to fulfill whatever purpose that will bring him more power. This probably should not work, but McKellen somehow realizes it in a rather glorious fashion.

McKellen succeeds in just how much he embraces the villainy to the point that he somehow transfers it into such a persuasive personality. With his interactions with his prisoner brother McKellen throws an over audance of warmth, that's a bit too much, though why not buy into since he is giving away so much of it. Then even in his "proposal" to Anne, despite having just murdered her husband, and even making this proposal of his around his corpse McKellen somehow makes it somehow work. Again McKellen would be ridiculous if he wasn't so good in the scene, as the over the top romantic routine that McKellen makes is h ficent while being so wholly false. What McKellen does is make Richard a great actor above else since even though you know its fake, he happens to do it so well that they just have to believe it. One of my favorite moments with this is when he rejects then accepts his place of King in a moments notice as McKellen again puts on such an overt show of the quiet and dignified man who will only accept power in the right circumstances, to instantly switch back to his only natural state that of the power hungry mad man using every trick to become King.

McKellen does not use these tricks to define Richard though, because it is evil that McKellen uses to define him. McKellen plays into this as much as he can, even seeming to want his place as King almost just for the suffering he can inflict on others through it. Even before he's become King I love the scenes which he shares with his sister-in-law the queen, since he believes her to hold no threat, McKellen is amazing has he brings such venom to every word as Richard makes it quite plain that he holds her in no regard whatsoever. What McKellen though does with Richard is essentially bring out more and more of Richard's true self the more he gains. It is not that he is being changed by the power, rather McKellen plays it quite bluntly that the more power he gains the more he can simply be himself. Now, like Olivier, Richard's monologues are also addressed to the audience. There's a major difference though where Olivier used them as though Richard was outlining his scheme to us, McKellen does it rather differently. McKellen never focuses a whole scene on this with his performance rather hitting some very specific moments by turning to the audience not unlike the traditional way one breaks the fourth wall in a comedy. This works brilliantly though because McKellen always uses these moments as actual punchlines as though Richard just has to take the moment to tell the audience his disdain for a particular opponent. It must also be said that McKellen also makes them work as punchlines because whenever he does this it is quite hilarious. McKellen, it must be said, is altogether ridiculously entertaining in the role because of his choice to display Richard's evil.

As he rises through the ranks, and is allowed to make himself all the more obvious McKellen let's loose all the more, and only the audience indeed benefits from this as McKellen is so much fun to watch. McKellen plays the completely unabashed evil of the man so well, since he always takes it a measure more. Whether this is just the enjoyment he seems to get from looking at the photos of a dead opponent, his complete lack of concern when his former ally is brutally murdered, or especially his continued mistreatment of the former Queen as he takes some rather uncouth liberties with his farewell kiss only to mockingly laugh at her after she has left. This is a fascinating performance to watch because McKellen proves that a simplification can be a masterstroke when done right. Instead of trying to challenge Olivier with some other reexamination, he places the focus on the character's fiendish nature and runs with it. McKellen never compromises this either even with the two moments in play that potentially give the character some humanity. The first being his nightmare as he is haunted by his victims. McKellen treats this as an unfortunate nuisance, that only acts as a slight bother. Then of course there is his demise, which might be favorite moment out of this entire performance, which is really saying something. That being when this Richard is cornered and certain to face death, McKellen plays it as Richard still refusing to accept any mistakes or blame instead taking just one more chance at villainy by going out his way. That is to fall back into the literal flames of his chaos, and what he has gotten out of this final cheat of sorts is represented through McKellen's absolutely perfect grin as he sinks into the fire. This is a great performance by Ian McKellen as proves taking a character to what might seem like a ludicrous extreme can sometimes turn out beautifully.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Kenneth Branagh in Othello

Kenneth Branagh did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for Sag, for portraying Iago in Othello.

This is an effective adaptation of Othello which takes kind of Franco Zeffirelli style of approach for the adaptation.

This version of Othello does hold two things in common with the 1965 version starring Laurence Olivier. That being both star famous Shakespearean actors, Olivier and Branagh, who usually tend to direct their own adaptations, but in this case leave it in the hands of another. One other thing in common is just like Frank Finlay in the 65 version, the award recognition for Branagh came in the supporting category even though the story follows Iago's perspective as well as he has the most dialogue, in addition to having the most influence over the story. The similarities end as the 65 version basically took on the aesthetic of a filmed play, whereas this version attempts the Zeffirelli's approach of putting it in a setting most seem to imagine it takes place in. One other major difference, which also holds true for the Orson Welles version as well, is that the "bigger" actor plays Iago rather than Othello. Although one could argue otherwise in regards to Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh in the grander scheme of things, that certainly was the case in regards to the actor's stature in regards to Shakespeare.

This makes his Sag replacement even more ridiculous though since this version seems like it perhaps gives even more focus to Iago than usual, which is really saying something. Iago is perhaps Shakespeare's second most infamous schemer, I'll be getting to the most infamous one soon, even though this version takes a bit of a similair approach that Olivier took in his depiction of that other schemer. Like in that film, this film makes it almost as though the audience itself is a co-conspirator with Iago since Branagh instead of delivering his monologue to himself or to the stars or something, he delivers them right to those watching as though he is speaking directly to us. Now because of this perhaps Branagh takes a very distinct approach in realizing the character. Roger Ebert claimed Branagh played the role as though Iago was gay and interested in Othello, and at least in his review with Gene Siskel acted as though this ruined the film. Although apparently it seems Ebert himself may have been tricked by Branagh's approach for the character, which is not as simple as that.

Branagh plays Iago as a man of many faces, and is excellent in his realization of how it is that Iago works as a manipulator. In his scenes with the hot headed Roderigo Branagh plays them as though Iago is a bit of the man's personal instigator, always just prodding him along with some negative encouragement to make some rather harsh decision which he naturally hopes will cause him to fight the prideful Cassio, which in turn Iago hopes will cause Cassio to lose position of confidence with Othello. Now with Cassio perhaps one could interpret Branagh approaches gay, though I find it is more of the over enthusiastic hanger on, as Branagh plays Iago towards Cassio as a very soft man who just seems to be wowed to be in his presence, simply encouraging any foolish action through just how how supportive he seems. Branagh does this well as in both instances there seems to be no threat of a manipulator since he basically seems to just tell Cassio and Roderigo what they want to hear, even though that all just turns to what he wants to happen.

Branagh even continues this with the two main women of the story the first being Iago's own wife Emilia. Branagh again is terrific by showing Iago just playing with her the whole time as when she tries to give him affection he treats her as though she is a bothersome bore, but when she offers any aid in his scheme Branagh changes Iago to the passionate lover as though Iago is giving her motivation in to ensure she continues to aid in his schemes. With Othello's wife Desdemona Branagh instead portrays it as Iago is just the perfect sort of best friend in for her to espouse her fears to, and the most gentle shoulder to cry on as Branagh only suggests such an honest in his interactions with her, though without a hint of hidden motives except of course when she's not looking. The most important relationship though is obviously with Othello himself. In the early scenes, before Iago has created the trouble, Branagh presents Iago as the man with the warmest of smiles whenever Othello is around, and only ever there to lend a hand of support to his commander. Of course as Iago plants the seeds of doubts in Branagh still conveys such a trusting element in Iago, as he stays calm, even in Othello's outbursts, and just seems there to offer the righteous support of a honest right hand man. Every one of these faces shown to these people though is wholly false, and the true Iago that we see is when he addresses the viewer, which are my favorite moments of Branagh's performance. Branagh is ice cold in these moments as Iago marks out each step of his plan clearly having no emotion whatsoever in regards to the suffering he is about to cause. The only strong emotion Branagh reveals is a palatable hatred in Iago towards Othello, and this devious joy Iago seems to derive from his manipulation possibly revealing what motivates him. Although I would not necessarily classify this as one of the very best Shakespearean its very strong work, and is another example of Branagh excelling in finding an effective variation of one of the Bard's most notable creations. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995

And the Nominees Were Not:

Morgan Freeman in Seven

James Earl Jones in Cry, The Beloved Country

Jonathan Pryce in Carrington

Kenneth Branagh in Othello

Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise

Rank Those Five or These Five or Both:

Mel Gibson in Braveheart

Richard Harris in Cry, The Beloved Country

Ian McKellen in Richard III

Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys

Johan Widerberg in All Things Fair

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: Results

5. George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent - Sanders gives a very entertaining performance that finds just the right tone to both lighten the mood while still bringing the needed gravity for the thriller.

Best Scene: ffolliott saves Van Meer.
4. Frank Morgan in The Shop Around the Corner - Morgan gives a funny but also surprisingly nuanced depiction of a man whose vulnerabilities slowly get the better of him.

Best Scene: Matuschek apologizes to Alfred.
3. Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent - Marshall gives a very effective performance that realizes the twist involving his character, but also never allows this to simplify his character. 

Best Scene: Fisher goes to see the captured Van Meer. 
2. George Sanders in Rebecca - Sanders gives a great performance by being just so enjoyably despicable as his selfish and vapid character.

Best Scene: Favell tries to blackmail Maxim. 
1. John Carradine in The Grapes of Wrath - I must not that this again is a year where I could go with any of my top four in any order. At the moment though my winner is John Carradine for his especially compelling and moving depiction of a former preacher attempting to find the truth again.

Best Scene: Tom meets Casy again. 
Overall Rank:
  1. John Carradine in The Grapes of Wrath
  2. Walter Brennan in The Westerner
  3. George Sanders in Rebecca
  4. Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent
  5. Frank Morgan in The Shop Around the Corner
  6. George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent
  7. John Qualen in The Grapes of Wrath
  8. Joseph Schildkraut in The Shop Around the Corner 
  9. Walter Catlett in Pinocchio
  10. Cliff Edwards in Pinocchio 
  11. Donald Crisp in Brother Orchid 
  12. Edmund Gwenn in Foreign Correspondent
  13. Frank Morgan in The Mortal Storm
  14. Russell Simpson in The Grapes of Wrath
  15. Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday
  16. Edmund Gwenn in Pride and Prejudice
  17. Robert Benchley in Foreign Correspondent 
  18. Akim Tamiroff in The Great McGinty
  19. Emlyn Williams in The Stars Look Down
  20. Basil Rathbone in the Mark of Zorro 
  21. Edward Rigby in The Stars Look Down
  22. William Demarest in The Great McGinty
  23. Christian Rub in Pinocchio 
  24. Hay Petrie in Contraband
  25. Eugene Pallette in The Mark of Zorro
  26. Shemp Howard in The Bank Dick 
  27. Ralph Bellamy in Brother Orchid
  28. John Qualen in His Girl Friday
  29. Thomas Mitchell in Our Town
  30. Albert Bassermann in Foreign Correspondent
  31. Randolph Scott in My Favorite Wife
  32. John Carradine in The Return of Frank James
  33. Claude Rains in The Sea Hawk 
  34. Humphrey Bogart in Brother Orchid
  35. Felix Bressart in The Shop Around The Corner
  36. James Stephenson in The Letter
  37. Henry Daniell in The Great Dictator 
  38. Frankie Darro in Pinocchio
  39. Leo G. Carroll in Rebecca
  40. Herbert Marshall in The Letter
  41. Charley Grapewin in The Grapes of Wrath 
  42. Melville Cooper in Pride and Prejudice
  43. Charles Judels in Pinocchio
  44. Henry Daniell in The Sea Hawk
  45. Jack Oakie in The Great Dictator 
  46. Roland Young in The Philadelphia Story
  47. Paul Hurst in The Westerner
  48. C. Aubrey Smith in Rebecca
  49. John Halliday in The Philadelphia Story 
  50. J. Edward Bromberg in The Mark of Zorro
  51.  Nigel Bruce in Rebecca
  52. Bela Lugosi in Black Friday
  53. Jackie Cooper in The Return of Frank James
  54. Guy Kibbee in Our Town
  55. Reginald Gardiner in The Great Dictator
  56. Gene Lockhart in Abe Lincoln in Illinois
  57. Reginald Denny in Rebecca
  58. William Tracy in The Shop Around the Corner
  59. Harry Davenport in Foreign Correspondent
  60. William Tracy in Strike Up The Band
  61. John Howard in The Philadelphia Story
  62. Harry Carey in They Knew What They Wanted 
  63. Edward Ashley-Cooper in Pride and Prejudice
  64. Fred Stone in The Westerner
  65. William Gargan in They Knew What They Wanted
  66. Robert Young in The Mortal Storm
  67. Robert Stack in The Mortal Storm
  68. William T. Orr in The Mortal Storm
Next Year: 1995 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: John Carradine in The Grapes of Wrath

John Carradine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath.

From what I've seen John Carradine had a certain chameleon quality about him. This was isn't necessarily about a change of accent or anything like that, as Carradine always had that great booming voice of his. Carradine rather just seemed to know how to wholly alter his presence that he seemed like a different man from film to film. This was even the case in his earlier films with Ford even though he mostly played the villain or the very least a pompous sort of character such as in The Prisoner of Shark Island, The Hurricane, and Stagecoach. Carradine here plays a role that's quite the distance from those roles as Casy one of the first people that Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) sees on his way home after being released from prison. In Carradine's first scene Casy explains to Tom how it became that he no longer is a preacher. Carradine as per usual does just makes himself seem wholly different this time without that imposing quality he brought in his earlier performances in Ford's role, instead he brings a whole different sort demeanor about himself that instantly suggests the history of the man even before we get to know much about him.

In the scene Carradine is rather outstanding in just how much insight he allows into the character as he shows both the past and the current state of the man. In the moments where Tom calls upon Casy's old days as a preacher Carradine suddenly realizes a man truly in his element as a man. In the way he moves so unusually it seems as though he is being motivated by the lord himself in his strange though quite spirited way he moves and speaks when reacting an old sermon. There is an extra bit of showmanship so to speak in this moment, as a memory of the past, because something that's so effective about Carradine's performance is the way he acts which is peculiar though works extremely well in realizing the character. That is that Carradine always portrays this certain quality that Casy has never stopped being a preacher exactly, in that he's just never lost the manner in the way he speaks and behaves. What's so remarkable is the way that Carradine is able to tread this fine line for the character that on one side his behavior seems like it could be that of a man whose half mad, or it is of a truly righteous man as there is something otherworldly in Carradine's portrayal of Casy. 

Carradine captures this certain way for the character that is essential in that he makes every line of his absolutely work no matter how stylistic it may be. Anything that Casy says seems wholly honest through Carradine's delivery. Carradine makes nothing one note about this and through this even is able to allude to what lead to Casy's loss of faith. In his early talk with Tom he discusses his relationship with women, and Carradine through the enthusiasm twists his state as a preacher as it is not a religious sort of pleasure he felt when causing these women's, ahem, spiritual awakening. Carradine is able to suggest this misuse as a weakening of sorts, as it was obvious not wisdom he was giving them, and with that as Casy explains he gave up preaching due to not knowing the answers there is a resigned melancholy about. Carradine presents to be a man who no longer has a place as he still has never lost the preacher's mindset, that to be looking for something else, something more perhaps, which keeps him a distance from being just man, while also being too unsure of himself to be what he was meant to be.

As the film progresses Casy ends up going with the Joads in their journey to California to find some sort of prosperity and everyone is stuck in a certain mindset looking for a better life except Casy who comes along as well. Casy says basically that something is calling for him, and Carradine begins to portrays a spiritual re-awakening as he begins the journey with the Joads. Carradine is not given considerable individual focus in these scenes, yet if you watch him within them he adds a great deal to the power of the them, even past simply the vibrancy of Casy due to Carradine's portrayal of him. As the Joads suffer hardships or hear of the troubles of others Carradine's reactions are tremendous in the way he shows Casy taking in each story, and in a way each seems to strengthen his faith once more as though he's beginning to see his path once again. Casy is eventually separated from the Joads though Tom finds him again being part of a group of men leading a labor strike. The end of Casy's journey is powerfully realized in this final scene as Carradine creates this sense of enlightenment as Casy seems to be preaching the truth again, though a different truth than he had known before. The quick exit of Casy is made especially heartbreaking as Carradine makes into a shining light being snuffed out in a instance. This is a great performance by John Carradine.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent

Herbert Marshall did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Stephen Fisher in Foreign Correspondent.

Herbert Marshall plays Stephen Fisher the head of an organization that seeks to find a peaceful solution to world conflicts while war is clearly brewing just before the start of World War II. We first meet Fisher just before our hero Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea) is to embark on his journey as a foreign correspondent in Europe. Marshall presents Stephen Fisher as a very affable man with an unassuming charm. He seems fit to be the man in head of his organization as Marshall simply exudes a respectability, and most definite dignity. He is soon met once again when Jones makes it Europe and attends an important conference for Fisher's organization where Jones meets Fisher's firebrand daughter Carol (Lorraine Day). Marshall is excellent in his scenes with Day as he conveys such a gentle warmth in every interaction with her. There is never a question of Fisher's love towards his daughter as Marshall creates a genuine and loving relationship. Once again Marshall reinforces the idea that Fisher just seems to be a honestly great man that no one could possibly question his motives.

Of course in typical Hitchcock style we soon find out, even before Johnny does, that Fisher is actually the main villain of the film, the man behind the plot to kidnap a Dutch diplomat Van Meer (Albert Bassermann) who apparently knows some very important information that would help the unnamed Nazis. Although this twist is actually told pretty early on it is certainly an effective one since Marshall makes Fisher seem like such a good man. There was perhaps the potential that once the twist takes place that this whole idea behind Fisher could evaporate, and he could have become a more straight forward villain. What's remarkable about Marshall's work is that he never allows it to be that simple, in fact he never begins to start playing Fisher as a villain. Marshall instead portrays Fisher as a man who still is going about a certain duty, rather than some fiend simply trying to bring evil to the world. When he speaks of the plan Marshall reveals some urgency in his voice that of a man who seem actually passionate about what this scheme will do for his cause, opposed to what the plan consists of. Marshall adds a great deal of nuance to the character in momentary reactions as he never loses that kindness about him, it's not an act for him, particularly in regards to his interactions with his daughter where he never loses that true fatherly affection.

As the plot progresses and it takes more extreme measure to both get the information from Van Meer as well as keeping others from finding the man, Marshall is outstanding in again never making Fisher as a straight villain. His reactions are surprisingly moving, when Fisher sees what his men have started doing, as he portrays a definite regret and shame in the man due to the methods he must take. In this though Marshall realizes Fisher's actions though still with understanding and his performance suggests a man who is doing something difficult though something he believes must be the right thing to do. In the final scenes of the film when Fisher explains his actions to his daughter, Marshall again is superb because he does not make this as some sort of evil monologue. Marshall instead delivers it as an attempt to make his daughter grasp what has motivated him, which Marshall never allows a suggestion of selfishness or wickedness to even be taken into account. Marshall creates the sense of how this pains Fisher's in the explanation as though he is forcing himself to realize that his means do not justify his ends, and he has never been doing the right thing. This leads to the his last scene where Fisher finally gets the chance to do some actual good. Marshall is heartbreaking in a completely silent moment as he shows Fisher finally making the choice to do what is truly right. This is a great performance by Herbert Marshall that only improves upon re-watch as wholly earns not only the twist but also successfully makes the villain's demise a poignant loss rather than a satisfying defeat.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: George Sanders in Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent

George Sanders did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jack Favell in Rebecca.

George Sanders plays one of the three villains within the film, the other living one being Judith Anderson as the sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, and the third being the deceased Rebecca whose actions in life still torment her husband Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), and his new wife (Joan Fontaine) as well motivate Danvers, and Sanders's Jack Favell. Sanders only has one appearance in the first half of the film as the second Mrs. de Winter is still lost within the mystery of Maxim's country estate Manderley. Sanders appearance is that of the odd stranger at first who seems to be in some collusion with Danvers about something. Favell catches the new Mrs. de Winter overhearing leading him to introduce himself. Sanders carries himself with quite the charisma as Favell although what makes it so good is just how sleazy Sanders comes off while being this charismatic. There just such an overabundance of confidence that Sanders brings in his manner that it is rather off putting though in a unique manner. Sanders is brilliant because he shows a certain persuasive sort of personality that likely would work in some sort of situation, yet makes it such a curiously obvious routine fitting for a cars salesman, which is just what Favell happens to be.

Sanders does not make another appearance until the last act of the film although we do learn that Favell was one of Rebecca lovers, although honestly Sanders makes that clear in his first scene. We do not meet him again until after new evidence regarding Rebecca's death has risen leaving another inquest that potentially threatens Maxim. Favell naturally turns up at the inquest and although there was plenty of indication to this in that first appearance, his next series of appearances Sanders shows that Favell is well, how should one put this eloquently, well he's a bit of an asshole. Though what a hole that Sanders makes him out him out to be. The way Sanders plays it does not just have Favell simply a man who has no regrets about the affair with Rebecca, although he certainly does that, he also makes it seem so vapid of an affair actually as the way Sanders mentions it you can see only the pleasure that Favell gets from the idea of it. That's not bad enough, not by a slight margin though, as Sanders takes it a step further by making it so whenever Favell makes an indication towards Maxim about the affair, basically gloating about it in his face, Sanders seems to exude the most despicable pleasure from this.

Potentially incriminating evidence against Maxim begins arise against Maxim, which Favell quickly jumps the chance. The scene where Favell just walks right into Maxim's car and starts eating his food, Sanders captures just how obnoxiously Favell behavior he is by the way he insists upon himself. Favell decides to attempt to blackmail Maxim over information he has, which Sanders again is terrific because he does not suggest Favell is trying to avenge his former lover or anything close to that. Sanders keeps Favell quite hollow as he states with such glee about how he'd love to be able to drive the fancy cars he sells, and just is so lacking in even the slightest respectability in his proposition towards Maxim. As Favell continues to attempt his plot, even though Maxim is not having it, Sanders continues to be so perfectly hate inducing that when Max finally does punch him that he perhaps is acting on the audience's wishes as well as his own. Sanders is so entertaining in the role by not holding back for a moment in reveling just how wretched of a man Favell happens to be. I especially love his final scene where the truth about Rebecca is revealed. Sanders makes it incredibly satisfying by his reaction in the scene as all the confidence just instantly leaves his face in a moments notice. What I like most is that Sanders still gets the chance to just make Favell all the more detestable just when there might be a slight chance for sympathy. Favell afterwards quickly puts on a sorrowful act of grief, but Sanders cleverly alludes that Favell is probably just fishing for some gain as he looks around for a supportive face then when seeing none he instantly turns back to his usual wretched self. This is a fantastic performance by Sanders that makes a great villain out of a man who simply is without scruples.
Sanders was not nominated for his performance in Rebecca, leaving supporting actor to be the only acting category where Rebecca was not recognized. To make things only worse though Sanders was also ignored, despite his co-star Albert Bassermann being nominated, for portraying Scott ffolliott in Alfred Hitchcock's other film from 1940 Foreign Correspondent. It is interesting that the two films were paired as Rebecca is an example of one of Hitchcock's more cerebral and internalized film while Foreign Correspondent is of his more direct and extroverted style. Both films though have George Sanders though and in this film George Sanders is allowed to use his talents for good instead of evil, character that is. Sanders makes his appearance into the film well into it as he aids our main hero Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea) is in pursuit of an assassin. Sanders this time utilizes his considerable charisma for the benefits of humankind with ffolliott as he this fits right into the world of international espionage that Foreign Correspondent covers.

It is intriguing how Sanders works in this as he portrays simply a secondary hero for the film since he's certainly not Jones's sidekick, and at the same time ffolliott has the same good intentions as Jones. What Sanders does though is make the film all the better by adding a nice variation in the dynamic seen right for the beginning of his appearance as he so calmly explains the reason for the doubled and lower case f's in his last name while dodging bullets while chasing after the assassin. Sanders is pretty marvelous in realizing a James Bond sort of style for ffolliott, whereas McCrea's Jones is a far more straight forward sort. There's few moments that go by where ffolliott does not have a quip to go with the occasion. Sanders delivers these all quite flawlessly hitting his mark every time. Sanders makes ffolliott's wit as effortless as it should be. He adds so much character to the film through his mere presence, after all perhaps one could get along with simply one hero, but Sanders makes it worthwhile to have two heroes because he's just so much fun in the role.

Sanders is wonderful in finding just the right tone between the quips though and the actual severity of the situation. In the scene where ffolliott reveals to Jones that he's actually been more driven than he perhaps alluded to all along, Sanders is excellent in conveying the quiet passion in ffolliott to do the right thing as well. A funny thing about the film is that the heroic act to find the central figure of the plot is done by ffolliott and note Jones. In fact in the scene Jones really is ffolliott sidekick as ffolliott is the one who takes the needed steps to follow the villain's tracks, and to well save the day. Sanders is great in the scene as he reveals just how much ffolliott does care about the situation, he helps to create the severity of the moment by showing that it is not simply a game for ffolliot making the scene surprisingly powerful. Although this may merely be his second best performance of 1940 its a very good one that proves Sanders not only can be the man you love to hate, but also just the guy you can love without the hate.