Oscar win vs. Oscar win: Walter Brennan

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Oscar win vs. Oscar win: Walter Brennan

Unread post by dr.giraud » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:55 pm

Recently, one of those bizarre coincidences in the cable universe occurred. Fox Movie Channel showed KENTUCKY (1938) at the same time TCM showed THE WESTERNER (1940); Walter Brennan won Best Supporting Actor for both. So I switched back and forth, comparing the two Brennans. He's great in THE WESTERNER. As hanging Judge Roy Bean, his wariness as Gary Cooper talks him out of a hanging is a thing of beauty. But he gives a painful, annoying, stereotyped performance as an old Kentucky colonel in KENTUCKY.

The difference, of course, is that William Wyler is William Wyler (THE WESTERNER), and David Butler (KENTUCKY) isn't. I know that Oscar wins aren't reflective of what critics think they should be reflective of, but these performances, by the same actor and only two years apart, are so drastically different in quality that I can't help but shake my head in wonder.

Also: The portrayal of the black servants (and grooms and chicken thieves etc.) in KENTUCKY makes GONE WITH THE WIND look like an NAACP production. Now I know why I never remember it being on TV, lovely Loretta Young or not.
dr. giraud

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