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Impressive Understated Performances


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Those performances in which actors in their quiet, small, subtleties touched you -

 

Roman Bohnen's in Best Years always, but always, makes me weep. His struggle holding back tears when he reads Fred's citation from Gen. Doolittle...

 

Your favorite "little" moments that just an actor's facial expression said it all or tone of voice, that moment when you know all there is to know about a character -

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I thunk through my thinking cap Poinciana. I loved Art Smith's performance as Bogey's agent in "IN A LONELY PLACE." Especially the scene where he gets his glasses knocked off and is in the men's room. Sad quiet dignity he had as Mel, especially in that scene.

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Ha!!! Anthony Hopkins could have used Rains' understatement in the recent version of "The Wolfman." Normally I like Hopkins, but he ruined the movie for me.

 

Harry Carey, MissGoddess? One of the giants.

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> {quote:title=CineMaven wrote:}{quote}

> Ha!!! Anthony Hopkins could have used Rains' understatement in the recent version of "The Wolfman." Normally I like Hopkins, but he ruined the movie for me.

>

 

Really?? That is rather disappointing to hear. I really like Hopkins and always thought of him as a rather understated performer. But he's made some strange choices in recent years. I don't necessarily blame him, he probably doesn't see too many good scripts cross his desk.

 

> Harry Carey, MissGoddess? One of the giants.

 

Love him. :x :x

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Hi. Maybe I'm being too hard on Sir Anthony. It probably was the script turning Hopkins into a wolfman too. No one does tortured like Benicio DelToro (love him). But Hopkins was kind of over-the-top for me. When the picture took that turn with him being a wolf man too, it lost me.

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Hopkins is usually over-the-top these days, but it wasn't always so. Back in the 70s, he played an important part in a British television series production of War and Peace. He played Count Bezuhov (spelling's probably wrong) and he was very quiet and kind of gentle and understated.

 

Nobody has as yet mentioned any female stars. I think the lovely Loretta Young's performance in Rachel and the Stranger is fairly understated. She's got William Holden and Robert Mitchum around her, and she just quietly takes it all in stride.

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Cinnie, thanks for mentioning Art Smith. Good thinking! The man's sympathique (I don't think that's a word, but you know what I mean) face captured the moment perfectly.

 

And Miss W., Loretta was deafeningly quiet in Rachel. Perfect character performance.

 

Have we ever seen Ann Harding when she wasn't understated? I was late coming around to her and became immediately smitten by her quiet ways, her subtle authority, her holding back her emotions til the audience was aching with them, wow.

 

I think when Anthony played quiet he was at his best, e.g., Shadowlands and Charing Cross Road even Lambs...

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> {quote:title=CineMaven wrote:}{quote}

> Hi. Maybe I'm being too hard on Sir Anthony. It probably was the script turning Hopkins into a wolfman too. No one does tortured like Benicio DelToro (love him). But Hopkins was kind of over-the-top for me. When the picture took that turn with him being a wolf man too, it lost me.

 

I may rent that one when it comes to DVD, just to see what the deal is. I like both actors enough though I'm too chicken to see any horror movies on the big screen anymore. I have to be safe and snug in my own home. :D

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The always reliable and recognizable Walter Baldwin was wonderfully stoic as Homer's Dad in Best Years.

 

I would like to add that included in this Thread should be actors who didn't normally give restrained performances, e.g., Mickey Rooney. When they were directed to be toned down they were usually startingly wonderful.

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Poinciana: ?Cinnie, thanks for mentioning Art Smith. Good thinking! The man's sympathique (I don't think that's a word, but you know what I mean) face captured the moment perfect-

ly.?

 

?Sympathique?? Listen, some folks here destructively and pathetically make up alternate identities...you makin' up words....a piece of cake. Yes, I do know what you mean.

 

?Have we ever seen Ann Harding when she wasn't understated? I was late coming around to her and became immediately smitten by her quiet ways, her subtle authority, her holding back her emotions til the audience was aching with them, wow.?

 

Years years years ago...before I knew who she really was, I saw her in ?The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit? (which I watched for Peck and Jones) and then ?I?ve Lived Before? which I loved for its B-movie schlock value. But Ann Harding...meh. Then I was hit by a ton of bricks by her in something (I don?t recall what, Poinciana). And I?ve been a cognizant fan of hers ever since. If you haven?t seen it yet, I?d urge you to watch her in ?LOVE FROM A STRANGER.? I gotta tell you, I found Harding's performance in the last ten minutes of the film absolutely thrilling as I?ve said on the Message Board before. http://www.archive.org/details/LovefromaStranger

 

?I would like to add that included in this Thread should be actors who didn't normally give restrained performances, e.g., Mickey Rooney. When they were directed to be toned down they were usually startingly wonderful.?

 

I thought Mickey Rooney gave a wonderful performance as Homer in ?THE HUMAN COMEDY.? ?If anything happens to my brother, I?ll spit at the world. I?ll hate it forever...? And I think of another of his performances, in ?ANDY HARDY GETS SPRING FEVER? was very good. Oh yes, Andy Hardy. When he believes his acting teacher has betrayed him, his heart is broken and his hurtful speech (through a character he?s playing in his school play) was very moving.

 

MissGoddess: ?I may rent that one ("THE WOLFMAN?) when it comes to DVD, just to see what the deal is. I like both actors enough though I'm too chicken to see any horror movies on the big screen anymore. I have to be safe and snug in my own home.? :D

 

I am shocked and chagrined, Miss G. You mean to tell me, to tell us, you can go into the lion?s den and forge toe-to-toe battles to the death with Frank Grimes, yet you cannot watch a l?il ol? horror movie except by being under the covers???? Tsk! Tsk!

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> {quote:title=faceinthecrowd wrote:}{quote}

> Michael Redgrave in THE BROWNING VERSION. And all of *Victor Mature's performances were admirably underplayed.*

 

This is why I love Mr. Mature so.

 

I may be misunderstanding this thread topic but Claude Rains in Mr. Skeffington was underplayed - which is what made him Mr. Skeffington and made Bette Davis the wild Mrs....I just love his character in the film and I silently root for him each time I watch it. Strange, I know.

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Not so strange. Claude Rains was a master of understated acting. That's partly why I like him.

 

One example: his performance throughout Notorious, but especially the end when he realizes the game's over and so is he. Despite the fact that we know he's an evil Nazi, there's something noble about his quiet resignation and acceptance of his fate.

That's what he gets for letting his mean old mum try to poison lovely Ingrid Bergman!

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Ive used this example before, but Marlene Dietrich's acting in A Foreign Affair is a good example. There's a moment in the Lorelei club when she's singing and she notices that Captain Pringle (her man) has brought her love rival (Jean Arthur--yeah, figure that one out) into her club. She continues singing, but a series of emotions cross her face, shock, surprise, hurt, anger, revenge all in a matter seconds. Its a wonderfully understated bit of acting.

 

Edited by: traceyk65 on May 27, 2010 6:37 PM

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Here are Top 5 of mine.

 

1. Laird Cregar's Performance in I wake up Screaming (1941)

2. Michael Denison's Performance in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

3. Robert Donat's performance in The Winslow Boy (1948)

4. John Hodiak's performance in Lifeboat (1944)

5. Alastair Sim's performance in The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)

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All things considered, Tony Perkins in *Psycho*, is extremely understated. The one that sprung immediately to mind when I read the subject line, is Van Heflin's beautifully understated performance in the otherwise overly-acted, *Johnny Eager.* What makes it so special, is that he's playing someone who is constantly drunk, and is more low-key and real, than anyone else in the picture!

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