Awards: Won Oscar (Actor in a Leading Role)
The Eastern-European actress was dubbed in Hitchcock's first sound-included film, which makes her performance even more of a revelation. I'm not a fan of the film but Ondra's absorption of guilt, horror and subsequent mental collapse is raw and wholly convincing, adding dimensions to the character of Alice; Hitch's first female victim, and perhaps his best.
I can't help but fall in love with Barrymore's performance here as a desperate dying man trying to live out his days in the luxurious Grand Hotel. He's successful in winning you over with his hopeless, resigned, yet curiously warm persona, the vital cog within the film's message of class and community now commonly associated with the serial drama. He is crucially, and adorably, a man of the people.
The wonderful thing about Grant as a comedy actor is that he can play both the unstable hapless victim (Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace) and the sly, scheming charmer, seen in His Girl Friday and most wonderfully Leo McCarey's The Awful Truth. Grant revels in his love/hate relationship with Dunne, and sells every wisecrack with brisk, perfect timing and unrivalled charisma.
Awards: Won Oscar (Actress in a Leading Role)
Awards: Won Venice, Oscar (Actor in a Leading Role)
Aside from the obvious make-up gimmick (he plays both Jekyll and Hyde), March is scrumptiously brilliant as the classic hero/villain, capturing the spiralling madness of a doctor both dismayed and excited by what he has achieved, and the subsequent struggle between his double-persona.
Her manic, frustrating inability to listen or acknowledge the concerns of, not only Cary Grant's doctor character, but indeed anyone she encounters, is both hilarious and infuriating. It takes some audacity to carry off a character like this, and expert comic timing. She has both in abundance.
Awards: Nominated for Oscar (Actress in a Leading Role)
It's an utter joy watching Dunne try to convince both herself and her husband that she's happy enough without him when she clearly isn't. Their one-upmanship throughout the film is enthralling, Dunne staging an act of comic genius towards the end that is the final victory in a mammoth battle of pride.
02. Cary Grant - Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Grant's best comes when he reacts to the ever-increasing mania going on all around him, (i.e. in Arsenic and Old Lace, possibly the finest comedic performance there's ever been). In BUB his behaviour and rationality fades in sync with this ever-maddening environment, his character eventually reduced from skepticism to acceptance in what is a rousing reversal.
01. Renee Falconetti - La passion de Jeanne d’arc (1928)
However hard I try I can't see past Renee Falconetti's figure of victimisation and sacrifice. As the saintly Joan of Arc she's poked, prodded, interrogated, ridiculed and eventually put to death in what is essentially a slaughter. Her plight in this way encourages us to sympathise and remember Falconetti as the martyr she's portrayed, but, likening the performance to another cinematic victim, Bjork's Selma in Dancer In the Dark (a performance I cherish), it achieves so much, without anywhere near the same quality of tools at hand, or level of characterisation. Falconetti is as exposed as any actor has ever been asked to. She is everything; the essence of injustice, the mark of faith, the truest protagonist.