Official Nominations: In a strong year for supporting actors, Peter Ustinov’s turn as Lentulus Batiatus in Spartacus was the official winner. Ustinov was already a cinema giant, not to mention a respected author, dramatist, comedian, and military man. In Spartacus his range covers humour, anger, treachery, and the twisted shrewd mind of a businessman. He was the only actor to win an Oscar in a Kubrick film.
Peter Falk, or Columbo as he is more popularly known, won his first Oscar nomination playing on the other side of the law. As Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles in Murder Inc. he plays a gangster in the Cagney vein, and brings the necessary vicious power to the role, but also some unexpected glee. Perhaps as this was his first movie role some of his excitement shone through- nevertheless, his performance made the movie popular, a film which was otherwise dismissed as yet another crime caper.
Jack Kruschen as the irritating neighbour in The Apartment seems like a throaway nomination, especially for a part which is not integral to the plot or any of the other characters.
Sal Mineo as Dov Landau in Exodus gets the most interesting character, and gives the best performance. In a controversial role we see terrorism, murder, and grief and it deserves to go down as a more memorable role as his more famous performance in Rebel Without A Cause. Out of the official nominations, this would be my winner.
The final nomination is one of the great nonsenses of The Oscars as Chill Wills ferociously sought more fame and fortune. It is further proof that if you play the game in Hollywood, suck the requisite amount of balls, and splurge the right amount of asses, you’re bound to get the red carpet treatment. Celebrity and fame may be seen as today’s masses as the peak of humanity, and the birthright of even the most hopelessly vapid waste of breath, but even 50 years ago the same sad truths existed.
Charles Bronson: Bronson gives a beautifully understated performance in The Magnificent Seven for an actor who would become known for his roles as a hard man. You still wouldn’t mess with him here as he’d likely put a bullet square in your nuts, but he is the reluctant killer and the man who wishes for a life away from the mayhem.
Horst Buchholz: The Magnificent Seven was a movie full of killers, and while we see reluctance and experience in the other six men, Chico is the young cub who will do anything do join a gang on a suicide mission. Although Chico’s motives aren’t clear at the start, if I knew that protecting a village and taking part in a massacre was so much fun, I would have been riding south with them. Horst was a versatile actor and here he excudes charm, inexperience (as a killer), eagerness, and eventually fear and understanding as he realises what a lonely and short life he could soon be sharing.
Laurence Olivier: Olivier shines as always as the wicked Crassus and his theatrical presence adds to the grandiose nature of the Roman Politician. Suave, charming, cold, and ultimately a terrifying Kubrick creation he shows how passive the buying, selling, and ending of lives can be.
Dean Stockwell: Whilst by no means his best performance, Stockwell shines in an otherwise uneventful adaptation of Sons And Lovers.
Sal Mineo: as above.
My Winner: Horst Buchholz