Friday, June 18, 2010

Beatrice Straight in "Network"

Beatrice Straight won the Oscar for playing Louise Schumacher in Network.

As I said in my review of Faye Dunaway, Network is a masterful piece of work. From the littlest detail to the biggest, it's perfect in many, many ways. And one of those little details, is Beatrice Straight.

She plays Louise Schumacher, wife of Max, television executive, who life has become indulged in a mad world where people are angry and even, crazy. It's hard to not talk about Straight, without mentioning, out of the 73 winning supporting actresses, she ranks as the shortest, with only about six minutes. But, I urge everyone to remember, it's about quality, not quantity. And talk about quality...
 
In her first scene, she walks around her apartment, and looks relatively happy and loving. Her next scene is the back of her head, but who could have imagined what came next? Max confesses his bizarre affair to Louise, and Straight extracts more emotions in her brilliant monologue about how she won't give him up. In this scene, we learn she doesn't hate Max or want to end their marriage, she is just venting her anger and frustration about how he won't show her any respect. It is simply, one of the best acted scenes ever. So, it's incredibly easy to see why the voters went with her. You feel so much pain and anguish watching her talk about how much he has hurt her.

So, the eternal question is, can ONE good scene, no incredible scene, get you an Oscar? And yes, would be the answer. If it's on the same level as this, the performer should be recognized for the emotional intensity or truth they brought to a small, but important role. Which is another brilliant think about Paddy Chayefsky...in any other Hollywood movie, we would never see the suffering wife or her feelings, all we see the hyper affair, and not the people who are truly affected by it.

A passionate and incredible piece of work.

14 comments:

joe burns said...

Great review! I completely agree too, very worthy winner. A haunting performance.

Sage Slowdive said...

I agree! Although most today wouldn't give an Oscar to just one big scene.

joe burns said...

Certainly not! Can you do Laurie next?

Sage Slowdive said...

Isn't she the most famous/respected nominee? ;)

Twister said...

Although I might cast my personal vote in an other direction, Straight makes for a totally deserving winner. She's a blast of true, honest emotional clarity and I give her even more credit because of the textured humanity she brings to this tiny, tiny role lodged in a overheated mess with hollow performances (save for Holden).

Louise is basically the one single person in the film who we can seriously identify with, and she's the bridge connecting us back to the real world; a world where the people are real and humane, and their integrity/morals are forthright in manner. That Straight embodies all of these notions in a few minutes is something truly brilliant.

Sage Slowdive said...

I thought William Holden was the straight man, caught in the craziness of the network, then he too becomes involved with his affair with Diana, then finally Straight brings us back to the real world.

I like Holden here, but I don't love it.

Louis Morgan said...

I agree, it is a great performance.

joe burns said...

I don't really know much about Piper Laurie, so I shouldn't really be saying this, but isn't Jodie Foster the most famous/respected nominee?

Sage Slowdive said...

It's just from what I've gathered around the internet, but there is nothing wrong with reviewing Jodie last.

dinasztie said...

One of the best performances ever nominated in any category. Truly heartbreaking acting by a real actress. It's interesting when I was watching Network with my father and there was Straight's big scene, he said unintentionally "Poor Woman" and then asked me if she won an Academy Award and I said yes. Basically this is the thing you feel when you watch her.

Do you think Network should've won BP and Director? IMO, definitely (over Rocky, quite easily).

Fritz said...

I agree! A very deserving winner!

Sage Slowdive said...

I'd have to go with Taxi Driver in the Best Picture category, but Network is also one of my favorite movies.

I love it when I'm watching a movie with friends and after a big moment, they ask me did the person win an Oscar for it.

DistinguishedFlyer said...

I remember seeing Sidney Lumet talk about that scene - he said that he did a lot of takes until finally Straight was worn out. The tiredness and resignation that finally came out is what he wanted, and I think it really worked.

Zephyr said...

I have just watched Network for the first ever time. Wow. What a brilliant film. I have to put the decision of Rocky over Network was easily one of the worst Best Picture decisions ever made... Great review of Straight's performance btw.