Wow! Mike turned John and Kali and I onto a great film tonight: Edward G, Robinson's "Two Seconds (excerpt above)." If you liked Peter Lorre in "Stranger on the Third Floor," Lugosi in "The Raven," or John's favorite Kirk Douglas and Robert Ryan films, then you'll love Two Seconds.
After seeing the film I marvel that so many animation producers could be so clueless about what the real revolution in animation consists of....acting, or more specifically: stylized acting. Sometimes I think that animation is better suited for acting than live action because our industry can deliver the kind of funny, caricatured movement and expressions that really drive home an emotion, something live action can only dream about.
While I'm on the subject of live action acting I should mention Orson Welles' performance in another film I saw recently: "Prince of Foxes." Welles isn't funny like the actors mentioned above, but he does play a convincing Cesare Borgia. How did he do it? What did he do that's different than what other actors do?
It's a simplification I know, but the answer I'm looking for is that he wasn't afraid to employ stylized acting. Welles' method is to make his style so transparent that we're aware that he's playing a game with us. He's a game player and people love game players, especially when they're really skilled at it. That's why we like people like Billy Mays (spelled right?) and the guy who does the "Shamwow" commercials. I'll bet real-world con men don't even attempt to conceal that they're playing a game, so much do their victims crave to play roles in a great game.
Of course in real life Cesare Borgia was a master manipulator and game player. Who better to play him than a game player like Orson Welles?