Friday, 4 May 2012

Forgotten Characters 5.3

Previously Forgotten: Christopher Walken in Annie Hall / Stephen Dillane in The Hours
It’s only expected that when you’re playing a decidedly flat character in a film that that character easily becomes lost in the mass. Sometimes, though, despite all working against a performance sometimes an actor still manages to turn in a performance that deserves to be remembered and a character too. Case in point…

Christine Baranski in Chicago 
as Mary Sunshine  
Some of you might not know this, but Christine Baranski is a two time Tony winner and an accomplished stage thespian. If you’ve listened to the commentary from Rob Marshall and Bill Condon on the DVD you’d know that they made a deliberate decision to fill the supporting ensemble of Chicago with as many proficient stage performers as possible and Baranski is the most renowned of the lot. Playing the lone female journalist amidst the barrage of men, Mary Sunshine is Billy Flynn’s go-to journalist.
Fans of The Good Wife would know that Baranski has a knack for using her voice to exude a significant amount of charm and power and it’s that same powerful timbre that she uses to good effect as Mary Sunshine. In addition to being the solitary female journalist, she’s the only one who has any significant. The Baranski scene I always recall is the “We Both Reached for the Gun” sequence – the number which, arguably, shows off Marshall’s directorial talent best. The puppet scenario earned Zellweger and Gere much kudos (it’s without doubt the best part of Gere’s performance) but the dancing ensemble and Baranski are doing just as fine work.

           “Who’s Fred Casely? 

In a satirical film about the silliness of the rise and fall of the (in)famous buoyed on by the media, Baranski’s very cynical Mary Sunshine is a tiny part, but a significant one. I love that as the tempo accelerates we see her typing furiously, preparing her story for publication.
And, you're almost sure that whatever she's writing is something inflammatory and inaccurate.

And, I’m reminded of the line Mary sings with Roxie and Billy,

          Understandable, understandable. Not a bit reprehensible, it’s so defensible. 

Mary Sunshine is almost certainly a terrible journalist, but who can hate a face like this?
I'm so glad I get a regular dose of Baranski on The Good Wife, it's a shame she never did take-off as a significant film performer.
Do you recall Baranski’s singing journalist? Or, has she been forgotten for a reason?


Nikhat said...

Oh I love her. I love everyone in this film. Baranski has this really cartoon-ish look which I totally worship.

Paolo said...

Seeing this movie with her in it was a relief because I thought I would never see her again after Cruel Intentions.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

nikhat she, indeed, does have this slight cartoonish quality in this performance especially.

paolo speaking of which, swoozie kurtz is another performer who needs bigger and better roles. the screen hasn't been kind to her or baranski (both of them good in cruel intentions).

Chip Lary said...

I enjoyed her role in this film. I knew her from several other things she had been in prior to Chicago. For whatever reason she seems to end up on TV more than in movies.