Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Essentials


The other day Terry Gross on NPR played a 1993 interview with Eli Wallach in celebration of the honorary Oscar he'll receive. Listening to him talk about his decades-long career I realized how good and sometimes great he was in dozens of pictures I'd seen over my lifetime. He did everything from tough cops to ironic killer cowboys to drawing room comedy. There was a time when he headlined a few films and did well for himself on Broadway. He acted until recently.

I've mentioned before that for me there are a number of actors who redeemed even bad films just by walking into camera range. Robert Ryan, Jack Warden, Jack Weston, Gloria Graham, Carole Lombard, James Garner, Marsha Hunt, Constance Bennett, Lee Marvin--a complete list would take me a couple of hours to type out.

There are a number of excellent younger actors today. They may be even better than the people I listed above. But none of them give me quite the movie thrill I get from those on my list. This may well be because I grew up watching the actors above. Do you think we're more comfortable with those we spent long hours with in the movie theaters?


Vince said...

Eli's still going strong with scene-stealing roles in a couple of 2010 films, The Ghost Writer and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Ron Scheer said...

Enjoyed him in THE GHOST WRITER, too. Also saw him recently in THE MISFITS. Young actors need to have been around for a couple decades at least for that "old shoe" effect on us. James Dean is one of the few exceptions I can think of, and the young Brando.

Matt Paust said...

Isn't Eli the one who gave us, "Badges? We don' need no steenkin' badges...ptui!"

Bob Levinson said...


That was Alfonso Bedoya.

Matt Paust said...

Of course! Gold Hat. Thanks,Bob. And wasn't there a spoof of the line in Blazing Saddles?