My younger ways stand clearer, clearer than my footprints

I stayed up late last night, and over a few pops, I watched The Sting, edited badly by the CBC it seemed, and crushed by commerical interruptions.  Still, having seen it a pile of times and simply adoring a certain recently deceased actor, those hindrances really couldn’t take away from the viewing because it was, at the least, a commemoration.  And you know, I’m no film critic: I like to think I do what I’m supposed to, and do it adequately, by following Fellini and simply experiencing the movies (whatever that means – though I’ve often fantasized about Pauline Kael telling me what an idiot I am over G&Ts, since she hated my favourite movie).  Watching The Sting led me to the horrible cliche, ‘they don’t make ’em like that anymore’. But it’s true, and in every way you might take it.

How often do the movies tell a story like that?  Real beginning-middle-end-like. There’s not a wasted word in the whole thing and not a single scene without a purpose.  (Ok I think the sound was bad – every time Robert Redford walked or ran, he was made to sound as if he was wearing tap shoes.)

Today, how many are as good at their jobs as:

George Roy Hill
Robert Surtees
or Edith Head?

And sure, I guess there are lots of fine character actors working today, but how many are as memorable (in the way that character actors are) as:

Charles Durning
Ray Walston
Eileen Brennan
or Harold Gould? Dr. Harold Gould, PhD, FYI.
(I was trying for a dead people parallelism.  Anyway, the survivors here are pretty much retired.)

So also, how many leading men are there with the stature of:

Robert Shaw

or Paul Newman?

I have to say that I think he was the best looking man who every lived!  But, more to the point, no one taught me – ignorant as I was and so mostly remain – more about acting than he.  For, he taught me that the character of Hud and the man who played him were totally different.  Method, my ass. That was acting, like Olivier understood it, over and against how Hoffman understood it.  Sure, that PN was the total opposite of the kind of person who’d rape a servant and otherwise fuck over everyone he’d encounter is pretty obvious, but it was a revelation to me after seeing Hud in adolescence.

If you disagree with any of this then all I’ve got to say is, what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

PS – Ok, I really wish that TVO was showing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof tonight, but they are doing something like the next best thing.  They are showing PN’s last great leading performance, Nobody’s Fool.

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1 Comment »

  1. oonae said

    I agree. He was so good in Hud not because he brought out his inner asshole but because he was a great, great actor.

    And the second-best looking man ever, just behind Michael Jordan.

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