There were deaths of some fine talents, and some veterans which filled my heart with longings, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, Mike Nichols, Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, were the most remembered. sorry, I couldn’t include Joan Rivers, or Martha Hyer, not because I didn’t want, but because I have something else on my mind. Please bear with me, dear six readers and followers.
OK Here we go.
James Garner was one of the most underrated TV and Films actors, that nobody think about, he’s there, doing solid professional work, and that’s it.
Well, for yours truly, he was my very first acting teacher. here’s the story. Neither of us met, but I saw one night “Sayonara”, having read the James Michener book( based on his own experiences, he married a Japanese woman), and of course Marlon Brando was in it. James Garner plays a G.I. in love with a Japanese girl( It was in the time when whites or Mexicans played Japanese, and Asians, thank God it’s over). Anyway, there’s a scene, a monologue of Marlon Brando, and he’s doing a hell of an effort, Southern accent, motivation the whole works. And Mr. Garner? Well, he just sits and listens, and let me tell you he stole the show , right under the celebrated Mr. Brando, simply, because he acts, and didn’t do research, and worked his ass to find the right accent, or the right motivation, or whatever James Garner was an actor, who could steal the show right under every star man or woman, and I just love these actors, who just act in the most natural way, and of course James Rockford, who can forget his bizarre answering machine?Or his part charmer, part con man’s private eye in that show? preceded by Paul Bogart’s wonderful”Marloe”?Who can forget his ex space cowboy, priest amiable geezer in Eastwood’s:”Space Cowboys”? Or his menacing(oops spoiler) Paul Newman’s buddy in”Twilight”? Or his anguish tracker in “Duel at Diablo”? I surely can’t.
Lauren Bacall was a New York model, ne’e Persky( Shimon Pers a our ex President, P.M. and Noble laureate, was her second cousin). she was a CLASSY jewish woman, beautiful and smart, who could take your breath away. She was an accomplished actress, who could and did memorable parts, her husband Humphrey Bogart, an institution in itself, taught her the secrets of stardom, and she became a star, however she could , and did develop too a formidable character actress. Her sterling performances in “Written on the wind”, or Ken Annakins’ British adventure yarn:”Northwest Frontier”, or”Harper”,were a reminder of her diversity, she swept Broadway in the sixties, simply because Hollywood as usual didn’t give her the roles, which elderly women past 50, can do, the stereotype mentality, coupled with the Youth crazed idiocy, which still prevail in Hollywood, was a sad reminder why Bacall, was relegated to a minor roles. Even as James Cann’s literary agent in Rainer’s “Misery”‘ she was still radiant, cynical, and riveting as ever. Small roles aren’t exist, mused Constantin Stanislavski, the”Method”‘s forebearear, only small actors, and Betty Persky-Lauren Bacall, ex model and Hollywood classy Star par Excellence, proved it time and again.
Director Mike Nichols, was first a Mensch, and yes, he made some duds, who doesn’t? But think of his accomplishments.
First his master comedy acts with Elaine May. A Dinosaur like me, will always remember fondly the skit of a Jewish Mum and her son the Rocket scientist, who reduce to a toddler at the end of the skit.
But, Mike Nichols had made movies which defined the Baby Boomer’s Generation with “The Graduate”, while, “Carnal Knowledge”, was a wonderful, abrasive, funny and great portrayal of the American male of the 40’s-50’s,, just like”The Graduate”, “Angels in America” was a TV Masterpiece, and Meryl Strip did some of her finest work there, as well as “Silkwood”, his political satires “Primary colours” and “Charlie Wilson’s war”, were rarities, truly funny movies.
I will take comfort in watching these movies, and recognize the talent which was so evident in his works.
Robin Williams!! What a talent he was, wild and sharp, subdued, menacing, funny, dramatic all the emotions dwelt in this jumpy man, he was an ideal Pan, in the otherwise dismal “Hook”, he was the shy doctor in”Awakenings”, the rebellious humane Keating in”Dead Poets’ society”, true, he started awfully in movies:”Popeye” was a film both Altman, Williams and Shelly Duval erased-justly- out of their resume, but “Good morning America”, put Williams back in the map. His latest efforts in both TV and films, were not exactly good, though:”The world’s greatest dad” his 2009 movie and his short-lived TV Series:”Mad men” were sad testimonials of his great talent.RIP
Philip Seymour Hoffman appear in one scene in “Hard eight”, a small role really, but your eyes glued to him, he simply dominated you, you barely remember fantastic actors like Samuel Jackson, or Philip Baker Hall, he was a consuming actor, smart, believable, funny, melancholy, mean and so much domineering, one thought of a young Laughton, , his drugs related death was a severe blow to everyone who cared about good acting.
It’s not that there aren’t good and fantastic actors, directors, actresses, it’s not that theses people can’t be replaced, the graveyard is full with people who thought that they ‘d be irreplaceable, but still they left a big gap and the world is somewhat sadder.