Monday, June 21, 2010

The Day the Earth Stood Still with Snub Pollard

Remakes of old movies are nothing new.  Think of how many incarnations of Dracula there were, starting with Nosferatu in 1922 starring Max Schreck.  Of course, his name in the movie was Graf Orlok not Count Dracula, but the story is basically the same.

The Day the Earth Stood Still from 1951 was remade in 2008 with Keanu Reeves.  Most people, especially older people, agree that the original, with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal was the better version, as often happens when a great movie is remade.  The new one seemed too sinister and we need more hope in the world.  The ending of the 1951 classic left us (the people of Earth) with a choice to make, and we can make it on our own.

Back in 1951 not everyone got screen credit when they were in a movie.  Look at the cast list on IMDb and you will see there were seven main characters.  Then click on the full cast list and you will see the rest!  I counted 79 uncredited roles.  Many of these were speaking parts, including the famous newscasters, military and police personnel, doctors and such. 

Break this down into stars, supporting parts and bit parts.  Rennie and Neal were the stars.  It could be argued that Hugh Marlow as Neal's boyfriend, Sam Jaffe as the physicist, and Billy Gray as Neal's son, could also be called stars, or perhaps supporting parts.  It is a gray area. 

Gort, played by the doorman at Grauman's Chinese Theatre because he was the tallest man they could find, would really be classified as supporting, in my opinion.  His name is Lock Martin and he stood 7' 7" tall!  Frances Bavier, who ran the boarding house, also fits into the supporting role position.

Everyone else then would be considered a bit part, so you can see the importance of these actors.  There is no way the fore-mentioned seven people could pull this story together. 

I haven't had the time to fully research 79 names, but I did see Harry "Snub" Pollard (1889 - 1962) was cast as a taxi driver.  Snub was a famous silent movie actor with 515 listings on IMDb.  Over half of those were silent, including 86 movies in the Lonesome Luke series with Harold Lloyd.  He worked with Charlie Chaplin at Essenay, and made a film with Laurel and Hardy at Hal Roach.  He made movies with Mack Sennett.  He worked hard, but he always seemed to get supporting roles rather than starring roles. 

His career was then relegated to small parts.  He was the old man who got Gene Kelly's umbrella in Singin' in the Rain.  He was a carrier who brought the mail into the courtroom in Miracle on 34th Street.  It is actually sad to read the parts he played - man in courtroom, fat bartender, pool hall patron, telegram delivery man, man pacing in jail cell, barfly, and of course, taxi driver.

I guess you could write an entire blog just about Snub Pollard!  I couldn't even find any books on Snub, but there should be many mentions of him in books about silent films in general.

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