Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ed Sullivan Starring Will Jordan

I have a busy day today and tomorrow, so here is a picture I took in 1984 of Will Jordan (b. 1927) at a Sons of the Desert banquet.

Copyright 1984 Allen Hefner

Will is the best impersonator of Ed Sullivan (1901 - 1974) who ever tried to do it.  In fact, in Will's seven movie credits, he played Ed Sullivan six times.  He is also played Sullivan in Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway, and in his early career, on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with the host himself.

Please respect the photographs I have taken.  If you want to use them, please ask first.  It's probably OK, I just want to know and maybe receive credit under the pic!

Friday, October 1, 2010

From Fargo and Other Movies

John Carroll Lynch (b. 1963) is a gem of an actor.  He worked in the theater until the 1990s, when he started acting in films with Grumpy Old Men (1993). 

In 1996 he was cast in Beautiful Girls with Matt Dillon (b. 1964), and then in his big movie Fargo as Norm Gunderson the husband of the lead character, Marge, played by Frances McDormand (b. 1957).  And yet another 1996 hit, Feeling Minnesota with Keanu Reeves (b. 1964) and Cameron Diaz (b. 1974).

The next year he appears in Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones as the mass transit supervisor, and then in Face/Off with John Travolta and Nicholas Cage.

Mercury Rising with Bruce Willis in 1998, plus a Tom Hanks TV mini-series called "From the Earth to the Moon," which I thought was an important production.  It covered man's attempts at space travel, intertwined with making the early silent sci-fi movies of Georges Melies (1861 - 1938).

More parts, some small, in movies followed.  Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), Gothika (2003), an Albert Brooks film called Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2005), a strange revenge film with Clint Eastwood called Gran Torino (2008), and others.

He also worked in a few TV series'.  Regular work came in "The Drew Carey Show," "Carnivale," "Close to Home," and "K-Ville."

That's 82 roles in movies and TV, plus his work in the theater.  I like John Carroll Lynch.  He comes across as a regular guy, especially when you think of him painting a picture of a duck to obtain fame on a postage stamp in Fargo.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

M. Emmet Walsh

Yet another familiar face and voice, but a name not well known, even by his own admission.  M. Emmet Walsh (b. 1935) has been acting on TV and in movies since 1969 and has 199 roles on IMDb.

His early films include small parts in Midnight Cowboy and Alice's Restaurant in 1969, and Little Big Man in 1970.  He had a bigger part in What's Up Doc in 1972 as the arresting officer in the hilarious courtroom scene, and appears in Serpico in 1973.

Almost every year he had a part in some good movie.  Slap Shot (1977), The Jerk (1979), Brubaker (1980), Reds (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Silkwood (1983), and so on.

He has a good role in Raising Arizona (1987) as the machine shop worker, and I just saw him in A Time to Kill (1996) as a disgraced psychologist for the defense.  But wait, there's more!

My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), Wild Wild West (1999), Christmas with the Kranks (2004).  Plus, he is popular on TV in quite a few series' including "Home Improvement."  He had a recurring role on "The Sandy Duncan Show" in 1972 which only lasted one season, and again in 1989 in "Unsub" which only lasted eight episodes.  The rest of his television experience is one and two episode stints.

Walsh is quoted on IMDb as saying, "I don't have an ego when I get the work. If I'm playing a doctor I want you to see a doctor. I don't want you to see an Emmet Walsh doctor and that's I think been the confusion with my career. People know my work, but they don't know who I am. I've always had fun hiding in the character."  And that pretty much sums up what I have been saying about Bit Actors.

The films I listed for M. Emmet Walsh are movies that can be watched more than once.  Watch for him!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dirty Harry and the Mayor

Just a short look at a Bit Actor in the 1971 hit movie, Dirty Harry.  When your name is listed last in the cast during the titles of a movie, it means you are making your first movie and have a substantial part, or maybe you are just someone special.

John Vernon (1932 - 2005) was listed last in the titles as The Mayor in Dirty Harry, but it was his 15th movie.  He started making movies as Big Brother in 1984 from 1956, and he was uncredited.  He started acting in TV the next year, and worked in both media.

He worked with Clint Eastwood (b. 1930) in this film and also in The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976.  Other early movies include Point Blank (1967) with Lee Marvin, Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (1969) with Roberts Blake and Redford, and Brannigan (1975) with John Wayne.

His deep, commanding voice made him perfect for these action/detective movies and TV roles.  So in 1978 Vernon got a part in Animal House, and then in 1980 in Herbie Goes Bananas.  I guess to show that he could do comedy as well.

A mix of genres continues for the rest of his career.  Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), The Blood of Others (1984), Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), Malicious (1995), and the like.

That's quite a mix of movies.  So it shows how a good Bit Actor can get work anywhere and remain in demand, even though John Vernon was never a really big star and didn't really make any A-list movies.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don Brodie - Making Movies Without the Fame

I don't think Don Brodie (1904 - 2001) is a name that brings a lot of movies to mind for most folks.  His name didn't mean anything to me, but his movies do.  He has 305 movies and TV shows in his filmography.

From 1931 through 1939 he made over 170 movies, and he worked with most of the big stars of the era.  He made three films at Hal Roach Studios, including one with Charley Chase and one with Laurel and Hardy.  Come to think of it, Charley Chase was also in that film with L&H, Sons of the Desert (1933).

These were bit parts and he played reporters, waiters, photographers, and he was the man waiting in line.  He also did some voice work for Walt Disney, including a part in Pinocchio in 1940. 

He was in The Great Dictator (1940) with Charlie Chaplin, The Pride of the Yankees (1942) with Gary Cooper, Mr. Lucky in 1943, Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House (1948) with Cary Grant, On the Town (1949), Harvey (1950), April in Paris (1952), and he was still working for another 37 years.

He worked with everyone from John Wayne to Elvis Presley.  In 1970 he was a passenger on a stage with Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man.  His last movie was Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn (1989) with Paula Lane and Misty Rowe (b. 1952), which was apparently a stinker.

His TV work included many series' from the very early days.  He started on TV in "Dick Tracy" and then "Boston Blackie."  He was a guest or just a bit player on TV, and appeared mostly in single or two or three episodes.  He was in "Mister Ed" three times according to IMDb.  His last appearances on TV were in "Murder, She Wrote" and "Hotel" in the late 1980s.

You can see Brodie's picture on his Wikipedia entry here:

People with careers like Don Brodie should not be forgotten.  They worked hard and gave a lot to make these productions better.  And I am sure they had a lot of fun at the same time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Felix Leiter and the CIA

With all the movie channels I get now on FiOS, it is difficult to surf without finding a James Bond film somewhere.  That's a good thing.  It's also a guy thing.

Yesterday was Live and Let Die (1973).  The character, Felix Leiter was featured.  Felix is the CIA contact for Bond in America.  I knew that Felix was played by several actors over the years, but when I did some research, I was amazed at how complicated it became.

Leiter is featured in ten Bond films, from 1962 to 2008.  In those ten films, he is played by eight different actors.  Keep in mind that in those ten films, James Bond is played by four different actors.

The first Leiter is Jack "patch me through to McGarrett" Lord (1920 - 1998), in Dr. No released in 1963.  Of course, nobody remembers anything he did except "Hawaii Five-0," in which he starred from 1968 until 1980.  He was in other things.  He has 68 roles listed on IMDb, starting in 1949, but mostly as guest stars on TV.  Jack Lord worked with Sean Connery as Bond.

Jump to 1964, Goldfinger, still Sean Connery in the lead, Cec Linder (1921 - 1992) plays Leiter.  Linder has 124 roles listed.  A true Bit Actor.  He was in many famous films, in small parts.  Do you remember him as the doctor in Lolita (1962) or as the hospital president in Atlantic City in 1980?

Next up, Rick Van Nutter (1929 - 2005) in Thunderball (1965).  He only made 13 films and half of them were foreign.  Not a household name in America, but he did get to work with Sean.  I put "Rick Van Nutter" in Google images, and the first picture was Dick Van Patten.

Diamonds are Forever (1971) brings Norman Burton (1923 - 2003) to the Leiter role with Connery.  78 roles in movies and on TV.

In 1973, Live and Let Die sees the first of two David Hedison (b. 1927) Leiters.  Roger Moore (b. 1927) is now Bond, and has the honor to pull the microphone/cigar lighter out of the car and say, "A genuine Felix lighter (Leiter)."  91 roles listed on IMDb, including "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."

1983, Never Say Never Again, and we are back to Sean Connery as Bond.  Did you know that he hated playing Bond?  I bet he liked the income.  Bernie Casey (b. 1939) played our first African/American Felix Leiter.  Casey has 78 roles and quite a few good movies listed.  Lots of manly, action parts.

The Living Daylights in 1987 and Timothy Dalton (b. 1944) is Bond.  Probably the worst of all the Bonds.  John Terry (b. 1950, just two days before me) plays Leiter, and we are back to a Caucasian.  Terry has 59 roles listed, with quite a few recurring TV roles.  His latest was on the hit series, "Lost." 

License to Kill (1989) again with Dalton as Bond, and a reprise of David Hedison as Leiter.  I Hope these guys had name tags so they could keep it straight.

Finally some continuity comes with the new millenium.  Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) both with Daniel Craig (b. 1961) as James Bond and Jeffrey Wright (b. 1965) as Felix Leiter, once again of color.  Wright has a very good career going already with 38 roles listed, including playing Colin Powell in W. (2008). 

In my opinion, Craig and Wright should demand being kept together in all future 007 films.  Think of what the Sherlock Holmes series would have been like if Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce kept changing partners, or where would Captain Kirk be with a different science officer on every episode of "Star Trek?"  Many of the truly successful pairings in any series increased the quality of the production, simply because the actors knew what to expect of each other.  James Bond could only improve for it.  (Maybe!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Murray Hamilton

The new look on IMDb is taking some getting used to.  Things are in different places now.  Then, sometimes you get sent back to an old screen.  I guess they are slowly revamping it.

I looked up Jaws (1975) which was the all time highest grossing film, up until E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) took that honor away.  In Jaws, there were a lot on basically unknown Bit Actors.

The mayor of Amity was played by Murray Hamilton (1923 - 1986).  IMDb now breaks out TV roles and film roles, so Hamilton is listed with parts in 40 movies and 107 on TV.  (It says 108, but "Inherit the Wind" is listed twice.)

His film career started in 1944 in Song of the Open Road with Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and W.C. Fields.  You can see him in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), Darby's Rangers, No Time for Sergeants and Houseboat in 1958, The Hustler (1961), and his biggest role (in my opinion) in The Graduate in 1967.

He was on TV starting in 1951 and played in just about every great police and detective series.  He also appears in many of the suspense genre shows, plus some westerns.  I think he worked best in dramas, teleplays and TV movies, but you will find him in a comedy or two.

His only regular gig on TV was in 1981 in "B.J. and the Bear."

While some of Hamilton's roles were bigger than others, he has always remained a Bit Actor in my book.  And I think an important one.  His acting in Jaws and The Graduate were right on the money, but don't forget to watch for him in The Hustler where he also had a great part.  The Hustler is always worth seeing again.