On the Waterfront Forever

Long time, no post, oops. I have no real excuse. Pet peeve #1: People who say they are “so busy”. False. Everyone is given the same amount of time. Individuals prioritize and make time for what is important for them. End of story.

Moving on.

Early in my marriage (going on a whopping four years now!), my husband and I would spend inordinate amounts of time trying to decide what to watch on a weekend night (you know, those nights when we have the energy to stay up past 9:30) until we finally landed on a routine: each of us is responsible for choosing one evening of cinema without complaints or protests from the other. While this method does indeed save time, it also has the added benefit of allowing me to watch Marlon Brando films (because someone is just a teensy bit jealous of Marlon–hence why my framed photograph of Marlon Brando is currently in storage and not hanging over our bed).

I recently chose On the Waterfront, and I was astounded yet again by the artistry and beauty of this film.

The story is compelling and forever relevant. The score perfectly complements the action and emotion on screen. (Do you ever just wake up with the On the Waterfront score in your head? I do but not near often enough.) The black-and-white photography, becoming increasingly obsolete by the Technicolor world at the time of its release, lends a raw beauty to the harsh, stark world of the longshoremen of Hoboken, New Jersey. There is not a single miscast actor or even extra. (Frank Sinatra is Frank Sinatra, but can you imagine him as Terry Malloy? Really? I laugh.)

Director Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando on the set of On the Waterfront.

The greatest being, of course, Brando as the menacing yet gentle and vulnerable Terry Malloy, who slowly realizes throughout the course of the film how he has sacrificed himself and his own ambitions for an entity that does not value or respect him and ultimately decides to take action against that abuse. (Brando later expressed dislike for what he felt was the implied metaphor in the film’s story: Kazan naming names to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952 was justified. A man, no matter what he has done, can atone.)

The effect of Brando’s verbal and nonverbal choices as an actor in inhabiting Terry Malloy and bringing him to life is mesmerizing: the touch of his nose, “By the nose, huh?”; playfully handling Edie’s dropped glove; the emphasis of the delivery of the modified line, “I coulda been somebody–instead of a bum, which is what I am.”; the tenderness in which he pushes the gun away from his brother Charley, then how he uses the same gun to massage his wounded arm, and finally hurls it at a photograph of Johnny Friendly–taking a weapon intended for killing and transforming it into an object of sadness, comfort, and anger; the forlorn wave of his hand when he discovers his pigeons have been mercilessly killed after his testimony, unable to share his grief with anyone. Elia Kazan rightly declared, “If there is a better performance by a man in the history of film in America, I don’t know what it is.”

Bless your face.

Terry Malloy’s journey throughout the film is laden with melancholy. He has been discarded and dismissed by his brother Charley and the mob as a brainless bum whose boxing career was thrown away for a bet, a reality he only verbalizes when Charley pulls a gun on him and pleads with him to take a job that will prevent him from testifying against Friendly. And yet, he still does not decide to take action until he sees Charley’s lifeless body hanging in an alleyway and declares he’s “going to take it out of their skulls.” Father Barry (Karl Malden) convinces him to choose the alternative route by testifying against Friendly. Yet when he does, he loses the friendship and respect of those around him; Tommy, a “Golden Warrior,” who once idolized Terry reacts by killing Terry’s entire flock of pigeons. “A pigeon for a pigeon!” And yet, his testimony was not enough–he has to face the other longshoreman on the dock and physically stand up to Friendly before his metamorphosis from a trapped bum to a free, upstanding, brave man with a conscience–a leader others want to follow–is complete. “If Terry walks in, we walk in with him.” And finally, miraculously, courageously he does.

Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint on the set of On the Waterfront

Eva Marie Saint told TCM host Robert Osborne that Brando was “adorable and a little frightening,” referring to the fact that she felt he could “see right through her.” She also revealed how sad it was that the acting world lost him–for she felt that at some point along the way, he lost the joy of acting. That is likely true; he may be the actor I have watched the most subpar films for. But On the Waterfront is certainly not one of them. In a world of technology addiction, my eyes were glued to the screen for the entire film because there is no need for any distraction found on that little phone screen while watching a film like this one. Where are the actors who make you forget that you are in fact just watching a movie? Where are the people in the world (or even the stories of people in the world) who are bold enough to stand up for what is true and right? Is it really all lost to the black-and-white world found in this stunning film? I hope not, but sometimes I am not very hopeful.

Until next time (hopefully not next year),

Countess Petofi

P.S. Definitely!

My Other Favorite Actor From Omaha

In the past two months that I have not updated this blog, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time researching a select group of plays by Tennessee Williams. This has included watching A Streetcar Named Desire more times than I care to count. This has made me want to watch nothing but Brando, which works out well since TCM is celebrating the man’s 91st birthday today with a slew of films.

My favorite, though, is absent from the line-up. That’s okay because I’ve also watched it more times than I care to count. It is another perfect film. It is another film to take to that desert island. It is a film with a quote for every occassion. Overhear a conversation about weight or dieting? “When you weighed 168 pounds you were beautiful.” Someone say something that rubs you the wrong way? “You know, you’re not too funny today, fat man.” Need to pay someone a compliment? “You had your hair…Looked like a hunk of rope. And you had wires on your teeth and glasses and everything. You was really a mess.” Someone hounding you to grow up, get a real job, get some ambition? “I always figured I’d live a little bit longer without it.” Get annoyed with questions? “It’s none of your business!” See a pigeon in the road? “A pigeon for a pigeon!” Someone insults the upcoming holiday that is Easter? “Some people think the Crucifixion only took place on Calvary. Well, they better wise up!” And for everything else, there’s… “Definitely!” It is On the Waterfront

"During an acting class, when the students were told to act out 'a chicken hearing an air-raid siren,' most of the students clucked and flapped their arms in a panic, while Brando stood stock-still, staring up at the ceiling. When asked to explain himself, Brando replied, 'I’m a chicken - I don’t know what an air-raid siren is.'" -- Marlon Brando by Patricia Bosworth

“During an acting class, when the students were told to act out ‘a chicken hearing an air-raid siren,’ most of the students clucked and flapped their arms in a panic, while Brando stood stock-still, staring up at the ceiling. When asked to explain himself, Brando replied, ‘I’m a chicken – I don’t know what an air-raid siren is.'” — Marlon Brando by Patricia Bosworth

This film–like so many of his great performances–is all about Brando. You cannot take your eyes off of him–not that you would want to. Why? Because he creates a character with such a front of toughness that has such an underlying vulnerability, a character (Terry Malloy) who is constantly torn between his loyalty to his “friends” and his “conscience.” (“Conscience. That stuff can drive you nuts.”)

There’s probably no better example of Brando doing this than in the famous taxi cab scene with Rod Steiger, who plays Terry’s older brother Charlie. Charlie has been sent to talk to Terry to try to convince him to play “D&D” (“deaf and dumb”); if Charlie can’t convince him, then he has been instructed to kill his own brother. When Charlie pulls the gun on Terry, Terry gently pushes away the gun. He does not respond with anger but with sadness that suggests the depth of his pain. “Oh Charley!” he says in tone that is reproachful, loving, and sad.

"To see if there were vibes between Marlon and myself, Elia Kazan put us in a room, and he whispered to me 'Eva Marie, you’re home alone and your sister’s boyfriend is coming. Do not let him in the house!' So here comes adorable Marlon knocking on my door, and I did everything possible to discourage him. And somehow he got in the room, and we started talking and he put the radio on, and we started dancing. The sparks just flew. He was adorable but a little frightening…you felt he could see right through you. He gave every line reading differently, so that it was always new. You could just see it in his eyes. I’ve worked with many fine actors but he was the finest.”

“To see if there were vibes between Marlon and myself, Elia Kazan put us in a room, and he whispered to me ‘Eva Marie, you’re home alone and your sister’s boyfriend is coming. Do not let him in the house!’ So here comes adorable Marlon knocking on my door, and I did everything possible to discourage him. And somehow he got in the room, and we started talking and he put the radio on, and we started dancing. The sparks just flew. He was adorable but a little frightening…you felt he could see right through you. He gave every line reading differently, so that it was always new. You could just see it in his eyes. I’ve worked with many fine actors but he was the finest.” — Eva Marie Saint

Not too much later, Terry is called into the street to discover the dead body of his brother, who has been killed for not following through with his assignment. Terry is distraught and angry. He immediately seeks revenge and goes looking for mob boss Johnny Friendly with a gun in hand. His love interest, Edie, has followed him and begs him not to do anything. He ignores her and instructs her to get the Father to take care of Charley’s body, but “For God’s sake, don’t leave him alone here long!” His voice nearly cracks with emotion; there is so much concern for his brother and his dead body being left alone.

My favorite scene, though, comes toward the end of the film. Terry has testified against Johnny Friendly, and all of his friends are angry at him–even the young “Golden Warriors” Terry has befriended. Terry, who keeps pigeons, goes up on the roof to check on his pigeons. He finds that they are all dead, killed by the youth who once idolized him. “What did he have to do that for? Every one of them.” Edie has again followed him and calls his name, attempting to comfort him. Brando does not face her but turns into the pigeon coop and waves her away meekly with his hand. He needs to grieve alone–just for a moment. And Brando communicates this with a single gesture. It’s the same gesture he would use years later in The Godfather when Don Corleone learns that Michael–Michael, whom he loved so much, for whom he wanted so much more than the life of a Don–has been sent to Sicily because he is the one who killed Sollozzo. The Don lifts his hand and weakly waves away the speaker: he needs to be alone with his grief.

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“I interviewed some deaf actors and I asked them who their favorite actor was, and they said Marlon Brando. And I said, ‘Why?’ and they said, ‘Because even though we can’t hear what he’s saying, we know exactly what he means.’ In other words, his expression told everything.” — Patricia Bosworth 

I could talk about every scene in this film, but I (sadly) have more research to do. (It is addicting.) Brando rightly won an Oscar for his performance in On the Waterfront. It’s one for the ages. Happy birthday, Bud.

Best Actor: 1953

Just shy of a year later…The Oscars series returns, with another round of the Best Actor nominees — this time ’round featuring the nominees of 1953! The purpose of this series is to examine and rank past Oscar-nominated performances — who won and who should have won? And to refresh your memory (and mine!), here are the criteria I have established in reviewing and ranking performances:

  • Is this a believable performance? Or, rather, is the actor utterly captivating, pulling me into their performance for the entire duration of the film? Do I forget that this actor is…well, acting?
  • Does the actor and his performance make (…or break) the film?
  • Would I watch this film again? Would I recommend it to other people?
  • The complexity/depth of the performance.

The nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role of 1953 were as follows:

  • Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar 
  • Richard Burton, The Robe
  • Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity
  • William Holden, Stalag 17 
  • Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity 

Think you know who I’m going to give the Oscar to? Who do you think should have won the Oscar? Let’s see how our rankings compare! (I’m feeling a bit like Ellery Queen here, challenge to the reader and all.)

5. Richard Burton in The Robe **/*****

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That’s the exact expression I had while watching this movie. Flattering, huh?

This was Richard Burton’s second Oscar nomination (although his first for a Best Actor in a Leading Role). He did not win. He would be nominated a total of seven times and amazingly, he never won.

The premise of The Robe is that it answers the question: what happened to the Roman soldier who won Jesus’ robe in a dice game?

Richard Burton plays that Roman soldier, Marcellus Gallio, who is cruel, condescending, and a womanizer to boot. When he wins Christ’s robe in a dice game at the site of the crucifixion, he is cursed by his slave, Demetrius, and is furthermore plagued by guilt and nightmares, leading people to believe he is crazy (which he kind of is). In an effort to rid himself of this guilt, he searches for Demetrius, who now possesses the robe, with the plan to destroy the robe, which he believes in turn will cause the nightmares to cease. Instead, however, after a series of events and meetings, he becomes converted to Christianity.

You would expect such a dramatic transformation to be extraordinary and rich with palpable emotion. This performance, however, is rather dull and flat, with little depth. I kept waiting to feel something, to care about this character and what happened…but I never did. Caligula was more interesting to me because…well, it was Caligula, so of course it was entertaining.

I think Burton was a great actor (or at least I remember him as being so in what films my 9th grade World Geography teacher showed our class…don’t ask), but this was not a very good performance, and it did not deserve the Oscar. Maybe next time!

4. Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar ***/*****

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Yo, wassup, Brand-o?

This was Marlon Brando’s third (in a row!) Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He did not win. He would be nominated a total of eight times and win twice, in 1954 for On the Waterfront and in 1972 for The Godfather (an honor which he famously rejected).

Ouch. It hurts to see Brando ranked fourth out of five because it’s Brando and I love Brando. Frankly, however, when I was reviewing which films/performances I needed to watch/review for 1953, I completely forgot that he was even nominated, signaling that this was not a standout performance. Reviewing the film, however, it’s not so much that it’s not a standout performance (indeed, it’s a very, very good one) as that it’s more of a supporting performance. Perhaps a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination would have been more suitable for James Mason as Brutus, while nominating Brando in the Best Supporting Actor category. At the same time, however, every time Brando enters a scene, he commands your attention. You can’t take your eyes off him!

Brando had been deemed “The Mumbler” and doing Shakespeare was seen as a chance to disprove that title. He does a fantastic job — the guy could do it all! — the famous speech of Mark Antony is especially impressive. Check it out:

Goosebumps!

In Brando’s autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me, he wrote of his experience making Julius Caesar: “After being a Mexican revolutionary, I played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the director, assembled a good cast, including Louis Calhern, James Mason, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr, Edmond O’Brien and John Gielgud, who played Cassius. Though English actors generally are far superior to American actors in their style, speech and familiarity with Shakespeare, many British actors, like Maurice Evans, are no better than we are in his plays. It takes someone of Gielgud’s stature to perform with authority because he has played most of the important Shakespeare roles. But for me to walk onto a movie set and play Mark Antony without more experiences was asinine.”

I think Brando was being a bit harsh — he did a great job. (And he looked pretty good in those skimpy Roman outfits, too.) There were, however, stronger and more captivating performances deserving of the Oscar that year.

3. William Holden, Stalag 17 ****/*****

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“I’m no escape artist…You can be the heroes, the guys with the fruit salad on your chest. Me, I’m staying put. And I’m gonna make myself as comfortable as I can. And if it takes a littler trading with the enemy to get me some food or a better mattress…that’s okay by Sefton.” 

This was William Holden’s second Oscar nomination. He won! He was nominated a total of three times, with this being his only win.

William Holden plays Sefton, an American airman in a German Prisoner of War camp. Sefton is cynical and practical. He derides the others’ attempts at escape. He has decided to make the best of his situation, trading cigarettes (which he mostly wins by betting with the other prisoners) with the Germans for food and favors. Because of this behavior and certain occurrences demonstrating that someone inside their camp is keeping the Germans informed of their plans and deviations, he is soon accused of  being a “stoolie.” After suffering physical abuse because of this accusation, he becomes determined to reveal the true rat.

Holden gives an excellent, gripping performance, pulling you into the story, gluing you to the screen as you become determined as him to uncover the truth. You grow to care about Sefton, cynical and unsympathetic as he is at times. Still, at the end of the film, you, like the others, wonder what made him do it. (What “it” is…you have to watch the film to see!) Holden’s performance earned the Oscar. I just happen to think two others may have earned it more — an opinion Holden himself held!

Good on Holden for giving the shortest Oscar acceptance speech on record: “Thank you.”

2. Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity ****/*****

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This was Burt Lancaster’s first Oscar nomination. He did not win. He would be nominated a total four times, winning once in 1960 for Elmer Gantry.

Aren’t you proud of me for resisting the temptation to use a screencap of a half-naked Lancaster on the beach? I am. Aren’t you disappointed in the Academy for resisting giving Lancaster the Oscar just for being half-naked on the beach? I am.

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Oh, you didn’t really think I had that much willpower, did you?

Moving on from Burt Lancaster’s booty to his actual performance…Lancaster brings the perfect mixture of toughness and gentleness to the role of First Sergeant Milton Warden, a man who loves the Army more than anything, including the woman he loves, yet despises and undermines the corruption and cruelty of Captain Holmes. Even though he is no nonsense on the surface, there is a warmth and gentleness to Lancaster’s performance that lets you know Warden is a good, kind man underneath his tough exterior, which, I think, is slowly revealed through his relationship with Clift’s Private Prewitt, a man he at first believes to be stubbornly stupid but by the film’s end perhaps realizes he has more in common with him than he initially thought.

I was torn between Lancaster and Holden — I think their performances are equal in terms of quality and depth, and I can’t exactly pinpoint what made me pick Lancaster over Holden — perhaps a personal preference for Lancaster or a character with more depth or maybe an overall preference for From Here to Eternity

1. Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity *****/*****

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This was Montgomery Clift’s third Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He did not win (again). What the heck, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences? He would be nominated a total of four times, and he would sadly never win — unjustly so.

There was no question for me as to who should have won the Oscar this year. Montgomery Clift as Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt is undoubtedly the heart of this film. Director Fred Zinneman noted: “Clift forced the other actors to be much better than they really were. That’s the only way I can put it. He got performances from the other actors, he got reactions from the other actors that were totally genuine.” Indeed, both Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed, who each won Supporting Actor and Actress Oscars for their performances in From Here to Eternity, would credit Clift with helping them craft and perfect their performances.

Prewitt is a loner, a principled man whose choices and actions do not make much sense to others but to him are simple — in a way, Prewitt is an embodiment of Clift himself. Prewitt switches companies after being relegated to second Bugler in his previous outfit not because of talent or skill but favoritism. When he arrives at his new company, he is immediately pressured by the crooked Captain Holmes to join the boxing team, which he refuses to do despite continuous pressure and cruelty. To Lancaster’s Warden, this is stupid, and he tells Prewitt so.

Warden: You know what you did just now when you turned down dynamite Holmes? You put your head in a noose. Things are soft for a boxer in this outfit. Otherwise, you’d better know how to soldier.
Prewitt: I can soldier with any man.
Warden: You’ll fight, Prewitt. You’ll fight because Captain Holmes wants to be Major Holmes. He’s got an idea he’ll make it if he gets a winning team. And if you don’t do it for him, you’ll do it for me, ’cause my job is to keep him happy, see? The more he’s happy, the less he bothers me and the better I run his company. So we know where we stand, don’t we, kid?
Prewitt: I know where I stand. A man don’t go his own way, he’s nothin’.

“I know where I stand. A man don’t go his own way, he’s nothin’.” These are probably my favorite lines in the entire film and lines that better than any other encapsulate the character of Prewitt.

Clift, as always, puts so much into his performance. From the moment the novel From Here to Eternity was published, he hoped to play Prewitt in a screen adaptation. He envisioned Prewitt as an inarticulate man and thus cut his dialogue as much as possible. Furthermore, he modeled his subtle accent on recordings of Kentucky speech he tracked down with director Fred Zinneman. He spent hours learning and practicing the bugle, even though he knew he would not actually be playing in the film. He complete engrosses himself in the character, and as a result, he pulls you in with him. His performance is, in a word…meticulous, fearless, emotional, breathtaking, flawless, unforgettable.

This performance matches every criteria I have set for reviewing performances. Yes, this performance is believable and makes the film. Yes, I forget Montgomery Clift is acting. Yes, I would watch this film again and recommend it to other people. Yes, there is a depth and feeling to this performance unmatched by any of the others. So why didn’t Clift win the Oscar? Karl Malden offered these thoughts: “Because he always became part of the warp and woof of a script. So much so that his artistry wasn’t always appreciated. If you watch him in From Here to Eternity, he completely immerses himself in the character and situation of Prewitt, so much so that he actually sinks into the flesh of the story.”

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What is your face? A work of art, that’s what. Your face was made to be seen in high definition, so let’s release as many of your films in Blu-Ray as soon as possible and there will finally be world peace. And your skill and talent as an actor — pure artistry. The best. My favorite. Always.

Previously: Best Actor 1951 

Up next (by Christmas, maybe): Perhaps a year where Montgomery Clift wasn’t nominated so I won’t be so doggone predictable.

Grab Bag!

Because I’ve been too lazy to watch all the 1940/1946/1953/1954/1962/etc Best Actor Oscar nominees and thus revive my Oscar series as a buildup to this year’s ceremony. Because I am also too lazy to construct cohesive posts about the various topics that have been floating around in my head (there’s so much room up there). But mostly because I am oh so fascinating and have oh so many interesting thoughts about oh so many things…here is this month’s grab bag of a post–upcoming anniversaries, forgotten films, out-of-syndication television programs, and dead actors and musicians (actually just one…still livin’ and breathin’ nothin’ but Ricky Nelson ’round here), straight ahead!    

1. The Super Bowl wasn’t that super this year.

That’s right–I do turn on the television and pretend to live in this century every now and then. It’s harder, though, for me to pretend to understand the sport that is American Football. All I’ve got so far is scoring touchdowns is good. Anyway. The Super Bowl was kind of depressing and most definitely Boring with a capital B–except when they showed Paul McCartney chowing down on his vegetarian pizza. That was awesome. And it was oh so awesome when Bob Dylan asked, “Is there anything more American than America?” (I’m guessing…no?)

My sister was all, “Bob Dylan can still walk?”

2. Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

I honestly don’t know what the big deal is since last year was the 49th anniversary? But I am loving the big deal because everywhere it is Beatles, Beatles, Beatles, as it should be!

“Won’t you please sing something?”

“NO!”

Oh, I love nothing more than the Beatles. They have been my favorite people in the world since I was a little girl and will forever remain so. Looking forward to the CBS special this Sunday!

3. I have started spending a lot of time in a bar. 

Because I just want to go where everybody knows my name. And they’re always glad I came.

That’s right…I’ve started watching Cheers. I’m not really sure why, but I’m kind of in love. Coach and Cliff are my favorites so far, but I also like Norm and Sam and Carla and Diane is kind of annoying but she’s OK, I guess. I absolutely cannot wait for Frasier to come onto the scene! Only a few more episodes!

4. I FINALLY got to see Désirée, a 1954 film starring Jean Simmons and Marlon Brando as Napoleon Bonaparte. Thank you, TCM, for airing this gem at 2 A.M.!

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Can you say awesome?

Besides the awesomeness of Brando’s wardrobe (and Brando in general), I enjoyed the film way more than I thought I would. It was engaging and interesting and Brando, Brando, Brando! Was there ever a more attractive and compelling actor? Oh, yeah, Montgomery Clift. Hahahahahahahahaha. Great, now I feel like watching Clift compare guns with John Ireland and woo Olivia de Havilland and fall off a train all in one night.

5. That Darn Cat! (1965) is definitely superior to That Darn Cat (1997). 

The exclamation point totally should have given it away, but after watching and enjoying the original film, I wanted to re-watch the remake and compare notes. The remake has its moments but overall it is just so cheesy. And cheese gives me gas, man.

Plus the original is just so darn perfect. Perfect cast. Perfect soundtrack. Perfect cat, though darned he may be.

Oh, and I just happened to find this photo of Dean Jones this past week. You know me, always searching the web for a good Dean Jones photo. Here he is hanging out with Sal Mineo and the Nelson brothers. What a world this is!

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6. My My Three Sons diet is becoming harder to maintain because the episodes are so funny and poignant and just plain old wonderful.

I got the second season on DVD for my birthday in October and told myself I would have to limit myself to watching it sparingly because none of the other seasons are available on DVD (…WHY???) and it’s not in syndication here.

I recently watched the episode entitled “Bub’s Lodge.” In this episode, Bub is being honored in his Lodge where he will be crowned D’Artagnan of the East Door. He has a fancy outfit and everything. Meanwhile, Mike is aiming to become part of a fraternity and is worried that Bub and his ridiculous outfit will embarrass him. The episode is funny, of course, but it’s also so sweet and touching. My favorite part is the glimpse it allows into Bub’s room:

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There are pictures of Steve and the boys everywhere. D’awwwwww!

I love Uncle Charley and all, but Bub was the best. The early episodes are the best. Give me more!

7. I saw Two for the Road and loved it.

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Two for the Road is a polarizing film, I think, because it is so unconventional. It is not your typical romantic comedy. Everything is not tied neatly in a bow by the end of the film, and the overall narrative is non-linear and often difficult to follow, requiring careful and attentive viewing. The story of Mark and Joanna Wallace is not told in chronological order but rather story threads are loosely connected by a certain sight — like the sight of a ferry where they first met — or an object — like a hat — or something as simple as the weather. In the present, as the film begins, the audience sees Mark and Joanna, with obvious tension between them, embark on a trip and as they travel, they reflect on their relationship through other trips they took together. Their relationship has had its ups and downs, and toward the end of the film when Mark asks Joanna why they didn’t end their relationship at a certain point, part of you is wondering the same thing. But the other part also knows that these two people love each other, despite the difficulties of their relationship. The film is realistic in its portrayal of love and relationships — it’s not always easy and Shangri-La like in a movie but is instead often very difficult and requires a lot of effort and hard work.

8. I also watched Love and Kisses, starring Rick and Kris Nelson, and loved it. 

This movie has been described as nothing more than an extended episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and in some ways that is true. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but it is fun and cute and some really important things happened in this movie.

First, Rick wears some white pants that are really flattering.

Second, there is a dream sequence that involves Rick visiting a strip club/bar, and he gets into a major fight. Meanwhile, David and Wally sit at the bar and wonder if they know Rick. They decide they don’t. It’s cute.

Third, Rick (actually his character’s name in the film is Buzzy, which is bizarre so I am just going to keep on calling him Rick) gives this speech to his dad (who is not Ozzie which is also bizarre) about teeny-weeny jammies, itsy bitsy feet, diapers, and a trip to Disneyland. It’s awesome.

Finally…Rick (er…Buzzy) curses in this film. He let’s a “what the hell” rip not just once but twice and then claims that saying “what the hell” is not cursing. There’s also a bonus d–n. Pretty sure if this were released today, they would have to slap an “R” rating on it.

Anyway. This movie was cute, you can watch it on YouTube (in poor VHS quality, alas), and sorry about the curse words. I’m gonna put a bar of soap on my keyboard.

9. My current Rick Nelson phase is starting to scare me because I stayed up late last night watching an episode of The Hardy Boys that Rick guest starred in. 

Rick plays a rock star named Tony Eagle who actually sings Rick Nelson songs and he’s unknowingly involved in the disappearance of a man the Hardy brothers are investigating. It also involves a plane which makes me scream and cry inside for obvious reasons.

I’d never watched The Hardy Boys before and it’s so ’70s, but it was also kind of fun and entertaining. Getting to watch Rick sing so many songs was wonderful. He was so natural…and beautiful. Sigh.

10. I recently learned that Montgomery Clift reportedly turned down the part of Dude (eventually played by Dean Martin) in Rio Bravo

Do you realize what this means?  

Do you?

This means that had Clift taken the role, he and Rick Nelson would have been in the same movie and I never would have worn a clean pair of underwear in my life (as if I don’t have enough trouble with that already). Clift reportedly turned down the role because he did not want to work with John Wayne again (can’t blame him).

Thanks, Monty. I like wearing clean underwear.

OK, that’s it for this grab bag. I’m off to work on something cohesive and worthwhile…that is, after I finish watching this unaired pilot featuring Rick Nelson as some sort of bad guy in tights. Until next time!

Much love,
The Count Petofi

The Young Lions (Edward Dmytryk, 1958)

April 2, 1958. Paramount Theater, New York City. It is the première of The Young Lions. As the lights dim and the film’s opening credits appear, applause bursts at the sight of the names of the film’s stars: Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Dean Martin.

In his seat, Montgomery Clift is anxious. He believes the future of his career depends on this film and his performance. Privately, he believes, knows even, that his portrayal of the sensitive Jew Noah Ackerman is his best, even going so far as to expect his fourth Oscar nomination (and his first win). But he is also unsure because he knows what he has done is risky. The Young Lions is his first full film after his disfiguring car accident  in 1956 (which occurred amidst the filming of Raintree County, requiring an especially watchful eye to be able to discern which shots are pre-accident and which are post-accident), and he has attempted to develop the character of Noah Ackerman using a minimum number of tight shots. Thus, the audience often sees Noah at a distance or an angle, and yet, due to Clift’s extraordinary gift and skill as an actor, Noah’s experiences, perceptions, and feelings are palpable.

When that audience in Paramount Theater first sees Clift as Noah, however, there are audible whispers, expressing a mixture of shock and pity, “Is that him?” A girl in the balcony even screams and faints. Clift tenses but remains immobile, staring blankly ahead as the film continues to unfold.

Three hours later, the film is over, and the audience cheers. Many of Clift’s peers make their way through the crowded aisle to congratulate him on his performance. Later, Clift attends a party with his co-star Hope Lange, and actors again offer him compliments on his outstanding performance. He is ecstatic and relieved. After the party disseminates, Hope Lange cries as she reads a review of the film in The New York Times. Clift snatches the newspaper from her and reads aloud the singular line devoted to his performance: “Clift’s performance is strangely hollow and lackluster as the sensitive Jew. He acts throughout the picture as if he were in a glassy-eyed daze.”

Clift tried to disguise his torment by joking and clowning. Around three in the morning, at the home of a friend, Clift finally breaks down, sobbing. “Noah was the best performance of my life,” he declared. “I couldn’t have given more of myself. I’ll never be able to do it again. Never.”

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The Young Lions tells the story of three soldiers and their very different experiences in World War II. There is Marlon Brando, with his hair dyed blonde and a German accent, as Christian Diestl, who is introduced as decent ski instructor hopeful that the reign of Hitler will bring him a better life who later becomes a Nazi officer, yet, by the war’s end, he has become disillusioned with it all. There is Dean Martin as Michael Whiteacre, a singer/actor who becomes a reluctant participant in the war, explaining his contempt of the war to his girlfriend, “Look, I’ve read all the books. I know that in 10 years we’ll be bosom friends with the Germans and the Japanese. Then I’ll be pretty annoyed that I was killed.” And then there is Montgomery Clift as the sensitive, awkward, and proud Noah Ackerman, a Jew who faces anti-Semitism from the men in his own company.

When discussing Clift, the discussion often involves a discussion of two different actors: the pre-accident Clift and the post-accident Clift. I resent this. He looked different, yes. He looked older and exhausted at times. The breathtaking beauty that had captivated and mesmerized movie audiences beginning with 1948’s The Search had been altered–some may even argue it had vanished–but he was still handsome, and he was still captivating and mesmerizing, only now there was no confusion as to whether it was his preternaturally beautiful face doing the captivating and mesmerizing: it was now purely his acting prowess.

While it may be easy to point to Clift’s car accident as the cause for the change in his appearance in The Young Lions that startled that audience at the Paramount Theater on April 2, 1958, that is only partially responsible. The accident had made it difficult for him to move his upper lip and rendered the left side of his face practically immovable. Clift, however, had made the deliberate choice to alter his appearance further to personify the awkward and proud Noah Ackerman more fully. He reduced his already thin frame from 150 pounds to a mere 130 pounds, allowing for his clothes to hang loosely. He also distended his ears, and he augmented his nose with putty. The result was a total embodiment of the character.

The back of the case of the DVD touts Brando’s character and performance–how it was a controversial role, how Brando makes the German tragic and sympathetic. That is tantamount to blasphemy. This film belongs to Montgomery Clift. (Still love you, Brando.) His scenes are more vivid, authentic, and human. I love how he shyly walks home with his future wife Hope (played by Hope Lange) for the first time, impulsively kisses her, leading to Hope reprimanding him, and he sheepishly walks away, only to turn back and tap incessantly on the window to ask for directions home. “You’re lost?” Hope asks him skeptically. “No one will find me again,” he answers. “Ever.” His delivery is perfect. I love how he walks around town with Hope’s father, who admits he has never known a Jew and has reservations about allowing his daughter to marry one. Hope’s father points out his connections to the town and its people, eventually leading Noah to their family plot where seven generations of their family are buried. Noah interrupts him, “Mr. Plowman, I don’t have a family plot. I don’t have a family. I earn $35 dollars a week, and I’m 1-A in the draft. But I love Hope, and I shall love her for all my life.” Perhaps I love most of all how he says goodbye to Hope, now his wife. He kisses her, and then begins to walk down the street. He turns around half-way, hoping to see her once more, but he can only bare to stare for a few seconds. He slowly turns and begins to walk again, and he lifts his right hand in an effort to wave, but he only manages to raise it to his waist and give a small wave. It is pathetic and heartbreaking and very real.

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Clift’s eyes were always his best feature, and he continued to use them to full effect. Only, it seems, that after the accident (and here I am, contradicting myself, speaking of post-accident Clift as a separate being) his eyes expressed more vulnerability, more longing, more pain, more hope, more happiness. They are, in short, even more expressive and powerful than they ever were, if that is possible. In a scene where Noah speaks with his wife in an army prison, it is not the dialogue that makes the scene so effective and poignant (although I love the way he bends back down to whisper “I love you”), but it is instead Clift’s facial expressions, how he uses his hands, and his eyes. Oh, the eyes have it, I tell you. You don’t even have to know the specifics of a conversation between an army Captain, a German mayor of a neighboring town, and a Jewish rabbi asking to hold memorial services for those who have died in the concentration camp. You see it all reflected in Clift’s eyes, his face, the posture of his body.

The Young Lions isn’t necessarily a flawless film, but it is a very good one.  What makes it such a rewarding movie-watching experience for me, though, is Clift. His acting is not hollow or lackluster, and he does not wander through the movie in a glassy-eyed daze. Rather, he is fascinating, expressive, and you cannot take your eyes off of him, for fear you might miss some nuance–like the little wave of his right arm as he turns away from his wife for what could be the last time–that makes his Noah Ackerman that much more vivid and real.

Clift was right when he declared that he couldn’t have given more of himself to the character of Noah Ackerman. I’m not sure he was right when he said it was the best performance of his life–he had far too many outstanding performances to make that distinction so easily. What a great performance Noah Ackerman was, though. What a great actor. My favorite.

Best Actor: 1951

A few weeks ago, Daniel Day-Lewis made Oscar history when he became the first male actor to earn three Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role. (Katharine Hepburn still holds the record for any performer–four Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role. That be my girl.) We all woo-hoo’d and hallejuah’d ’round here–not only because every superlative in existence could be applied to his performance as President Abraham Lincoln (or just one superlative: P-E-R-F-E-C-T) but also because no other actor in recent memory could be deemed more deserving of such an honor than Daniel Day-Lewis. This is, after all, the man who played Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans, the movie I watched countless times and the character I proudly told anybody I had the courage to speak to as a four-year-old I would someday marry. Yes, I had a normal childhood.

Inspired by Day-Lewis’ historic win and a few other things (but mostly Daniel Day-Lewis), I decided to examine and rank previous Best Actor Oscar winners and nominations. Who won? Who should have won? I decided to first take a look at 1951, mainly because I was very familiar with three of the five nominated performances but also because it was an interesting year for acting with the arrival of Method Acting, perfectly executed by two its nominees. But before I delve into those actors and their performances, let’s establish some criteria that will direct my evaluations and rankings:

  • Is this a believable performance? Or, rather, is the actor utterly captivating, pulling me into their performance for the entire duration of the film? Do I forget that this actor is…well, acting
  • Does the actor and his performance make (…or break) the film?
  • Would I watch this film again? Would I recommend it to other people? 
  • The complexity/depth of the performance. Let me clarify this through an example: In 1973, Robert Redford was given his only (!!) Oscar nomination for acting for his performance in The Sting. Now, ya’ll know how I feel about Robert Redford. And if you don’t, I will tell you right now: I love Robert Redford. A lot. And The Sting is one of my favorite movies. And he is great in it. But I’m not sure that he really deserved the nomination for this role. More deserving that year was his performance as Hubbell Gardner in The Way We Were. But let’s not talk about The Way We Were because I’m starting to dissolve into a puddle of tears just thinking about it. Your girl is lovely, Hubbell! Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just rocking back and forth in my desk chair here, quietly sobbing. And not just because Hubbell belonged with Katie but because I’m thinking of Barbra Streisand brushing Robert Redford’s hair across his forehead…and I’m just really envious. I’m continuing that whole “normal childhood” thing into my adulthood.

Without further ado (or gushing about Robert Redford and his immaculate hair), here are my rankings of the Best Actor in a Leading Role nominees of 1951:

5. Fredric March in Death of a Salesman **/*****

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This was Fredric March’s fifth and final Oscar nomination. He did not win. He previously won in 1931 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (tied with Wallace Beery for The Champ) and in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives.

In this production of Arthur Miller’s play, Willy Loman (Fredric March) is portrayed as a complete lunatic, something which disgusted the playwright. I spent much of the film wondering if I was supposed to feel something for this character or see some depth in him beyond the fact that he is insane? Because I didn’t feel it, and I didn’t see it. The film also inserts the flashbacks sloppily. I suppose that these flashbacks were supposed to demonstrate Willy’s descent into insanity, but they were integrated (or, rather, not integrated) into the story in such a way that they were frustrating. Regardless, this performance is lifeless and, quite frankly, boring.

Ultimately, I felt nothing watching this film, save boredom, and I would not watch it again. If I were in a high school English class reading Death of a Salesman and the teacher showed us this film, I would probably throw darts at a picture of that English teacher.

Just for fun, of course.

4. Arthur Kennedy in Bright Victory ***/*****

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This was Arthur Kennedy’s first and only Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He did not win. He received four Oscar nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role throughout his career but never won.

I had never heard of Bright Victory, which tells the story of Sergeant Larry Nevens, who is blinded by a German Sniper during World War II. Kennedy gives a fine performance as Nevens, who, when we first meet him, is cocky and unlikable. As Nevens comes to grips with his injury, however, Kennedy creates a character whom you feel sympathetic toward and whose fate you care about. Kennedy is especially effective in the first half of the film, before Nevens becomes too comfortable with himself as a blind man, particularly in the scene in which he tries to commit suicide after first learning of his permanent blindness and a later scene when he calls his parents and finally tells them the seriousness of his injury. Less effective, however, is the film’s subplot dealing with racism. While traveling to Valley Forge Hospital with other wounded soldiers, Nevens converses with another black soldier. When he realizes the soldier is black, he asks the nurse to sit by him instead. Nevens’ racism arises again when he befriends another blind soldier (who happens to be black) in the hospital and uses a racial slur casually one day, not knowing the race of his friend. There is silence, and instead of further conversation or exploration of his offense, the scene ends with the two parting ways. While this is later resolved, the entire subplot seems half-formed and leaves you wanting a more meaningful exploration of the issue.

Overall, however, this was a good performance in a good film. Good–not great, but by no means poor.

3. Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen ****/*****

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Humphrey Bogart received his second Oscar nomination for The African Queen. This was his only Oscar win. He was nominated two additional times, previously in 1943 for Casablanca and again in 1954 for The Caine Mutiny.

Some detractors may claim that Bogart’s win for The African Queen was the Academy’s attempt to mask a “Best Actor” award as a “Lifetime Achievement” award, thereby remedying its mistake of not awarding him the award for Casablanca. And while I obviously think there were at least two actors more deserving of this award in 1951, I do not think that by any means was this award undeserved. Bogart is very, very endearing and effective in this film. I mean, look at him up there imitating the hippos and monkeys.

Now, let’s get one thing straight here: I initially watched The African Queen for Katharine Hepburn. I was never drawn to Bogart and thus never felt compelled to watch any of his films (although I had watched Sabrina). He was just kind of this old, gruff actor to me. So The African Queen was a pleasant surprise.

Of course, a major draw of this film and Bogart’s performance (for me, at least) is his chemistry with Katharine Hepburn. I love how at the start of the film the two characters have absolutely nothing in common but slowly build a relationship as the film progresses. Amidst World War I, Charlie Allnut (Bogart) and Rose Sayer (Hepburn) are aboard The African Queen, a boat which they plan to convert into a torpedo boat and sink the enemy’s boat downstream–a plan suggested by Rose. Charlie, however, hoped that Rose would soon become discouraged and abandon the plan, but after they survive the first set of rapids, Rose becomes even more dedicated to their cause. She tells him, glossy-eyed, when he asks how she liked the rapids, “I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating! I’ve only known such excitement a few times before, a few times in my dear brother’s sermons when the spirit was really upon him!” Later, Charlie half-drunkenly reveals he never intended to complete their plan and insults Rose, who retaliates by branding him a liar and a coward–and promptly disposes of all the alcohol on board.

Then comes my favorite scene (outside of Bogart mimicking the hippos and monkeys, which is just fun) and one of Bogart’s best in the film.

Charlie attempts to apologize to Rose, by cleaning up his appearance (via shaving) and complimenting her. Rose completely ignores him, silently reading a book. Charlie grows frustrated, apologizes, and explains his actions, saying, “What ya bein’ so mean for, Miss? A man takes a drop too much once in awhile–it’s only human nature.”

“Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above,” replies Rose.

Touché!

In this scene, Bogart is adroitly conciliatory, frustrated, angry, pleading, and begrudgingly submissive in the space of just a few minutes. Even though (in my opinion) there were more deserving performances in 1951, Bogart earned this Oscar for a very good performance.

2. Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire *****/*****

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Brando received his first Oscar nomination for A Streetcar Named Desire. He did not win. He would be nominated an additional seven times (six Lead Actor nominations, one Actor in a Supporting Role) and won twice, in 1954 for On the Waterfront and in 1972 for The Godfather, an honor (some might call it an offer) he refused.

Update: I am now writing this blog toothless and hairless because I pulled out all my teeth and all my hair trying to rank these last two performances. Now that you have that lovely image in your head, let’s talk about something slightly more pleasant and pretty.

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“What’s that?”

“Oh, those cats. ME-OW!”

(That’s what I say when I see your face.)

So.

Brando.

Marlon Brando.

What do you say about one of the greatest screen performances of all-time? What do you say about an actor who took a flat, detestable character and made him explosive, sensuous, and vulnerable? And what do you say when you learn that this actor was robbed of the Oscar (co-stars Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden were all nominees and winners in their respective acting categories)?

You don’t “say” anything, per se, you just sort of do this:

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It’s really not fair. He should have won.

Still, there’s one more performance that I think was maybe–just maybe–even better.

1. Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun *****/*****

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This was Montgomery Clift’s second Oscar nomination. He did not win. He had been nominated in 1948 for The Search, would be nominated in 1953 for From Here to Eternity, and in 1961 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Judgement at Nuremberg. He never won, and that is an absolute travesty.

According to Patricia Bosworth’s biography of the actor, Clift sometimes imitated Charlie Chaplin’s “goofy, expectant smile” in the last frames of City Lights, which a spectator described: “It was fascinating to watch him become a different person without uttering a sound. He could capture the essence of a personality, a character, instantly and not only that, make you experience a rush of emotion–and you had no idea how he did it.” Bosworth quotes a film director later observing this same technique, stating, “Montgomery Clift knows how to use silence and fill it up.”

And this is exactly what he does in A Place in the Sun. 

Clift portrays George Eastman, an ambitious young man who attempts to earn his own “place in the sun” by working his way up through his wealthy uncle’s prestigious company. Along the way, though, he falls in love with two women: Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a fellow factory worker in the company and Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor), a wealthy socialite. George and Alice’s romance must remain a secret, as it is against company policy, but it quickly moves further into the shadows as George becomes acquainted with Angela. It becomes even more complicated, however, when Alice reveals to George that she is pregnant.

Stop reading if you’ve never seen this film (watch it) and don’t want to be spoiled.

The only solution Alice and George are able to find is to marry and leave town and start a new life somewhere else, where nobody knows them. This plan, however, would thwart George’s designs for his “place in the sun.” He is also unwilling to give up Angela.

And so George plans (or does he?) to take Alice out in a boat on the lake and, knowing she cannot swim, drown her. As the two are in the boat, however, George begins to have second (and third…and fourth…) thoughts. In just a scene lasting just a few minutes, Clift expresses George’s contempt for Alice as she talks about what their married life would be like, then you see his face soften, feeling almost sorry for her, then you see him imagining drowning her, malice shining in his eyes, and he then again crumbles, unable to fathom going through with the murder. Clift faultlessly conveys this wrestling of emotions George has with himself–and he does it without uttering a single word. 

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It gives me goosebumps. It just might be Clift’s finest piece of acting–and that’s saying quite a lot.

But what follows is perhaps even more compelling and impressive acting by Clift. George is eventually arrested and put on trial for the murder of Alice. The film leaves it unclear whether George truly and maliciously murdered Alice Tripp. During the trial, George testifies that he could not go through with the murder and that he was thinking of someone else (Angela) while he and Alice were on that boat, not of murdering Alice, and that her death was an accident. You believe him. Clift makes you believe him. You believe him so much that when George is grilled by the prosecuting attorney, who declares, “You pushed that poor girl into the lake and watched her drown. Isn’t that the truth?” You sit there, shouting at the screen, “No! No, it isn’t! That isn’t the truth! He isn’t a murderer!” And you get so mad at that stinking lawyer, you just want to stick your tongue out at him. Or something slightly more menacing.

And then you remember…George Eastman is just a character. Montgomery Clift is an actor. This is just a movie.

But that is a testament to the power of Clift’s acting and skill. And that is what ultimately compels me to rank his performance at the top of this list.

But then I have a soft spot for Montgomery Clift.

I can’t believe he never won an Oscar.

I mean, shouldn’t he have at least got a special Oscar for that face?

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Lord have mercy.

Well, there you have it. In 1951, the Academy awarded Humphrey Bogart the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. But I would have given it to Montgomery Clift. Or Marlon Brando. Or Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando. Oh, think of all the beautiful photos of those two holding their awards together that could have been!

Now do I not only have no teeth, no hair, but I am officially just a puddle of nothing. Melted by visions of Brando and Clift. I must say, writing this blog post has done wonders for my complexion.

Okay. See ya next time.

(Note: This is a topic I may revisit occasionally–examining and ranking a given year’s nominees in Best Actor/Supporting Actor, Best Actress/Supporting Actress, Best Picture, although I doubt I will ever watch every Oscar-nominated film/performance ever because there are some films I have no desire to ever, ever watch, and I hope to someday have a life. I wouldn’t count on the latter ever happening, though.)

Finding Fred Gwynne

Or, rather, finding Fred Gwynne in a movie starring Marlon Brando, which requires my eyes to wander and look at someone else besides Marlon Brando. Scientists sometimes refer to this behavior as “unnatural.”

The Munsters came to my house for Christmas, and watching the show again prompted me to look up ol’ Herman Munster, Fred Gwynne. I was surprised to discover that his career included an uncredited bit part in On the Waterfront.

I love On the Waterfront.

File On the Waterfront under Films I Could Watch Every Day For The Rest Of My Life And Still Never Tire Of.

So how did I not know that Fred Gwynne was in this movie? Marlon Brando, duh. When I saw On the Waterfront at the local theatre as part of its ongoing Celebrating the Classics series, the film was preceded by an introduction by a local film aficionado/critic/historian à la Robert Osborne. This man told us all kinds of interesting bits of trivia and anecdotes about the film, and he left us with a challenge to watch any one else in the film besides Brando, who, of course, gives an electrifying performance. I felt no need to accept that challenge (who wants to watch anyone except Brando in this–or any–film?)–until I learned of Fred Gwynne’s role.

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There he is! Gwynne plays one of Johnny Friendly’s henchmen. There’s so many of them, he is easily overlooked, but once you know to look for him, he’s just as easily found.

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Annnnnd there he is again. Herman! 

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And in case you’re blind and still not convinced that that is indeed Fred Gwynne, he utters a single line, albeit offscreen, during an argument with Friendly’s banker and another henchman, “That’s why I never got married.” Herman Munster speaks!

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There he is again, preparing to throw a can or something at Father Barry (Karl Malden), who is speaking about how longshoreman Kayo Dugan’s death is akin to the crucifixion of Christ and how anyone who knows anything about his or Joey Doyle’s death is complicit in that crucifixion. You can see the effect of his words on Terry Malloy (Brando), who is torn between what he feels should be his loyalty to Friendly and his moral conscience.

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Yup. That’s him. In the hat. Er, on the left.

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And one last final appearance. Here he is, preventing anyone from interfering in the climatic fight between Friendly and Malloy. Ain’t no one gettin’ past Herman!

On the Waterfront is a perfect film, a film so perfect I’ll have to gush about it properly (i.e. devoting thousands of words to Brando’s every movement in the film) in another post. But I do believe its perfection has been heightened by the small discovery that it features Fred Gwynne. Definitely! 

P.S.

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Bless. Your. Face.