Happy Birthday to the GREAT New Yorker HARVEY KEITEL : in my eyes he’s up there in the top 20 actors of all time, displaying passion & energy in some of my favorite films of all time : I remember watching Harvey give a powerhouse of a display for a young Scorsese in Mean Streets alongside De Niro and after watching realising this guy is gona be the new Brando, of course his collaborations with Marty are incredible and some of his best work but for me My top two Keitel performances both came in 1992 and both exploded from the screen like a stick of dynamite, Mr White in Quentin Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs and of course his raw and disturbing LT in Abel Ferrara’s no nonsence Bad Lieutenant : for me Keitel stands tall with the greats of film, his performances have been varied and most of all consistently GREAT : Happy 82nd Legend !!
sad news the badass Frank McRae has died aged 80 : although he wasn’t a huge star and quite often found himself in smaller roles Frank managed to put his own stamp on the movie world, giving us character’s we fondly remember, with eye catching performances such as Harry in *batteries Not Included, Ogden Jones alongside Dan Aykroyd in 1941, Mr Teasdale in the 1984’s cult classic Red Dawn, Dekker in The Last Action Hero, and Haden in 48hrs, he also starred in other films such as 007’s Licence to Kill, 1973’s gangster film Dillinger and not to mention his collaboration’s with Sylvester Stallone on film’s such as F.I.S.T., Paradise Alley, Lock Up and Rocky II : as I look around my film library and spot some of the film’s mentioned I’m sad at his loss but I also smile reminiscing at the many delightful performances this wonderful character actor has given us….
Born in Canada on this day in 1916 this wonderfully gifted actor is the first in what will become a regular feature here at Absolute Badasses : the 40s, 50s & 60s was dominated by the western or gritty noir picture that fell nicely for Glenn Ford the son of a railroad executive who moved to Santa Monica when he was eight years old : before his acting career took hold Glenn worked as a barkeep in Santa Monica earning $5 a week, became an expert plumber and installer of plate glass windows : in 1939 Glenn’s life changed when he made his movie debut in Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence for director Ricardo Cortez and so his journey was underway : in a long career Glenn Ford starred in over 100 movies, unbelievably he never appeared in a film nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award and was often credited as the fastest gun in the movie industry (even faster than John Wayne & James Arness) : my own personal favorites are seen in the pictures above, 3:10 to Yuma where he starred as gunslinger Ben Wade alongside Van Heflin, in 1946 came Ford’s huge break appearing alongside the gorgeous Rita Hayworth in Gilda, he would become great friends with Hayworth even becoming one of the pallbearers at her funeral in the late 80s, in 1953 he starred in one of Fritz Lang’s finest, the gritty film noir The Big Heat opposite Gloria Grahame, Marlon Brando’s sister Jocelyn Brando and Lee Marvin, then of course in 1978 he played Pa Kent in Richard Donner’s Superman : sadly due to ill health Ford retired from acting aged 75 and died in 2006 aged 90, he was born to entertain and some of his other note worth performances include: Pocketful of Miracles, The Fastest Gun Alive, Blackboard Jungle, Lust for Gold and so many more…
Happy 51st Birthday to the MAGNIFICENT, MYSTERIOUS and incredibly TALENTED Bostonian UMA THURMAN : Born on this day in 1970, Uma has played a big part in my facination and love for cinema, and since her big film break in 1988 with Dangerous Liaisons she’s gone from strength to strength, on a personal level she married & divorced acting royalty in Gary Oldman & Ethan Hawke, starred alongside a true legend of the screen in Robert De Niro in Mad Dog and Glory, became Quentin Tarantino’s muse for Pulp Fiction and his two Kill Bill movies, and even had a role in a comic book movie, the forgettable yet fun Batman & Robin alongside Drew Barrymore and action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger : although her career has been a mixed bag, her beauty and screen presence that she delivered in her top tier movies will always be on repeat in my cinema : here’s my absolute top four : 2003’s Kill Bill, 1994’s Pulp Fiction, 2004’s Kill Bill 2 and finally 1992’s underrated serial killer gem Jennifer Eight :
Yet another screen favorite has passed away : the charismatic, cool as fuck YAPHET KOTTO has died aged 81, Yaphet was such a good actor, he made ordinary looking roles ICONIC giving life to such memorable characters such as Parker in Ridley Scott’s Alien, playing Laughlin alongside Arnie in the 80s scifi gem The Running Man, his brilliant turn as Alonzo Mosely in Midnight Run, Lieutenant Al Giardello in TVs Homicide and of course his villainous turn in 007s Live and Let Die as Mr Big : although it’s time to say goodbye to this wonderful talent his movies will always be there to bring pleasure to this cinephiles movie loving heart…..
On her Birthday I’m remembering the beauty and talent of 30s Icon JEAN HARLOW who starred in films such as The Public Enemy alongside Jimmy Cagney, Frank Capra’s 1931 comedy Platinum Blonde, alongside Clark Gable in Red Dust, Howard Hughes war drama Hell Angels, Victor Fleming’s romantic comedy Blond Bombshell and her delightfully funny turn in Dinner at Eight : although Jean was taken way to early she made her mark in Hollywood as one of the funniest, sexiest and sweetest actresses of her era…. she was born on this day in 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri and was the first movie actress to appear on the cover of Life magazine : Jean Harlow made 36 movies and appeared alongside Clark Gable in six of them, she died aged 26 whilst making the 1937 movie Saratoga in which her last line spoken was “Good-bye” : her Hollywood star can be found at 6910 Hollywood Blvd….
Happy 89th Birthday to the Iconic Music Composer JOHN WILLIAMS who was born on this day in New York in 1932 : he really started to make waves back in the seventies including the disaster movie trio of The Towering Inferno, Earthquake and The Poseidon Adventure and one of my favorite western themes back in 1972 The Cowboys : then in 1974 John started his collaboration with one of the finest filmmakers of our time in Steven Spielberg : for me John & Steve are the greatest director/composer duo in film, any there’s no doubt without John’s iconic scores to Speilberg’s masterful direction the films would not have the same impact : whether his music is rousing or at a much slower tempo John Williams has the ability of fitting a piece of music to the scene more than any other composer with some of his best work falling within the movie rather than it’s title’s main theme, take the barrel chase from Jaws, the Over the Moon segment from E.T. and Marion’s Theme from Raiders they all have epic qualities and encapsulate the great man’s input to that particular moment : one’s that didn’t make my top four but deserve a mention include Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, E.T., Home Alone, JFK, Close Encounters and Empire of the Sun
It’s with a heavy heart that we hear of the passing of one of the screen’s brightest and funniest stars in Cloris Leachman : for me her more memorable roles came with playing the likes of Ruth in The Last Picture Show for which she won the Academy Award, the hilarious Maw Maw in Raising Hope, her scene stealing film debut in Kiss Me Deadly, Madame Defarge in History of the World, Part I and of course my personal favorite Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein : Cloris had a wonderful and varied career including eight Primetime Emmy Awards from 22 nominations, making her the most nominated awarded actress in Emmy history : she will be sorely missed down here, but up there a party is about to begin….
Although the great Burt Lancaster has been dead for over twenty six years his movies hold a special place in my heart as one of the true film legends of the screen, an iconic presence, cheeky smile and steely eyes that could melt or pierce a heart at a thousand paces : starting his career back in the late 40s in Robert Siodmak’s fantastic noir film The Killers Burt Lancaster went on to have a glorious movie career acting with Hollywood legends such as Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale and so many more : my absolute top four is a small sample in the excellence of his work and in truth I could name so many more movie gems that I consider bonafide classics, films such as The Professionals with the great Lee Marvin, 1968’s The Swimmer, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral alongside Kirk Douglas, Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis, Sydney Pollack’s wonderful Castle Keep and John Frankenheimer’s The Train : my absolute favorite and it’s a Burt Lancaster film I’ve watched more than any other is 1960’s Elmer Gantry directed by Richard Brooks, the film went on to win 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Burt taking home the Best Actor that year : so if you’ve not seen many of his movies and fancy a trip back to time when acting legends were truly that then take a peek at some of the films mentioned : Hope you enjoyed another of my Absolute Top Four till the next one….
Today the world of film has lost Tanya Roberts aged 65 : I will always remember Tanya for the beauty she gave us in two films that came out whilst I was in my early teens, 1982’s fantasy movie The Beastmaster where she played Kiri opposite Marc Singer and in 1985 she starred alongside Roger Moore in A View to a Kill playing Bond Woman Stacey Sutton : on the small screen Tanya starred in over a dozen episodes of the TV show Charlie’s Angels as Julie Rogers and in recent years playing Midge Pinciotti on That ’70s Show : she will be missed !!
Born on the 18th December 1946 : STEVEN SPIELBERG has crafted one of the finest, unparalled bodies of work of any movie director, his films have touched, entertained and astonished millions across the world : his work includes some of my personal favorites such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park and E.T. and so many more that I have grown up watching, loving and revisiting as often as I can : his latest movie to hopefully land on the big screen will be the remake of West Side Story and keeping busy Spielberg is in pre-production on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara a film based on the book by David I. Kertzer and will reunite it’s director with Mark Rylance : to celebrate Steven Spielberg‘s 74th birthday I think it’s only right that I quote one of my favorite lines from his finest movie “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the milage” (Indiana Jones)
One of my favorite Steven Spielberg quotes : “When you listen, you learn, You absorb like a sponge : and your life becomes so much better than when you are just trying to be listened to all the time”
What can I say about the lovely DEE WALLACE who was born on the 14th December 1948 : what an actress, what a scream queen and what an impact this gal from Kansas City had on me, who lit up my favorite genre with superb turns in movies such as The Howling, Alligator II, The Hills Have Eyes, The Frighteners, Critters and the best of the bunch Cujo a Stephen King adaption that still scares me even now : the first time I remember watching Dee was back in 1982, when she played Drew Barrymore’s mum in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. and what a fabulous performance in such a great movie : luckily for us Dee Wallace is still knocking out the films and was seen recently in 2017’s Death House, 2019’s 3 from Hell and 2016’s Aussie Horror Red Christmas : me personally I hope Dee’s around making movies for another 30ys : such an ICONIC movie presence
One of my favorite Dee Wallace quotes : “Cujo was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s the film I’m proudest of. You know, how far can you break down? When do you break down? How do you break down? It was just relentless”