Keith, David

This is for commenter “knox” who exclaimed:

Are you telling me there’s a Keith David and a David Keith??


Yes I am.

David Keith (on the left) was born in Knoxville, TN, and starred in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter, alongside of Drew Barrymore and George C. Scott.

So, “knox”, he’s a homeboy. You should have a statue of him somewhere next to the one of Glenn Reynolds. Look for it in the big park with the gazebo.

Keith David (on the right, duh) was born in Harlem, New York, and was in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He also does a ton of voice-over work. Contrary to the photo shown, he does smile, but he usually gets paid for scowling. If IMDB is to be believed, he was on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood in his 20s. About the same time he was in The Thing, actually. Heh.

Aha! The glories of Youtube: Watch. I’ve never seen him with hair before, but that’s unmistakably his voice.

Building Bridges

I followed this post from Althouse commentary on Iron Man–why would she go see that movie? I’d never have recommended it to her–and realized I couldn’t really do Jeff Bridges justice in the time I have available to blog today.

So I’ll do a mini-post, and a full one later on.

I first saw Bridges in the lamentable ‘70s remake of King Kong, and then watched in some kind of trance, the little known American Success Company. I mean, I watched that movie a lot, fascinated by the weird story of a sensitive man who pretends to be a mean double of himself, and essentially re-invents himself as this “bad boy” to please his childlike wife (Belinda Bauer) and to be successful in his father-in-law’s (Ned Beatty) business. It also features Bianca Jagger as a hooker on whom he practices his sexual skills.

The thing about Bridges is that he’s all over the place, and always turning up in unexpected places. He can do quirky, such as in The Big Lebowski, Fearless, or Starman, and K-PAX showed he could do the straight role against someone doing the space alien bit. But he’s also been a good everyman in The American Success Story or The Vanishing, the hard-boiled detective (Eight Million Ways To Die) or the President (The Contender).

And his films cover a wide assortment, from sci-fi (TRON) to comedy to drama – to that funky one where he’s the gymnastics coach (Stick It!). The only thing I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do is a western.

But he’s always enjoyable. Indeed, the real shame of Iron Man is that he didn’t have a bigger role and a secure place in the sequel.

So, until I have a chance to post a real paean, well, the Dude Abides.

On Charleton Heston and the Scenery Chewers

So, ol’ Chuck Heston crossed the metaphorical Red Sea into the promised land the other day, which prompts a lot of discussion about what he’ll be remembered for and what his qualities and weaknesses were.

Over at Althouse there’s a strong faction who thinks his religious movies will carry him forward through time. But for the post-Boomer pre-X generation (and probably part of X as well), he’ll probably be remembered for his post-Apocalyptic trilogy: Planet of the Apes, Omega Man and Soylent Green. (Less the last, since it didn’t air on TV as incessantly as the first two.)

Those films are pretty dated, however, so perhaps the Biblical ones will win out. The most watchable, for my money, is Touch of Evil, which film Heston was instrumental in Welles being able to make at all.

I wasn’t a big fan (see my Man For All Seasons story), and agree with some of the suggestions that it was a style, like that of Kirk Douglas, that’s never really appealed to me. But I wouldn’t lump in Burt Lancaster in that crowd and I wouldn’t really call it scenery chewing.

The style of acting that has predominated in my lifetime has been a so-called “natural” style, where everything is sort of muted and “realistic”. I put those terms in quotes because everything about drama is so artificial, arguing over one thing being more realistic than the other becomes a little silly.

Like Hitchcock not putting music in Lifeboat because “where would it come from?” (David Raksin told us his response to that was something like “Presumably from the same place the cameras come from.”)

Or like English gardeners who argue over a manicured look and a “natural” look. The natural look is no less manicured, it’s just a different–equally artificial–aesthetic.

And after enjoying years of William Shatner impressions, I realized that his “over”-acting is the only thing that makes the original “Star Trek” watchable for me. You have to admit, the fist-biting, pregnant-pausing, arm-sweeping scenery chewing distracts you from the fact that the scenery being chewed is largely cardboard.

Looking back, a lot of–let’s call it “broad”–acting is the most entertaining part of a lot of shows, and while you might, for instance, laugh at the transparent gestures and facial expressions of silent movies, you do at least know what’s going on.

So, you know, support your local ham.