With Jack Lemmon in The Days of Wine And Roses, Blake Edwards, 1962. Sober cinephiles the world over will tell you that Klugman's character Jim is pretty much the platonic ideal of an AA sponsor. It is no insult to say that nobody did Jack Klugman better. An exemplary performer, and he sounded like a pretty exemplary man, too. Rest in peace.
UPDATE: Joseph Failla sends some observations:
That's a terrific pic from DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES...featuring an alternate universe ODD COUPLE casting of Klugman and Lemmon. Now all you need to do is do is grab a shot from ISLAND OF LOVE featuring Matthau and Randall to complete the vision.
I always preferred the television series of THE ODD COUPLE to the big screen version because I never got the sense Lemmon and Matthau loved each other as much as Klugman and Randall seem to do. Matthau's Oscar simply tolerates Lemmon's Felix and nearly does him bodily harm at several instances. While I enjoy the actors, perhaps the mold was set in stone earlier with Wilder's cynical THE FORTUNE COOKIE as I detect little real affection radiating from the otherwise very likable performers. Certainly not the case on the television program thanks to it's ingenious and intangible teaming. Maybe the secret was a softer, friendlier version of irascible Oscar and interfering Felix but Klugman and Randall nailed it and for me have become the defining actors forever associated with the roles.
For solid Klugman supporting work be sure to revisit 12 ANGRY MEN, THE DETECTIVE and GOODBYE, COLUMBUS. In the latter he plays Ali MacGraw's wealthy and doting father, the two share a moving scene late in the film which expresses deep feelings exposed between father and daughter which brings a wealth of sensitivity to a film largely remembered today as a '70s sex comedy.
More than just the Mickey in Mickey and Sylvia (though that wasn't nothing); simply one of the great electric guitar stylists. A favorite of another departed favorite, Mr. Robert Quine. His guitar course books are insane. Listen to him tear it up on the theme from one of my, and I hope your, favorite pictures. Here is his New York Times obit.
I hope I'm forgiven for a bit of what may be perceived as inside baseball but I wanted to express my sadness at the news of the death of Lois Smith, a veteran movie industry publicist I had the privilege of working with on several occasions during my time at Premiere magazine. She was already a legend when I started my job there, and I didn't get to work with her right away, but I remember that when I first had occasion to introduce myself to her, she had already familiarized herself with my work there, and having found it worthwhile, pretty much automatically made me feel welcome in her realm. Which is to say she genuinely loved movies and tended to love others who loved them. While hardly a pushover, she was always warm, well-informed, fun to talk to, and very shoulder-to-shoulder in difficult situations, and first to acknowledge that in this buisness of show what are often taken for difficult situations are generally ridiculous. One of the first memories that came back when her name came up in this sad context yesterday was of rushing across town one sweltering summer day on an art-closing deadline to fetch a portrait of a film figure who was less-than-happy with a portrait we were running as the opening art for a lengthy interview. Lois had the preferred head shot, which was, truth to tell, indeed better from both an aesthetic and a making-the-subject-look-good perspective, and on handing it over, we had a few good, but not unaffectionate, laughs about the peculiar spasms of vanity to which many of our movie gods and demigods are prone. In her presence, she always made you quietly aware that you were, after all, at work in a kind of charmed realm, and wasn't it odd and weren't we all kind of lucky. I send my most sincere condolences to her family.
The Hunger, 1982, with Ann Magnuson and David Bowie.
I can't pin down just when the rather obnoxious mythical litmus test about politicians in a race, that is, "which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" came into being, but I can say I'm glad it hasn't made its way too far into the realms of aesthetic/critical discussion; it did however, spring to mind a few hours into thinking about the late Tony Scott, who took his own life yesterday at the age of 68. Scott's movies tend to resist, almost violently, the notion of sentimentalizing the man who made them; on the other hand, quite a few of them are movies of a guy that a certain kind of movie-loving guy might actually LOVE to have a beer with, or, more to the point, go ATV racing across the Baja desert while carrying a kilo of cocaine and trying to shake off a squadron of speeding law-enforcement officials AND the posse of the mobster you stole the cocaine from in the first place. His best, most effective movies were not just about the adrenaline rush and physical excitement of the action itself but also about the kickiness of doing the wrong thing (albeit maybe for the right reasons) and better still, getting away with it. The opening scene of his 1983 feature The Hunger, for all its spooky portent and jarring cuts, fairly revels in the fact that everyone in it—vampire David Bowie, victim Ann Magnuson, imperious rock singer Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, et. al.—is getting off. There will be consequences, of course; we shan't see Ms. Magnuson for the remainder of the movie, for instance; but in the heat of the moment the dangerous play is the thing.
Scott's technical facility and specific cinematic aesthetic was of course often put to use in the service of evil, or, as some once called it, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. As someone who began in advertising, Scott was accustomed to selling, and in my own more concern-trollish day, I found it pernicious that Top Gun so convincingly sold its melange of jingoism, macho, inverted misogyny, militarism, and so on. As Quentin Tarantino's analysis of the movie demonstrated, those qualities were arguably oversold in the movie, which makes it in a sense laughable, and in a sense kind of deep. When the selling is less successful, as in Days of Thunder, the result diminishes in enjoyable absurdity and increases in hatefulness. Sometimes there would be a seemingly odd match that turned out to be utterly apposite. I'm not sure what a Tarantino-directed True Romance might have been like, but I have an idea of what a Roger Avary-directed True Romance would have been like; it's called Killing Zoe, and, for whatever other virtues it has, it makes the conceit of the gorgeous hooker who falls in love with the geeky screenwriter stand-in look as ridiculous as it is; in True Romance Scott makes it work, just as he makes work the notion of that dreadlocked drug pusher played by Gary Oldman. Scott's energy and technical virtuosity makes ALL of the multiple geek wish-fulfillments of True Romance register like direct injections to one's pleasure centers.
Some might argue that Scott was more effective, more engaging, more involving, when working with scenarios that were less outlandish; that the tense standoff between two different kinds of military personnel in Crimson Tide is more nominally convincing than a professional football player pulling out a revolver and actually shooting an opposing player in the middle of a game in The Last Boy Scout. But is one REALLY more plausible than the other? I'll let you decide. But where I finally came down on Scott was that he was a supreme kinetic fantasist with an ostentatious, nose-thumbing love of a form of vulgar philistinism. Which facilities and inclinations enabled him, say, to overheat the winking comic-book pyrotechnics of the arguably meretricious scenario of Domino with a straight face.
In other words, he was a formidable cinematic showman, regardless of how gratuitous/redundant any given project of his might have seemed. And as such he was able to earn some critical respect; the Times' Manohla Dargis was never shy about her enjoyment of his vision, and the Scott respect in more hermetic corners of cinephilia is exemplified, alas, by this sentence from a review of Unstoppable by "The Ferroni Brigade:" " 'Oh yeah, Tony Scott—he's good,' says even Lav Diaz, currently residing in Vienna's Ferronian headquarters [...]" The thinking behind that "even" could fill volumes, but too bad the Ferronians would never be caught dead in a Hooters, as they really can't appreciate the Hollywood idealization of the joint that Scott hilariously commits in his variant of the train movie, the last film of his to see release.
The blithe exuberance of this and so many other Scott touches seems to fly rather directly in the face of his suicide yesterday. I don't have any more information about the end of Scott's life than you do, and even if I did I'm no kind of diagnostician. All I know is that, like so much else, it's pretty terribly sad.
'Power and freedom.' Coupled together, these two words are repeated three times in Vertigo. First, at the twelfth minute by Gavin Elster ('freedom' underlined by a move to close-up) who, looking at a picture of Old San Francisco, expressed his nostalgia to Scottie ('San Francisco, has changed. The things that spelled San Francisco to me are disappearing fast'), a nostalgia for a time when men—some men at least—had 'power and freedom.' Second, at the thirty-fifth minute, in the bookstore, where 'Pop' Liebel explains how Carlotta Valdes's rich lover threw her out yet kept her child: 'Men could do that in those days. They had the power and the freedom...' And finally at the hundred and twenty-fifth minute—and fifty-first second to be precise—but in reverse order (which is logical, given we are now in the second part, on the other side of the mirror) by Scottie himself when, realizing the workings of the trap laid by the now free and powerful Elster, he says, a few seconds before Judy's fall—which, for him, will be Madeleine's seconds death—'with all his wife's money and all that freedom and power...'. Just try telling me these are coincidences.
Such precise signs must have a meaning. Could it be psychological, an explanation of the criminal's motives? If so, the effort seems a little wasted on what is, after all, asecondary character. The strategic triad gave me the first inkling of a possible reading of Vertigo. The vertigo the film deals with isn't to do with space or falling; it is a clear, understandable and spectacular metaphor for yet another kind of vertigo, much more difficult to represent—the vertigo of time. Elster's 'perfect' crime almost achieves the impossible: reinventing a time when men and women and San francisco were different to what they are now. And its perfection, as with all perfection in Hitchcock, exists in duality. Scottie will absorb the folly of time with which Elster infuses him through Madeleine/Judy. but where Elster reduces the fantasy to mediocre manifestations (wealth, power, etc.), Scottie transmutes it into its most utopian form: he overcomes the most irreparable damage caused by time and resurrects a love that is dead. The entire second part of the film, on the other side of the mirror, is nothing but a mad, maniacal attempt to deny time, to recreate through trivial yet necessary signs (like the signs of a liturgy: clothes, make-up, hair) the woman whose laoss he has never been able to accept. His own feelings of responsibility and guilt for this loss are mere Christian Band-Aids dressing a metaphysical wound of much greater depth. Were one to quote the Scriptures, Corinthians I (an epistle one of Bergman's characters uses to define love) would apply: "Death, where is your victory?"
—Chris Marker, "A Free Replay: Notes on Vertigo," from The Positif Collection, reprinted in Projections 4 1/2, Faber and Faber, 1995
James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock, 1957