The Kid Stayed In The Picture: Robert Evans, R.I.P.


Robert Evans was a true Hollywood character and I think that, if he hadn’t existed, someone would have had to have created him.  He went from selling clothes to starring in B-movies to producing blockbusters.  He made and lost and remade a fortune while marrying one of the most beautiful women in the world, Ali MacGraw.  Among his friends were Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Henry Kissinger, and Robert Towne.  Among his enemies was occasionally Francis Ford Coppola, who never would have directed The Godfather if not for Evans’s insistence that he be given the job.  Dustin Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for playing Evans in Wag The Dog.  In Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind, Geoffrey Land played “Max David,” a studio executive who was obviously meant to be Evans.

Bob Evans’s lows were almost as intense as his highs.  Forced out of his position at Paramount, Evans went independent and produced Chinatown.  Evans married Ali MacGraw, just to lose her to Steve McQueen.  He was arrested for cocaine possession and then went on to produce one of the great pop cultural moments of the 80s, the anti-drug tv special, Get High On Yourself.  He lost a fortune on The Cotton Club but made a comeback in the 90s.

In 1994, He also wrote on the greatest Hollywood memoirs of all time, The Kid Stays In The Picture.  Written in Evans’s trademark mix of cynicism and sentiment, The Kid Stays In The Picture tells a warts-and-all story of fast times and big talent in Hollywood.  With both the book and a subsequent documentary of the same name, Robert Evans let the world know who he was and that he wasn’t going to apologize for a damn thing.

Robert Evans died on Saturday, in Beverly Hills.  He was 89 years old and with his passing, an amazing story of Hollywood comes to a close.

Rest in Peace, Bob Evans.

Scenes I Love: Robert Forster in El Camino


Today, I’m taking a break from sharing horror movie scenes that I can pay tribute to the great actor, Robert Forster.

Forster passed away on Friday, shortly after his final film — El Camino — dropped on Netflix.  Forster had a small but pivotal role in the film, reprising the Breaking Bad character of Ed.  Ed may look like a vacuum cleaner repairman but he’s actually the guy you want to see if you need to start a new life far away from New Mexico.

Admittedly, Forster doesn’t say a lot in the scene below.  Aaron Paul’s the one who does most of the talking but then again, Forster wasn’t an actor who needed a lot of lines to make an impression.  Forster excelled at playing down-to-Earth men who may not have said much but who still meant every word that they said.  Forster does so much with just his eyes and his taciturn expression here.  And when he does speak, the lines are killer.

Obviously, this scene is going to count as a spoiler if you haven’t seen El Camino yet.

Robert Forster, R.I.P.  He was one of the greats.

 

RIP Sid Haig: A Career Retrospective


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Quick, name an actor who’s played villains opposite everyone from Batman to  James Bond, and Captain Kirk to TJ Hooker. Not to mention sharing screen time with stars like Ann-Margret, Lucille Ball, Lon Chaney Jr, Pam Grier, Nancy Kwan, Lee Marvin, and Anthony Quinn, and working with directors as diverse as Robert Aldrich, Jack Hill, Richard Fleischer, George Lucas, Quentin Tarantino, and Rob Zombie.  There’s only one, and his name was Sid Haig, one of the last links to Old Hollywood and an Exploitation Icon, who sadly passed away yesterday at age 80.

Young Sidney Moesian, born 7/17/39 in Fresno, was bitten by the show biz bug early, dancing onstage as a child and even scoring a regional rock hit with his teenage band The T-Birds:

Sid got his acting education paying his dues at the famed Pasadena Playhouse, alongside roommate Stuart Margolin (THE ROCKFORD FILES, DEATH WISH, etc). His…

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Farewell, Captain Spaulding


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News has reached us that character actor Sid Haig has passed away at age 80. I’ll have a full tribute/career retrospective on Sid later tonight or tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, enjoy this pictorial tribute to the late, great Sid Haig…

Spider Baby (1964; D: Jack Hill)

CC & Company (1970; D: Seymour Robbie)

Diamonds Are Forever (1971; D: Guy Hamilton)

Foxy Brown (1974; D: Jack Hill)

Jackie Brown (1997; D: Quentin Tarantino)

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Wasn’t Born to Follow: RIP Peter Fonda


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It’s ironic that on this, the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, one of our biggest counter-culture icons has passed away. When I saw Peter Fonda had died at age 79, my first reaction was, “Gee, I didn’t know he was that old” (while sitting in an audience waiting for a concert by 72 -year-old Dennis DeYoung of Styx fame!). But we don’t really think of our pop culture heroes as ever aging, do we? I mean, c’mon… how could EASY RIDER’s Wyatt (aka Captain America) possibly be 79??

Be that as it may, Peter Fonda was born into Hollywood royalty February 23. 1940. Henry Fonda was already a star before Peter arrived, thanks to classics like YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, JEZEBEL, YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK, and THE GRAPES OF WRATH (released a month before Peter’s birth). Henry has often been described as cold and aloof, not…

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Peter Fonda, Rest In Peace


Peter Fonda has died from complications due to lung cancer.  He was 79 years old.

As an actor, Peter Fonda never got as much respect as the rest of this family.  Unlike his sister or his father, he never won an Academy Award, though he was nominated for two of them (one for writing Easy Rider and another for starring in Ulee’s Gold).  During the late 80s and the 90s, he was better known for being Bridget Fonda’s father than for the majority of the films that he appeared in during that time.  While the rest of his family was appearing in prestige pictures and working with directors like Fred Zinnemann, Sidney Lumet, William Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola, and Quentin Tarantino, Peter Fonda spent most of his career appearing in B-movies.  But today, many of those B-movies are more fondly remembered than the big films that he missed out on.

Peter Fonda made his film debut in 1963, playing the romantic lead in Tammy and the Doctor.  Fonda hated the film and often called it Tammy and the Schmuckface.  After that less-than-stellar beginning, Peter went on to find his groove as a lifelong member of the Hollywood counterculture.  In the classic biker film, The Wild Angels, he played Heavenly Blues and let the world know that all he wanted to do was “get loaded and have a good time.”  In The Trip, he played a disillusioned television director whose world is turned upside down by acid.

And then there was Easy Rider.  In this seminal independent film from 1969, Peter played Wyatt, a.k.a. Captain America.  Wyatt was the biker and drug smuggler who went “searching for America and couldn’t find it.”  This was Peter Fonda’s most famous role.  Along with acting in the film, he also produced it and co-wrote it.  (He was also responsible for keeping Dennis Hopper under control.  Or, at least as under control as anyone could keep Dennis Hopper in 1969.)  The role made Peter Fonda a symbol of rebellion, an American icon riding across the desert with the American Flag literally on his back.  Today, we still debate what Wyatt meant when he said, “We blew it.”  Peter Fonda, himself, later said that he was delivering the line as himself and not as Wyatt because he was convinced that Easy Rider would be a career-ending flop.

In the 70s and 80s, Fonda continued to play rebels.  His subsequent films were never as successful as Easy Rider, though many of them are still entertaining.  Peter made his directorial debut in 1971, with The Hired Hand, an elegiac and thoughtful Western in which Peter co-starred with another cult icon, Warren Oates.  Years later, Fonda would be among the many celebrities who made a cameo appearance in The Cannonball Run.  Of course, Peter played a biker and he got to fight Jackie Chan.

In the 90s, Peter Fonda played a lot of old hippies in many forgettable films.  However, in that decade, he also gave two of his best performances.  In The Limey, Fonda played the music producer who Terrence Stamp holds responsible for the death of his daughter.  And, in Ulee’s Gold, Fonda played a cantankerous bee keeper who finds himself taking care of his two granddaughters.  It was a role that many could imagine having once been played by Henry Fonda.  For Ulee’s Gold, Peter was nominated for an Oscar.  He lost to his co-star from Easy Rider, Jack Nicholson.

Peter Fonda continued to work up until his death.  With his passing, America loses another screen icon and a man who epitomized an era.  Rest in Peace.

Scenes That I Love: The “Tears In The Rain” monologue from Blade Runner (RIP, Rutger Hauer)


I just read that Rutger Hauer passed away on July 19th.  He was 75 years old.

Though Hauer played many great roles, most people will always think of him as the replicant Roy Batty in 1982’s Blade Runner.  One of Hauer’s most memorable scenes in that film was his final monologue.  Reportedly, Hauer himself came up with this monologue on the spot, feeling that the lines in the original script didn’t do justice to either the story or his character.

Rest in peace, Rutger Hauer.  He was one of the greats.