Monday, November 28, 2011

phew! talk about a godforsaken dirtnap!

I have bellyflopped in front of the internet! NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT! BLOGGED AS THOUGH A DAILY CHARACTER ACTOR TRIBUTE WAS IN THE OFFING THEN SIT ON THEIR EVER LOVIN HANDS? NOPE It's NEVER happened. And it pains me terribly to be the one that ruined the blogosphere entire with his lazy, fickle, self-serving, lazy and all too common neglect of what is surely one of the best ideas... Why does the web have to be so CONVENIENT? I HAVE NO EXCUSE. NONE.

That said,

it's December. We can begin again. Been watching some films and feeling a fair share of gratitude for this guy right here:

and this'n

and a this'n

even this frumplestiltskin from Bronco Billy

Course I'm talkin bout Mr. Geoffrey Lewis -- father of Juliette "The Other Sister" Lewis, milquetoast, unscrupulous brute, disapproving adult and general oddball (in his military-themed films, naturally). Seriously though, he defies the blithe, lyrical James Liptonizing and just fills up movies significantly more than the ones given more lines than him. It's rare that an actor so often deemed "supporting", is such an essential part of the film's foundation. While Lewis has done his fare share of grunt work in unsavable films (Tango & Cash, Double Impact), he has taken on memorable roles in some of the greatest films of the seventies. My two favorites being High Plains Drifter (easily Eastwood's best western) and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (the anti-Tango & Cash).

High Plains is great because Eastwood's character isn't exactly a good guy (doesn't take no from the town strumpet), but Lewis is much much worse. He is simply a vicious, empty sadist and played scarily well. This is one of the grittier westerns of the seventies and the oily Stacy Bridges partly makes it one of the best. Him and his crew (one of em played by fellow Eastwood regular Anthony "Skinny Dubois" James) look like he greazed forth from a Leone movie and prove to be formidable even when they get more than they'd bargained for in HELL.

Thunderbolt & Lightfoot is a funny, tender and depressing as shit buddy bank-robber flick with Eastwood and a young, muppet-like Jeff Bridges (this unique early mix of cute and vacant must've somehow led to his break-out role in Starman). They have terrific chemistry that is in no small part buoyed by their unwanted partners in crime Red (George Kennedy) and Eddie (Lewis). Kennedy's Red Leary is something to see -- infinitely irascible, violent, perverted -- especially how he interacts with his basically good-natured, personal punching bag Eddie Goody. As the antithesis of his High Plains role, Lewis still screams i'm-watching-a-great-movie with every move. Once again (and I'll try not to just say this over and over) what could've been a very stock role is elevated by a series of sympathetic, silly and tragicomic turns.

The most recent thing I can think of where Lewis was memorable in was yet another Eastwood project (guy's got taste) was as the townie the went around with flies tied to him and a vial of poison in Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. It doesn't much matter. The two I've selected and Bad Company (Jeff Bridges again) have stood the test of time better than time itself. All of Cinema is better for it. Let the money 'support' -- people like Geoffrey Lewis are the reason for the season.

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