Saturday, October 08, 2011

Charles Napier R.I.P.

I'm still a regular filmgoer and there are still plenty of filmmakers and actors I'm excited about, but I tend to get the biggest charge out of movies made between 1895 and 1984. It's a bummer to see so many of my favorite character actors and filmmakers die each year even though that's the natural course of life. Charles Napier was one of those character actors of note. Most obituaries are so reductive and incomplete, and Napier's are no exception. Reading them, one gets the sense that the only notable facts in Napier's life are his square jaw and performances in Rambo and The Blues Brothers (though the latter is definitely worth pointing out). He did so much more than that, and he was so much more than a square jaw. A regular for both Russ Meyer and Jonathan Demme, he brought an unselfconscious ease and lived-in delivery to a series of interesting characters.

Highly recommended:
Supervixens (Russ Meyer, 1975)
Citizen's Band (Jonathan Demme, 1977)
The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980)
Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, 1980)
Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 1986)
Married to the Mob (Jonathan Demme, 1988)
Maniac Cop 2 (William Lustig, 1990)
The Grifters (Stephen Frears, 1990)

The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
voice work on "The Critic" (1994-5)
The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller, 1996)
several voices on "The Simpsons" (2001-5)
an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (2007)

A few I still need to see:
Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (Russ Meyer, 1970)
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer, 1970)
Last Embrace (Jonathan Demme, 1979)
Swing Shift (Jonathan Demme, 1984)
Miami Blues (George Armitage, 1990)

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