Friday, February 04, 2005

R.I.P. John Vernon

The other night I caught a few minutes of CHARLEY VARRICK on TCM and thought about what great villains character actor John Vernon played. The sleazy criminal who sells out partner Lee Marvin in POINT BLANK. Clint Eastwood’s dogged pursuer in THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. He also had a memorable turn opposite Clint as “the Mayor” in DIRTY HARRY.

Most obituaries are highlighting Vernon’s work in ANIMAL HOUSE, as well they should. A comedy of that stripe is only as good as its foil, and Vernon’s Dean Wormer set the bar high.

I’d like to remember Mr. Vernon with this exchange from his performance in AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL.

Prosecutor: Doctor, can you give the court your impression of Mr. Striker?

Dr. Stone: I’m sorry. I don’t do impressions. My training is in psychiatry.

TV Commercial: Revlon

Let me get this straight. We’ve got Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon and Julianne Moore all in one dressing room? This must be the starriest production of THE WOMEN ever. I shudder to think what the tickets must cost. And not only are they sharing the same room, they’re sharing the same mirror. CATWOMAN and THE FORGOTTEN are more believable than these ads are.

On the bright side, it’s great to see this much A-list talent in a commercial outside of Japan.

Classics I Somehow Missed: Day for Night (1973)

I’ve got an excuse. For years Francois Truffaut’s Oscar-winning film about filmmaking was only available in a dubbed edition. The 30th anniversary DVD remedies that and includes some terrific extras.

Now that I’ve seen it, I intend to buy my own copy. It’s a delight from start to finish, brimming with Truffaut’s characteristic warmth. No other movie captures the spirit of frenzied camaraderie that exists on a film set better. You can see its influence on subsequent films about the subject like IRMA VEP and Christopher Guest’s THE BIG PICTURE, which even employs similar music cues.

Miscellaneous: Link

Margo Jefferson takes a look at the contemporary state of noir in print and on screen.