Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Glenn Ford and Joseph Stefano, R.I.P.

News of two deaths on the same day. That always hurts.

To an entire generation, Glenn Ford will always be Clark Kent’s father in Superman. That’s how I first knew him. But he had an impressive career before that. The hopeless, hapless Johnny Farrell in Gilda. A detective driven almost to the point of madness in The Big Heat. The schoolteacher in Blackboard Jungle. He was a fixture in westerns, including several directed by Delmer Daves (Jubal, Cowboy, and 3:10 to Yuma, with maybe Ford’s finest performance – and as a villain).

From what I’ve read, I gather there was a sense of disappointment hanging over Ford’s career in that he never capitalized on his box office clout the way many of his ’50s contemporaries did. It’s too bad if that’s the case, because Glenn Ford was the kind of actor we could use more of now. Dependable, unfussy, and always believable as a grown-up.

Joseph Stefano worked in Hollywood for decades, but he’ll ultimately be known for two credits. He wrote the screenplay for Psycho, and he co-created The Outer Limits. That’s more than enough. Limits may not be quite as revered as The Twilight Zone, but it’s the superior show. Largely because it wasn’t as concerned with moralizing. Its only goal was to scare the bejesus out of you, which it did more often than not.