Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Something Special


We watched HOPSCOTCH the other night and it occurred to me that although I didn't like it as well as I remembered, Matthau brought something special to the part. An intelligent impishness maybe. At any rate, few actors infuse each part with the such a touch. And that a man of his looks could play romantic parts well is amazing. It was totally believable that Glenda Jackson, 20 years younger, would find him endearing.

What actor, male or female, do you always feel makes a movie special? Who has that special something? And what Matthau movie do you like most? I am torn between THE ODD COUPLE and CHARLIE VARRICK.

27 comments:

Naomi Johnson said...

I've got HOPSCOTCH in my Netflix queue; I've never seen it. I don't know if I have a single favorite Matthau movie, he always did a fine job. I love CHARADE of course, but he has a supporting role. I liked Matthau as the would-be murderous husband in A NEW LEAF. And of course, I loved every pairing of Matthau and Lemmon.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Cracking film. I like him in pretty much everything, I think. Taking Of Pelham is a good un.

Charles Gramlich said...

I liked the Odd Couple a lot. Haven't seen Hopscotch. A quirky actor I always thought brought something special to films was M. emmit Walsh.

Dorte H said...

Matthau is great (one of the few of YOURS I actually recognize on the screen).

Several years ago I went to the Royal Theatre of Copenhagen to watch a drama based on Salome (New Testament bitch, you know). I knew who was playing the lead role, yet I had to check the poster in the break because what I saw WAS Salome - so mean and evil to the core she scared the daylights out of us.

That´s acting for you!

Anonymous said...

I just watched Hopscotch for the fist time in 25 years last week. It was a much slower movie than I remembered and didn't hold up as well as I'd hoped.Tho I really liked that there were minor characters named Westlake, Follett and Ludlum.

Charade, Odd Couple and The Fortune Cookie are still great. I also love him in The Taking of Pelham 123. His character never quite realized that he was in a thriller.

Dan Luft

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - As far as Matthau goes, I'd vote for The Odd Couple. I just love that film!

As for me, I really like Dustin Hoffman. I've seen him in many of his films (OK, even I didn't see Ishtar ;-) ), and in most of them, I've really enjoyed what he brought to the part.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now A New Leaf is a forgotten movie and so funny. Pelham is just great. He could play any part. Walsh is a perfect example. Funny you mention Salome. We went to an art history lecture last night and a portrait of her was one of the pieces he spoke about.
Yes Dan, it was very slow and predictable. He was good, of course, but I remembered it as more clever.
Just saw Dustin in Barney's Version where he was predictably excellent.

Yvette said...

I love Walter Matthau. You found the right word, Patti: impishness. He had that and more.

My favorite Matthau film of all time: A NEW LEAF with the inimitable Elaine May. He played the irascible romantic lead in this one too. One of the funniest and endearingly great comedies that few have ever heard of.
LOVE this film.

Yvette said...

You guys beat me to the punch on A NEW LEAF. So glad that you've heard of it and loved it too. Really it's one of my favorite films of all time.

Todd Mason said...

I certainly haven't forgotten A NEW LEAF...I was just discussing it recently on Bill's blog as the better alternative to (not-terrible) ISHTAR among May's films...and Matthau was certainly a large part of the reason A NEW LEAF is a solid film.

Matthau (you typo his name in the last citation in the post, leaving off the U) couldn't save everything, and he was by HOPSCOTCH maybe a little too prone to mooning about in boxers and bathrobe, but, yeah, CHARLEY VARRICK and THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE are two great performances. He's the best thing about the adaptation of THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN, too...and I see he even has a bit role, probably as a favor, in BULLITT.

Anonymous said...

A NEW LEAF. THE FORTUNE COOKIE. THE ODD COUPLE ("Now it's gah-bage!"). CHARADE. All great.

Jeff M.

Dana King said...

CHARLIE VARRICK, THE ODD COUPLE, PELHAM 123, THE FORTUNE COOKIE, take your pick. Matthau was great, always knew just how much to put into a role.

There never has been a better bad guy than Robert Shaw, but Mattau was his equal in Pelham, the everyman civil servant who rose to the task almost in spite of himself. Brilliant work.

Richard R. said...

"What actor, male or female, do you always feel makes a movie special?

Steve McQueen.

pattinase (abbott) said...

He adds danger and intensity to a movie. No doubt.

K. A. Laity said...

I'm glad The Fortune Cookie was mentioned. I think that's an often overlooked film. Really really funny, but also sweet and at heart serious.

What actor, male or female, do you always feel makes a movie special?

Well, if I have to pick one, I'd say Cary Grant, just because he made himself into something sui generis that was both funny, graceful and romantic. But Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn would be fighting for a mention too, and honestly, Johnny Depp, too -- Burton, Harris, Mitchum, Streep... oh, too many, too many.

Kieran Shea said...

y'know what two Matthau roles always stick w/ me: FAIL SAFE

Kieran Shea said...

and THE SUNSHINE BOYS

Cap'n Bob said...

Most people have taken the better ones so I'll add Plaza Suite, especially the one where he's the father of the bride.

There are certain character actors who never fail to spice up a movie for me--Mike Mazurki, Royal Dano, Lon Chaney, Jr. I also love to watch Gloria Grahame and Clair Trevor.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I completely forgot THE SUNSHINE BOYS. How could I?

Deb said...

Oddly enough, I find him more interesting in supporting roles, especially "A Face in the Crowd." He also had a supporting role in one of Elvis's earliest movies, "King Creole."

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't remember him in either. I am not sure I've ever seen King Creole come to think of it.

Todd Mason said...

Oddly enough, I didn't much care for him in THE SUNSHINE BOYS...he simply wasn't convincing as a man ten-twenty years older than he was at the time. Probably George Burns's best film, in comparison.
With PLAZA SUITE, as the Captain doesn't quite say, he does what he can with that script.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Can't remember it well enough to know but I do remember him in Plaza Suite and he was fine. Also good in Cactus Flower as a lech. He wasn't afraid to be unlikable.

Anonymous said...

CHARLEY VARRICK was great, followed closely by KING CREOLE.

John McFetridge said...

Jack Lemmon directed a movie that starred Walter Matthau called Kotch which I haven't seen in years but remember as being very good.

I always liked this story Tony Curtis tells about Walter Matthau.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I know I saw Kotch but can't quite remember it. He played a guy a lot older than himself. Right?

Ron Scheer said...

LONELY ARE THE BRAVE and CASEY'S SHADOW. I get a kick out of any film with William Conrad stealing scenes in it.