Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Helluva Week

Sorry I haven't been here the last few days, but it's been a heckuva week, starting with the fact that I lost my job yesterday. And today I hear that Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan have died on the same day. I wish I was in the mood to write more, because both of these actors were terrific and quite important to me.

I have followed Patrick McGoohan since first seeing THE PRISONER reruns on our PBS station while I was in junior high school. A fascinating series, made even more so by McGoohan's clipped acting style. Like William Shatner and Robert Culp, he was a television actor whose unique manner of speech made even the most routine dialogue something to pay close attention to.

Fortunately, lots of quality McGoohan is available on DVD, such as THE PRISONER and his other two terrific British TV series, DANGER MAN and SECRET AGENT. The episodes of COLUMBO that he directed and/or guest-starred in are essential and among the best American TV mysteries ever. Also, he was the sinister warden in Clint Eastwood's ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, a scientist in SCANNERS, and the villain in SILVER STREAK. It was a real kick to see him in recent blockbusters BRAVEHEART, THE PHANTOM, and A TIME TO KILL.

Montalban is best known for FANTASY ISLAND, of course, but to me, he's Khan Noonian Singh, the archenemy of Captain James T. Kirk in the 1967 STAR TREK episode "Space Seed" and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. I will always believe he and Shatner gave Oscar-worthy performances in the film, and it's Montalban's operatic Khan, more than anything else, even the death of Spock, that has made it not only the greatest TREK film of them all, but one of cinema's best science fiction films, period.

Montalban did so much else besides Khan and Mr. Roarke, obviously. Please see his 1940s crime dramas MYSTERY STREET and BORDER INCIDENT, extremely rare opportunities for a Latin leading man to star in a Hollywood film during that era. Also on DVD is his HAWAII FIVE-0 episode in which he played a Japanese man. Not one of his finest moments, though how could it have been? Still interesting, if for no other reason than to marvel at the guy's guts.

I will miss both of these men.


Hal said...

Damn, Marty, I'm really sorry to hear about the job situation. Hope everything rebounds quickly.

We used to play drinking games to COLUMBO in college more than any other show, and the one that really stands out for me is "By Dawn's Early Light", because every "Sir" or "Ma'am" was one drink. With an episode set in a military academy, with McGoohan playing the villain, we did a lot of drinking that particular night...I don't think anyone was sober after the first 20 minutes. ;)

McGoohan was consistently great in everything I saw him in; same for Montalban. We're losing a lot of really good actors lately.

Neil Sarver said...

I'm sorry to hear about the job. I join in the hope that turns around for you quickly.

And, yeah, this was quite a day for the obituaries. Dang!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your job situation, Marty. It's really rough out there these days.

Tighten up, lighten up, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Best wishes.

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...

Sorry to hear about the job Marty. If only we could all make more from this blogging thing, we could do it full time.

And this was sad. I got into THE PRISONER in the 90's and it was quite a show.

Now I guess I better get around to watching the DR. SYN box set.

Temple of Schlock said...

Terrible news about the job, Marty. I'm starting to get used to all the celebrities dropping like flies but it's still a shock when a friend loses his or her job. Keep your chin up, buddy.

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

All my best to you at this time. I wish there was something I could say that would be of help because, well, I've been there. I hope things change very soon.

And yes, I totally agree that both Shatner and Montalban give Oscar-worthy performances in this film. It remains a true landmark.