Thursday, August 31, 2006

i'm not beaten, and i'm not quittin'

Glenn Ford passed away yesterday at the age of 90.
I remember the first time I saw a Glenn Ford film. Blackboard Jungle was playing as the afternoon movie one Saturday when I was a kid. Happy Days was just then a very popular show and I heard the familiar... "One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock rock" song piping through the TV. I stopped to watch. And I didn't like it. I really didn't like Glenn Ford, but I wasn't sure why.
Then the film Superman came along. I was still a kid so I didn't know anything about Marlon Brando, much less Glenn Ford. This was Jor-El I was looking at on the big screen. Then I saw Jonathan Kent, Superman's adopted father. He looked familiar. He looked trustworthy and honest. This was Superman's "Pa" - this is how I imagined him to be from reading the comic books and watching the cartoons. Whoever he was, I knew he was a good actor. He was Jonathan Kent! I liked him, even though I couldn't place where I had seen him before. It wasn't until years later when I became a little older and more "cine-aware" that I realized who Glenn Ford (and Brando) was. I decided to give him another chance.

I'm glad I did. I "rediscovered" Blackboard Jungle, and found that sometimes films become better with age, not because they have gotten older, but because the viewer gets older, and hopefully more mature. They get better, because we understand them better. We relate to more mature themes better as we get older. And I think we understand some of the unspoken aspect of films- background, history, unspoken exchanges and glances. It "works" for us, where it didn't when we were younger.

Then I discovered Glenn Ford in Westerns. The Desperados, The Violent Men, 3:10 to Yuma, Jubal... he was excellent. Later on, I was able to appreciate and enjoy Ransom!, Gilda, and recently Plunder of the Sun. Thankfully, I was able to rediscover a great actor- one whose work I have come to admire and respect. I don't think he has ever gained the respect that many actors who hit the pantheon of "cult" status receive. He was a genuine movie star, and a fine actor. He was certainly a much better actor than some who have (undeservedly) that same following. It's a shame, because he deserves it. I know many a classic film fan (and Superman fans) who are saddened by his passing. I know I am. You can read more about the news of his passing here and his career here.
Glenn Ford, 1916-2006. Thanks for the memories.

Also- animation fans- another sad note. Veteran and respected animating legend, Ed Benedict passed away earlier this week. Don't recognize the name? Oh, but you would recognize the work. If you have every seen classic Hanna Barbara television shows Ruff and Reddy, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and The Flintstones- you've seen his work. He worked with another animation legend Tex Avery for many years. He was the lead designer on several Droopy shorts and one of my all time favorite Tex Avery shorts, The First Bad Man. I cannot possible do him justice, but Amid over at Cartoon Brew (where else?) has a wonderful write up about his career and links to other articles. Boy, this is not the way to end August, is it?

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

There's one thing I know for sure, son. And that is, You are here for a reason. I don't know what it is, exactly, but I do know this much: it's not to score touchdowns.


Natalie said...

It's sad to loss such cultural icons who contributed much to the entertainment I enjoyed as a girl and continue to do so as an adult. I see they lived into their 90s. I am glad they lived long and gave so much.

Anonymous said...

Pa Kent
We'll miss you

Anonymous said...

I loved glen ford as a girl and while growing up. Compared to the "stars" of today, this was a man with class. As much as I love the Ransom remake, the subtlety of the original left me with something that the remake didn't. It's sad that there are so few of these great actors left.


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