Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Poker should not be played in a house with women. *

*Mitch (Karl Malden), A Streetcar Named Desire 1951

There's been a lot of celebrity death in the headlines lately. It was tragic to hear about Farrah and her amazing hair battling cancer, and I think many people suspected that Michael Jackson had some pretty serious problems going on behind the scenes. Those headlines were depressing and shocking, respectively.

No one could really call today's celebrity death depressing or shocking - after all, it was a 97-year-old man dying of natural causes - but as an admirer of several of Karl Malden's movies (On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire in particular) I found the news of his death a bit sad.

As Father Barry in Waterfront, he encouraged Marlon Brando (*sigh*) to stand up to Johnny Friendly and mob that controlled the docks. Although Noe likes to snort and say "That's a stupid priest!" when Waterfront comes on cable and I insist on watching, I do not think Father Barry is a stupid priest. An idealized 50's Hollywood priest? Yes. A stupid priest? No.

The other quintessential Malden role was the rather thankless role of Mitch in the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. It's no secret that when it comes to men, Streetcar is all about Stanley (also Marlon Brando - seriously, I adore 50s Brando). But the movie wouldn't be the same without Malden's heartbroken Mitch.

I'd write Karl a tribute, but other people who have watched more of his movies and who aren't obsessed with old-school Marlon Brando will do it better. I could not, however, pass up the opportunity to acknowledge someone who helped define two of my all-time favorite movies.

RIP, Karl.

1 comment:

Bobby G said...

ovies are classic, he will be missed!