Wednesday, July 01, 2009

RIP: Karl Malden & Harve Presnell

Wow! Two more stars leave this earth...

When I was a kid living in the East Bay Area, San Francisco was that big city really close... that we never went to. When we took that once every two years trip to the zoo - we went to Oakland. But the big city was right there... only a BART train trip away. We listened to KSFO radio from San Francisco, and watched Channel 4 News from San Francisco. But we never went there. So as a kid most of what I knew about San Francisco came from TV shows like SAN FRANCISCO BEAT (syndicated version of the old B&W show THE LINE UP) and STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO with Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. Stone and Keller. I watched it every week. When I made my ill-advised Super 8mm feature a few years later, one of my actresses had been an *extra* on STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO! That was exciting! I also tracked down the novel STREETS was based on by Caroline Weston, which took place in... Santa Barbara! But still had that concept of generation gap detectives, each saw a different world and each had different ways of dealing with it. Hey, there were some sequel novels - read those, too. Still have 'em somewhere.

So Karl Malden came into my parent's home once a week, and because it was a cop show that took place in that big city close by, it was one of my favorite shows. And when there was some movie on with Karl Malden, I'd watch it. Now, he's gone.

Streets Of San Francisco:

The "Farrah" for today is great character actor Harve Presnell. He was in every movie you've ever seen as the crusty but clever old guy. I went to the evil IMDB to see if he was ever a guest star on STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO, but he wasn't doing movies and TV back then. Presnell was a big Broadway musical star who "retired" to film & TV work. So while STREETS was on, he was still singing on stage in some big hit musical that my parents may have had the Original Cast Recording album of.

When he retired to TV and movies, he ended up being in all kinds of films, from FACE/OFF as Travolta's FBI Chief boss to LEGALLY BLONDE to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN to... well, just think back to any big movie that had a crusty but charming old guy and he was probably the actor playing that role. He was gruff but there was always a twinkle in his eyes. The movie you'd instantly remember him from is FARGO, as William Macy's father in law. Macy's whole plan revolves around kidnaping his own wife and getting the money from Presnell... only Presnell isn't some weak idiot like Macy's character - he's more like Eastwood in GRAN TORINO... he wants to kick some kidnaper ass.


Both of these actors were big stars in their time, and could just steal the screen from any other actor in the scene. Both did all kinds of great chararcter work - not the star, but the actors who often end up doing the heavy lifting and real acting. And now, both are gone.

Classes On CD - Recession Sale!

- Bill


Yesterday’s Dinner: Dead Chicken at El Pollo Loco.

And I am very sorry to everyone in the UK for this...

7/2 - M4M2 - 19:05 - Steel Sharks - When a United States submarine is seized by terrorists, a rescue attempt by Elite Navy Seals goes awry. The submarine crew wages a silent war beneath the waves in this tense undersea thriller.

7/4 - M4M2 - 15:00 - Crash Dive - The crew of a nuclear submarine rescues supposed victims of a boat disaster, but the victims turn out to be terrorists intent on capturing nuclear weapons aboard the sub.

But it *is* Independence Day, so maybe it's part of that.

- Bill

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