Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cliff Robertson, RIP

I'm unhappy to report the passing of the legendary Cliff Robertson. I first took notice of the man in middle school, when my Language Arts class screened his Oscar-winning turn in CHARLY as part of a unit that involved reading FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON. There was a great sincerity there, a sad and terrible but extremely rewarding connectedness to the material; a man's journey toward electrifying intellectual heights– and the degeneration which followed. It was a demanding role, and Cliff Robertson nailed it– he inhabited Charly, and Charly inhabited him. Then I became a TWILIGHT ZONE junky, and the two episodes which starred Cliff ("The Dummy" and "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim") became two of my favorites. Then there's his ferocious performance in Sam Fuller's (proto-GANGS OF NEW YORK but so much better) UNDERWORLD U.S.A.; his grandfatherly sleazemeistin' portrayal of Hugh Hefner in STAR 80; his ridiculous "cowboy of crime, monstrous maverick of malfeasance" Adam West-BATMAN villain, "Shame;" his tortured lead role in one of my favorite De Palmas, OBSESSION; and his rancorous, 'moral majority' crypto-fascist President of the United States in ESCAPE FROM L.A. Clearly, I could go on. Rest in peace, Cliff– you were one of the greats.

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