Monday, July 24, 2006


Back in the days when I had my own blog, I noted the deaths of actors who’d given me hours of particular pleasure.  Ted Knight, Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright were among my favorites.   We need all the momentary pleasures we can find in this vale of tears.  And even though I didn’t know any of the people I bade goodbye, I felt the loss on an almost personal level.

    Tonight I’m saying my goodbye to Jack Warden, certainly one of the two or three best character actors of his generation.  While the movie sites are listing all the A+ movies he appeared in, I have my own list of his great performances – BYE BYE BRAVERMAN; USED CARS; SHAMPOO; THE SPORTING CLUB; THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ, to name just a few.

    And ... for true Jack Warden fans ... his CBS-TV Sunday night series Crazy Like A Fox.  I know – it wasn’t The Rockford Files.  It was TV-lite.  But he made it wonderful.  Carol and I would tape the shows so we could see them again the very next night.  Just to watch him act.  He was a wonderful comic actor as well as a powerful dramatic one.  He had a particularly great line when his frustrated son told him that his office was a mess as was his life.  Harry Fox: “Son, you gotta learn to rise above the details.”  That is the wisdom I live by.  I rise above the details every day.

    Hours and hours and hours of Jack Warden dating back to the the mid-1950s and live TV.  Never saw him phone one in or not know exactly how to inhabit the character.  So long, Jack and thanks for all pleasure your immeasurable talent gave me.


    The new issue of Clues from managing editor Elizabeth Foxwell has some meaty and interesting articles on noir, beginning with an appraisal of James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet; “Truth, Knowledge and Psychoanalysis in the Hard-Boiled Fiction of Raymond Chandler” (as somebody who thinks Freud was a fruitcake, I liked this article more than I thought I would); and a piece that relates to femme fatales in a marginal way, “Lady Macbeth in Detective Fiction: Criminalizing  the Female Reader.”
    If I read this correctly, and I’m not sure I did, author Erica Hateley seems to come to the conclusion that just as the witches and Lady Macbeth were dangerous to the male-rigged social order,  (after a looong trip to get here) she concludes that even today: “While masculine readers are allowed to use academic resources to authorize their own positions and ideas, feminine readers are ‘criminalized’ for attempting to do the same.” 
    As I said, and I’m not joking,  I’m not in the least academically oriented, so I’m willing to admit I just may have missed the point of this article.  Very nice look at Reginald Hill, too, an author I got to late but really enjoy and admire now.


    Bill Crider has got me watching all those Warner Bros TV shows from the late 50s again.  The other night I saw one of the Howard Browne Cheyenne episodes that was originally a 77 Sunset Strip.   I know this because I used to talk to Howard about once a month and he loved talking about the season of the writer’s strike when Warner scabs just retooled old scripts from one show and slapped them on another. 

    I always hoped that Kookie would get stabbed to death and then burned but I stayed with 77 anyway.  Actually, the best detective scripts were those Richard Matheson and Howard wrote for Bourbon Street Beat.

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