Sunday, April 06, 2008

Chuck is Gone

It seemed like for a while, when I was a kid, just about every movie or every other movie that I wanted to see starred Charlton Heston. Hard to believe he's gone.

He made a lot of science fiction/horror films in the late sixties and early seventies, so there was a steady run of his pictures on television, representing a great artistic contribution to the cinema of the fantastique.

If it wasn't Heston as Taylor in Planet of the Apes, or as The Omega Man, he was a future cop discovering mass deception in Soylent Green--it's people, you know. Or it was Heston dealing with an Earthquake, a sniper, a sunken sub or a killer mummy.

Later he would move to TV work but still turn up in the occasional genre outing including the Lovecraftesque In the Mouth of Madness and as a Nick Fury-like boss for Ah-nahld in True Lies.

Though it's not genre, it has a high cool factor and I also absolutely love Touch of Evil, in which Heston was a stand-up guy, backing Orson Wells as the director when the studio was iffy. His acting turn in that is a bit odd, but it's a great movie with two great scenes -- the uncut opening tracing the path of a bomb and the suspenseful denouement as Heston tracks Wells as the chief baddie with a listening device, struggling to stay in range.

I'd have met him if I met him
I missed out on the opportunity as a reporter to cover him when he came to Louisiana to appear for a religious group in the early '90s, but I did manage a six-degrees-of-separation moment once upon a time.

I interviewed Mariette Hartley upon the release of her autobiography. She had worked with Heston in a film called Skyjacked in which he played the pilot on a flight plagued by a mad bomber.

Somehow he came up in our conversation, and she talked about how warm and friendly he was in spite of his on-screen persona and his role as Hollywood's top conservative.

It's always nice to hear stars are also nice guys, and it is of course, sad to see Chuck go. At least we'll always have those great scenes to remember:

Pushing reporters out of the way in the oft parodied Airport 75.

Stretching a hand up from the crowd in SG: "Soylent Green is people!"

Handing over the vital bottle of his blood to save mankind in Omega.

And of course:

Kneeling in the sand at the base of the statue of liberty in POA shouting: "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! Damn you all to hell"


Charles Gramlich said...

I just heard about this this morning and was saddened. I really enjoyed many of his movies, particularly ones you mention here, Omega Man, Soylent Green, and Planet of the Apes.

Miladysa said...

Ditto Charles with the film favourites. Ben Hur was a miss with me though - had to sit through it with my mother as a child and the leprosy scene gave me the jitters!

I think he was 84? He had a great innings :-D

Anonymous said...

Need to see Soylent Green...never watched that.

On the bright side, Doctor Who is back! Episode sucked but nice surprise at the end.

Sidney said...

Didn't realize Who was starting already but it looks like Sci Fi will be airing it just behind BBC, kind of like BBC America is doing with Torchwood this season.

Who starts with the Christmas episode April 18, and The Sarah Jane Smith Adventures start next Friday also.

Lana Gramlich said...

And lest we forget..."Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

Miladysa said...

I am addicted to Torchwood!

Anonymous said...

Scifi is pretty heavily edited to fit into 40 minutes or so slot. Illegal dl's are better.

Torchwood is ok, but still can't get into some of it. This season has Martha Jones so that was a plus.


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