Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heaven Can't Wait After All

Jack Warden died. He wasn't young. He got the mention you'd expect for an old hand in movies and TV; chaste, short, each item mentioning the little corner of his life that overlapped the reporter's life. We'll remember his name for a while, and then just his face, always referring to him as "Oh, that guy," and then he'll become the trivia question, and then end up in a sort of famous oblivion. He'll never go away, really, there's just too much evidence of him.

It's telling, about either Jack or me, that all the mentions of his work in the five-paragraph-dead-notices I found here and there mention all kinds of things he worked in I haven't seen, and wouldn't find time to watch if I was confined to an iron lung, in prison. Come to think of it, I bet if I looked through his bio hard enough, I bet I could find a role he played of a guy in an iron lung in prison. He played every other damn thing.

I always liked actors like him. Out of the WW II army with a bum leg, he took a shot at acting, and from there on in he worked all the time. I'm sure he became that reliable name in everybody's rolodex: ready, steady, go. And after a while, you noticed that whenever they gave Jack Warden interesting lines to deliver, he'd deliver them as well as anybody. I did anyway.

He seems to be remembered mostly as being Warren Beatty's go-to guy. He was terrific in Shampoo, where they gave him something to say. It's Warren Beatty who's a stiff that won't lay down now, not Jack. Warren Beatty played a callow lothario in Shampoo to a tee, and Warden played the dissolute businessman foil for him perfectly; no one seems to have figured out that Beatty was good in his role because that's exactly what he was -- a tongue tied dope with too few shirt buttons. Jack Warden was a good actor. Big difference.

Jack has 153 projects listed in imdb, and some have mutiple entries because they're TV roles. Anyone can go in there and find something they liked Jack Warden in. Film critic or Home Shopping Club devotee -- doesn't matter-- there's something for everyone.

There's three things he did that came to mind right away for me when I heard he was dead.

Being There
The Verdict

Those three movies encapsulated, some unintentionally, the clapped out shambles the seventies still represents to me. Jack Warden is marvelous in all three, and steals the show each time.

Watch those three movies. Send Jack home thinking: Man, he was good.


XWL said...

Some humorous Jack Warden related thoughts at Ken Jennings', blog.

Who knew he could be so funny?

(I'm talking about Ken, not Jack, Jack was quite clearly capable of being the funny straight man, or the funny funny man, or the serious straight man, he had range)

(Though Ken's sense of humor has gotten him into some trouble lately, read the posts from the past week or so)

(and for some reason that I can't explain, I haven't linked to your site in my blogroll, will be corrected momentarily)

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SippicanCottage said...

(Man, I have such trouble with these blogger comments sometimes. It eats them or makes a mess of the hyperlinks.)

Ladies and gentleman, please inspect xwl's avatar picture. If that's not the pinnacle of the genre, well, shoot me with a bop gun.

He's at and he's on the west coast, thereby protecting me from being snuck up on from the orient. I cover his back from any incursions from the Azores.

He also lends me pennies to stack on the needle to keep my Parliament albums from skipping.

Anonymous said...

Your comments about Beatty are pathetic and say more about you than about him. Jack and Warren, great friends, great actors. R.I.P. Jack.

SippicanCottage said...

I often say more about me than about Warren Beatty.