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Rest in peace, you big tub of guts*

One-Eyed Jacks movie posterThe good news: There are only a handful of folks left on our not-dead-yet list we wrote of last week. The bad news: That other kid from Gary, Indiana, Karl Malden, a perennial front-runner for a Spotlight commemorating his passing, has, indeed, passed. At 97, Malden was a Biography Resource Center favorite, a man with a schnoz that only a pugilist could love and a face that could break only the frailest of hearts. We have two narrative and three brief biographies on Malden. A brief list of Malden’s best work, the bulk of which was done with director Elia Kazan:

  • Boomerang!
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • On the Waterfront
  • One-Eyed Jacks
  • Baby Doll
  • How the West Was Won
  • Miracle on Ice

It’s difficult to select a single Malden performance to recommend above all others, and thus for us it is a tie. On the one hand is his role of Dad Longworth in One-Eyed Jacks, a fairly Oedipal work of mastery, ego, or both that was written and directed by Marlon Brando. Brando, of course, also starred in the film. And on the other is Baby Doll, a Kazan movie which really must be seen to be believed.

Malden often played Brando’s foil, whether in On the Waterfront or as Mitch, Blanche’s suitor, in A Streetcar Named Desire. He also did a number of less memorable sequels to far greater films, including The Sting II and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.

Pop some popcorn and pour one out for Malden this evening, if you would. He deserves it.

* In the interest of full disclosure, “tub of guts” was an epithet not actually directed at Malden in One-Eyed Jacks, but at Timothy Carey.

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Posted on: July 2, 2009, 11:55 am Category: Factoids Tagged with: , , ,

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