(Regular readers know I love character actors!)
Certainly all of you remember him from ‘The McCoys’ aka ‘The Real McCoys’ 50s television show. But he was so much more.
He was in such diverse films as The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein. He received the very first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as Swan Bostrom in Come and Get It (1936).
And most of us remember him as the preacher in Sergeant York: “Them’s a mess of beef critter’s, Alvin.”
He was a conservative and religious (although private regarding which variety of religion). He died of emphysema at age 80.
While travelling in Oregon with the family (in 1986), I got to drive by his ranch. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stop.
I’m certain it would have been cool, even though he’d passed in 1974. I even do a passable impression of him, although my roommate tells me it’s the same as my Pepperidge Farm guy impression.
“Lilly Langtry, Lilly Langtry! (Judge Roy Bean in the Westerner)
We miss you, Walter.
I loved the personas this man brought to the screen. One of my all-time-favorite TV shows is Michael Mann’s Crime Story, wherein Farina played incorruptible cop Lt. Michael Torello in 1960s Chicago. He carried a 1911 Colt with the grip safety held down by a stack of rubber bands!
He had homes in Arizona, and his home town, and I missed meeting him once, by that much. One of my regular haunts used to be a gun store in central Phoenix. I also worked there part time. One day I sauntered in, and the crew advised me Dennis Farina and a pal had just been in the store! I was 10 minutes late!
Fortunately, I’ve an autographed photo, somewhere. Sadly, it’s not signed to me.
You’ll be missed, sir. Time to break out the Crime Story DVDs – which I’ve largely memorized.
Funny how this was considered state-of-the-art in 1961, with the exception of those Leatherslap folks @ Big Bear (Jeff Cooper, Jack Weaver et al).
Regardless, fun and informative to watch!
h/t Jad, pistol-forum, Todd G.
Would you like to be a Senior?
So, after we (my roommate and I) went to WallyWorld for some grocery shopping, and came home and rested, I remembered a couple things I forgot. And a couple my roomie forgot.
I took it upon myself to return, this time to the truncated WallyWorld, instead of the Mondo one. En route, there was an Albertson’s. Smaller still, and perhaps less crowded than WalMart. I went there.
After picking up most of the forgotten items (note to self – make a list!) I arrived at the register for check-out. The nice lady with the extremely high, grating voice asked me, “Would you like to be a Senior?“ I didn’t quite understand her and asked her to repeat the question. It was still difficult to understand, both in speech and context. Then she explained, “It’s Senior Discount Day, are you a Senior?”
Now, I’ve not been a Senior since 1970, so I think I qualified. And I wasn’t insulted when she further explained one must be 55 to qualify.
I saved over $7.00 on a $28.00 order! It’s good to be the King – or, at least a Senior!
(Naw – nothing like that happened – I’d need more than $28.00 for that!)
In another lifetime, I was working as a security guard, and sometime private investigator. My company would draft me for undercover assignments, which got me out of the guard thing for a while. I didn’t mind being drafted.
On one of these occasions, I was sent to a small town in the mountains North of Phoenix. Worked undercover in a variety store as a management ‘trainee’ whose real function was to spy on all the employees and management. Great stuff!
In such a position, I was quite concerned about my safety. If something untoward was going on, I didn’t want to get ‘made’ and ratted out, or worse. So, I carried a gun. Sadly, I’d sold my handguns for rent money (AGAIN – I was young, this was the 70s – sigh) and the only firearm I owned was my Ithaca DSPS Model 37 police pump. Not exactly concealable on-the-person.
So I toted her from under the motel bed into my car and back using my Dad’s weather-beaten trench coat as a gun rug! Sadly, she had to stay in the car while I was working.
And the motel was on the main drag through town; single-story, L-shaped, rough hewn, not unlike a(n) (in)famous motel of Hitchcock movie fame. I remember Triple A rating it, but not excellent. And I was so stoked not being a guard and doing undercover work, I’d wind down after my 12 hour shift with pizza and beer, while writing my daily report (dropped in the mailbox the next morning en route to work – this was WAY before the Internet!). Then I’d watch some late night movie on the 13″ B&W TV supplied in the room.
The first night the movie was In Cold Blood.
Not exactly restful slumber. But, I did this for a couple weeks, didn’t find any opium dens in the back room of the store, or mob-related activity, and returned home. Back to the guard stuff. Sigh.
But, I never looked behind the motel to see if there was a swamp containing cars. Guess I’ll never know…
Most of us have have seen foot surveillance. At least, on the big screen…
Not too much in the movies – because it’s boring! Notice, they rarely film foot surveillance scenes outside of congested city centers. That’s because it’s next to impossible. If you are the only two persons on the block, it’s bound to be obvious.
Back in the day, I was tasked to perform surveillance on a residential home in central Phoenix. A couple blocks South of a main street, in the middle of town. Nice, older neighborhood. Built in the 40s and 50s – I know, not old for you New Englanders!
The problem was, with little or no automobile traffic, scant foot traffic, and many folks at home during the day, parking near the home was a big red flag. You were bound to have someone call the police on you if you were just sitting alone in your car for any length of time.
My solution was to park a block away, at a business (hoping I wouldn’t be towed!) and walk by the residence, every 45 minutes or so. First one direction, then the other. Changing sides of the street. And taking breaks in my car between walks. Not exactly as exciting as Bullitt or The French Connection. To an outside observer, it would have looked odd or silly. I felt odd and silly.
No one came out of their house and confronted me. No one called the cops. The subject never left his home for me to follow on foot or by car. Eight boring hours.
Thank the gods I was paid hourly!
Woulda been more fun if I’d walked as in The Ministry of Silly Walks.
h/t You Tube
Will Rogers was a comedian and actor from the early part of the Twentieth Century. Before becoming a stage personality, he had actually been a cowboy – some of his act involved lasso tricks!
finally ~ If you don’t learn
to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.
h/t my dear sister, Ellie
I’ve always liked character actors. He is among one of my favorites, although I was only four when he passed away. Thank goodness for old film nights on TV, and VHS/DVD recordings!
Petrified Forest, Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, The African Queen, Sabrina. The Big Sleep. If you’ve not seen these films (and many others) you’ve missed something.
He was politically incorrect before such a phrase existed. A smoker, drinker and brawler, although thin and 5’9″, he was married four times. The last time to Lauren Bacall, 24 years his junior. They had two children.
Lauren Bacall as ‘Slim’ to Bogie in To Have and Have Not:
“You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”
He died of esophageal cancer. His wife placed a gold whistle in his cremation urn. It reads, “If you need anything, just whistle.”
Whipped Cream Difficulties links to an L.A. Times story this morning…
Most of you know I’m not a sports fan. My father slept, ate, breathed, lived sports, so much to the degree that especially after my disability developed at age 12 (and I could no longer play sports with him) I became a sports orphan.
Regardless, I knew of Mr. Karras sporting prowess, and thoroughly enjoyed his comedic antics, especially as the lummox Mongo in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles.
“Mongo just pawn in game of life.”
When I worked at the convenience store, I would sometimes avail myself of the paperback books for sale. The ‘lending library’ we clerks used to call it. George Plimpton’s book Mad Ducks and Bears spent much time on the education of Alex Karras, from a Mongo-like character to an erudite skilled actor and football player. It is also full of hilarious anecdotes. A worthy read, even for a non-sports person like myself.
We’re gonna miss the big guy.
Most firearms and film aficionados will recognize the quote snippet above. For the uninitiated, it’s Clint Eastwood as Inspector ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan. Spoken while pointing his 6″ Smith & Wesson model 29 .44 magnum at a wounded bank robbery suspect’s head. One of his more (in)famous tag lines.
The Smith & Wesson was developed in the 1950s as a hunting handgun. Knowledgeable gun folks understood it was too heavy and bulky to carry for self-protection. And the full-house rounds was well, stout, when shooting.
But, like many folks who came-of-age in the 60′s and 70′s, the iconic Dirty Harry gun had large appeal. Just like the Walther PPK of James Bond fame – only MUCH larger!
And, there was a small window in my life where I had the funds to acquire one. I was ‘smart’ enough to have the 4″ barrel. And stainless. It was concealable – or more so than the 6″. But still big and heavy.
It was the first gun I carried after the State issued me a permit for doing so. At the mall, just because. Kind of a field test. No one saw anything.
But, as with carrying any full-size or service sidearm, it was heavy. And somewhat difficult to conceal – even for a big guy like me. Soon, I evolved into carrying a full sized 1911, or a electroless-nickeled S&W 442 for ‘light days’. And the .44 was returned to the safe.
I did take her shooting a few times to show off. Mostly with new students. Very accurate, coupled with much blast and flash. And recoil.
And this is my point. I found out a while back that many Gunsite-taught folks have changed over to 9mm, instead of the ubiquitous .45 ACP, because they are less painful to shoot!
Could age and infirmity be driving our choices over stopping power? It certain did over my 629 Smith. So you gotta ask yourself one question:
Do you feel lucky?