Sunday, February 7, 2021

Quips and Quotations (In Memoriam Edition)



 I never, ever update Mark Twain. I don't modernize it. I let the audience update the material. When I go out on stage, I'm trying to make the audience believe they're looking at this guy who died 104 years ago and listening to him and saying to themselves, "Jesus, he could be talking about today." And that's the point.

--Hal Holbrook

That's some of what the movie captured--the uncertainty and doubt. Most of the sources and informants were just low-level players who just saw a piece of the conspiracies. [All the President's Men] director Alan J. Pakula picked actor Hal Holbrook to play Deep Throat. Holbrook was the wise actor of the era, cerebral and high-minded. He was the one who seemingly knew the entire story but wouldn't tell it all. It was a powerful performance, capturing the authoritative and seasoned intensity, cynicism and gruffness of the man in the underground garage.

--Bob Woodward, The Secret Man.


Jim [Brooks] said, "I just had a flash. I know what it's about. Mary's going to do a show. Mary's going to do a new show...." Her movie career didn't go anywhere, and she had this big smash hit special, which was called Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman. It was an hour-long special with Dick and Mary reuniting them in a variety of different sketches and songs and everything. The show went through the roof, and CBS was nuts about the idea of getting Mary back on television for them.

--Allan Burns, TV writer and producer, screenwriter, and, early in his career, animator for Jay Ward Productions.

Allan's range was like nobody's...I don't think you ever get an absurdist [The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Munsters], a legitimate humorist [The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda] and a feeling person [A Little Romance] in one package.

--James L. Brooks, who, in addition to The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, also created with Burns the Moore-spinoff Lou Grant.

He was a guide and mentor, and I loved him...Jim Brooks was the bouncing-off-the-walls part of the team, and Allan was the stabilizer.

--Ed Asner


Although we worked hard enough to make [Captain von Trapp] interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse. And the subject matter was not mine. I mean, it can't appeal to every person in the world...But [The Sound of Music] was a very well-made movie, and it's a family movie and we haven't seen a family movie, I don't think, on that scale for ages.

--Christopher Plummer

Well, that was a dream come true. I had always been a fanatic Christopher Plummer fan. I still am. I had acquired a CD of him performing excerpts from Henry V to the accompaniment of the musical score that William Walton wrote for the Olivier movie of Henry V. I used to just listen to it over and over and over again. And Chang came out of that recording. I just thought, “I want a Shakespeare-quoting guy, and we’re gonna get Christopher Plummer.” It’s the only time I ever wrote specifically for an actor, not counting the Star Trek cast. And I said to Mary Jo Slater, who was our casting director, “You have to get him for this, because I can't make the movie otherwise. There’s no other actor who can do this.” So, she got him. And I had the time of my life. It was just my own Shakespeare wind-up toy. I would just say, “Do that ‘Let slip the dogs of war’ for me again.” He was a delight.

--Nicholas Meyer, who directed Plummer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

In his 80s when we met, I marveled at his intense curiosity, hunger to make something vulnerable, and his need to challenge himself. Christopher was both dignified and mischievous, deeply cultured and always looking for a good laugh. As he said about playing my father who was dying ‘not an ounce of self pity,’ and that’s how he was. I’ll always be indebted to Christopher for honoring the story of an older man who dares to come out of the closet, to overcome shame with grace, and intelligence, and a rowdy desire for life — Christopher knew how to make that story alive for so many people.

--Mike Mills, who directed Plummer in Beginners, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 88, making him the oldest winner ever.

(All three of these fellas deserve a much better sendoff than I'm giving them here, but if I were to give each of them that better sendoff, I probably wouldn't be done until a month from now, and God knows who will have died in the meantime--Kirk) 

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