10 November, 2006

Jack Palance: RIP

Jack Palance (Vladimir Palanuik/Walter Jack Palance), one of my favorite actors, died today at the age of 87. All Jess Franco watchers will immediately recall his off the wall meanderings as Brother Antonin in JUSTINE (1968), a role Franco said Palance played while under the influence. Given his lack of respect for his own European career, he fiercely denied his numerous Spaghetti Western appearances when confronted about them in his later years, he was a steadfast professional. The Oscar and Emmy award winning actor was one of the great screen "heavies" in George Stevens' SHANE, among others. He recently auctioned off his movie memorabilia. Offscreen he was a landscape painter, who inscribed his canvases with poetry. Palance claimed he never watched the films he appeared in.

A former boxer, Palance's iconic visage was sculpted from his injuries suffered during a B-24 crash in WW II. He was also able to play sympathetic characters and comedy as well as characters like Jack the Ripper in MAN IN THE ATTIC. As the sinister hired gun Jack Wilson in SHANE, his menacing presence in the scene where he slowly puts on his black glove and hisses "Prove it!" to Elisha Cook is chilling and indelible.

His European career afforded him the opportunity to play more villains, such as Fritz Lang's insensitive producer in Jean Luc Godard's LE MEPRIS (1963) and in Sergio Corbucci's Italain-Spanish Westerns THE MERCENARY and COMPANEROS. He also played in the Eurowar epics BATTLE OF THE COMMANDOS and Leon Klimovsky's HELL'S BRIGADE. Master of the slow burn and quiet menace, Palance was an actor's actor who reportedly did push-ups before each take and in front of an international television audience when he won his Academy Award.

Thank you, Jack Palance....

COMMENTARY COPYRIGHT ROBERT MONELL: 2006

2 comments:

peteski said...

When I first moved here (LA), I saw Jack in a supermarket. It was late at night, his wagon had only some cans of tomato paste in it and he was wearing an Ascot.

Robert Monell said...

He was one of a kind. A class act all the way.... I'm going to have to watch him in ATTACK again soon.

Welcome to the Franco blog!