May 04, 2008
Originally published October 13, 2003
I don't know why, but I started thinking at work today about some of my favorite actors who always played sleazeballs in some of my favorite movies.
Bruce Dern is probably my all-time favorite western bad-guy. I've seen him shot, hanged and killed dozens of times and he always came back for more. My favorite line in his entire career was in Hang 'em High when Bruce was part of the lynch mob fixing to hang Clint Eastwood. "Heh, heh, heh.. I want his WALLET!" Bruce Dern just had the teeth and the face and the feral grin to make me want to shoot him every time I saw him on the screen.
I liked L.Q. Jones, Strother Martin, Dub Tailor and Warren Oates. I liked Jeremy Slate and Albert Salmi. Who was that one-eyed sucker who went from westerns to Bert Reynolds movies? Oh... Jack Elam. I remember now. I liked him, too.
Claude Aikens wasn't bad a few times and Luke Askew is another one of my Unknown Favorites. Luke was in Easy Rider. Hell, Dennis Hopper did a fine job of playing a character named "Moon" in True Grit.
If you want to go 'way back, we can talk about Dan Dureya.
Slim Pickins and Ben Johnson were rodeo rodeo cowboys who learned to act. Neither one was very handsome, but Ben looked a lot better than chinless Slim. I liked both of them.
I like Western movies. I am a American and that's my heritage. I worship John Wayne. I also worship the bit-part actors you never heard of who played in his movies.
If I wanted to act today, being 51 years old, I damn sure should pick a character part to play. My leading man days are over.
Yeah. I'll settle for a bit part now.
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