Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Peter Boyle 1935-2006

Let's pause and reflect on the little moments of perfection Peter Boyle gave us: butchering Puttin' on the Ritz with Gene Wilder and earnestly trying to have some soup with a blind Gene Hackman in Young Frankenstein. In the film, Boyle is essentially doing "silent comedy," which is perhaps the most difficult kind. He does it sweetly, and is the heart of the funniest movie ever made. In Taxi Driver, we see just how good a dramatic actor he was. He makes my blood run cold as Billy Bob Thornton's bigoted father in Monster's Ball. He's a showstopper as the proselytizing mental patient in 1989's The Dream Team. "I have died and been reborn!" he booms in the movie. "I can do it again, buster." If only!

LINK BUFFET: The New York Times obit ("Mr. Canby called Joe one of the 10 worst films of the year but hailed Mr. Boyle’s performance as 'extraordinary'"). / The Archive of American Television's interview ("The highlight of my career was meeting my wife on the set of Young Frankenstein, and having two wonderful daughters"). / The Washington Post obit ("Film critic Gary Arnold ... called him 'as irresistibly uncouth as the early Brando'").

4 comments:

Alanna said...

Who was he in Taxi Driver? I just watched it for the first time recently and I definitely didn't recognize him.

J.J. said...

He played Wizard, Robert De Niro's friend, who always seemed to be hanging out at the Chinese food place (or was it a coffee shop?). You didn't recognize him because he's very young, and very low-key, and very good at acting the part without calling attention to himself.

Lindsey said...

"Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" anyone? Am I the only X-Files fan here?

J.J. said...

L Train: I was an X-Files fan from 8th grade to freshman year of high school. I thought about mentioning Boyle's guest role, but I have no emotional connection to it because I've never seen it. But feel free to pay a small tribute here, since you value it.