Friday, April 10, 2009

Camera Obscura: Dollhouse Still Here; 'The Hangover'; 'Extract'; A Salute to Hank Worden

First some news and then a tribute to one of the great character actors to ever hit the screen.

A Twitter comment from actress Felicia Day caused a mini-storm with a claim the new Joss Whedon show "Dollhouse" was about to be canceled. It is not - though Fox has no love for Whedon's work, the episode Day was in was not meant to be aired but will appear on the already planned DVD set. Of course, since Fox is prepping the set may well mean all we'll get is one season. Holding any decent ratings on a Friday night is tough - but the show is absolutely better and better each week.

Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune has the skinny on the fan furor and the odd episode counting Fox is doing. Plus, she offers some advice to Whedon which I'd like to see him consider:

My take is this: If "Dollhouse" is canceled, for the love of all that is holy, creator Joss Whedon should get out of business with the broadcast networks.

Whedon needs to make his next show on cable. End of story."


Speaking of odd TV decisions, I did watch the season finale of "Life On Mars", as ABC decided to cancel it abruptly. The writers created an ending for the series, which was vastly different from the way the original BBC series ended. The story of the show was about a policeman who is injured in the present and wakes up in 1973 working as a cop there too. He blends right in with everyone, he's trying to figure out what the heck happened and in the last episode he wakes up from a cryo-sleep chamber on a spaceship about to land on Mars. All the folks in his "dream scenario" were his fellow astronauts. That had to blow a few minds of viewers. When the DVD of this show comes out, it's worth a view, plus it has some absolutely fantastic music from the early 70s. And it has Gretchen Mol.


Here's the most recent nominee for Terrible Ideas for a Remake - Tom Cruise and John Travolta want to remake "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".


Two new comedies on the way look very promising. In fact, the response to just the trailer for the new comedy "The Hangover" has been so strong they are already working on a sequel. It's from the director of "Old School" and the preview does show great promise. Check it out here.

Also on the way is the new comedy from Mike Judge. If you haven't seen his first movie "Office Space", do it immediately. It's one of the best comedies in the last 10 years. His previous movie "Idiocracy" is worthy of its cult following. His new one is called "Extract" and here's the trailer:


No other actor has a resume as diverse as Hank Worden. Born in 1901, he turned to acting after a short run as a rodeo rider - in fact some 25 years after he left the circuit and was already a regular in the movies, a doctor notified him that his neck was broken from a fall off a horse during the rodeo days.

Most often, he played cowboy roles, usually in B-features, but when he made friends with director John Ford, he became a staple in all of Ford's westerns. He's likely most famous to movie fans for the role of Mose Harper in the classic "The Searchers". His character goes somewhat mad in the head after an Indian attack and longs for just a rocking chair and a roof over his head. But his dialog and his unusual style of halted speech transforms him into a near-Shakespearean character, a jester who dispenses wisdom and warnings.

As with many character actors in the early 60s, he moved into television work and the list of actors he worked with is astonishing: Brando in "One-Eyed Jacks", Clint Eastwood on "Rawhide", just to name a few. In TV, he was often on "Daniel Boone", "Green Acres", "Bonanza", and "Knight Rider", just to name a few. And he kept plowing away - his face, his voice, his mischievous eyes and grin were unforgettable.

One TV role I remember was an episode of Rod Serling's "Night Gallery". It was a short bit, about a hippie who winds up in Hell, and Hell turns out to be a single room, with a jukebox playing an annoying song over and over. And there in the corner, in a rocking chair, is Hank Worden, droning on and on about odd stories, like the winter the "baby got the croup", or what he's been reading in the Farmer's Almanac.

And Worden kept making movies - he's in the very awful "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Every Which Way But Loose," "Runaway Train" -- and he concluded his career on "Twin Peaks", during the second season where he played a waiter in 4 or 5 episodes (see image below). Who else can boast a career like that? Hank died in 1992 and The Movie Morlocks blog at TCM has a great post about his career you can read here.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:58 AM

    Thanks for your tribute to Hank Worden--just a great character actor and, from all accounts, a great guy.

    I do disagree with your analysis of his character Mose Harper as going "mad in the head after an Indian attack." Mose was always that way (as Nathan hints at..). He is eccentric, but definately not mad--probably the most sane of the whole group. It is he who is able to find Debbie (twice) and he seems to have a natural ability to understand different kinds of people.

    A remarkable role and a remarkable performance--I think Hank himself had a bit of Mose in him.