Another good ‘un gone

Aww, man.

Brian Dennehy, the winner of two Tonys in a career that also spanned films including “Tommy Boy,” “First Blood” and “Cocoon,” and television roles including “Dynasty” and “Death of a Salesman,” died on Wednesday night in New Haven, Conn. He was 81.
“It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian, passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife, Jennifer, family and many friends,” his daughter, actress Elizabeth Dennehy, tweeted on Thursday.

Dennehy was one of those truly great actors—like Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, or any of the others from this list—who is easily recognizable by pretty much everybody…most of whom couldn’t tell you his name. The gifted character actor submerges himself so completely into his role that the viewer submerges himself right along with them, without the slightest conscious awareness of having done so. Good character actors usually drive most any film they’re in; they’re the guys who can make an otherwise crappy movie at least watchable. You’ll see such an actor play a huge gamut of disparate characters over his (usually long and distinguished) career, and he’ll inhabit every one of those characters to perfection without ever seeming to break a sweat. To wit:

The imposingly tall, barrel-chested Dennehy won his first Tony for his performance as Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” in 1999 and his second Tony for his turn as James Tyrone in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in 2003.

The actor made his TV and feature debut in 1977 — a year in which he made appearances in at least 10 series or telepics, including “Kojak,” “MASH” and “”Lou Grant,” and the films “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and “Semi-Tough.” From that point he maintained a heavy work load for decades.

In 1982 his profile increased significantly thanks to his effective performance in the role of Teasle, the sadistic small-town police chief who is Sylvester Stallone’s lead adversary in “First Blood.”

In addition to “Cocoon,” he had significant roles in the 1983 thriller “Gorky Park” and in “Silverado.” He was second-billed, after Bryan Brown, in the well-constructed 1986 thriller “F/X,” in which he played a cop not part of the conspiracy, and in the 1991 sequel. He was fourth-billed in “Legal Eagles,” after the star trio of Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah.

That’s but a brief summation of Dennehy’s amazing career, but my all-time favorite is probably his turn as Cobb in the greatest Western ever filmed: Lawrence Kasdan’s brilliantly conceived and executed Silverado. His death scene after the classic showdown with onetime friend and partner Kevin Kline at the end is archetypical Dennehy, made all the more powerful and dramatic for its stark, understated simplicity. Compared to the kind of cliched thrashing, gargling, screaming, and writhing about we’re all used to, it’s a pluperfect example of the character actor’s art at its very highest pinnacle:




If you’ve never seen Silverado, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s beautifully staged and shot, brimming over with well-crafted dialogue and star-turn performances from pretty much the entire cast. From what I recall reading when it came out, it was basically Kasdan’s intention to do an updated but respectful version of the classic Hollywood Westerns of yore, including all the hoary old plot elements and cinematique stylistic licks he could fit in. His own affection for the genre is in evidence from start to finish. I think he succeeded brilliantly, although some critics of the time disagreed. In the end, though, it’s a fun movie to watch, a well-made bit of old-school Saturday-matinee escapism of a kind we don’t see near enough of anymore. I’ve seen it a thousand times, have pretty much every line memorized, and will still watch it through to the very end any time I run across it flipping through the channels.

Fare thee well, Mr Dennehy. You were one of the greats of your art, and your place in Valhalla is assured.

6 thoughts on “Another good ‘un gone

  1. Rest in Peace Mr.Dennehy. Always found him to be a fine actor.

    Somehow I missed Silverado. I’ve seen bits of it but never the whole thing. I’ll make a point to watch it soon.

  2. Sounds like I have something for my LockDown Viewing List.

    RIP Mr. Dennehy. Character Actor is a craft you mastered well.

    1. “LockDown Viewing List”

      LOL, I guess that is a thing now…

      I’ve been viewing my unusable garage/shop since I moved. So, clean it out and start over.

    2. Oh, you definitely, definitely should, Barry. If you have any affection at all for the Westerns, you’ll love it. It starts off kicking ass from the very first scene, and doesn’t let up for a moment from there. It’s Kasdan’s masterpiece for sure.

  3. Pingback: More Silverado

Comments are closed.

Comments policy

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit. Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) and...you won't. Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar. Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

Categories

Archives

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." — Daniel Webster

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." - GK Chesterton

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved." - Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork." - David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine." - Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” - Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it." - NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in." - Bill Whittle

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Best of the best

Neutral territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media:

Fuck you

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

Rss feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Contact


mike at this URL dot com

All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless otherwise specified

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2020