Sunday, April 6, 2008
Charlton Heston has died. Many links and tributes can be found through Greencine. He was every bit the movie star.
I will commemorate him with some clips from the best film he was ever in. His performance isn't always given its due - he's stiff and strange and about as Mexican as I am, but I still think he came pretty close to nailing it. He gets across a mix of heroism and high rectitude that defines the character perfectly. Watching that last confrontation, tailing Quinlan and Pete under a bridge, then facing Quinlan alone in the garbage - it might be Welles' finest hour, but it's hard to imagine it working as well without Heston. He plays off Welles' tragic decay, emotionally, Vargas all business, cutting through Quinlan's excuses and guilt and defeat, and physically, with his sleek athleticism, and almost complete control. Welles gives him just enough to do, physically, to make the point. It's good stuff.
Maybe I should leave Heston's politics out of it - but looking at a Touch of Evil, can I? The end of his life, devoting his authority and reputation to dubious ideas (at least, dubious extensions of ambiguous ideas), has a bit more in common with Hank Quinlan than it should. We shouldn't let it obscure what he did on screen.
Especially when he had a director who knew how to put pictures together....
Cross-posted at my blog.