Great Movies Marred By One Bad Performance

Not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but, “Maximum Overdrive,” screeches to a halt every time Yeardley Smith opens her mouth.


(The waitress is bad, too, but she only has one or two lines.)

Oh yeah, Christopher Mitchum was bad, bad in that. It is one of my favorite John Wayne movies. The scenes with John’s real sons Patrick and Ethan were natural, and of course Maureen O’Hara and the rest of a great cast. But Christopher was hard to watch.

Keeping with John Wayne movies, which I generally like, there was a later period when the studios must have thought that they needed to pair John Wayne with younger, popular actors/celebrities’ in order to appeal to the young audience.

There was Rio Bravo with Dean Martin, Angie Dickenson, and a host of seasoned actors, and for some reason Ricky Nelson who was just way out of place.

Then there was El Dorado, essentially the same damn movie only this time with John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, another fine supporting cast, and for some reason James Caan. Now James Caan became a fine actor in his own right but he just didn’t fit into a western. So they put him in a top hat, couldn’t shoot a gun so he threw a knife and later added a shotgun. He just did not belong and it showed.

And then there was the John Wayne version of True Grit, which I prefer over the Coen brothers version, which John Wayne won a well deserver Oscar, with, with Glen Campbell. Bad! Glen could play a mean guitar but acting was not for him. I am surprised that the movie did so well with that non-acting whatever it was, part.

Oh, I disagree. I loved her performance in this. It was, however, Stephen King’s worst acting job ever, although it came with one of my most quotable lines “This machine just called me an asshole!”

^ But didn’t Marla (ex-Mrs. Trump) Maples do a great acting job of getting killed by a watermelon?

Heh, I finally got around to watching River’s Edge last night when I was looking for something to watch and it was free on Amazon Prime. Made me remember this thread, so I paid close attention to Crispin’s acting.

I have to say, I still thought his performance was great. As for his accent, I didn’t find it bizarre or off-putting at all. If I was to try to place it, I’d call it maybe California Valley Guy Stoner-- appropriate to the role. As for his manic behavior, his character was popping speed constantly. I grew up knowing guys like him, eccentric yet persuasive characters, a bit out there, somewhat amoral yet strangely likable in their own way.

I thought Dennis Hopper playing Feck was really the one who was too cartoonish and over the top, at least at first-- all wide-eyed, sticking a gun in everyone’s face, ranting about people after him. But his performance got more nuanced as we got to know more about his back story, and as we (and Feck) realized that John (the guy who killed his girlfriend) was the REAL crazy one.

I thought the movie as a whole held up very well. It was late when I started it so I thought I’d just watch part of it for now, but it held my attention and I stayed up for the whole thing. I remember that the movie was based on a real incident in which a teenager killed his girlfriend, told his friends and showed them the body, and no one told the authorities until days later. It was treated as “oh no, the alienated, disaffected youth no longer have moral values” in the news media, but the movie treated the teenage characters in a more balanced and believable way. They were somewhat disaffected, conflicted, and definitely alienated from the adults, but they weren’t depicted as totally amoral sociopathic monsters (John came the closest, but the movie even showed some balance with him, taking care of his aging Aunt.). A couple sour notes, like when Layne (Crispin) was trying to convince a guy working at a fast food place to drive them in his truck to see the body. He said “No way am I going to leave work and probably get fired just to drive you guys!” Smash cut to the guy driving them all, looking irritated. Too sitcommy. Some other touches of humor in an otherwise very dark movie are handled better.

Strange time capsule feeling watching it as well. My 80s experience was Midwestern, not lower-middle class southern California, and none of my friends or classmates ever killed anybody (that I know of) but the characters and settings were reminiscent, plus the last time I watched the movie was on VHS in the 80s when I wasn’t much older than the actors or the characters they played, so remembering the movie through the lens of first seeing it back then was weird as well. Overall, not a good date night movie, but worth a watch. Especially if you came of age in the 80s.

You do realise that film was an exaggerated noir to almost comedic proportion, with cliches to the max?

He was just playing exactly that.

I know exactly what the film is, thanks. And I still think that Michael Madsden’s performance fucking sucked.

I recently found this online (discreetly subtitled in Russian) and enjoyed re-watching it. I have a different opinion about his acting in this film. He seems a little out of place, but I got that impression from his East-coast demeanor (film is supposed to take place in Alaska) and he’s not the only one to come across that way in the film. For example, Jon Voight’s character speaks with what sounds to me like a New York/New Jersey accent, although, as a prisoner, he could have been transferred there from anywhere.

Like some of the examples cited above, these aren’t great movies, or let’s be honest particularly good movies either, but some performances stood out in a bad way for me.

The Kevin Costner thriller 3 Days to Kill is a pretty standard Besson-produced Eurothriller set in Paris, nothing terribly out of the ordinary, except for Amber Heard, who’s playing her character as a surreal noirish vamp and bringing all of her scenes to a screeching “wha-HUH?” I couldn’t get the image out of my imagination of crew members on set turning to each other and miming “I’m not the only one seeing this, am I?”

Towards the end of Rush Hour 2, there’s a scene set in a casino where the great Canadian actor Saul Rubinek has a small role as a blackjack dealer. It’s bizarre to watch: he’s not meeting anyone’s eyes, and he has a look on his face like he’s embarrased to be there, racing through his lines like he just wants off the set.