Posted by medusamorlock on July 2, 2009
I’m not going to try to repeat what’s already been written in past two days about the great Karl Malden, who died yesterday at the age of ninety-seven. Compared to so many of his show business compadres, Mr. Malden had a tremendously and accomplished long life, filled with artistic triumphs, the respect of his peers, and the devotion of legions of fans. Instead, we should just look at some of his roles, enjoy him doing what he does best. Words can hardly compare to watching Malden onscreen, his un-movie star looks always inviting you in to what you know will be an extraordinarily good performance. I would invite you to read Roger Ebert’s tribute to Malden which he published yesterday, however, and the Los Angeles Times had an excellent extensive obituary with lots of background info. Let’s watch…
In terms of what’s available out there to post here, let’s start with his 1951 triumph, his Academy Award-winning role in the screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. Malden had originated the role as Mitch in the Broadway production in 1947, as had Kim Hunter as Stella (also recipient of an Oscar) and Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski. Only Jessica Tandy didn’t make the transfer to the movie version, which famously starred Vivien Leigh in her Oscar-winning role as Blanche DuBois. First we’ll take a look at the trailer to the film, and then a tremendous scene between Blanche and Mitch.
Malden played a clever police inspector in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1953 thriller I Confess, starring Montgomery Clift.
In 1954 he was nominated for his role as Father Barry in the powerful On The Waterfront. Here’s the trailer, and then an amazing scene featuring Malden.
In 1956 he returned to steamy Tennessee Williams country as the husband of sultry child-like virgin bride Carroll Baker in the scandalous Baby Doll. Let’s look at the trailer and then a scene from the movie.
Malden played the father to Anthony Perkins’ troubled baseball star Jimmy Piersall in the true story Fear Strikes Out, released in 1957.
In 1960 Malden ventured into live action Walt Disney territory in the adaptation of the family classic Pollyanna, playing a bombastic clergyman with humorous intensity, as seen in this clip.
1961 brought his co-starring role in Marlon Brando’s directorial debut One-Eyed Jacks, a fascinating western with an intriguing trailer, as seen here.
The same year he also appeared in the tobacco-royalty melodrama Parrish, also starring Troy Donahue and Claudette Colbert.
1962 was a very busy time for Malden. First released was the Warren Beatty drama All Fall Down.
Next up, his hard-hearted role opposite Burt Lancaster as inmate Robert Stroud’s prison warden nemesis in Birdman of Alcatraz.
Karl Malden was part of the 1962 Cinerama spectacular How the West Was Won, too.
Finally, he played Herbie, Mama Rose’s long-suffering swain and agent to her performing girls, in the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Gypsy. Here we’ll enjoy a number deleted from the movie, a charming and exuberant rendition of “Together Wherever We Go”, featuring Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, and Malden, all singing!
In 1963 he made the lightweight but enjoyable stewardess romcom Come Fly With Me, playing a rich Texas widower, traveling incognito, squiring Lois Nettleton.
In 1964 his credits included Cheyenne Autumn, the lavish John Ford Western about the Cheyenne tribe’s ”Trail of Tears” expulsion from Wyoming.
The Cincinnati Kid came along the next year, a gambling saga with Malden playing star Steve McQueen’s friend and mentor.
Malden appeared in the 1966 silly sexy spy caper Murderers’ Row, the second outing in Dean Martin’s Matt Helm movie series.
And of course in 1970, Karl Malden as Gen. Omar Bradley co-starred with George C. Scott in the title role in the acclaimed biography of legendary WW II general Patton.
Of course these are just a sampling of the dozens and dozens of movies and television programs touched by Karl Malden’s special talent. TCM will be presenting a three-film tribute to Mr. Malden next Friday night, July 10th, consisting of On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Birdman of Alcatraz, and you won’t want to miss it.
Karl Malden will be remembered, no doubt about it.
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