Tag Archives: Marty

R.I.P. Joe Mantell: “Forget it, Marty. It’s Chinatown.”

I was still reeling from the news of the passing of two Hollywood luminaries—Arthur Penn and Tony Curtis—when I heard that wonderful character actor Joe Mantell had also passed on within the last 24 hours.

Although Mantell is nowhere near as familiar as Penn or Curtis—by name or by a lengthy and distinguished resumé—Mantell nevertheless holds a special place in our collective heart: He’s the one who tells Jake Gittes to “forget it.”

Since this very famous line (#74 on AFI’s 100 Most Memorable Movie Quotes) is part of the final scene of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974), I’m unwilling to include it here as a video clip. So, instead, here’s a still from that scene and if you’d like to here Mr. Mantell (playing Walsh) utter the famous line, simply click the picture.

In truth, Mantell was doubly lucky, at least so far as having secured a place in the Lexicon of Film Quotes. Not only did he get that fantastic line from Chinatown, he also originated the character of Angie in Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty, first on live TV in 1953 and again in the 1955 film version (he’s the only principal actor to appear in bother versions). Therefore, Mantell is also responsible for half of this famous and oft-quoted exchange:

Angie: So, what do you feel like doin’, tonight?

Marty: I don’t know, Ang’…What do you feel like doin’?

Here’s the clip from Delbert Mann’s film:

It may not be as famous in most circles as “Forget it, Jake,” but it is where I come from. I was stunned when I made that connection that Mantell originated both lines. (I hadn’t been that shocked by a piece of film trivia since I heard that the cute, 13-year-old chick from National Lampoon’s Animal House and Maggie, the Scottish girlfriend from Caddyshack, were one and the same.)

And so it goes: it will be a long couple of days in my world, full of wonderful quotes from Bonnie and Clyde, Some Like It Hot, Chinatown, and Marty.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Film, R.I.P.

“Jesus Christ! That’s Henry Fonda!”

On face value (literally), Henry Fonda’s always been perceived as an upstanding kinda guy. A decent everyman. It’s what prompted director John Ford to cast him as a young Abraham Lincoln and as Tom Joad. Thanks to his trustworthy puss, director Sidney Lumet cast him in Fail Safe as the President of the United States—a good one.

But one director shrewdly took the opposite approach: In 1968, Italian director Sergio Leone asked Fonda to play the heavy in Once Upon a Time in the West.

Casting against type is nothing new, but it’s normally something more facile, such as casting a brute in a soft-spoken role (think Ernest Borgnine in Marty). What Leone does with Fonda, however, is take a face the audience has trusted for thirty years and subvert it. It’s more than a face, actually, it’s a projection of American values such as trust and honor.

Here’s two clips. One is the Fonda’s opening scene in Once Upon a Time in the West (truncated), where he kills a whole family (how’s that for subverting the audience’s expectations?). The other clip is his 1975 appearance on Michael Parkinson’s UK talk show where he explains why he got the role. He also (humorously) re-enacts the scene from the Leone film.

(Within the context of Once Upon a Time in the West, this scene is about 15 minutes in. We’re introduced to a small family having a pleasant enough dinner outside. That’s where the clip begins.)



6 Comments

Filed under Film