Friday, August 22, 2014

For Robert Osborne fans only




Maybe you don't realize this, or you don't realize it YET, but you will soon, because I am about to tell you, I love love love Robert Osborne, the affable, infinitely knowledgeable host on Turner Classic Movies. TCM has revolutionized my life, in a way. Well, sort of. On TCM I discovered the movies of Harold Lloyd - they are great champions of Lloyd and have interviewed his granddaughter Suzanne (CEO of Harold Lloyd Entertainment) many times. The novel I'm so desperately trying to get someone to read (The Glass Character - catchy title, eh?) could not have been written without this comprehensive exposure and the background information provided by Osborne (and in fact, I often enjoy his commentary more than the movies themselves. I mean other people's movies, not Harold's. Never Harold's.)




But before his present incarnation as iconic TV host and movie afficionado, Robert Osborne had another life as Bob Osborne. He showed up in all sorts of movies and TV, but the best clip I could find was from the first episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, in which he plays Mr. Drysdale's assistant.

And a cute one. It's that blink. I don't know why it is, but it drives me crazy.

His closeups have an almost Alan Ladd quality, a leading-man thing, but really, he was born in the wrong decade. He has the movie star looks of someone out of the 1940s. You can see him playing Bette Davis' arm candy at some society soiree. Almost too good-looking, but not aware of it. A dynamite combination.




Blink.




BLINK.






Osborne does all sorts of interviews at film festivals with ancient stars who are about to kick off. The most alarming was the Mickey Rooney interview, in which Rooney reached so far out of his personal space bubble that he punctured it, and Osborne's too. He later said it was all he could to stay in his seat. 





It was so lovely to see Gene Wilder again. Old and frail, his face softened by age, he was still very much himself. Probably my first exposure to him was that old Alka-Seltzer commercial about "the blahs", with the animation of the guy whose head was floating around the room.

What I notice, while watching these gifs which have no sound, are the closeup shots where neither of them is saying anything. Can you guess why? THEY ARE LISTENING. I think these guys are of the last generation that was taught to do that, to assume the other person might have something important to say, or maybe just "something". The important thing WASN'T to impress people or get your own points in.




Alan Ladd


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