Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Christopher Walken's FIRST movie role!

I found this little oddity through a strange podcast called Walken 101, which purports to discuss each and every film/TV role Christopher Walken ever did in his (long, long) lifetime to date. He's been in over 150 of such, so obviously I can't get through too many of them. The podcast consists of an hour of two millennial stoners rambling on and on about their lives, and other inane subjects, sniggering and snorting at people they mention by name and asking for money. But once in a while, something on-topic and even intriguing comes up.

I'm going through a "thing" about Walken, even though I have very mixed feelings about him. I usually go through these things for a while, then come out the other side. I don't consciously choose them. Walken is a strange bird indeed: a blonde Dennis-the Menace-style child actor practically from birth, an androgynous-looking young dancer who was good enough to be in the first touring company of West Side Story, an androgynous-looking young actor who showed up in artsy films and TV shows, then. . . his "breakout" role in the Vietnam horror-drama The Deer Hunter, for which he won an  Oscar. Then a slow maturing into something less and less androgynous, until reaching the somewhat macabre, leathery, Galapagos-like appearance he exhibits today. At 76, this man isn't old, folks, he is OLD-old. 

The rest has been. . . I don't know. There has only been a handful of really memorable performances. The guys in the podcast generally suffer through his stuff, in which Walken appears for 5 minutes or less. When interviewed, he says (robotically, almost)  the same things over and over and over again. He never leaves the house. He's afraid of airports (and a long list of other things: elevators, horses, etc.). He was a lion tamer in his teens (though in other versions, he merely PLAYS a lion tamer in a play). He has no hobbies and no children, though he has been married 50 years to a woman who seems more like a mother to him.  But above all, he "likes to work" (i. e. takes everything that is offered to him with no apparent filtering/discernment process at all). He has an ENORMOUS fan base, but has become a sort of caricature of himself, and he knows it, but keeps on working. He has even said he'd like to drop in harness on a movie set. His last role, shot in Winnipeg, was as a beleaguered Saskatchewan canola farmer up against Monsanto (Big Pharma for agriculture). A FARMER?? Mr. Urban Dialect, Mr. Astorian Bugs Bunny, Mr. Gangster/Hit Man/file-toothed Supernatural Being? 

This just seems like too much of a stretch, but who knows. He will have to somehow-or-other lose his often-quite-prominent Queens accent, which, when out of character is (as the British say) "broad". His mother was Scottish, and he will likely try to summon up  some version of that, and he's right in that some Canadians (SOME Canadians) have a bit of Scots-Irish inflection in their vowel sounds, but if it's overdone it sounds ridiculous. "Doing voices" has never been his strong suit, and when he recites Poe's The Raven (even though he does a good job of it), Astoria somehow seems to get in the way.

Meantime, this short little thing, this obscure film shot by a woman animator experimenting with live action for the first time, is THE FIRST time little Ronnie appeared on-screen, and admittedly he's good, not overplaying the role. He's tall, too, taller than most of the women, and just on the other side of puberty. The voice he does is channeling Roddy McDowell, though I think it works in a film where everyone speaks in an artificial, pretentious manner. The very best part is the last few seconds, which I've captured in another video:

I will admit I'm the one who posted the short movie. It wasn't anywhere on YouTube, and the podcast guys insisted it was terribly obscure and not available anywhere, though I found it in about 2 seconds. So far YouTube hasn't killed me for doing this, maybe because no one cares very much. It has only received a handful of views, but if I start getting concerned with views, I get very depressed. The internet is just a horse race, where more lose than win, and the winners are often qualitatively the worst of the lot.

So here it is, and you can judge for yourself.  Little Ronnie's first appearance - but it wouldn't be his last.