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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Why Isn't Today A National Holiday?
The World's Greatest Living Actor, the one and only William Shatner, turned 75 years old today and God bless him. I'm an unabashed Shatner fan and have been ever since I was about 11 years old and started watching STAR TREK rabidly. You can laugh if you want, but I learned a lot about friendship, honor, loyalty, professionalism, justice and duty from watching Shatner's Captain Kirk. I never quite mastered that two-fisted neck chop though.

I only wish those who dismiss Shatner as a "bad" actor took the time to really pay attention to his best stuff. The two TWILIGHT ZONE episodes, the Roger Corman film THE INTRUDER (perhaps the best movie Corman ever directed, and certainly Corman's personal favorite), the two-part STUDIO ONE episode with Steve McQueen that spawned THE DEFENDERS, and STAR TREK episodes like "City on the Edge of Forever", where he fell in love tragically with the doomed Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), "Obsession", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Metamorphosis" and many more. I think Shatner's work in STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN is among the best acting I've ever seen in a science fiction movie (it helps that Montalban and Nimoy are so great in it too).

And, yeah, I love the crap too. PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS, where Shatner, Robert Reed and Marjoe Gortner go off on a cross-country motorcycle trip with murderous pervert psychopath rape killer Andy Griffith. IMPULSE, where Shatner plays a sweaty gigolo serial killer. I own the DVDs of T.J. HOOKER, where his determined portrayal of a scum-hating conservative cop definitely walked the line between sincerity and parody.

However, I have no rational explanation for this video. I simply stare at it in awe and marvel that I live in a world where this could exist.

Posted by Marty at 11:22 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 9:43 AM CST

Name: Matt Farkas

Yes, some of Shatner's performances are hammy (especially during STAR TREK's third season - e.g."Turnabout Intruder"), but I think he's generally a fine actor (THE INTRUDER is tremendously powerful; no wonder Corman takes such pride in it) and much better than the reputation he's been saddled with since TREK became a "phenomenom." The people who accuse Shatner of being a bad actor are the same ones who point to Leonard Nimoy's thoughtful and reserved characterization of Spock as "wooden."

Another good and surprising Shatner performance, from back in the day when STAR TREK was just another cancelled TV show, is in Steve Carver's BIG BAD MAMA, in which Shatner plays a milquetoast con man named William Baxter. To his credit, Shatner plays the character for all his inherent weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and even does an honest-to-God nude scene! Even his scuffles with Tom Skerrit and Dick Miller are played in a way to demonstrate the character's distaste for physical conflict. It's a far cry from the scenery-chewing swagger that Shatner's usually noted for.

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:38 AM CST

Name: Marty McKee

For someone whose ego is often described as out-of-control, Shatner certainly has been willing to A) be the butt of jokes in movies like FREE ENTERPRISE, B) parody himself, as he often does in commercials and talk shows, and C) play a character like William Baxter, who is kind of a coward and a wimp and a whiner. There are not a lot of romantic leading men who would play someone like that, not then or now.

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