Underappreciated Characters: “Big Ralph”
This is as much an advertisement for this rarely mentioned noir gem as it is for the scene-stealing performance from a man I’ve never even heard of until last night. The film, Blast of Silence, is a simple hitman tale set around Christmas in New York City that’s populated with a constant narration but very few characters, and none more so interesting than Ralphie the gun dealer, played by Larry Tucker. Ralphie is a slob of a human being, bearded and filthy, the type of man a person only associates with under the most dire circumstances, or when they are in need of rare provisions. He lives in a crummy apartment, dresses like a vagrant, and actually has several pet rats in cages around the apartment. He’s subtle and engaging upon their first meeting, playing the part of the poor sop who ‘s just trying to make a buck and help out an old friend.
Their second meeting is quite different. Upon discovering who the hitman is attempting to kill, Ralphie throws the shake-down at him. He demands more money for the procured merchandise, money more suited to the size of the game the hitman is fishing for. Naturally, our protagonist does not take the news well. But Ralphie is not the least dangerous person though, despite his slobby appearance. An earlier scene showing Ralphie arm wrestling two brutes at the same time is, of course, the easiest and most blatant plot-device to show the physical strength of this slovenly man. Needless to say, a fight is soon to come and it won’t be easy for either.
That’s all I’m going to say. Check out Blast of Silence if you’re even mildly interested in the story, but make a quick note of the portly gun dealer. He’s pretty solid.