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Underappreciated Characters: “Big Ralph”

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

Underappreciated Characters: “Bob”

June 21, 2011 1 comment

Character:  Bob

Film:  La Bamba

Real Name:  Esai Morales

Favorite Line:  “It’s always about Ritchie!!”

This entry is a bit of a stretch to be called “underappreciated”, as anyone who has seen the movie can testify, Esai Morales is outstanding in the role of Ritchie Valens’ disrupting and troubled brother, Bob.  That fact that he didn’t garner a nomination from the Academy is beyond unreasonable, it’s completly heinous.  Know who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor that year? Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda.  Ring that one up under “What the hell was the Academy thinking?”  Nauseating.

Nonetheless, Esia Morales is a superb, force of nature in the film, often times thrusting into a scene and changing the entire tone, just with his presence.  He exudes the ultimate machismo and recklessness, then in the next scene he shows the pain of being the lesser brother of the beloved rockstar, Ritchie Valens.  There are genuine moments of panic as Bob, in a drunken rage, threatens his own mother and girlfriend (this is the scene I would show you if a YouTube clip existed *sigh*). You just feel frightened watching his family cope with this destructive force who they call brother/son.  He’s so outstanding you forget there’s an actor playing that part and just assume this is really Bob.  Great stuff.

P.S. God forbid anyone puts up an actual YouTube clip of Esai Morales in this film.  As it turns out, this role is underappreciated!

Underappreciated Characters: “Inspector Todd”

Character: Inspector Todd

Film(s):  Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy

Real Name:  Gil Hill

Favorite Line: “Don’t think, Axel!! It makes my dick itch!”

The man spends almost his entire amount of screen time lobbing expletives at Eddie Murphy’s ever toublesome “Axel Foley” and owns the screen when the two interact, which is no easy feat considering this is Eddie Murphy at the peak of his powers.  Gil Hill apparently spent a lengthy career in the Detroit police department before playing “Inspector Todd” , which is probably why he has the commanding presence he does.  I don’t think being a police commander in Detroit is easy work, so working next to Eddie Murphy was no trouble I’m sure.  In my own sick mind I’d like to believe he was researching his role while he was employed as one of Detroit’s finest.  It paid off.

Check this clip out, pretty awesome mix of Inspector Todd moments….

http://youtu.be/CauiQ8I9H7M

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