Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"It's a fad"

Bruno Kirby was never going to win an Academy Award. But he was the kind of durable character actor who was often able to make himself indispensible to the films in which he appeared. Thanks to him, "When Harry Met Sally" was something more than just a chick flick. The film is best known for Meg Ryan's fake orgasm, but to me the best scenes involved Kirby: when he and Carrie Fischer ditch their respective dates--Ryan and Billy Crystal, respectively--to hook up, and then later when Kirby's character must part with his beloved wagon wheel coffee table to head off trouble with Fischer when the two move in together.

Kirby had a memorable scene in "This is Spinal Tap" as the Sinatra-obsessed limosine driver who tries and fails to make small talk with the equally clueless rock band he is ferrying. He proved his versatility playing the humorless Lieutenant Hauk in "Good Morning, Vietnam." And of course, in "The Godfather, Part II", he played the young Peter Clemenza, drawing Vito Corleone into a life of crime only to become his lieutenant.

He will be missed.

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Blogger Sherry P said...

i always thought he was great in every role he ever had and he was wonderful in the godfather role. he really did seem to be a younger version of his character.

10:32 AM

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

don't forget about him in the freshman. he certainly wasn't a leading man, but he always held his own with the big boys. but i never really heard the story behind his bitter falling out with billy crystal. the estrangement also seemed to keep him out of hollywood...and off screen.

i seem to remember him calling crystal a back stabbing rat... considering BC's nearly invulnerable nice guy reputation, the insinuations seemed totally bewildering.

12:38 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I thought "The Freshman" was a bad movie. I always enjoy seeing stars spoof themselves, but I nonetheless view that film as another example of Brando cheapening his own skills.

As for Billy Crystal, Howard Stern used to have a lot of fun at Crystal's expense playing a clip of the comedian angrily refusing to answer questions posed by a member of Stern's show at some Hollywood event. Crystal came off as rather humorless.

1:03 PM

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

the freshman wasn't great...the point was that bruno kirby was one of those not-so leading man types who's always bob balaban.

according to the internet scuttlebutt, the crystal flap started when kirby offered a tip to BC on the city slickers. supposedly BC told BK not to tell him how to "act" and BK replied..."I was acting before you were an unknown." who knows it the quote is true. but it's a great one.

as for crystal refusing to answer questions from one of stern's toadies, i don't blame him. howard's brand of humor wears thin quickly. honestly, ali g comes across as morley safer sometimes in comparison with stern.

10:40 AM

Blogger Nicholas said...

I'm not so sure that Kirby would never have won an Oscar, had Crystal not screwed him, but that's a lovely sendoff, Jonathan.

Great stories, Sean. I hope I can some day confirm or disconfirm them.

The below-linked sendoff may be of interest to you.

Bruno Kirby: Rest in Peace, Pal


Nicholas Stix

12:41 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Thanks. I'll check out your post.

9:02 AM


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