End Credits #23: Cinema's 2014 Lost Treasures Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Noel Black, James Garner, Dick Smith
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2014 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place:
Still another tragic loss has occurred from cinema's most distinguished society. Lord Richard Attenborough has passed away at age 90. His was such a talented force on both sides of the camera, having directed A Bridge Too Far, Gandhi, and Chaplin amongst others and also providing the most remarkably distinctive, but natural performances from a psychotic gangster in Brighton Rock to an ex-army Lieutenant as one of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Some of his most memorable roles were as Roger Bartlett ('Mr. X') in The Great Escape, Billy in Seance on a Wet Afternoon, Regimental Sgt. Major Lauderdale in Guns at Batasi, Lew Moran in The Flight of the Phoenix, Frenchy Burgoyne in The Sand Pebbles and one of the most memorably chilling portrayals in cinematic history as Christie in 10 Rillington Place. His amazing talent allowed him to convey an abundance of emotion whether it was himself, portraying Sir William Cecil in Elizabeth or directing another as with Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands. An expanded younger generation will perhaps remember him most fondly as John Hammond in Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World. Richard Attenborough (August 29, 1923 - August 24, 2014) R.I.P.
The movie world, already shaken over the loss of one iconic actor, now loses another. This time it's from the tiniest number of her generation's survivors: Lauren Bacall, who passed away at age 89. Anyone who's ever seen her in anything, recognizes not only her supreme talent, but that it was presented in the classiest possible way. She couldn't have asked for a brighter spotlight on her first smoldering screen appearance as Marie 'Slim' Browning in 1944's To Have and Have Not. Even her soon to be husband and co-star Humphrey Bogart seems visibly awed by her dominating, stylish presence. A star had arrived and everyone on both sides of the screen knew it. Her loss for classical film lovers is uniquely painful, because of the luminosity emanating from her finest roles and the films they appeared in. We may have lost another ambassador of a "once upon a time" style of legendary film making but, thank God, we still have the many treasures she gave us to cherish and I urge all of us to do so. I don't know about you but I'm going to go watch her and Bogie lovingly dance off into the sunset in Dark Passage. Sincerest condolences to her family and friends. Lauren Bacall (September 16, 1924 - August 12, 2014). R.I.P.
Proving once again that nothing in life is certain, the news of the day, and deeply felt for a long time to come, is the loss of actor and comedian Robin Williams. Suicide is suspected at this time. Nothing more needs to be said. Anyone reading this knows who he was. Now, in so unfortunate a way, we know a little more. A very real tragedy. The sad clown. Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014) R.I.P.
Noel Black (June 30, 1937 - July 5, 2014), a distinguished television and movie director has died at age 77. In 1966 Black was nominated for an Academy Award for the 18-minute short subject Skaterdater, and drew critical acclaim for his feature length film debut Pretty Poison (1968) which later became a cult favourite. Pretty Poison is a remarkably engaging film that best showcased this director's sensational talent. He went on to work mostly for television and to occasionally direct films such as Mirrors (1978) and Private School (1983).
Another big name is gone and it "hurts so bad." I think of all of the charismatic characters he played in terrific films like The Great Escape and 36 Hours and despite the devastating loss of the man who portrayed them, the characters live on through the magic of cinema. Still, I can hardly bring myself to type his name: James Garner (April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014) R.I.P.
Dick Smith (June 26, 1922 - July 30, 2014), the masterful Oscar winning make-up artist whose instantly recognizable talent gave some famous films their most memorable characters, has died at age 92. He provided the distinctively aged look for Marlon Brando's Don Corleone in The Godfather, David Bowie's John Blaylock in The Hunger, F. Murray Abraham's Antonio Salieri in Amadeus and Dustin Hoffman's 121 year old Jack Crabb in Little Big Man. In addition he transformed Hal Holbrook into Mark Twain in the 1960's and Linda Blair into a horrid, vomit-spewing, head swiveling demonic possessed child in 1973's The Exorcist.
More of Cinema's 2014 lost treasures can be seen on this site's Pinterest Board.