Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #8: Karl Malden
"Everybody shut up!!" was screamed demonstratively at those few of us lucky enough to have been invited to a private screening at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences theatre in Beverly Hills of the fabulous western One-Eyed Jacks. Looking up to see who in their right mind would do such a thing, we happily gazed upon Karl Malden walking down the aisle grinning from ear to ear and looking like a kid entering a candy shop. During the film, I'd glance over occasionally to see the actor still beaming like the Cheshire Cat at the big screen, joyously relishing his performance as Dad Longworth, the once father-figure and co-bandit betrayer of Marlon Brando's Rio in this most unusual and captivating motion picture. After the film, he was gracious enough to join the few of us in attendance, answering questions about the film's production. I asked about casting and he confirmed that it was a joint effort between Brando and Stanley Kubrick (who was subsequently replaced as director by the temperamental star). Karl also said he was very proud of the picture, especially the performances under Brando's capable direction, but preferred the director/star's originally filmed finale where Dad, in his dying moment, shoots at Rio but inadvertently hits Louisa (his stepdaughter) in the back with Rio returning to the town carrying her dead body. Upon hearing the news of Karl Malden's death, I was immensely saddened but consoled by the fact that I had the privilege of sharing with this enormous dynamic talent, his generosity of time and passion about great cinema.
Karl Malden (March 22, 1912 - July 1, 2009) R.I.P.