End Credits #70: Cinema's 2017 Lost Treasures Martin Landau, George A. Romero
News has just come in regarding the extremely sad passing of Martin Landau, one of Hollywood's greatest actors. He was 89. Landau was one of 2000 applicants who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in 1955: Only he and one other were accepted, (Steve McQueen). His proficient stage capability became known after he replaced star Franchot Tone in the 1956 off-Broadway revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya. His television career began with appearances in Maverick, Lawman, and Rawhide, amongst others, before making his impressive film debut in Pork Chop Hill (1959). Immediately following, he brought to life a most memorable villain, Leonard, in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959)... a part, years later I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to this very gracious gentleman about. His distinctive, menacing gaze in Hitchcock's masterpiece burned through the screen and was all it took to realise his character's monstrous capability. More television appearances followed including Playhouse 90, The Rifleman, and The Untouchables, before another most effective performance as Rufio in the motion picture Cleopatra (1963). Other notable television roles included two The Twilight Zone episodes, Mister Denton on Doomsday (1959) and The Jeopardy Room (1963), and two The Outer Limits shows: The Man Who Was Never Born (1963) and The Bellero Shield (1964). Landau also performed in an Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Second Verdict (1964). Supporting film roles followed in The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Hallelujah Trail, and Nevada Smith, before enlivening two of his most famous recurring roles, as Rollin Hand in the TV series Mission Impossible (1966 -1969), and Commander John Koenig in Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977). His career had a late resurgence when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in an important supporting role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) for which Landau was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. Next year he gave one of the most heartfelt, emotionally deepest performances of all time, in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). In the following decade he won an Academy Award Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's highly accomplished Ed Wood (1994). Landau made subsequent strong impressions in films such as City Hall, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The X Files, Rounders, Edtv, The Majestic, Entourage, (as Bob Ryan, a character he played on the TV series) and Remember. He worked right up to his death, as there were several films planned with his participation. A huge devastating loss: Martin Landau (June 20, 1928 - July 16, 2017) R.I.P.
Ground breaking filmmaker George A. Romero has died at age 77. His debut feature-length film, Night of the Living Dead (1968), extremely low budgeted, shot in black and white, became one of the most accomplished horror films of all time, and the beginning of the modern-day zombie sub-genre still thriving to this day. Not as well known were some of his films that followed including There's Always Vanilla (1971), Season of the Witch (1972), The Crazies (1973), and Martin (1978), although these films carried his signature social commentary as well. In 1978, Romero would exceed his original debut film's notoriety and financial success with Dawn of the Dead. Shot in a Pennsylvania Mall during late-night hours, Romero, working alongside the incredible make-up and effects artist Tom Savini, made another all-time horror classic with highly relevant social implications. The film Knightriders (1981) with Ed Harris followed, and then what was perhaps Romero's most commercial production, Creepshow (1982), adapted from a work by famed literary giant Stephen King. Day of the Dead (1985) was his next "Dead" film but it was not the critical or financial success hoped for. In 1990 Romero wrote, and Savini directed, a remake of the original Night of the Living Dead. Following The Dark Half (1993) and Bruiser (2000), Romero, with major-studio distribution, returned to his most famous series with Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), and Survival of the Dead (his last film as a director in 2009). George A. Romero, a horror icon, gone forever (February 4, 1940 - July 16, 2017) R.I.P.