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September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis: 1925 - 2010

tony curtis.jpg

It was back in 1969, when I was a Freshman at New York University, that a group of film students went to be in the audience of the Dick Cavett Show. Our reason for being there was to see guest Federico Fellini. I was sitting in one of the higher levels of the balcony. Prior to Feliini, was Cavett's other guest, Tony Curtis. As Curtis was coming on the stage, Mardik Martin was shouting out, "Hey, Bernie! Bernie Schwartz!" Maybe you had to be there, but it seemed funny at the time.

Curtis was at the Cavett show to tout The Boston Strangler, a film I never took the time to watch until much later. Once I did see the film, I regretted the snobbery I had at the time that kept me from seeing it theatrically. From that dramatic peak, Curtis' star was on a decline, although good opportunities did appear in films I did see during their initial release, The Last Tycoon and Insignificance. I even saw Lepke on the big screen.

The screen cap above is from Who was that Lady?. The film is not one that that will be mentioned in most articles about Curtis that have appeared, or will appear, at this time. What makes this film worth a look is that it is one of the handful Curtis made with then wife, Janet Leigh. The film, a comedy, offers a look at some of the political paranoia of the era, with a 1958 play filmed in 1960. More relevant though is the ease in which Curtis was able to suddenly glide from comedy to drama and back again, especially in scenes with the frequently underrated Dean Martin. Tony Curtis always knew he had solid acting ability. It took some of us a while to realize that, too.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at September 30, 2010 09:44 AM


Oh, Tony Curtis is no more?!? That's a sad news indeed. When I think of Tony Curtis, two movies come to my mind immediately, two brilliant movies yet poles apart in their ideation and execution - Sweet Smell of Success and Some Like It Hot.

Though both had 2 male leads sharing the spotlight, Curtis managed to hold on to his own in spectacular fashion - against Burt Lancaster & Lack Lemmon, respectively. From the slimy bastard to the goofy drifter, Curtis really covered the spectrum in these 2 amazing films.

Posted by: Shubhajit Lahiri at September 30, 2010 01:14 PM