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September 12, 2011

Cliff Robertson: 1923 - 2011


It may be hard for some to believe, but there was a time when movies about rodeo cowboys were considered a viable genre. J. W. Coop came out in 1971, during a brief moment when movie goers could also see Sam Peckinpah's Junior Bonner and James Coburn in The Honkers, a film that was something of a remake of Nicholas Ray's The Lusty Men. I was able to attend an advance screening of J. W. Coop with Cliff Robertson in attendance. I don't remember too much about it except that I liked the film, and that Robertson was gracious about my praise for Too Late the Hero, a film I only found out later was made with neither Robertson or director Robert Aldrich enthused about a second collaboration following Autumn Leaves. Robertson was able to use his short-lived post Oscar clout in order to make J. W. Coop his way.

Some of my favorite films starring Robertson are not ones that he necessarily thought were good, or perhaps representative of his best work, but instead represent a personal, and chronological, top ten from a career that spanned almost fifty years.

1. Picnic (Joshua Logan - 1955)
2. Autumn Leaves (Robert Aldrich - 1956)
3. Underworld, U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller - 1961)
4. My Six Loves (Gower Champion - 1962)
5. 633 Squadron (Walter Grauman - 1963)
6. Charly (Ralph Nelson - 1968)
7. Too Late the Hero (Robert Aldrich - 1970)
8. J. W. Coop (Cliff Robertson - 1971)
9. The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (Philip Kaufman - 1972)
10. Obsession (Brian De Palma - 1976)

Also, two favorite television appearances: The first episode of The Outer Limits - "The Galaxy Being", and from The Twilight Zone - "The Dummy".

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at September 12, 2011 07:30 AM