Friday, July 26, 2013

Rustling Up Some Reed

The actor we're turning the spotlight on today is perhaps a bit different than our usual pretty boy or hunk fare, not that he was without his own set of charms. He was just a far more rowdy and rambunctious person than the sleek, prepackaged, glamorized gents we tend to go for as a rule. I speak of Oliver Reed, a hell-raising, controversial, charismatic actor who for a time was one of Britain's most celebrated cinema stars.

Robert Oliver Reed was born into show business, yet did not immediately take part in it himself. He came into the world on February 13th, 1938 in Wimbledon, England, the great-grandson of Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the founder, no less, of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1904! One of Tree's illegitimate children was the celebrated movie director Carol Reed, who was Oliver's uncle. Oliver's father was a sports journalist named Peter Reed and his mother's name was Marcia. His illegitimate bloodline was also reported to contain that of Peter the Great.

Despite the adventuresome, thespian heritage within his genes (or perhaps partially due to it!), Reed was a troubled, restless student in school. He was in fact expelled fourteen times! He channeled some of his energy into athletics, with cross-country running a forte, but remained rather aimless as he neared adulthood. After working as a nightclub bouncer, he was enrolled in the Army Medical Corps and sought to become an officer, but was diagnosed with dyslexia.

At age twenty, he left the Army and kicked around as everything from an amateur boxer to an attendant in a mortuary! His uncle Carol Reed felt that he should give acting a go, but he showed little to no interest. His attitude changed, however, when he discovered that many of his drinking cronies were making decent money performing as extras in the movies. Blessed with huge, sea-blue eyes, a strong face and a solid build, he soon found work in films, playing teeny parts in movies such as Hello London, The Square Peg (both 1958) and The Captain's Table (1959.)

Much of 1959 was spent working on British television, either in bit roles or occasionally a named part such as Richard of Gloucester in The Golden Spur. In 1960, he began to work more frequently in movies, swiftly progressing from virtual walk-ons (Life is a Circus, The Angry Silence, Wild for Kicks, The League of Gentlemen, among others) to supporting parts (as in Sword of Sherwood Forest, a feature film extension of the popular series The Adventures of Robin Hood, which starred Richard Greene from 1955 – 1960.)
Also in 1960, he married a woman named Kate Byrne, who would bear him a son, Mark, the next year. Hammer Film Productions had produced Sherwood and Reed was sufficiently impressive enough to warrant a leading role in their 1961 release The Curse of the Werewolf. This was the only time that Hammer produced a werewolf movie and it retains a solid cult following to this day.
Reed portrayed a tormented young man, the product of a rape who is taken in and raised by a Spanish nobleman when his mother dies in childbirth. He comes to realize that he is imbued with lycanthropic attributes so that when the moon is full, he transforms into a furry, vicious werewolf.

This film didn't immediately lead to continued leading man status for him, however. He next worked in the colorful The Pirates of Blood River (1962), with Kerwin Matthews, Glenn Corbett and Christopher Lee. In about a decade, Reed would be top-billed in a movie in which Lee had a supporting role.

For the next couple of years, Reed would balance television work (on shows like ITV Play of the Week and The Saint, with Roger Moore) with either leading roles in minor films (such as Paranoiac, 1963) or supporting parts in others (These Are the Damned, 1964.) 

Paranoiac had him as the troubled brother of Janette Scott amidst a family tree riddled with mystery while Damned had him as a thuggish, incestuous-minded brother to Shirley Ann Field that eventually focuses on a clatch of radioactive children!

By 1964, he was elevated to co-lead or lead in several films. He and Lionel Jeffries were top-billed in The Crimson Blade, which had them playing villains who have kidnapped King Charles I. Reed was already entrenched in playing suave, but brooding, threatening and dangerous men.
A slight departure from the dastardly types he was often playing at this time came with The Girl-Getters (1964), in which he played the leader of a group of young men (one of whom was David Hemmings) with a system in place for getting young ladies into bed. True, he was still playing a ne'er do well, but in this one, the tables were turned on him, giving the role more dimension than just a simple bad guy.
Things very nearly ground to a halt for Reed thanks to an incident that sprang from his pub-crawling lifestyle. Reed, always a heavy drinker throughout his life, with many hell-raising incidents along the way, was embroiled in a bar fight. In the scuffle, he was slashed across the face with a broken bottle and required multiple stitches on his left side, primarily on his lower left jaw. PLEASE NOTE:  Before looking at the next photo, please know that it shows these stitches!
Fearful that the resultant scarring would cost him his promising career in front of the camera, he needn't have worried for the crevasses along the cheek near his mouth only added more character to a face that was becoming known for depicting nefarious, dangerous characters. In time, the scars would diminish somewhat, though often, when applicable, Reed wore thick mustaches or a beard to help disguise them.

In 1965, he - with fresh-grown beard - worked in the ensemble television series R3, about an research facility that investigates a wide variety of areas from space exploration to new drugs to undersea exploits. The unusual program is believed to be completely lost despite its comparatively recent production time frame.

In The Brigand of Kandahar (1965), a colorful Hammer adventure drama set in India, Reed was cast as a cackling, violent bandit. The routine, low-budget production is all but forgotten today. More memorable (and better received) was 1966's The Trap, about a rough and tumble fur trapper who takes as his wife a frightened mute woman played by Rita Tushingham.
1967 brought a variety of roles from the comedy The Jokers (in which he and his – very unlikely! -- brother Michael Crawford conspire to steal the crown jewels from The Tower of London) to I'll Never Forget What's'isname, which cast him as an advertising exec who snaps and decides to leave his life behind in order to return to his roots as a literary magazine writer. Among the cast of this one were Orson Welles, Harry Andrews, Marianne Faithful and Frank Finley, who would later become closely associated with Reed in another film. Reed was often part of notorious cinematic firsts and in this case he was starring in the first mainstream film containing the word “fuck.”
This same year also had Reed playing the delinquent troublemaker of a small island community in which a vicious, unbalanced killer resides in The Shuttered Room. Gig Young and Carol Lynley starred as a couple visiting to claim an inheritance while Flora Robson was on board as a mysterious old crone who may know more than she's letting on about the situation. 

At nearly thirty, Reed was beginning to prove a bit old for these sort of juvenile delinquent parts (though he did look good in his tight blue jeans), but he was about to make the leap to better things anyway.

From the inception of his acting career, Reed had deliberately avoided working for his uncle, director Carol Reed, preferring to make his own mark without the benefit of aid or charges of nepotism. Now a busy working actor for a decade, Reed made the decision to appear in his uncle's lavish adaptation of a hit stage musical, portraying the boorish, decidedly dangerous Bill Sikes in Oliver! (1968.)

As a menacing, cruel criminal whose girlfriend becomes involved with the wayward orphan boy of the title, Reed excelled in his part. He was not, however, able to attract the same amount of attention as some of his flashier costars in the movie, Ron Moody and Jack Wild, for example, as two fellow thieves. In an effort to further project the threatening qualities of his role, the character's song was cut from the film version. Still, the movie was a triumph, winning the Oscar for Best Picture and emerging into a classic over the years since. He also reported gave the little star of the film Mark Lester a real and true whallop when he wasn't eliciting the proper amount of fear that Reed felt he should!

He was now well on his way to more significant movie-making. 1969 brought three films, one of which would attract scads of attention then and now. There was The Assassination Bureau, about a secret society of killers who only murder those who they feel deserve it, costarring Telly Savalas and Diana Rigg and a set of fine character actors. Look how slim he appears in this lobby photo.

Then came Hannibal Brooks, which placed Reed opposite an elephant. He portrayed an inmate at a German POW camp who escapes, taking the elephant he's been taking care of at the Munich Zoo, and heads for the Swiss border. The film had a light, comic, quirky touch despite its WWII setting and Reed looked handsome with his close-cropped hair (a look I've always been gaga over.)

Third, and most importantly, was Women in Love, a Ken Russell-directed adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's scandalous 1920 novel. It told the story of two sisters who carry on simultaneous, but very different, love affairs with a pair of gentlemen friends. One played by Glenda Jackson begins seeing Reed, cast as the son of a wealthy mine owner. The other, Jennie Linden, is attracted to the philosophical Alan Bates. Part of a wave of less-restricted mainstream films to emerge in the late-'60s, the movie is one of the first (along with Medium Cool) to feature full-frontal male nudity, supplied by both Reed and Bates.
One of the movie's better remembered set pieces is a nude, fireside wrestling match between the two men. Stemming from one of the friends' philosophical discussions, it plays out as a sensual battle of wills that ultimately becomes incredibly – though not explicitly – erotic. 

Director Russell had initially chosen not to film the scene, but Reed wouldn't hear of that and convinced him to proceed with it. The actors were concerned at first about possible comparisons between their bodies, but (after a few belts of booze!) soon discovered that there wasn't much difference between them and were able to proceed without issue.
Regardless of the fact that he did not match the lean, Nordic looks of the character as described by D.H. Lawrence or immediately suggest refinement, Reed applied himself tremendously to the part, making an indelible impression on audiences (and on the director, who would cast him many times subsequently, though they had connected previously in some television projects.) It was his considerable box office appeal that led him to winning the role over Edward Fox at United Artists' urging. Miss Jackson won as Oscar for her role, while Reed was not nominated.

Reed's marriage to Kate Byrne ended in 1969. Reed had become involved with a dancer named Jacqueline Daryl and she had his daughter Sarah in 1970 out of wedlock (though she and Reed would remain together for a dozen years.)

Also in 1970, Reed costarred with Samantha Eggar in the mystery The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, directed by veteran Anatole Litvak (his last film.) He also costarred with Hayley Mills in the little-known romance Take a Girl Like You, in which he played one of several suitors of the young, pretty schoolteacher.

He re-teamed with director Ken Russell and costar Vanessa Redgrave for 1971's The Devils, one of the most controversial feature films of all time, thanks to its graphic depiction of deranged, sex-crazed nuns, grotesque religious imagery, torture and other assorted bits of debauchery. Rated X, it was one of the most shocking and disturbing films of its era and likely would make a contemporary viewer's jaw go slack even now.

Nevertheless, the vivid, eye-popping movie was (and still is) hailed by many as a masterpiece and retains a considerable fan following. The filming of The Devils was an exhausting, harrowing experience for Reed, though he considered it his finest hour (as do many critics and fans.) The audacious movie was completely ignored by Oscar and, thus, Reed missed out on any sort of award recognition again.

England was experiencing a significant tax situation in which highly-paid actors' salaries were being gobbled up and taken away by the government. This resulted in a considerable exodus of British acting talent to Hollywood or other more favorable locations. Reed attempted to follow suit when he came to the U.S. to film The Hunting Party (1971) with Gene Hackman and Candice Bergen, a violent western in which Reed kidnaps Hackman's wife and she is particularly bothered by it. Reed was miserable having to affect an American accent and work in the arid location (probably lacking in nearby pubs!) and opted to return to England, tax quagmire or no. Reed's decision to stay in England would cost him key roles in blockbusters The Sting (1973) and Jaws (1975), both of them going to Robert Shaw.

In The Triple Echo (1972), he was reunited with Glenda Jackson (who had turned down Vanessa Redgrave's role in The Devils) in a bizarre tale about a woman during WWII who takes a deserting soldier as her lover (Brian Deacon), but disguises him as a female to avoid suspicion in her town. Reed, an army sergeant, then comes to the village and begins to pursue Deacon, unaware that she is a he, not to mention the soldier he's been after! (This is not a comedy, by the way.)

1972 also brought Z.P.G., which stands for Zero Population Growth, part of a wave of dark and cynical late-'60s/early-'70s sci fi. Reed and Geraldine Chaplin portrayed a couple in a society wherein their generation is not permitted to sire children due to an over-saturated, disease-free population. They decide to proceed anyway and must face dire consequences. The slow-moving, dreary film was not much of a success.

His third film of that year was another first, Sitting Target, the first English film to receive that country's X rating based solely on the level of violence within it. He and Ian McShane played brutal prison escapees who plan to leave the country, but are slowed by the fact that Reed wants to first slay his duplicitous, unfaithful wife Jill St. John. The supporting cast included Edward Woodward as the detective assigned to find them and Frank Finlay. Reed and McShane almost look like brothers, don't you think?
Reed's 1973 offerings were plentiful and varied, from Blueblood, in which he played a nefarious butler using witchcraft to take over his employer Derek Jacobi, to the Franco-Italian Dirty Weekend, which paired him with Marcello Mastroianni who is kidnapped by Reed and his gaggle of nogoodniks. Fury paired him with Claudia Cardinale (shown at right) in a downbeat story set in pre-revolutionary Russia while Blood in the Streets was another European-made movie about crime and kidnapping.

The 1973 release that introduced me to Reed in the first place and which ensured my lifelong adoration of him was The Three Musketeers. Crazily enough, I have never done a full-on tribute here in The Underworld to Richard Lester's epic take on the classic Alexandre Dumas novel, but I surely will at some point. It was one of my earliest movie-going experiences and the movie (along with its filmed-at-the-same-time sequel) is an easy top ten favorite of mine.

Perfectly cast as Athos, a dejected, brawling, boozing musketeer of King Louis XIII's, Reed headlined a huge, all-star cast that included Raquel Welch, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Faye Dunaway and prior costars of his, Geraldine Chaplin and Frank Finlay. He and his fellow musketeers must retrieve the queen's diamonds from her lover before the King discovers them missing, yet a trio of villains stand in their way.

The movie was initially meant to be one long saga, but the producers decided to slice it in half and pad each part in order to make two movies (and take in two hauls at the box office) which not only resulted in a lawsuit on behalf of the cast, but a Screen Actors Guild ruling which prevents such a thing from happening again.

1974 brought the “sequel” The Four Musketeers (which I love even more than the first film thanks to the extended participation of Faye Dunaway in it) along with a return to the world of Ken Russell, albeit in just a fleeting cameo, in Mahler. He also figured into one of the countless renditions of Ten Little Indians, this one set at an isolated hotel in the deserts of Iran! His costars included Charles Aznavour, Elke Sommer and Orson Welles.

Russell cast him again in 1975, this time in the flamboyant, all-star rock musical Tommy, based on The Who's album of the same name. Playing the father of a deaf, dumb and blind young pinball champion, he was married to Ann-Margret as the boy's mother and worked (and "sang!") alongside names such as Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jack Nicholson and Tina Turner, among others.

Richard Lester came calling again and cast Reed in Royal Flash, a “Prisoner of Zenda”-like adventure in which Malcolm McDowell is forced by Reed into impersonating a Danish prince. Also on board were Reed's Women in Love costar Alan Bates, Florinda Bolkan and Britt Ekland. 

Prior to the filming of this movie, Reed was in Hollywood for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He was growing the proper mustache for portraying his role of Otto von Bismarck and fellow guest Shelley Winters told Reed he looked “like Hitler,” which didn't sit very well.

As the conversation disintegrated, with Winters repeatedly interrupting him and babbling in a stream of consciousness, Reed began to get miffed and started to expound about women's lib, then a very hot topic. He, with dry tongue firmly in dry cheek (though it is likely that he meant what he was saying, but in a more old-fashioned & complimentary rather than critical way) he stated that a woman's place was at home and in the kitchen (while the husband provided income.)

This provoked Winters (who had by then departed in a flurry) to return to the set and dump a glass of liquid all down Reed, from the top of his head to his knees. He claimed it to be whiskey. Without missing a beat, but pausing due to the audience's outcry, he continued his train of thought as Carson looked on astonished. The incident became something of a legend among TV viewers as an example of impromptu arguments between celebrities. Reed rounded out the year with yet another cameo in a Ken Russell film, this time Lisztomania.

1976 found Reed still busy as ever. He shared the screen with Richard Widmark and Gayle Hunnicut in The Sell-Out as a CIA agent whose been targeted for liquidation by his own agency while on vacation in Israel. Vladek Sheybal (who'd had a key supporting role in Women in Love) also appeared, as did Sam Wanamaker.

That same year he starred in one of his more fondly remembered films, the old-fashioned horror flick Burnt Offerings. Here, he played the initially lovable husband of Karen Black and father to Lee Montgomery who eventually seems to be turning sinister since the family moved to a large, remote, dilapidated old home.

Stalwarts such as Bette Davis, Eileen Heckart and Burgess Meredith were also on hand to add to the fun. Many young gaylings recall the sight of husky, tan Oliver Reed swimming in the backyard pool in his trim swim trunks, which was a welcome change from all the brawling, burly, boozy roles he played before and afterwards.

How many of us kids who ever had a fetish about romping and horseplaying in the pool with a hunky grown man could resist Mr. Reed here? (Well, maybe Montgomery could after Reed's character turned possessed and started roughing him up to near the point of drowning! But nevertheless...)

He next appeared more than a little improbably as a half-breed Indian in The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday, a rambunctious slapstick western which costarred Lee Marvin and also featured Robert Culp, Elizabeth Ashley, Strother Martin, Kay Lenz and Sylvia Miles. Certainly not for all tastes, the co-leads seemed hell bent on trying to out-ham one another. Off set, they also tried to out-drink each other, a contest that Reed won hands down (after ten hours!)

Crossed Swords (1977) was a retelling of “The Prince and the Pauper” and eventually was re-titled as such. Mark Lester of Oliver! was cast in the dual lead role and unfortunately demonstrated that his initial promise as an actor was not going to be fulfilled in young adulthood. A plethora of stars was assembled to gild the production, but it was all for naught. Reed was top-billed and joined by fellow Musketeers cast members Raquel Welch, Charlton Heston and Sybil Danning in addition to Ernest Borgnine, Rex Harrison, George C. Scott and David Hemmings.

The Ransom (1977) had Reed playing a man enlisted to stop a serial killer who is dressing up like an Indian and shooting citizens of an old-money town with a crossbow! He threatens further death if the wealthy people of the town don't come up with a ransom, but they instead give their money to Reed in order for the killer to be stopped and caught by him. Other castmates included Deborah Raffin, Stuart Whitman, John Ireland, James Mitchum and, as the killer (who appears as an evil cross between The Lone Ranger and Tonto!), Paul Koslo.

Tomorrow Never Comes (1978, which sounds like an old soap opera!) had Reed playing a police officer needed to help diffuse a situation in which Stephen McHattie is holding his ex-girlfriend Susan George hostage in yet another brutal, violent movie. Other stars on board (apparently needing the paycheck) included Raymond Burr, Donald Pleasance and Ransom costars John Ireland and Paul Koslo.

After a brief appearance in The Big Sleep (1978) which he did solely to appear with Robert Mitchum, Reed made the obscure, reportedly wretched, A Touch of the Sun (1979) about Reed trying to retrieve a downed space capsule from an African dictator. Then came a another reunion with Glenda Jackson in The Class of Miss MacMichael, a lesser-known classroom serio-comedy that has elements of both To Sir, With Love (1967) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969.)

The Brood (1979), a messy and bizarre horror film directed by David Cronenberg, had him playing an eccentric psychologist who is harboring a very disturbed woman played by Samantha Eggar. Her husband Art Hindle is trying to retrieve her while, in the meantime, diminutive, snowsuit-clad monsters are killing people right and left!

By now Reed was working alongside some still-famous names, but often in substandard projects. He didn't even have the benefit of name-brand costars in the Golan-Globus flick Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980), but was paired with Anthony Quinn for Lion of the Desert (1981) along with Irene Papas, Rod Steiger, Raf Vallone and John Gielgud. He met a sixteen year-old girl outside a pub in 1980 named Josephine Burge (three years younger than his own son) and developed a friendship with her. When she turned twenty-one, they were married and she remained with him until his death.

Condorman (1981) a live-action Disney flop starred former costar Michael Crawford and featured Barbara Carrera in a yarn about the title creation with Reed as the bad guy. A heavily-drinking after hours Reed had a couple of prickly moments with his costars as well as the crew. Venom (1981) was yet another violent movie with a star-filled cast being offed one-by-one by a black mamba. Klaus Linski, Sarah Miles, Nicol Williamson, Sterling Hayden and Susan George were among the snake bait.

Having missed out on working in The Sting (1973), Reed now accepted the same role in the vastly inferior sequel The Sting II (1983), which starred master thespian Mac Davis... Also in 1983, he had a cameo in the sex romp Fanny Hill, which also featured his old Tonight Show nemesis Shelley Winters as a madam!

Clearly having segued by now into supporting and character parts, Reed stayed busy, but often in undemanding, substandard fare. Spasms (1983) with Peter Fonda, about a killer serpent, and the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John bomb Two of a Kind (1983) in which he played a variation on Satan, did nothing to improve his standing.

He did manage a certain amount of attention in 1986 for the adventure film Castaway, though it was primarily due to the fact that his nubile costar Amanda Donahoe was frequently naked in the deserted island story. He, too, went nude again, though he was by now pushing fifty, grizzled and not exactly in shape.
Continued work in low-budget, exploitative fare included Gor (1987, shown above), which placed him in hilariously tacky costuming and headgear, and Dragonard and Master of Dragonard Hill (both 1987), which were pulp-level slavery epics costarring Eartha Kitt and Herbery Lom along with newcomer Patrick Warburton, who played a young Scotsman sold into slavery in the Caribbean. Warburton later told of meeting Reed and swiftly being shown a tattoo that had been applied to the tip of his penis! (Jerry Lewis is another celebrity who was among many to get a “demo” of this.) The eagle's talon image proved to be a taboo symbol at their filming location, causing even more disruption than usual on the occasions in which he chose to share it!

Amidst a series of low-impact, low-budget movies, an occasional notable role would come along. One was in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), with Reed claiming it was one of the few instances in which he was mostly left alone to create his character and given free rein to make it as big as he wanted (this from a man who was not known for his subdued performances.) He's the one on the left, in case you didn't know...

In 1989, Richard Lester gathered up much of the cast of The Three/Four Musketeers for a belated follow-up The Return of the Musketeers. Though it was fun to see the stars reunited, it was generally a lackluster affair, missing several of the characters who'd brought so much to the first film(s), such as Welch, Dunaway and Heston. Also, sadly, beloved character actor Roy Kinnear died during the filming (of a heart attack the day after a serious riding accident), casting a pall over the proceedings.

Heston, who had wanted to take part in the Musketeers sequel, but could not due to his character being deceased at the time of the story, was making a TV version of Treasure Island directed by his son Fraser and called upon Reed and Musketeer villain Christopher Lee to join him in the cast. Reed was always working, including a stint in the miniseries Return to Lonesome Dove (1993), but his hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyle was about to catch up to him.

He was tapped by Ridley Scott to play the slave trader Proximo in a brash, electrifying new epic about ancient Rome called Gladiator (2000) and threw himself gladly into the colorful part. Though they shared no scenes together, one of his long-time rivals Richard Harris was also cast in the expensive, elaborate film. However, before his scenes could be completed, Reed (who had remained sober for filming provided his activities were his to decide from 5:00 on) dropped of a heart attack after a heavy round of drinking.

He died on May 2nd, 1999 at age sixty-one with three weeks left of shooting to complete. Insurance would have covered reshoots with another actor up to $25 million, but Scott, wanting to retain Reed's performance and reluctant to go backwards on an already grueling shoot, instead opted to truncate Reed's role somewhat and fill in bits of unfilmed scenes with a body double, a mannequin (for one segment) and the use of CGI, which at that time was less-advanced than it is now. The cost was $3 million to do this!

Oliver Reed (shown here with his second wife/widow) was a brilliantly talented actor who generated incredible response to his work on screen, but was never nominated for a single important award. Remarkably, Reed at no time in his career worked on the theatrical stage, something that is the backbone of most significant British thespians. He was a completely cinematic performer, with some television here and there along the way.

Countless tales of his full-bodied partying, rowdy drinking games, bets, brawls, stripping, streaking, puking and coming up with all sorts of audacious quotes (he once referred to Jack Nicholson as a “balding midget!”) have ensured that his name will be mentioned in many anecdotes about movie-making, but apart from all that he remained an actor dedicated to doing his best while at work. This is something practically all of his costars have attested to.

In The Underworld, we cannot forget those huge, penetrating, intense eyes of his. He was capable of projecting incredible threat, yet also adept at demonstrating extreme sensitivity.

Certainly the world isn't likely to see another of his kind roll along any time soon, for he was brazen, fearless, intelligent, thoughtful, curious and really quite beautiful, scar and all.

(Editor's Note: In case you can't tell, this post was gargantuan and took me FOREVER! So sorry to have lapsed so long in between installments, but with the considerable breadth of this topic and an avalanche of work plus the debilitation of a molar extraction, I've been hard pressed to get anything done.  I'll be back soon with more, I promise!)


Unknown said...

Big fan of Mr Reed and this posting gave me lots of fun movies to look forward to. What a man! dangerous and sexy.

joel65913 said...

An interesting post of a fascinating actor. He could be handsome or look a complete mess but he always had a magnetism that held your attention.

Women in Love is something to behold but I really enjoyed The Assassination Bureau when I caught it last year. It held the double pleasure of him in his prime, playing a more affable character than was his usual lot and the presence of my beloved Diana Rigg who makes anything better.

Dental work can really knock you back hope you recovered from yours with minimal difficulty!

NotFelixUnger said...

"The Devils" is one of the few movies that have made me scream out loud. And, like a little girl at that!

Though hardly what I would consider handsome there are many films you mention which are absolutely hypnotizing if for no other reason than the fact you believe his character is real. For that reason alone, though I've never been a big fan, I do know most of the films mentioned here as I've seen them. Film buffs (especially those of the "royal" persuasion, drag them out on special occasions!)

Anyway, any day that I get to read a fabulous post that mentions Vanessa Redgrave, Amanda Donahoe, Lee Montgomery and Patrick Warburton is a good day indeed.

Little aside, I was madly in love with Lee between 82 and about 87 and have never been able to get the image of a shirtless PW out of my head after I saw him the first time. :0)

joel65913 said...

I forgot to mention that I just last week saw the Oliver Reed/Shelley Winters set-to on the Carson show. TCM are rerunning some memorable interviews he did through the years and obviously this one qualifies.

It was quite the show. Oliver's attitudes were very much of his time and antiquated as far as today's sensibilities are concerned but he was polite and courtly. Shelley was her usual over the top opinionated self which was amusing but also rude. Since it ended as one step above a brawl it made fascinating television but she was wrong to dump the liquid, whatever it was, on his head. But then Shelley was never known for her restraint in anything.

Michael O'Sullivan said...

Great post on such a fascinating actor. One of his early walk-ons is one to watch out for: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN in 1960 where he plays a swishy gay ballet dancer who mistakenly enters the room where the Gentlemen are meeting. Its only a minute but priceless!

I particularly like THE GIRL-GETTERS or THE SYSTEM as we know it here, from 1964, which captures that era perfectly.

Bette Davis was furious with Reed & Karen Black when she was interviewed by Rex Reed, on Burnt Offerings - she considered them unprofessional and worse. Olly was always late and drinking, while Karen kept changing her hair and makeup so no shots matched!

Poseidon3 said...

Hey, y'all! Glad you enjoyed reading this post. It was quite a task to get through Oliver's considerable career (and I even glossed over many projects!)

Joel, though, like you say, Ollie's attitudes on the Carson show are outdated now, I think the gist of what he was trying to say was that he felt it was his duty to provide for a woman so that she never had to work outside the home - or at least that in his mind, marriage was a partnership based on each half covering their "area" and locking into place that way. (We never really got to hear him out anyway because of the incident!) In any case, the very notion of such a thing got feminists up in arms. But you know what? Over time, we have witnessed the almost complete breakdown of the American family. Few meals together, disparate schedules, lack of communication, troubles galore, and many, MANY women have since decided that they truly wish to be a stay-at-home mother (though so many can't afford it now!) It's nearly come full circle that way. I guess the biggest difference is that now it's more of a choice than an expected obligation and that sometimes it's the man who stays home.

Michael, I adore Bette Davis, but let's face it, few people ever met her standards in anything! LOL It's always fun to hear her going on and on about someone who rubbed her the wrong way. (Seriously, how can someone have not gotten along with Lillian Fucking Gish?!?!)

Oh, and NotFelix... I looked up a somewhat older Lee Montgomery (from "Girls Just Want to Have Fun") and was floored! He was a hairy, hunky, cutie pie!! Thanks for mentioning him!

angelman66 said...

Wonderful piece on a fascinating and charismatic actor, always oozing with menacing, masculine sex appeal.

I think one of his most underrated performances is in Burnt Offerings...his descent into madness rivals and in my opinion surpasses Jack Nicholson's in The Shining and James Brolin's in Amityville Horror.

A hot daddy and a fine actor, all rolled into one.

Poseidon3 said...

I agree with you, obviously, angelman66, though some of the folks Ollie encountered over the years might have felt he was halfway to madness to begin with! ;-)

Moogaboo said...

Fabulous post. I first fell for Oliver in that groovy brown suit in "Women in Love." Also, the scene where he's caressing the bunny is so damned sexy! He certainly had charisma. Also love him in "The Party's Over," a post-beatnik/ pre-hippie UK "youth" film with surprisingly dark subject matter. Oh, and thanks for all the great screencaps!

Poseidon3 said...

Moogaboo, thanks for dipping into The Underworld and for commenting! I'm glad you liked this profile of Ollie and hope you will wade through some of the others here, too! If I ever get the chance, I'll have to check out "The Party's Over."