17 September 2009

"Things go round and round, don't they?"

If you follow film news in the slightest, you (should) have already heard about Henry Gibson's death today. He was "only" 73, which struck me as odd, because with his white hair and lined face, I've thought he was in his 70s since at least 1989. Every time I saw him in a new movie, I'd think, "Hey! It's Henry Gibson! I can't believe he's still alive! And working!"

I suppose this is a result of repeated viewings of The 'burbs as a child. In that film, Gibson played the head of the Klopeks, a family of [I can't believe I'm issuing a SPOILER ALERT for this] mass murderers who attempt to kill the lovable then-comedic actor Tom Hanks. As I haven't seen it since I was a kid, I don't know if The 'burbs is a good film, but it was certainly one that left an impression, and so will always belong somewhere in the dark cockles of my heart.

It was also the reason for Henry Gibson becoming one of my very first "Hey! That guy!"s. You know what I'm talking about: those actors who wow you more than the leads, yet who aren't famous enough for the press to track their every move, and so when you see them in other movies, you brighten up, as if you have come across an old friend by accident. That's the way I felt no matter what role Gibson played. Even when he was the Neo-Nazi in The Blues Brothers, I wanted to clap my hands in delight. He projected that special type of confidence that says, "I got this acting shit down. You're not gonna be groaning at anything I say or do, no matter how poorly the film is written." It's something all good character actors possess in spades, which is why they should really be the stars.

Now, finally, he really is gone. Most of the time when a celebrity dies, I don't feel much, especially when they've made it to a relatively ripe old age. We all have to go sometime, and it's tough to get sad and pensive about the passing of someone you didn't actually know. I like to think of this as a mature perspective, but I sometimes fear it's disguised callousness. This time, though, it's different. While I still can't truthfully admit to having crying jags all day, I also cannot deny feeling the loss. When I read the news, I gave one of those disappointed "Oh"s. Then I did the closest thing to an emotional outburst in a situation like this: I told a coworker. Even now I'm bummed, and I know the next time I see a movie with him in it (I recommend Nashville, by the way), I'll think "Hey! It's that guy! I can't believe he's--Oh, fuck."

Mourn ya 'til I join ya, Mr. Gibson. (Thanks to the A.V. Club for finding the extremely ghoulish yet entirely appropriate clip below.)


  1. That is one creepy (yet funny) clip. If you want to get some more hits, might I suggest making mention of Saffron Burrows. This last week my hit count has skyrocketed, all from people searching for her.