Gene Hackman

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Matt Wilson
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Gene Hackman

Postby Matt Wilson » 30 Aug 2017, 21:11

Is there a better meat 'n potatoes actor? They said Spencer Tracy made acting look easy, that you couldn't see the wheels turning. It's the same with Hackman. I'm not sure if I've ever seen him overact, or ham it up. From the late '60s until the early 2000s he was effortlessly great. Not showy like some of the other guys we praise around here, more like a Duvall. Here's some of my favorites:

Bonnie and Clyde
Downhill Racer
The French Connection
Prime Cut
Scarecrow
The Conversation
Young Frankenstein
Bite the Bullet
Night Moves
Reds
Under Fire
Hoosiers
No Way Out
Mississippi Burning
Unforgiven
The Firm
Get Shorty
Antz
The Royal Tenenbaums


I haven't seen his nominated performance in I Never Sang for My Father, or Cisco Pike, but I bet he's probaby good in both.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Thang-y » 30 Aug 2017, 21:22

There are only a few actors who, when I see their name on a film, make me want to watch it. He's one of them.

Was looking for him on Actor's Studio on youtube, can't find it just now. Here's a clip from Dustin Hoffman's interview


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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby The Great Defector » 30 Aug 2017, 21:42

Always watchable, favorite character is an obvious one but has to be "Popeye" Doyle.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Darryl Strawberry » 30 Aug 2017, 21:49

I'd add Enemy of the State to that list. An enjoyable, if not great, film but Hackman is perfect in it, with its gentle nod to The Conversation.
As Markus states, The French Connection draws a wonderful performance from him, but I think The Conversation is one of the all time greats.
He is hilarious in The Royal Tenenbaums, and probably steals the film from some great comic actors.
A yes from me. A brilliant actor
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Belle Lettre » 30 Aug 2017, 22:04

You didn't mention The Poseidon Adventure :D
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Sneelock » 30 Aug 2017, 23:06

oh man, I think he's SO good in the Poseidon Adventure. His crisis of faith really hit me as a teenager and it still works for me. so much for ME maturing.

I waited on him once or twice in the 80's.pretty private, he didn't make small talk but polite and surprisingly easy to spot maybe because he's pretty tall.

As much as I like Spencer Tracy, I didn't see Spence play a lot of bad guys. I get what you're saying though. they do make it look easy. The thing about Hackman (and Robert Duvall and maybe a few others who play good & bad guys) there's some kind of weird acting voodoo in what they do.

watch them. they look up - as a bad guy and a good guy. their faces look exactly the same but something comes out of them that translates as good or bad. it's extraordinary!



Robyn Hitchcock wrote a cute song about how many movies he makes. if you've never heard it, it's worth taking a minute to watch him tune up to get to it.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Geezee » 31 Aug 2017, 10:43

I think I first understood his greatness in his small but important turn in The Firm - I still find his performance there to be, as you say, understated but heartbreaking. One of the true great ones.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 01 Sep 2017, 15:43

He's one of the guys who makes me think about the difference between a great film actor and a great stage actor. Hackman did some stage work in the 60s, and returned to Broadway as a star only once in the 90s. I'm sure he was wonderful. But in the end, he was a screen actor. As good as there ever was.

Like the best of them, his main talent was that you could see him think. In acting class they'll tell you to hold fast to your motivation. Hackman was like a pit bull about his in whatever scene was being filmed. Mind you...he had some shtick (all actors do),his was that thing he'd do where he'd be trying to charm another character while the audience was aware of the manipulation. At some point the collegiality drops and his steely ambition would be revealed. Think of Mississippi Burning, The Narrow Marginor Unforgiven for the more obvious examples. Shtick at some level, but endlessly wonderful shtick. If a script gave Hackman the opportunity to to use it, he'd take it and we'd be lucky for it.

The other thing I loved about him as an actor was his willingness to have his characters lack self awareness. In films like Night Moves and The Conversation his characters are not nearly as good at their jobs as they portray. Hackman doesn't telegraph any insecurity. He just plays them like guys who think they are the best in their field. They don't learn from their mistakes. It's such a strong choice, but the opposite of what most actors are trained to do.

Anyhow...yeah, he's great.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Matt Wilson » 01 Sep 2017, 16:52

What makes you think he wasn't good at surveillance in The Conversation? Everybody in that film acknowledged him as the best in his field.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 01 Sep 2017, 18:20

Matt Wilson wrote:What makes you think he wasn't good at surveillance in The Conversation? Everybody in that film acknowledged him as the best in his field.


His tapes get stolen, his hack competitor manages to trick him with a pen, etc...
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Matt Wilson » 01 Sep 2017, 18:57

That doesn't mean he's not better than the hack competitor, who continually asks him for his secrets, etc. But to each his own.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 01 Sep 2017, 19:24

I didn't say he wasn't better than that guy. I said he wasn't as good as his reputation.

In a lot of ways, this is the point of the whole movie. He's slipping and he is trying not to know it.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Sneelock » 01 Sep 2017, 20:19

it's been a while. At the end WE suspect the bug is Allan Garfield's pen but does Harry? He completely demolished his room and is playing the saxophone. LOL. What a movie.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 01 Sep 2017, 20:38

Here's the scene. He knows. He's completely humiliated:



Mind you, I don't want to reduce Harry Caul to just the Roger Ebert interpretation. I think there's more to him than just a portrait of a guy who was the top but is beginning to slip. He's also having a moral crisis that is making him hate the version of himself that was "the best" at a very dirty job.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Darryl Strawberry » 01 Sep 2017, 21:07

Just as his ultimate goal is to always be in control, the one doing the listening, Harry’s greatest fear is that there is a bugger better than him, that he himself will be recorded as he does to others. This is reflected in his phobia about providing personal information about himself, even to his girlfriend. In a later scene, during a drunken party in Harry’s shop after a wiretappers’ convention, Caul’s rival, a man named William P. Moran, successfully bugs Harry with a microphone disguised as a pen. Although Moran has done this more or less as a joke, Caul becomes enraged, forcing all of the guests to leave because he is so disturbed that he has let his guard down and allowed the shell of anonymity that surrounds him to be breached.


http://theseventhartfilm.blogspot.co.uk ... s.html?m=1
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Matt Wilson » 02 Sep 2017, 00:01

I don't see the hack competitor tricking Harry with the pen as emblematic of Harry not being at the top of his game, more like the hack was just trying to prove to Harry that he (the hack) was good too. Harry could have just as easily tricked the hack through some other means had that been his goal.

No, I don't feel that Harry losing his skill is a theme of the film at all. In fact, I just finished watching it, and then listening to Coppola's commentary where it was never mentioned.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 02 Sep 2017, 00:37

Well...that settles it!

:roll:

How about the fact that his landlord gets into his apartment? Or that his mail is intercepted? All of this despite the great efforts he makes to hermetically seal off his world.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Matt Wilson » 02 Sep 2017, 00:50

:lol: What does surveillance have to do with your landlord having a key to your apartment? Coppola describes that scene as an example of Harry's paranoia, not that he's somehow not as good at his job as he thinks he is. In fact, Harry never says he's good at what he does, it's other people who continually say that about him.

I don't recall the mail scene.

But honestly, what do you care what I think? Do we have to see the film the same way? Get over yourself, Todd.

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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 02 Sep 2017, 01:13

So all that stuff is just in the film accidentally. It doesn't mean anything?

Anyhow - I don't care what you think. You were the one who disagreed with my interpretation, dummy.
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Re: Gene Hackman

Postby Matt Wilson » 02 Sep 2017, 01:27

Davey the Fat Boy wrote:So all that stuff is just in the film accidentally. It doesn't mean anything?

Anyhow - I don't care what you think. You were the one who disagreed with my interpretation, dummy.



:lol:

I guess Coppola doesn't see it your way either then since he never once mentions what you consider to be the primary theme of the film.

But who is he compared to you? Fuck him.