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TomJH

Performances of Limited Screen Time That Still Have A Jolting Impact

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I watched The Big Sleep again last night. Great film, one of my favourites.

And, once again, I took chilling note of Bob Steele's performance as the cold blooded killer-for-hire Canino. But in viewing the film it occurred to me that it's doubtful that Steele has much more than twelve minutes or so on the screen, all in the film's last half hour. But his is a  performance of malevolence that stays with you. Elisha Cook Jr, as little Jonesy, in that same film also falls into the same category.

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Has anyone else got any favourite "small" performances, small in screen time but big in impact.

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Also, Dorothy Malone's brief appearance in the same movie ("The Big Sleep").  She and Bogart have great chemistry.  

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Wilford Brimley as Assistant U.S. Attorney General James J. Wells in "Absence of Malice" (1981). His character comes in near the end of the film and lowers the boom on an overzealous federal prosecutor (Bob Balaban) and a district attorney (Don Hood) responsible for damaging the reputation of a Miami businessman (Paul Newman). Sally Field also starred as the newspaper reporter whose stories further damaged the businessman's reputation.

Brimley was sensational in small but great scenes, including memorable moments in "The China Syndrome" (1979) and "The Electric Horseman" (also 1979).

Small wonder that his trustworthy image led to a long run as a TV spokesperson in commercials.

 

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Balloon Guy in The Third Man

A real character face who merely repeats the word, "Balloon" several times. Somewhere I read that this guy was a local that director Carol Reed found when the film was shot on location in Vienna. I wonder if anyone even knows the name of the performer (I don't see him listed anywhere in IMDb's extensive cast list) , but Balloon Guy's brief moment on screen stays with me.

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Of course, it helps that the director gave this character a great introduction

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Sylvia Miles in Farewell My Lovely

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It didn't impress me much the first time I saw it, but Beatrice Straight's brief scene in "Network" as a wounded spouse is brilliant! No wonder she won the 1976 Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

 

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Judith Anderson in "Laura:"

"I'm not a nice person, Laura.  Neither is he.  I know he's just what he is.  He also knows that I don't care.  We belong together because we're both weak and can't seem to help it.  That's why I know he' s capable of murder. He's like me."

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13 minutes ago, jakeem said:

It didn't impress me much the first time I saw it, but Beatrice Straight's brief scene in "Network" as a wounded spouse is brilliant! No wonder she won the 1976 Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

 

Straight's scene in which she confronts Holden always impressed me. Her anguish is truly palpable. But I think it is one of the shortest screen appearances to get an Oscar.

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There are several brief performances that I can think of that made a big impact on me: the aforementioned ones are all good examples.

Sylvia Miles made much of her short time on screen in Midnight Cowboy. And Ned Beatty was very memorable in his small role in Network, as well. 

Christopher Walken in Annie Hall, and Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road are a couple more good ones.

Lenny Montana as Luca Brasi in The Godfather.

Edmund Gwenn in Foreign Correspondent.

John Turturro in The Big Lebowski.

Anthony Hopkins was only onscreen for 16 minutes in The Silence of the Lambs, but it was enough for his performance to win the lead actor Oscar and to become iconic.

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33 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Anthony Hopkins was only onscreen for 16 minutes in The Silence of the Lambs, but it was enough for his performance to win the lead actor Oscar and to become iconic.

Buffalo Bill has even less screen time and he's just as entertaining and iconic.

 

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4 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

Buffalo Bill has even less screen time and he's just as entertaining and iconic.

Yes, Ted Levine was very good in that, especially when viewed next to most of his other roles, which are nothing like that one.

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"Oh wait... Was she a great big fat person?" :lol: :lol: 

 

 

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Speaking of MIDNIGHT COWBOY the person I most remember is JOHN McGIVER (1913-75) as the creepy 'Mr. O'Daniel'. 

"I'm gonna use ya, Joe Buck!" he chortles. 

 

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Bill McKinney in Deliverance.  Menacing and terrifying, even when he's dead. I had to remind myself that he was acting

 

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Thayer David as the promoter in Rocky. Smart and manipulative, in his brief shot when he's watching the fight he's already planning and scheming, chewing furiously on his cigar.

 

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Jessie Royce Landis in North by Northwest steals every scene.

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One of my favorite performances in Frank Capra's 1939 political drama "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" earned the distinguished actor Harry Carey, Sr. an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He appeared as the President of the U.S. Senate (a.k.a. the nation's Vice President) who sometimes offered silent encouragement to the embattled  Senator Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), a neophyte from a Southern state.

Carey (1878-1947) was a stage actor who also appeared in more than 200 films during his career. Among the other filmmakers he worked with: D.W. Griffith, John Ford, King Vidor, Michael Curtiz, Elia Kazan and Howard Hawks. His son Harry Carey, Jr. (1921–2012) became a member of Ford's repertory company and memorably portrayed President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the director's 1955 film "The Long Gray Line."

See the source image

 

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Walter Huston as the gun wielding Sin Killer in DUEL IN THE SUN. The way he looks at Jennifer Jones you have the impression that he's fighting the desire for some sinnin' of his own.

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4 hours ago, TomJH said:

 

Walter Huston as the gun wielding Sin Killer in DUEL IN THE SUN. The way he looks at Jennifer Jones you have the impression that he's fighting the desire for some sinnin' of his own.

AND, in the very same movie here Tom, you have another terrific but short performance by Herbert Marshall as Jennifer Jones' ill-fated father during the first few scenes in this film...

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And once again playing a cuckold husband.

(...geez...what was it about the guy that he played that sort so often AND so believably, I wonder...I dunno, perhaps because he perfected that "forlorn" expression of his there?)

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On 2/2/2020 at 7:29 PM, jakeem said:

It didn't impress me much the first time I saw it, but Beatrice Straight's brief scene in "Network" as a wounded spouse is brilliant! No wonder she won the 1976 Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

And didn't Ned Beatty--who could play scary Doughy Corporate-Suit Guys as well as comic-stereotype ones--get a BSA nomination too, despite, quote, "working a day" on his one scene in the picture?

And no matter how badly John C. Reilly tries to destroy his career by prolonged radioactive exposure to Will Ferrell, every time you remember him as "That Guy", it's for his nominated song in Chicago:

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Isabel Jewell brought a trembling vulnerability to her brief scene as a seamstress facing the guillotine in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, sharing Ronald Colman's last moments before he did a "far far better thing . . .."

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A small but hilarious performance by Marjorie Main as the Widow Hudspeth in FRIENDLY PERSUASION

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Juano Hernandez as an old time jazz trumpet man in YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN. Hernandez memorably brought dignity, as well as a gentility to his role. Here he is listening to Harry James, I mean, Kirk Douglas play.

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Actor Ian Keith as the down-and-out carney Pete in Nightmare Alley.

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9 minutes ago, Dargo said:

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Actor Ian Keith as the down-and-out carney Pete in Nightmare Alley.

A great performance.

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Sean Regan and Owen Taylor in The Big Sleep.    What these don't work?  Ok,  how about this one:'

Sonia Darrin as Agnes Lozelle

PS:  posting this photo I just found.   It is from the initial scene at the General's home,  but Bacall is wearing a different outfit and hairdo than the one in the film.    

 

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