"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

"... and call off Christmas!!!" - (R.I.P. Alan Rickman - 14 JAN 2016)

There actually was something really good in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).

That something is Alan Rickman, as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

In my previous post, I kinda dumped on The Syfy Channel a bit, for the inclusion of distinctly non-science fiction items in its lineup, including that movie.

(In a conversation with a clerk at Barnes & Noble, I learned that a writer, asking one of the people running The Syfy Channel about why they had changed their name from The "Sci-Fi Channel", was told that "Sci-Fi" is considered shorthand for "Science-Fiction", implying that would be the content;  whereas "Syfy" is in fact just a totally meaningless bit of noise, and gives them license to schedule whatever they wish.  Okay ... )

Back to Alan then.

Of all the people in this movie, he alone appears to be actually having fun, being so deliciously nasty.

After the Sheriff  has said he'll cut out Robin Hood's  heart with a spoon ...
Guy of Gisborne: "Why a spoon, cousin?  Why not an axe?"
Sheriff: "Because it's DULL, you twit.  It'll hurt more."
(Said with a sneer that only Alan Rickman can manage; he has an absolute lock on that.)

Sheriff: (to a wench"You.  My room.  10:30 tonight."
Sheriff: (to another wench"You.  10:45 ... And bring a friend."

Upon hearing from a scribe about the relationship Robin Hood has with the people...
Sheriff: "Just a minute. Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public,  -- and they love him for it?"
The scribe nods.
Sheriff: "That's it then.  Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings,  -- and call off Christmas!!!"

One thing I'll always wonder: Was that last parting shot scripted?
Or, was Rickman on a roll at that time and he just ad-libbed it?

At times, he seems to be in an entirely different movie than the rest of the cast is, and almost succeeds in making this bloated epic truly watchable.  Unfortunately, as with Ian McShane in the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, he can't do the job all by himself  (although he does what he can). 

What put him on the map was his role as Hans Gruber (one of the all-time great villains) in Die Hard  (1988), opposite Bruce Willis...

Problem with getting on the map that way is the danger of typecasting.  In Quigly Down Under  (1990), opposite Tom Selleck, he played a villain with a mustache almost fit for twirling.  He seemed to be at the top of any list for playing a back-stabbing, conniving SOB, and got quite a bit of work as such.

But, that's not the only side to him.  Right after "Quigly", he appeared in Truly Madly Deeply (1990), wherein he was a ghost hanging around his girlfriend who really needed to get on with her life, but found it a bit difficult with him and his ghost friends around all the time, watching videos (what else do you do with all that time in the afterlife?)  It was a sweet, warm role totally unexpected for the guy who played Hans Gruber.

His latest work has been as Professor Severus Snape, the "Darth Vader" of the Harry Potter series...

He's actually the most tragic figure in the story, very multi-layered (Yes!  I'm quite aware that I use that phrase a lot;  I'm drawn to characters that rate it).  Rickman succeeds in the challenge of taking a character you've learned to hate, and making you almost weep for him near the end of the last movie.

What can I say?  The man is simply so damned good.
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UPDATE Thursday, 14 JAN 2016:  I've just learned that Alan Rickman has left us today...  

...  FAR TOO SOON.  Rest in peace, Sir.  :-(

frown emoticon(Originally published 2102 CST 08 AUG 2011)
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9 comments:

Foxfier said...

What can I say, other than "amen"?

First saw him in Quigly, and it took ages for me to connect him to any of his other roles-- a lot of them are similar, yes, but it's not "Alan Rickman as X," it's "X played by Alan Rickman."

Of course, I've adored Snape since I read the books, and someone that could pull off the whole what-emo-kids-want-to-be thing was a blast.

A point you most likely don't consider-- he's not hard on the eyes and he's got a great voice. *grin*

Paul Gordon said...

I love "Quigly" (and have it) in spite of a gigantic plot hole (Where the Hell was that army of aboriginals back when they could have come in handy?), and also love Rickman's performance in it.

"and he's got a great voice."

On voices, I can almost trace an arc from James Mason to Frank Langella (especially as the 1969 version of Dracula) on to Rickman; distinctive voices that are an integral part of their performances.

That last may sound like -- DUH!, but let me put it this way...

There are many actors for whom you could dub in someone else's voice (done all the time when rendering dialog into other languages) without losing anything.

Not so with those three.

Here's another Rickman gem: the comedy "Galaxy Quest". Tim Allen and Alan Rickman nailed the Kirk/Spock relationship so beautifully I'b be genuinely surprised if William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy didn't enjoy the Hell out of it.
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Foxfier said...

Much agreed on Galaxy Quest-- there aren't a lot of comedies where you genuinely tear up, but I know I did at the death scene.

Paul Gordon said...

Re: my earlier comment...
Frank Langella (especially as the 1969 version of Dracula)

OOPS! - Make that 1979
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Casey said...

Whoops. Y'all forgot The January Man, wherein he co-starred with Kevin Kline. It was the first movie I saw him in after Die Hard, and quite a change.

Anonymous said...

Jason Isaac rules but Snape does not drool
thanks to 2 great actors in their prime

Foxfier said...

Since I got a hit from this post, I thought I'd update....

My daughter is in love with a kid's show called "Boo." It's from the UK.

...

The kids have the same accent as Rickman in the famous "spoon" scene. I have a heck of a time listening to any of it without muttering "Because it will hurt more, you idiot!"

Paul Gordon said...

Lately, for some reason, I've been getting a lot of hits on this post. Usually, from google searched involving Rickman (the largest number of searches being for Hans Gruber).

Popularity seems to come in waves.

My post, "Well, THAT was interesting...", about the armed robbery at my workplace was linked in a comment on a firearms blog, and suddenly a lot of hits came from there.

Serendipity!

(I've just got to get around to that post; the word describes my life (as I suspect it does most peoples's lives)
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Anonymous said...

I love that quote from "Robin Hood" about calling off Xmas! I think everyone who saw Robin Hood absolutely loved the Sheriff of Nottingham because he was fun to watch and his histrionics were quite humorous!

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