Friday, November 30, 2007

Christopher Walken: Seven Legendary Scenes

Since making his debut in the early seventies Christopher Walken has been one of the most versatile and iconic of all American actors. Adept in the heaviest of dramas, to the lightest of comedies, Walken is one of those actors that can do it all. To pay tribute to the man who has given us some of the most memorable performances of the past thirty years I have selected seven of my favorite scenes with Walken that show his extraordinary (and often undervalued) talents. There are many others, but I find these seven to be particularly memorable and great.

Walken turns in one of his strangest, and most effective, performances here in Abel Ferrara's savage 1995 film THE ADDICTION. This scene, featuring Walken with Lili Taylor, is among the best of either of their careers, and it is the kind of moment that only Ferrara could have delivered.

One of the funniest scenes in Woody Allen's vast filmography is this moment with Allen and Walken from 1977's ANNIE HALL. Watch Allen's terrified reaction to Walken's trademark deadpan delivery. Classic scene, and the payoff at the end is the stuff of legend.

Walken goes head to head with fellow legend Dennis Hopper in this, one of the great moments from Tarantino's pen. The scene is also nicely directed by Tony Scott, and the two actors are clearly getting a kick sparring off each other.

Walken would get a much deserved Academy Award for his heartbreaking performance in Michael Cimino's epic masterpiece. The Russian Roulette scene is the most talked about, but I think this scene outside of the hospital is the most crushing moment of the film.

I will never forget seeing this for the first time with a sold out audience back in 1994. The moment when Walken reveals where he kept that 'uncomfortable piece of metal' garnered some of the biggest laughs I have ever heard...and the scene still gives me chills because of how great Walken is in it.

Cronenberg's masterful film gave Walken one of the finest roles of his career, and he delivered a devastating performance in it. There are many great scenes in THE DEAD ZONE, but this one is particularly haunting. Just watch the look on Walken's face as he sees Brook Adams walking towards him.

The final shots of Ferrara's influential 1990 gangster epic remain some of my favorite ever filmed. Walken's performance as Frank White is electric, chilling, terrifying and finally moving. These final moments capturing White at the end are my favorite shots of Chris in any film. He is as good as in actor has ever been in these silent last shots...

There are many others, but frankly with over 100 films under his belt now it is hard to choose from all of them. Christopher Walken is one of our great actors and icons. I am looking forward to paying tribute to one of his key films later this weekend.


Joe said...

Jeremy! I don't think your Walken list could have been any better.

I remember reading where someone asked Woody Allen what he thought of Pulp Fiction and his response was, "Uhhh, I thought Chris Walken was good in it."

The King of New York apparently earned Walken honorary Black man status, but I can neither confirm or deny this. James Lipton once insinuated something to that effect on his program.

Steve Langton said...

I fully agree with Joe. Great list. THE ADDICTION is one of my all-time favourites, though it's hard to nominate the best performance (maybe Sciorra?). Walken brings absolute genius to his roles, and the guy just loves to dance in many of his roles.Gotta love him!

Rogue Spy 007 said...

Hey Jeremy. What a great Christopher Walken list. This is one cool dude. He can be creepy, funny, etc. in the vast amount of films he's done. It would be hard to just pick 7 scenes, but you did a fantastic job with it. I look forward to your blogging on this wonderful actor.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Joe,
Glad you liked it...great Woody Allen quote (I had never heard it)...

Thanks Steve...I love THE ADDICTION and Sciorra is one of my favorite modern actresses. I need to write something on her here...

Thanks also Keith...glad you liked the list...

Cinebeats said...

You left out two of my favorite Walken films, but it was nice to see what your own favorites are.

I'm really fond of At Close Range (which I think is Walken's nastiest role) and the scene at the end of the film between him and his son (played by Sean Penn) just knocks me out.

I also love his mustache speech in the little seen masterpiece The Comfort of Strangers (my personal favorite Walken film of the 1990s), which I'm sure must have influnced his role in Pulp Fiction in some ways.

Walken is so terrific! It's a shame that I haven't enjoyed any of his more recent films. The last film I saw him in was the barely watchable remake of The Stepford Wives.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Kimberly,
I love both those films you mentioned...I knew I was leaving out some really good ones but I decided to limit it as much as I could...I haven't seen too many of his recent films. I hated that STEPFORD WIVES almost as much as I love the original...thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

I know it's probably a guilty pleasure,but a Walken film I find compellingly re-watchable mainly for his goofy,seemingly ad-lbbed performance is COMMUNION. What's yuor take on that 80's indulgence?