Sunday, January 6, 2013

31 Performances Ripe for Rediscovery (4) Oliver Reed in I'LL NEVER FORGET WHAT'S'IS NAME (1967)

"This man is a success. 
He has a wife, two mistresses an alfa romeo and one day he decided to get rid of them all."

For many younger film fans the name Oliver Reed will probably call to mind the roaring aging boozer who would show up sloshed on television talk shows, virtually creating the 'viral' video long before the internet.  While he is perhaps among the most 'famous' people on my list I feel like the late Reed is one of the major actors in need of rediscovery, due to the public persona that took over the artist by the end of his life, and for the fact that so many of his greatest films are unavailable on disc.  It's especially tragic that his work in the sixties with director Michael Winner are so relatively unknown here in the states, as it was such an important and fruitful collaboration.  Folks who only know of the older Oliver Reed might be shocked by just how beautiful, how commanding, how touching and just how talented he was in his prime.  Take for example his monumental work as advertising Andrew Quint in Winner's extraordinary 1967 feature I'll Never Forget What's'isname, one of the best films of the sound-era and one of the most prophetic works of art ever created.

I feel unbelievably close to the frustrated Andrew Quint, a man so hungry to escape life's modern dance but who's ultimately trapped by the pleasures he is so accustomed to.  As Quint, Oliver Reed is simply magnificent.  His performance is one of the most moving and resonate I have ever seen.  It's one of those rare performances, like Gene Hackman  in Night Moves or Mickey Rourke in The Pope of Greenwich Village, that haunts me on a near daily basis.  When one of life's many walls gets put up I always flash on the opening image of Reed carrying an Ax through the busy London Streets to destroy the office desk he has been held prisoner by and I think 'if only'...

I'll Never Forget What's'isname is also a brutal reminder to just how amazing a leading man Oliver Reed was and his scenes with the tragic Carol White (who will appear on my next 'Ripe for Rediscovery' list I do) are exquisitely touching and seductive.  Reed was one of cinema's great poets and I think his work as Andrew Quint is his finest screen performance, even better than his savage turn in Ken Russell's The Devils a few years later.

We lost a true champion in 1999 when we lost Oliver Reed and we lost one of our truly great actors.  He was bigger than the Oscar he was never even nominated for throughout his dazzling career.  Unlike some of his greatest films, I'll Never Forget What's'isname isn't impossible to see in this country as copies of the out of print Anchor Bay DVD (which features an extraordinary Winner commentary) can still be found.  Seek it out anyway you can find really is one of the very best films I have ever seen and Reed's performance should be legendary.
-Jeremy Richey, 2013-


dfordoom said...

Oliver Reed was one of the greats, and he was at his peak in the 60s.

Gold Gato said...

He made the air move.