Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

Two Must See Films With "The Great One"

My Dad loved Jackie Gleason. My granmother would tell me stories about how, as a boy, he'd make her and my grandfather laugh by doing imitations of Gleason at the kitchen table. So, Gleason is on my mind. Here's my advice. Forget the silly Smokey and the Bandit films, The Sting II and The Toy. Film buffs curious about the reason Orson Welles dubbed Gleason "The Great One," should go out and rent two films that served as bookends in the spotty film career of this empathetically comedic genius: The Hustler, in which he stars as billiards great Minnesota Fats, alongside Paul Newman's Fast Eddie. (Newman later won the Oscar for playing the same character in the sequel, The Color of Money), and his last film, Nothing in Common, where he shared the screen with a then up-and-coming Tom Hanks as his son. Both films illustrate the depth and range of Gleason only hinted at (though brilliantly) on his TV shows. Check them out.

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