Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cliff Robertson

Normally,the death of an actor would not make a full post here,but to me this was a special case.
The recent death of Cliff Robertson at the age of 88 made me think of three roles that Robertson played that affected me in different ways.
His Oscar winning performance in 1968's Charly made me want to search out the book Flowers for Algernon,which the film was based on as a teenager.
I do not read a ton of fiction,so the film made quite an impression as did the book,which was quite a bit darker in premise.
I saw the film on TV,a few years back while at work and thought about the film/book a bit.
Could it be that it planted the seed in what I do as a profession?
Perhaps,but the point is that Robertson's performance was so powerful and moving that I could take that thought seriously.
If the chance is there for you to watch the film or even read the book,I highly recommend them.
The language is a bit dated (Think of reading J.D.Salinger's Catcher in the Rye for a similar dating),but they will make you think a bit on several issues.
Of course,like most things that I read,the book was not encouraged by school as it has been removed by several school systems through the years.
Sadly,I cannot think of many books that truly influenced me in school and yet I like to consider myself pretty well read.
I would love to see our school systems open their minds and allow their students to find their own love of reading and that is done by not restricting what they read.
I better step off the W.J. Bryan box and get back to Cliff Robertson.

Cliff Robertson did a television movie in 1973 that I saw later on a late night flick and that again made me want to read the book/short story by Edward Everitt Hale that dates back to 1863,the Man Without a Country..
Robertson plays the role of a Naval Lieutenant that renounces the United States in a treason trial (the hook is based on the treason trial for former Vice President Aaron Burr) and whose punishment is to spend the rest of his life at seas,not allowed to step on U.S soil or hear the name of the United States at all.
Nolan is played well by Robertson,who transitions easily from the young rebellious officer to the regret filled older man,that would give anything to take back his mistake.
The book taught me one lesson-Be careful what you say.
I don't always follow my own advice on this,but if you can try to think before you allow emotion to take over.

The other Robertson role was yet another actor to do Batman in 1966.
The role of "Shame" a takeoff of the Western film "Shane" was like most Batman roles,a light hearted one.
Robertson played the role to its campy hilt and made himself yet another star to me and my brother that was far bigger to us than he actually was at the time.
For an actor so well known for dramatic roles,Robertson did quite well as a comedic actor.

Cliff Robertson will be missed and our best to his family and friends.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

From Cherie:
Very, very interesting & insightful, Shawn! Now I am sincerely hoping you still have the book Flowers for Algernon because I want to read it :) (And see the film!)