Karl Malden and One-Eyed Jacks

Karl Malden has passed away at the surprisingly advanced age of 97. With his unique combination of unpretentious, common-man stolidity and sinister intensity, he was a rock of mid-twentieth century American cinema. He had many memorable roles, in top-notch movies such as A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. But his role that made the biggest impact on me was the superbly treasonous “Dad” Longworth in Marlon Brando’s brilliant One-Eyed Jacks. I loved that movie when I was in my teens and twenties, and only realized recently, on seeing it for the first time in decades, how obnoxiously liberal it is, with its standard (or what became the standard) dishonest set-up of the sensitive, unbearably narcissistic hero (Brando) arrayed against a wicked father figure (Malden) and a corrupt, racially prejudiced society. Actually I viewed it with a friend who spoiled it for me by relentlessly pointing out its liberal features. But I can’t resent this. What’s true is true.

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July 3

Kidist writes:

Really good films (usually it falls both on the director and the actors to qualify), somehow transcend their liberalism at some point—unfortunately since almost all Hollywood films are liberal these days, I cannot say that they “somehow transcend their conservatism at some point .”

Something of the truth of the situation and the story comes out, and they are often worth watching.

It is like Mark Rothko. As much as I hate what he does, there is a subliminal beauty in what he paints.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 02, 2009 11:12 AM | Send

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