I didn’t know…well, I did but I forgot (or didn’t mentally register) that Donald Sutherland is a Canadian (born in Saint John, New Brunswick). Not that it really matters as it is about the man himself and what he brings to the world of film. But not purely that…for me, it is much more personal. Whenever I watch him he brings back fond memories of my father. He transports me back to the days where my parents introduced me to the amazing experience of Super 8 films. By the time we got them, most people had made the transition to VHS and Beta Video Tapes and because of this my father managed to buy boxes full of Super 8 reels and two projectors (one magnetic the other optical – something pretty much nobody of my generation knows what it means) thus starting my passion for film. And…among all these reels, reels and more reels was what immediately springs to mind at the mention of Donald Sutherland…Kelly’s Heroes…let me rephrase…not so much the film but his character Oddball. With that, ringing clearly in my ears is my father trying to get the “40, or is it 60 foot of bridge I can get almost everywhere” line and voice right – the line actually being “Sixty feet of bridge I can get almost anywhere.” I just love it! Oh, man, all the scenes with Oddball are great…if you haven’t watched this classic you need to just for him explaining the tank strategy, specifically around the paint-filled ammunition “When we fire it, it makes… pretty pictures. Scares the hell outta people! We have a loudspeaker here, and when we go into battle we play music, very loud. It kind of… calms us down. ” I could go on and on with scenes, quotes and all the positive waves (if you’ve seen it, you’ll understand) and my father trying to get them all right together. I honestly don’t think another actor could pull off the coolness (especially with what I believe is a leather tanker helmet – sorry if I got it wrong but I’m not really clued up as to those type of things) dopiness and amazing facial expressions as does Mr Sutherland. What a role! I must say that credit is due to the entire ensemble cast …they just work!
So, having watched this, my father decided we should go watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer as said actor is also in it and it happened to be showing at the cinema. I’m sure he was great in this role but I must admit, I can’t remember the film at all. Trying to salvage the situation, we then dug out The Dirty Dozen from the reels and expected the same Oddball comic relief from character Vernon Pinkley, which we didn’t get but were still rewarded by fantastic acting by this versatile actor in a much more serious role. I mean, if you can do Kelly’s Heroes, Dirty Dozen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, M.A.S.H, The Italian Job, The Hunger Games….and the list goes on…you have to be versatile and you have to be good in order to be convincing in every character you take on. And so convincing he is that I never end up thinking of him as one character while watching him being another. What I mean is that I never think of Sherman tanks or PA Announcements while a family of ladies is preparing for Mr Bingley’s ball. Just the other day I was in the situation where I was thinking of the sweet guy from a period drama while watching him in an action film and thus never managed to take the role, and probably actor, seriously.
A few years ago my work colleague was surprised that I enjoy “old” films and next thing he left M.A.S.H on my desk…oh my! It is just absolutely fantastic…crazy…but brilliant. And once again, I think only Mr Sutherland would be the perfect fit. There are just certain characters made for certain actors and nobody will ever be able to fill those shoes.
I’m busy looking up his filmography and can’t believe the number of films listed and always, always great acting (at least in the 20 plus I’ve seen)…be it in small or large roles, big films or B ones, older or the more recent ones…I take my hat off to this man who, at the age of 80, almost 81, has 3 projects against his name for 2016 in IMDB. That is impressive.
But please…do me a favour and watch Kelly’s Heroes. Oh…actually, tackle M.A.S.H too…oh and…
And I will patiently wait to go see Forsaken which looks like a promising western.
(Quotes courtesy of IMDB)
(Blogathon courtesy of Speakeasy and Silver Screenings – thank you)