Thursday Movie Picks: Great Final Films of an Actor

This weeks' theme from Wandering Through The Shelves are those wonderful last glimpses of people that were taken too soon. The hardest part of this is finding the actual final film. When I saw this I immediately thought "The Dark Knight" but that technically wasn't Heath Ledger's final film. In fact, I unfortunately didn't love a lot of my favorite actors like Heath or Phillip Seymour Hoffman's final films that graced the big screen. Here are three films from actors we lost that were really solid.

1) Network

Peter Finch didn't live long enough to accept the Oscar he rightfully earned for this performance. Network is such a good film and the ending is always a bit more sad knowing Finch also passed after it was completed.

2) Thoroughbreds

Anton Yelchin had four films come out in the year after his untimely death, the last being the Wonderful Thoroughbreds. It's my favorite of those films that came out posthumously. He doesn't have a huge part but it is a memorable one.

3) Waitress 

I had no idea when I drove 2 hours to see this little indie film in theaters that it was writer/director/star Adrienne Shelly's last. I wanted to see it based on the trailer and was quite shocked when I came home, jumped online and saw she was murdered so horrifically. It's such a an enjoyable film that I try to focus on how proud she must be of it. It's lovely and heartbreaking at the same time. 

20 comments:

  1. I haven't seen any of these but Thoroughbreds is on my watchlist as I've read nothing but great things about it.

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  2. Network is an excellent film and I was toying with picking that one...there are many. I have not seen your last 2 but I am still angry at how needlessly Anton died due to a faulty car. I did not hear about Adrienne Shelley until I was googling films about this theme and read about her. What a horrible way to die and I bet she would have made it to the big times..so sad.

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    1. I was expecting you to pick Network because I remember you talking about it before lol.
      Shelley's murder was so shocking, especially when you find out about it immediately after watching such a lovely movie. What a waste.

      I'll never stop being angry about Anton's death either. Life is not fair.

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  3. I can't honestly say I cared much for Network even though I'll admit it's a well made film and unfortunately prescient. I think that's what puts me off it but all the acting is top flight especially Finch. I remember when he died suddenly, he was doing press interviews for the film and while waiting for one to begin suffered a heart attack. It was sad and shocking but he had an admirable career with dozens of excellent performances.

    Waitress is such a nice film with a sweet message and it was great to see Andy Griffith back on screen in a decent role. Tragic about Shelley but at least they caught the guy. So there is some justice there.

    Haven't seen Thoroughbreds. Yelchin's accident was a terrible thing and so preventable.

    The word great in the theme made it a bit tougher to come up with choices since many stars final films are far from that! Joan Crawford in Trog and Veronica Lake in Flesh Fest are just two examples of unfortunate wrap-ups. However once I decided on my first it lead to an idea that managed to tie all four picks together and all are considered essential films!

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    1. Yelchin's death just breaks my heart every time I think about it. I loved that dude so much. I'm glad Shelley got some justice but it's still not enough for how ridiculous her murder was.

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  4. To Be or Not To Be (1942)-In German occupied Warsaw during World War II a Polish theatrical troupe headed by husband and wife stars Joseph & Maria Tura (Jack Benny & Carole Lombard) set out to prevent a German spy from revealing key members of the Polish underground to the Nazis by means both desperate and humorous.
    Ernst Lubitsch directed masterpiece was Lombard’s final film. America entered the war just before the film’s premiere and Carole was the first star to go on a bond tour (to her native Indiana) and perished in a plane crash, along with her mother, on the return journey. A line her character spoke “What can happen in a plane?” was excised before the film debuted.

    The Misfits (1961)-In Reno for a divorce Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) meets aging cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable), WWII aviator Guido Racanelli (Eli Wallach) and broken down rodeo rider Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift). Lonely and feeling lost Roslyn accepts Guido's invitation to stay at his desert home with the trio and the four wrestle with life’s questions.
    Directed by John Huston and written for Marilyn by her then husband Arthur Miller this somber film was the final one for both Gable and Monroe. Gable, who performed some of his own stunt work died 12 days after the film wrapped. Marilyn started the trouble plagued “Something’s Gotta Give” but died before its completion and the picture scrapped.

    The Iceman Cometh (1973)-In 1912 New York’s Last Chance Saloon a group of chronic alcoholics are momentarily shaken from their hopeless ennui by the arrival of Hickey (Lee Marvin) one of their number now sober urging them to abandon their pipe dreams and face reality. It does not go well. Powerful with a powerhouse cast (beside Marvin-Jeff Bridges, Robert Ryan, Fredric March, Moses Gunn, Bradford Dillman among others) full book adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play couldn't be better presented (it’s directed by John Frankenheimer) but it's so long (four hours!) and full of doom and gloom it’s a hard one to embrace.
    This was the last film for both Robert Ryan (who died before the film’s premiere) and Fredric March who retired on the film’s completion and passed away shortly afterwards.

    Advise & Consent (1962)-Secretary of State nominee Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) is being investigated by a Senate committee headed by Senator Brig Anderson (Don Murray) before his appointment. When serious allegations are leveled against Leffingwell engineered by Senior Senator Seab Cooley (Charles Laughton) pressure is applied to Anderson in the form of exposure of a long hidden secret to influence the outcome. Otto Preminger directed, star-studded (Gene Tierney, Walter Pidgeon, Lew Ayres, Franchot Tone, Burgess Meredith, Betty White etc.) political drama is still timely.
    This was Charles Laughton final feature (passing away within six months of completion), by happenstance he co-starred with each of the other stars excepting Ryan in one of their films (Lombard-They Knew What They Wanted, Gable-Mutiny on the Bounty, Fredric March-Les Miserables and Monroe-O Henry’s Full House).

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    1. Ugh, 0/4! I knew a lot of classic films would probably make appearances this week so I don't know why I'm always so surprised when I've seen none of them.

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    2. Well you're working on it and that's something!

      To Be or Not to Be and The Misfits are must sees for any cinema lover. To Be was remade by Mel Brooks in the 80's with he and Anne Bancroft taking over for Jack and Carole. It's got a more humorous bent but cleaves to the basic story and is vastly entertaining too but I'd say see the Lubitsch original first.

      One other connection between To Be or Not to Be and The Misfits which I didn't mention was the fact that Carole Lombard and Clark Gable were married at the time of her death, after much travail beforehand but very happily. He was shattered by her death and though he married twice afterwards he was buried next to her when he passed away.

      Advise and Consent is good and should be seen but it's not as necessary as the first two.

      I must admit that I put off watching Iceman for years and years only finally doing so this week in preparation for this. There are a couple of reasons-I'd seen it on Broadway in a revival with Jason Robards (four hours with NO intermission! It was brilliantly acted but we were dying by the time it was over!!) And like all O'Neill except Ah! Wilderness it is heavy, heavy going focusing almost exclusively on despair and lost hope. That's a lot to unpack when you know you have to invest four hours to get through it! Still I'm not sorry I watched it. Robert Ryan is one of my top ten faves and Fredric March isn't far behind. Plus Jeff Bridges is SO young in it!!

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    3. Oh my god that sounds so long lol! Now that you mention the remake of To Be or Not To Be, I think I have heard of that one, I'll definitely put both of them on my list. I have Swing Town as my next classic to watch this weekend lol

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    4. I'm guessing you meant Swing Time. :-) That's my favorite of the Astaire/Rogers films!!! Hope you enjoy!

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    5. Oh my God I do that EVERY TIME.

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  5. Network is the one film in that list I haven't seen but I hope to real soon though Thoroughbreds and Waitress are awesome films.

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  6. It's such a shame that Anton Yelchin had died at such a young age, especially after his career was taking off with the Star Trek movies.

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  7. I have not been able to watch any Anton's movies after his passing.. it's like.. I cannot. It's the saddest I've been since Ledger and to think the damn accident WAS so stupid.... it shouldn't have happened. :(
    Waitress was also in my possible recommendation list but I remember very little of that movie, I just remember I've seen it. So I didn't mention it. Haven't seen the first one.

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    1. I'm always sad immediately after I finish an Anton movie now. Watching Love, Antosha was especially rough.

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  8. I really should watch Thoroughbreds now - there's really no excuse since I have a DVD copy. Waitress was an amazing film. I didn't know Adrienne Shelly has passed away when I watched it; I was even excited to watch more of her films.

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    1. It's shocking to learn that, right? After such a happy ending that film has. I hope you like Thoroughbreds!

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