30 August 2006

RIP Pa Kent (Glenn Ford)

Damn--another great one gone. Glenn Ford, the respected character actor who embodied stoic American decency during his long career (in fact, he was a Canadian, born in Quebec in 1916), was found dead today at his Beverly Hills home at the age of 90. Foul play is not suspected--Ford's health problems were well-known ever since he suffered his first in a series of strokes in the 1990s. He was too ill to attend his birthday bash this past May 1st, and had to appear via a taped message.

Ford acted in approx. 85 features in all genres, from the western ("The Desperados") to the drama (the original movie version of "The Courtship Of Eddie's Father") to even the execrable 80s slasher flick (the Canuck-shot "Happy Birthday To Me"), but is perhaps best known for the Rita Hayworth classic comedy "Gilda" (his breakthrough role into leading-man status), the once-controversial "Rock Around The Clock", and Fritz Lang's essential noir "The Big Heat".

For me, Ford embodies the definitive Jonathan Kent, with his brief screen time in Richard Donner's "Superman: The Movie" accounting for some of the film's most resonant and unforgettable moments--if you can watch him deliver "you are here for a reason" speech to teenaged Clark (Jeff East) with his unforced homespun gravitas and not get a lump in your throat, then you've got a heart made of black kryptonite. Here's a nice fan site devoted to Ford's life and career (and what's the delay on that Order Of Canada?)...