Friday, August 29, 2014
'Everyone goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.'
So... why am I devoting an entire day's posts to actor Timothy Bottoms? Well we can blame The Dowager Countess of Grantham. My love of Downton Abbey has had me seeking out more of Maggie Smith's projects. Last winter I caught a few of her older movies including California Suite, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, and even the 'difficult to get through' Clash Of The Titans. As gifted as Smith is as an actress, I am not sure, (with the possible exception of her stage work) there has been a better fit of actress with character than her portrayal of Violet Crawley. One of the other movies I was lucky to catch on TCM was the 1973 flick Love And Pain And The Whole Damned Thing. Although a little 'long winded' at times, I think this was one of my favorites of the Smith flicks that I caught.
One of things I loved so much about the movie, was not just Smith, but the adorable fresh faced actor Timothy Bottoms. Bottoms played the teenager who meets, then falls in love with, the much older and emotional repressed Smith, while travelling through Spain. I instantly began crushing over Bottoms, and it was his performance that stuck with me. Bottoms was barely 20 during the filming and although I was knew of him, but was not really familiar with his work or career. I made a note, and a desktop folder, to save any images of Bottoms to use for a birthday post when the 30th of August rolled around this year. Well, dipping into the folder last week, the amount of images runneth over....
After Whole Damned Thing, between TCM, AMC, Amazon and e-bay, I have caught about a half dozen of Bottom's films the last few months, mostly his early work in film. I watched and enjoyed Roller Coaster, Pound Of Flesh, The Paper Chase, The White Dawn, the 1981 mini-series East Of Eden and arguably Bottom's most well known role in 1971's The Last Picture Show.
I have written over the years on FH, about many actors whom I have been surprised have not become bigger stars. Bottoms has moved to the top of that list. Since his film debut in 1971, Bottoms has appeared in close to 120 films, television movies and tv guest spots. Bottoms did not just appear, but in the 1970's in particular, he took leading roles in many big films co-starring along side some of the movies biggest stars. Bottoms has continue to work steadily since the 70's, moving back and forth between television projects and feature films through much of the eighties and nineties and beyond. In 2014, Bottoms appears in two films, Sweet Surrender and the soon to be released The Men's Group.
I am not exactly sure why Bottoms did not join the ranks of other Hollywood stars who have gained greater fame. His skill and acting resume is certainly on par with many whose names are more familiar. Could be he that although he has had the projects, he has not had the opportunity to shine as some others had. Bottoms was, and is a great looking guy, it was that face of his that first had me wanting to find out more. He may not have that 'edgy' look some others actors do, he is more an everyman, although he was convincingly psycho in Roller Coaster. Regardless of the reason, I thank the Dowager for introducing me to his work and with 119 projects on his resume, I look forward to spending many more hours with Mr. Bottoms in the future.
'Everyone knows everything about everyone else in the insular, claustrophobic town.'
The Last Picture Show (1971) is an evocative and bittersweet slice-of-life 'picture show' from young newcomer, 31 year-old director Peter Bogdanovich, formerly a stage actor and film writer/critic. The screenplay was based on the novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. [Bogdanovich had previously directed only two other smaller feature films, the low-budget Targets (1967) with Boris Karloff cast as a horror-movie star, and the awful Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968) with Mamie Van Doren.]
Bogdanovich's first major film, was a gritty, authentic-looking, black and white film (considered obsolete at the time since it was the first mainstream Hollywood feature film shot in B/W since the early 60s), with expressive, high-contrast cinematography by Robert Surtees. It was widely acclaimed at the time of its release.The rich character study with a non-star cast dispassionately (but affectionately) depicts the contrasting, mediocre lives of two generations of aimless townspeople with frustrated, unhappy, unfulfilled, routine, despairing and shallow lives (middle-aged adults and naive adolescent teenagers) who cling to the dying and barren town, and try to find solace and escape from boredom in lost dreams, drinking, temporary and manipulative sexual encounters (adulterous and promiscuous relationships), the local movie theatre's shows (and television), or by moving to the big city.
Filmsite's review, along with the many other accolades The Last Picture Show received, should have been enough to have put the film on my radar, but of course it did not. I wrote a few years ago about my aversion to old movies, an aversion I have since over come! Thanks to the blog, it's many generous readers, TCM, and more than few celebrity deaths, I am now finally enjoying the many many masterpieces shot before my birth.
As stated however, my introduction to The Last Picture Show did not come from a review or my love of film, it came from my love of television. Don't judge me, but I am not sure I even heard of this film until watching The Longest Day, a 2000 episode of Dawson's Creek. In one of the shows best episodes, Dawson is trying to get Joey to watch the film, a film they went to on their first date, but never got to finish. Throughout the episode, clips of the movie were shown, along with Dawson's continual praise of how great the movie was.
Dawson was of course correct, the movie is fantastic. After diving into Bottom's work, this was the first movie I looked for. A fascinating cast ranging from Bottoms and Jeff Bridges to Cloris Leachman, Eileen Brennan and Ellen Burstyn. Even Cybill Shepherd, who usually bugs the shit out of me, came off beautifully. What the film did so beautifully was to capture the feeling within that town. This was only Bottom's second film, but it is one of his best, and one of his biggest roles in film. I especially loved the relationship, and scenes, between Bottoms and Leachman.
The Skinny Dipping Scene:
Sadly Bottoms did not appear in the film's skinny dipping scene, but we are compensated by a great nude scene featuring the relatively unknown, but adorable, actor Gary Brockette. Brockette, 23 at the time of filming, went on to other small roles on television and film, including guest spots on Charlie's Angels and Trapper John M.D, but by the 1990's had mostly moved to writing, directing and producing. Prior to his death in 2010, Brockette's last job in the entertainment business was as assistant director on the movie The Legend of Awesomest Maximus.
Cybill Shepherd also strips down to dive into the pool, and all of the extras, including Randy Quaid (if you care to look closely enough...) appear to be nude in the scene. I am sure the buzz at the time was all about a naked Shepherd, but today, many of us can enjoy and write that the hottest person, walking naked and wet out (and then back in) of the swimming pool was Gary Brockette.
Here is a quick snapshot of some of the movies I watched, and some of the projects that interested me from actor Timothy Bottoms. Of course, it is FH, so had to add any nude or shirtless scenes that I could find. From The Last Picture Show to a tv movie with Marie Osmond... what a long, but varied career!
The Story Of David (1976)
Not sure what movie this image is from, but it is credited as Bottoms. Looks to be from the 80's.... If anyone has any idea, please shoot me a line!
The Paper Chase (1973)
I think The Paper Chase was my favorite of Timothy's films I have seen so far. Bottoms is great as is co-star John Houseman. Lyndsay Wagner is beautiful and appearances by James Naughton and Edward Herrmann. Great character drama they just don't make any more. Tension and drama rooted in the pressures of law school and brilliant characters created to inhabit it. Screenplay by James Bridges based on the novel by John Jay Osborn Jr. This one, I look forward to watching again down the road.
With Marie Osmond in The Gift Of Love, 1978
Roller Coaster (1977) Fun,tense filled flick that SCREAMS 70's disaster era.
East Of Eden (1981)
I loved this 1981 tv flick. I had forgotten how great an actress Jane Seymour could be when given a meaty role. Long, dramatic and epic. Perfect TV movie material, baring little to no similarities to the James Dean/Julie Harris film version.
Pound Of Flesh (2010) (Odd by interesting flick which includes a full frontal by a 59 year old Bottoms)
Fairly recent HeadShot