Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24

Today's for one of the ultimate That Guys: partly for his prolific career, partly for his performances in some great cult films, and partly because his name's William Smith. This guy has played more bad bikers, vampires, gunslingers, and assassins than any actor I know. He was the last Marlboro Man on TV. He's Conan's father, for crying out loud!
And he's not just an actor. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War, spoke five languages, taught Russian at UCLA... Was a world-class arm-wrestling champion and competitive bodybuilder that set a world record by reverse curling his own body weight... He's got a 31-1 amateur boxing record and he used to have security clearance with the CIA and NSA (until he married a French actress.) He's even fought California wildfires as a volunteer fireman.
As far as acting goes, he's been a hero, and even a lead, in such 60's TV shows as Zero One, Laredo, and Wildside. But he's most utilized as a villain: some key roles include Falconetti in both series of "Rich Man Poor Man", the Russian Commander in "Red Dawn", Jude Bohner in "Gunsmoke", and Pharoah in "Legend of the Roller Blade Seven". Hey, when you approach 300 film and TV appearances, they can't all be winners. I still think that he's the next guy deserving a Tarantino career resurrection. A Tarantino film with William Smith above the title on the movie poster? Think of the opening weekend numbers!
Anyway, here's the climactic fist fight in "Any Which Way You Can", between Smith and Clint Eastwood. The setup is, they're two of the best bare-knuckle brawlers in the world. After spending the entire movie becoming friends and fending off the pressure to fight (from mobsters, promoters, etc,) they start to wonder who'd actually win. One thing leads to another, and...

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