Monday, October 11, 2004

R.I.P. Chris Reeve...

news has reached us of the untimely death at age fifty two of actor Chris Reeve.
He had been dealing with extensive paralysis as a result of a horseback riding accident in 1995 and died of complications associated with that condition.
Sad...I feel that we let him down somehow.
After all he never let us down in cape or out.
I think the story was supposed to end a little differently alas though, he passed on while waiting for a cure.
I give him credit, the Superman comic's sales were in dire straits prior to Superman I's huge box office in 1978...he and director Richard Donner may well have saved the franchise as a comic and as a cultural force.
They did it the old fashioned way, by taking the character seriously, by treating Superman as a acting challenge (One shudders to think that everyone from a young Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone were considered at one point or another) and by having faith in the audience.
Chris remained an anomaly in Hollywood for the rest of his career classically talented and handsome he had the bad fortune reach stardom at a time when male lookism had peaked in Hollywood. By the end of the 1970's Reeves was competing with the likes of Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino for roles that would've been his sans demure just a decade earlier.

Perhaps Reeves needed the backing of a golden age type studio to reach his potential those days however were over.
Still and in the end he was an actor.
He took his trade seriously and infused his signature role with a huge amount of Capra style dignity and strength.
He will be missed.
I have to say by way of nostalgia, that as much as I enjoyed "Star Wars" back in the summer of 1977 I marked out even harder for "Superman the Movie"come Christmas 1978.
When Reeves catches Margot Kidder in one hand and a falling helicopter in the other I knew the man and the role had come together in a way not seen before in a comic book type film.
Class like that only comes along once in a generation in these types of films.
That makes Reeve's loss all the more poignant.

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