Monday, November 16, 2015

Whit Bissell: Uncredited but not forgotten

Everyone participating in this weekend's blogathon, whether as a contributor or as a reader, has likely watched every movie ever made. And somewhere along the way through that celluloid jungle, particular individuals start to stand out: "Hey, that woman looks familiar!", "Where have I seen him before?", "That face is so familiar; now I have to watch this horrible thing until the end just so I can see the credits!", or "Help me, IMDB!" That is the legacy left by the character actor.

Character actors are every bit as essential to a great film as the the top-billed stars. And a character actor can also make an otherwise mediocre film something that approaches watchable. I don't want to use the cliche that they are the "glue that holds a film together", but there would definitely be something missing if not for these wonderful people.

As a part of this weekend's What A Character! Blogathon, I'm going to talk about one of my favorites: Whit Bissell.

Criterion Blogathon: Fritz Lang's M

"The man in black will soon be here, whith his cleaver's blade so true, he'll make mincemeat out of you."

And that is how Fritz Lang's 1931 film M starts. Reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street's "One, two, Freddie's coming for you...", the children's rhyme in M does two things: it lets you know that there is a killer on the loose, but it also speaks to the "it won't happen to me" mindset of the children. Kids being kids, they worry about nothing at their own peril.