Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.

Saddened to read about the death of actor PATRICK McGOOHAN, who has died at age 80 after a short illness. I go back with him all the way to my early childhood, when I remember seeing him as Secret Agent John Drake on the British TV series Danger Man. Of course, I watched it in the US under the title Secret Agent, and loved the hit theme song by Johnny Rivers. At about this time, I saw him in another role which pretty much knocked me for a loop: Dr. Christopher Syn in Disney's Dr. Syn Alias the Scarecrow...

...and thus my fandom was cemented. I loved everything about this adaptation of the old Captain Clegg stories, especially the costume design and McGoohan's brisk, clipped performance. No one could show nonchalance, sarcasm, intellectualism, and just plain cool like McGoohan. A few years later, my Mom became devoted to a show which at first I didn't pay attention to, but when I saw who was starring in it I soon was joining her in front of the TV: The Prisoner. It has always amused and amazed me that my Mom picked up on that show like she did. That's what most TV and film geeks know him by, I suppose, and it certainly was one of the most unconventional television series ever aired. After that, he did more TV, most notably episodes of Columbo (which I watched anyway, McGoohan was icing on the cake in his appearances) and movies, including a nifty turn as a typically McGoohanish snobbish, surly art thief opposite Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the entertaining Silver Streak, and also was malevolence par excellence in Braveheart and Cronenberg's Scanners. Years and years later, just a couple of years ago as a matter of fact, I happened to catch an late night screening (probably on TCM, although it might have been on the Disney Channel) of early 60's Disney movie that I had not seen before, and just happened to star Mr. McGoohan: The Three Lives of Thomasina, an engaging fantasy about magic and cats and romance in Scotland. It reminded me of how good McGoohan could be, and made me regret that age and other factors were keeping him from making new films. And now he's gone. But he has left a hell of a lot of great work behind him, so let's all hoist a cold Isle of Sky Red in his honor.

No comments: