Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorable death addendum

In case you needed a little incentive to check out The Screengrab's weekly list, which this week covers The Most Unforgettable Death Scenes of All Time, let me just say this- the competition for the list was pretty fierce. Some of my submissions didn't end up making the cut. I'm reserving one of them for a later date, partially because I might be able to use it over there. But here's another one I did, and I'm posting it here by way of saying that if this one got the axe, imagine how good the ones that made it must be. Ladies and gents, I give you...

Keith Loneker, OUT OF SIGHT

You can keep your Marvins and your Wheezy Joes- to my eyes, there’s no death scene funnier than Loneker’s in OUT OF SIGHT. On paper, White Boy Bob is a quintessential Elmore Leonard bit player- a hulking, tough-talking thug with an unfortunate tendency toward clumsiness. At several points during the film, we see White Boy Bob randomly tripping over nothing in particular, but director Steven Soderbergh films these moments so offhandedly that it’s easy to mistake Bob’s stumbling for a random character quirk. But Leonard and Soderbergh know their setup-and-payoff better than that. As Chekhov might have said, never introduce a clumsy character in the first act unless you plan to use the clumsiness in the third. So it goes with White Bob Boy, who gets the drop on our hero, played by George Clooney, near the end of the movie. As Clooney stands at the top of a staircase, Bob points a gun at him from the bottom, and Clooney knows he’s in trouble. But Bob should have had more confidence in his marksmanship- rather than firing from where he is, Bob decides to climb the stairs to get closer. Big mistake. Halfway up the stairs, his gun still drawn on Clooney, Bob falls, accidentally firing the gun through his own head. The reason it works is because it’s so sudden- had Soderbergh lingered on the scene (which takes less time to watch than it takes you to read this sentence), it wouldn’t have been nearly as funny. And Clooney’s reaction is priceless- he freeze, shocked, for a second, then cocks his head to the side as if to say, “well, that was a freebie.”

1 comment:

Jason_alley2 said...

Couldn't agree more! On the same subject (kinda), I've always found Don Cheadle's death scene moments later strangely affecting in its realism. Something about how he falls, jerks a couple times with real surprise and fear in his eyes before going limp, has always affected me.

Plus, I think it's just awesome that you mention "Out Of Sight", period - it's such a terrific, near-flawless little movie and no one EVER talks about it.