Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis, 1925-2010

Curtis at home in Los Angeles, 1960, by Dennis Stock
 Movie stars are remembered for their film work, but also, in some case primarily, through still photos. Curtis is memorable for both. The Magnum Photo blog has a nice collection of stills taken by the agency's photographers, including the 1960 shot above by Dennis Stock. And then there is one of my favorite celebrity portraits, a shot by Annie Leibovitz that reunited the cross-dressing male leads of "Some Like It Hot."

Curtis and Jack Lemmon, by Annie Leibovitz, 1995
As for the films, Curtis happened to appear in two (at least...suggestions of others?) that were filled with the wittiest and venomous dialog...ever? Most the obits about Curtis today mention "Some Like It Hot" first, and of course it's final line is movie legend. But my favorite Curtis film is "Sweet Smell of Success," in which he used his native New York accent to create Sydney Falco, a demeaned and demeaning press agent looking for lunch at the lower end of the show-business food chain in New York. He is, as Burt Lancaster's brutish newspaper columnist J.J. Hunseker says, "a man of forty faces, not one, and none too pretty." Sometimes a photo is enough, but when Hunseker turns to Falco and says, "Match me, Sydney," it's all about the words.

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