Thursday, September 22, 2005

Alternative Heroes - Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw is in my opinion the best actor of all time. Every character he's played on the screen has been different, deep, memorable and utterly believable, a testament to his tremendous prowess in front of the camera.

Perhaps best known for his famous supporting role as Quint, the weather beaten fisherman from Jaws, it's his legendary portrayal of SPECTRE henchman Grant in the James Bond film From Russia With Love that marks the true zenith of his brilliant but tragically short portfolio.

With dyed blonde hair and a granite expression, Shaw gave us arguably the purest Bond henchman. His character in the film was a convicted murderer who escaped from a Dartmoor prison, before being recruited by SPECTRE in Tangier and reportedly responding excellently to their indoctrination methods. The quiet menace with which Shaw plays Grant and the cantankerous determination with which he plays Quint are enough to assure his status as one of the great character actors. These two roles alone would have assured his supremacy, but remarkably there are numerous other films in which Shaw acts everyone else under the table - playing Mr Blue in The Taking of Pelham 123 and Doyle Lonegan in The Sting being amongst the best.

When Robert Shaw died of a heart attack in August 1978, the world lost one of its finest actors. At no point when I watch a Robert Shaw film do I think that he's an actor. If Shaw had never spoken in any of his roles, it would have been the same. He just looked right.

For my money From Russia With Love, The Sting, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Jaws would still have been great films without Shaw, but his characterisations lifted them to something more, something darker, closer and deeper. For this, as well as for the scar scene in Jaws and for having Connery's Bond in genuine, desperate danger, Robert Shaw, you are an alternative hero.


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3:25 pm

Anonymous amy bear said...

yes i dinae realise till now that jaws guy was sting guy and in reflection i am much impressed due to mass difference in characterisation but are you sure shaw not just lucky? are both character parts mr ken!
btw only recognise the andere henchmen from bill and ted-i challenge your audacity in claiming him to be elite-die hard or no

4:26 am

Blogger Kenyon said...

Rather a sweeping post, amy bear - having a pop at Robert Shaw and Al Leong in the space of a few sentences... please watch The Taking of Pelham 123 and The Battle of Britain, and Lethal Weapon and that-film-with-brandon-lee-as-a-kung-fu-cop respectively and think hard about what you did, young lady...

4:06 pm


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