Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Alternative Heroes - Earl Jolly Brown

Despite a role in an early episode of Perry Mason later appearing as Jelly in Black Belt Jones, it is for his portrayal of softly-spoken henchman Whisper in the Bond film Live and Let Die that the wonderfully named Earl Jolly Brown is remembered for.
Not at the top of Mr Big's pecking order by any means - Earl is clearly subserviant to both Tee-Hee and Baron Samedi - Whisper is nonetheless an important if small cog in the heroin magnate's crime machine. Earl Jolly Brown shows us a memorable villain in Whisper, and the faintly humorous yet at the same time sinister set pieces in which he appears (driving the dart-firing pimpmobile, posing as a room service waiter at Bond's bungalow, monitoring a CCTV monitor whilst wearing a scandalous hawaiian shirt, appearing in a hillarious red outfit and then carrying Bond out of the room under one arm, taking a break on the sofa only for Kananga to make it explode with a compressed air gun, being in charge of opening the shark gate whilst Bond and Solitaire are being lowered into the water and finally being kicked into and locked in the empty heroin cannister by a resourceful Roger Moore) are made all the more vivid by his deadpan acting.
It's to Earl Jolly Brown's credit that he wasn't completely overshadowed by his higher ranking fellow henchman, expertly played by Julius W Harris and Geoffrey Holder. Despite only having a handful of whispered lines ("Your champagne, sir"... "Shall I open it?... Shall I OPEN IT?" and "Look out!") he remains one of the best loved Bond characters, and for this, as well as everything above, and for having a tremendous name, Early Jolly Brown, you are an alternative hero.


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