Monday, March 16, 2009

R.I.P., Ron Silver

I read at both “Uncle Sam” Wilson’s Mondo 70: A Wild World of Cinema and my CharredHer homepage of the passing of actor Ron Silver at the age of 62. As Samuel notes, “Silver died too young, as just about everyone does”—and that’s certainly true in Silver’s case, since his cause of death was cancer. Sam further singles out Ron’s performances in the films Enemies: A Love Story (1989) and Blue Steel (1989) as particularly noteworthy.

I saw Enemies and it didn’t make a particularly favorable impression on me; if I can be totally honest, I’d be hard-pressed to think of any film in which I enjoyed Silver’s emoting because I never really warmed up to him. I mean, I’m sure he was a decent guy—I think all the negative buzz about his conversion to neo-conservatism after the events of 9/11 was unwarranted; Silver observed that his refusal to toe the official “Hollywood line” cost him a lot of work and since I’m still nursing a grudge about all the people who were deprived of a livelihood during the years of McCarthyism and the Red Scare I’d be a flaming hypocrite if I didn’t defend his right to his being gainfully employed…regardless of whether I agreed with his politics or not. (Kind of ironic in the light of his playing a Communist screenwriter who flees the country before he can be forced to “name names” in a film of his that—now that I think about it—I do admire, Fellow Traveller [1989].)

My “dislike” of Silver stems from a character he played on the sitcom Rhoda; he was a frequent boyfriend of Rho’s named Gary Levy who I just felt wasn’t right for her. I know this sounds bizarre, but then again I have never made any claims to normalcy. (Silver also played to boyfriend to Stockard Channing on her self-titled sitcom, and I didn’t like him on that, either. He missed a hat trick on Veronica’s Closet, though; I couldn’t care less about Kirstie Alley, so if they ended up together it was no sweat off my nose.) My mom feels the same way about Eric Bogosian; despite my attempts to get her to see his great performances in Talk Radio (1988), Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll (1991) and A Bright Shining Lie (1998), to her he’s scumbag Travis Dane in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995). (She didn’t like him on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, for that matter.)

You’re probably not going to believe this, but my favorite film featuring Ron Silver is a gloriously goofy Chuck Norris vehicle entitled Silent Rage (1982), in which the Chuckster plays a small town sheriff who must battle a seriously deranged bad guy who’s become an unstoppable killing machine, thanks to a trio of equally sanity-challenged medicos (led by Steven Keats) who experiment with some sort of immortality drug on the maniac for shits and giggles. (Silver does participate in this what-the-hell-were-you-thinking experiment, but later he and his wife [Toni Kalem] do try to stop Nutcase Boy, so he gets points for that.)

And you thought I was going to name Reversal of Fortune (1990). (Hey—Norris’ deputy in Rage is played by Stephen “Flounder” Furst. I’ll watch him rather than a comatose Glenn Close any day of the week.)

If this all sounds a little flippant, I really do apologize—it’s no secret that I frequently question the presence of an afterlife…but if there is one, I hope Ron Silver has gone to his rich reward. He will be missed.

2 comments:

HouseT said...

Having just about closed out rewatching the netire run of West Wing, I can honestly say that I can appreciate Mr. Silver's work on that show. Ironically enough, his character Bruno was instrumental in helping Jeb Bartlett get re-elected but later went on to campaign with opposing party candidate Arnold Vinnick. I don't know if there was any actual correlation to his real life shift in party views.

One thing I did enjoy Ron Silver in was the unaired Jack Black pilot Heat Vision and Jack,. In it, Ron Silver plays "himself", although he is inexplicably a superstrong agent of evil. Shades of Lucy Lawless on The Simpsons, but classic nonetheless.

USpace said...

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God bless Ron Silver, he was a 'Liberal' who came to his senses about Jihadis and brutal Dictators. He knew they would destroy America, and Hollywood if they could. He realized that if America goes down the tubes, then the whole planet is doomed.

You were great Ron! Time Cop, Arrival, Wiseguy, and The West Wing among many were particularly good. Thank you for everything, especially your courage, RIP.
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