Saturday, February 05, 2005

Another passing

Ossie Davis passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Davis wrote, acted, directed and produced for the theater and Hollywood. He was a central figure among black performers over the last several decades and a civil rights activist. A list of links about him can be found here.

Oddly enough, the movie for which I best remember him came out a couple of years ago. The movie was Bubba-Ho-Tep. In it, he played an old black man living in an East Texas nursing home who thought he was JFK. (According to him, JFK survived the assassination and "they" replaced part of his brain.) He teamed up with Bruce Campbell (as Elvis, who, as it turns out, had switched places with an Elvis impersonator in order to escape the aggravations of fame and had not been able to switch back before the impersonator died at Graceland) to fight a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy that was preying upon the residents of the home.

Yes, it all sounds very silly, but, believe it or not, it really wasn't that silly at all. I remember going to see it in Chicago in 2003 at the theater (unfortunately missing by just one day the chance to see Bruce Campbell in person at the premiere). It was actually an excellent movie that deserved a wider audience than it got. Bubba-Ho-Tep successfully alternated between horror, drama, and low comedy. Permeating the entire film was a surprisingly effective elegaic sense of regret for what might have been, a feeling that we all share from time to time as we grow old. The ending was surprisingly moving. Ossie was great, alternating between being funny and moving, often in the same scene.

I'm going to have to go back and check out some of his older films now, ones I haven't seen before.

2 example(s) of insolence returned:

At 2/05/2005 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i also missed a bruce-in-person showing here in austin. i had forgotten about the movie, and still haven't seen it. thanks for reminding me, i think i might go rent it today.



At 2/07/2005 1:14 PM, Blogger Saint Nate said...

I have to admit it, I'll remember Ozzie Davis the best from his role as JFK too. I'm now very interested in finding out about his past works.

Bubba Ho-Tep really was a well-done movie, but it's hard to describe it to people without them flashing an incredulous expression. Oh well, their loss.


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