Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis (1925-2010)

TONY CURTIS (Born Bernard Schwartz in the Bronx, 1925-2010)

He first used the names James Curtis and Anthony Curtis, settling on Tony in 1949. He later fathered actress Jamie Lee Curtis (Trading Places, True Lies, Freaky Friday) with Janet Leigh (of Psycho fame, as she's the victim in the shower).

Billy Wilder's comic farce Some Like It Hot will remain his best loved film (as people love straight men in drag, go figure!), but his best dramatic acting was in The Boston Strangler. He somehow captured both the concerned family man and the homicidal schizo, and was surprisingly bypassed for an Oscar nomination.

My personal critical favorite was The Sweet Smell of Success, with ruthless news columnist Burt Lancaster (see photo) in total control of his world, in a searing indictment of real life columnist Walter Winchell. Curtis plays a willing lacky as press agent to Lancaster (and suitor to his sister), who has no qualms destroying anyone who crosses him. This is a must-see film for those interested in cinematic art, with classic b&w photography by James Wong Howe.

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