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The irreplacable Jack Elam

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Ron Lindeboom
The irreplacable Jack Elam
on Mar 2, 2010 at 5:08:36 pm

I was just chatting about one of the funniest men in the history of film, Jack Elam.

I will never forget the hilarity of his portrayal of Dr. Nicholas Van Helsing -- graduate of the University of Rangoon, and assorted night classes at the Knoxville College of Faith Healing -- in the decidedly low-brow comedy, Cannonball Run.

Yes, it's rude, crude, and socially unacceptable -- but it's oh sooooo funny...



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Scott Roberts
Re: The irreplacable Jack Elam
on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:47:06 pm

Haha, that's a pretty good clip. I'll admit I don't know much about Jack Elam, but I do recognize him from his cameo in Once Upon a Time in the West, as the guy who catches a fly in the barrel of his gun at the beginning of the film!


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: The irreplacable Jack Elam
on Mar 3, 2010 at 6:49:26 pm

To me, he was one of the funniest men in the history of film. I have always felt sad that he has largely faded away in the mist of time and is nearly unheralded as a true comic genius. But he was one of the best, in my opinion. The kind of larger-than-life over-the-top humor that makes you cough up coffee or soda up your nose if you happen to be unfortunate enough to be drinking something when his part comes on. Gentle laughs were not the domain of Mr. Elam, full-blown belly laughs and guffaws were the purview of his brand of humor. Heavy-handed for sure, but a delightful brand of humor, guaranteed to lower high blood pressures and teach people the therapeutic value of a laugh.

Getting him in the same scene with Dom Deluise's gentle child-like humor was perfect pairing.

I never liked the Burt Reynolds movies, but there are a few brilliant moments: Jackie Gleason in Smokey & the Bandit, and Jack Elam and Dom Deluise in Cannonball Run. Almost makes me want to forgive Burt Reynolds his excesses. Almost.

;o)

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
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David Roth Weiss
Re: The irreplacable Jack Elam
on Mar 3, 2010 at 7:26:12 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "Gentle laughs were not the domain of Mr. Elam, full-blown belly laughs and guffaws were the purview of his brand of humor. Heavy-handed for sure, but a delightful brand of humor, guaranteed to lower high blood pressures and teach people the therapeutic value of a laugh. "

However, he could also scare the "Bejesus" out of you too. I've seen him in plenty of seriously scary roles where he was not the funny gangster, but the black-hearted gangster, and he was scary.

BTW, if I remember correctly, he was an insurance salesman, and one day he just decided to become an actor. It just goes to show, character actors are so wonderful because they don't look like actors.

David Roth Weiss
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Los Angeles

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