M Emmet Walsh

On Friday night I went to see a lecture hosted by a small local group called Cinefamily.  It was part of  a series called “That Guy” which features the work of several noted character actors.  The one I saw highlighted  M Emmet Walsh and the extensive Q&A with the actor was followed by a screening of the excellent 1984 Coen Brothers film “Blood Simple” in which he stars.

Earlier that day I purchased a small bagless vacuum cleaner.

The reason I mention this two seemingly unrelated items is that the print that Cinefamily managed to acquire looked like it had taken several spins around the centrifuge of my new vacuum.  It was truly dreadful.  Watching the opening credits was like reading a lint roller.

I could not quite figure out how this was allowed to happen.  Surely Walsh’s agent, or even Walsh himself would have a better copy of the film.  In a pinch they could have popped over to Blockbuster to pick up a remastered DVD.  It is unusual in this city, a town that revolves around the entertainment industry.  I have been to this theatre before and their equipment is fine.  I have been to many other venues and without exception the sound and visual presentations have been outstanding.  But here, with the star in the house, it was uncomfortably bad.  At 76 years of age and 110 films under his belt I suspect M  Emmett Walsh gave something akin to a rats ass about it (In fact, I am fairly sure he was dozing by about a third of the way through – he was only 2 seats in front of me on what looked to be a very cosy couch).  For the rest of the audience, used to falling fawning at the feet of their heroes  (or anyone from someone they may have espied in a 1979 cable access show on up as notoriety is relative here) it was a little off putting.

Walsh himself was very entertaining.  He recounted tales of being beaten up by Dustin Hoffman and being on the set with Robert Redford.  He explained that he saw his role as that of the engineer hired to keep the plot moving forward.  Although he sees himself very much as a support player in film he did acknowledge that an actor not up to snuff would suffer Walsh “chewing apart every scene he could steal”.

The man carries some serious gravitas.  Not once did I consider a tackle.

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