Groovy & Wild Films from Around the World

Monday, November 13, 2006

Jack Palance, RIP

Sadly, Jack Palance passed away this last Friday. Being a kid of the late seventies and eighties, I remember first seeing this acclaimed actor as the host of the quirky Ripley’s… Believe it or not “reality” television series. As time went on, of course, I became more familiar with Jack Palance as I saw him as the bad guy in Tango & Cash and the mean cattle rustler in City Slickers. He always had a great screen presence and was able to make any character he played an absolutely memorable one – and in some cases, making his character the most appealing one in the entire film, as in both of the aforementioned movies. While this great actor had this kind of Hollywood schlock to deal with, I never thought I’d see him in the kind of schlock titled Deadly Sanctuary – a film I discovered in the foreign section many years ago when I was working at a Blockbuster Video store… Believe it or not. I still remember it was packaged in one of those over-sized cardboard VHS boxes. He shared star credit with Klaus Kinski, and I was immediately curious. Taking it home that night, I made it only part way through the murky pan & scan print of this censored hack job that had rendered a perfectly good exploitation film incomprehensible. Of course, it would be several years before I realized that this was indeed a perfectly good piece of exploitation filmmaking…
Reissued on DVD a couple of years back as Marquis de Sade’s Justine on Blue Underground’s gorgeous DVD, I was finally able to rediscover this Franco classic in all its glory. And Jack Palance does do a fine job, though it is admittedly somewhat unnerving to see him in this kind of film, where he plays a twistedly sadistic monk… However, since the release of Justine, I’d discovered that Jack Palance was no stranger to either European or American schlock (including Spaghetti Westerns), having witnessed performances in films like The Sensuous Nurse, an Italian sex comedy from the 60’s which also starred bond girl Ursula Andress, and the stunningly effective (and underrated) 80’s horror-slasher Alone in the Dark. Scores of his even lesser-known credits, according to the IMDb, include Without Warning, Gor, Cocaine Cowboys, Hawk the Slayer, Angels’ Brigade, Mr. Scarface, Welcome to Blood City, and A Bullet from God.
RIP, Jack. The only 87-yer-old who still looked like he’d kick your ass.