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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hal Holbrook and Oscar


I mostly remember Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. No wonder, since he’s performed that guy for 40 years on stage and TV. He won a Tony for the Mark Twain role. He’s won lots of Emmys, including one for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. Oh, and I remember his mouth from “All the President’s Men” in which he played Deep Throat, the mysterious informant to Bob Woodward/Robert Redford.

He said on NPR the other day that even though he’s performed Twain thousands of times, the humorist icon’s words still make him laugh. Such as: "We are all erring creatures, and mainly idiots, but God made us so and it is dangerous to criticise.”

At 83, Holbrook's got his first Oscar nomination for tomorrow night’s awards, for his supporting role in Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild,” based on a true story. Holbrook plays one of the characters Chris McCandless meets while he's hitchhiking to Alaska after giving his life savings away, burning all his identification and worrying his parents sick. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s on my Netflix queue for when it’s released on DVD March 4.

Holbrook was nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics award and the Screen Actors Guild award too, losing to Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" for both. Even though sometimes Oscars are awarded to those who deserve praise after such a long and respectable career, I'm guessing the results of this nomination will be the same as the other two.

Here’s a YouTube video of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, recorded in 1967. This is one of my best images and memories of growing up in the US: an actor of good sense and humor playing an author of good sense and humor, although this particular short clip is not humorous.

10 comments:

Bob Johnson said...

I've always loved Hal Holbrook, I'm watching All The President's Men as I type, I remember him also in Capricorn One.

Peter said...

Mark Twain has, in my opinion, the best quotes of anyone in the history of the U.S.:

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.

But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?

'Classic.' A book which people praise and don't read.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.

Ginnie said...

This has made me want to pay more attention, Ruth...to both Hal Holbrook AND to Mark Twain. I love Peter's comment!

Don't know if we'll be able to see the Oscars tonight. Maybe...

Ruth said...

Bob, Oh, I don't know "Capricorn One." I think it's time for me to see "All the President's Men" again.

Ruth said...

Peter, those are funny! Naked people have little or no influence on society. How true! :)

Ruth said...

Ah, Boots, what you're going through with Donica's mom puts the Oscars in perspective. We're hanging on to you.

SwedeHart said...

Those quotes are so true. There is definitely nothing new under the sun, because these truths have always existed, I imagine. That's what makes a great classic... when you read something a hundred years old, and nothing has changed!

Sorry he didn't get the Oscar.

Ruth said...

It's true, Swedehart. I love reading old stories where the circumstances are very different, but basic human realities are the same. I like to see myself in a bigger context, beyond today, which is one reason we SHOULD read the classics, if you ask me.

Deslilas said...

A very up to date clip !

Ruth said...

Deslilas, I agree, Twain's words are eerily timeless!