Fame is – as the saying goes – a hideous bitch goddess, and one moreover with a very sick sense of humour. If we were in any doubt of this, we need only stop and consider the events of the 6th and 7th of March, 2010, when within a single 24-hour period, Sandra Bullock collected both the Razzie for Worst Actress for All About Steve and the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Blind Side.
It’s the nature of acting that there will be good parts and bad parts, and that if you want to eat, you can’t always afford to be choosy. Nevertheless, this platitude hardly accounts for all those actors – or all those agents – who apparently can’t tell a good script from a stinker. Nor can it explain away the number of actors for whom a major award is the first stop on the road to oblivion. For some, the journey from professional triumph to professional humilation is slow and steady; for others, it happens so fast, it takes your breath away.
So join us as we take a look at the careers of some actors who truly do know what it’s like to go from one extreme to the other.
|1000 Misspent Hours and Counting||Species (1995)||Among the information SETI broadcast back in 1974 was the genetic structure of humanity, and the alien reply included instructions for inserting the strings of exogenous codons they sent us into our own chromosomes. A sensible person in receipt of such an invitation would be most reluctant to perform the experiment, but not Fitch. He went right ahead and shot up 100 human ova with genes made to his new alien pen-pals’ specifications, and sat back to see what would happen.|
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)||I know many people who hate this film with a passion, but I find that I have conceived a thoroughly perverted affection for it. With its soaring ambition and its utter, dismal failure, The Heretic is a Bad Movie that I can picture myself having a long and passionate relationship with, and digging out of my collection at very regular intervals to watch all over again; perhaps every Christmas, the way some people watch It’s A Wonderful Life….|
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||The Uncanny (1977)||I have a very uneasy relationship with The Uncanny—mostly because I can’t quite decide whether it represents a most welcome reinforcement of my own personal life philosophy, or whether it’s the most offensive film I’ve ever seen. I tend to lean towards the latter.|
|Braineater||Evil Town (1973/74/87)||I think a word is due here about Academy AwardTM-winning actor Dean Jagger and his performance. He’s awful. If it weren’t for the repellent rape scenes, he’d be the worst thing in Evil Town… and when you consider the sum of Mardi Rustam’s efforts, that’s saying a lot. Jagger seems utterly uninterested in the action; he spend most of his time standing still, stumbling through his lines as though he were trying to recall the general gist of a newspaper article he’d glanced at a week ago.|
|Braineater||Saturn 3 (1980)||By this time, Douglas was pretty much incapable of giving a truly bad performance, but throughout Saturn 3 he just doesn’t seem to be engaged in the role. It’s as though he’d come to realize he was never going to get that damned OscarTM after all, and movies like this certainly weren’t helping him get any closer. Still, it’s hard not to like Kirk Douglas, even in a disappointing movie like Saturn 3. He’s warm, he’s charismatic, he’s naked, he’s… aaaiigh! For crying out loud, Kirk, put your clothes back on!|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||Butterfly (1981)||As per usual with this sort of thing (see John Derek’s sex films starring his own young wife, Bo, or Madonna’s first starring role in Body of Evidence), the neophyte thespian stylings of Ms. Zadora have been placed against a supportive foundation of better known and somewhat more reputable actors. Sadly, today’s collection of paycheck-seekers will prove as hapless in the face of vanity picture disaster as their analogues from these other movies.|
|Teleport City||Condorman (1981)||It puzzles me, given the churning sea of utter garbage that I so easily accepted as a kid, that I should have had such a vigorously negative reaction to — bordering on outright hatred of — Condorman when I saw it as a kid. What was it about this movie that so anrgied up my blood? What did it do to me that I would continue to stoke those embers of rage well into adulthood, so much so that I made every effort possible to defame the film every chance I got? And you know I live the sort of life where the chance to defame Condorman in casual conversation comes up almost as often as discussion on the proper way to tie a cravat or how to remove an exquisite Czech woman’s cocktail dress with one hand while flawlessly pouring three glasses of champagne with the other (because her friend will be joining us forthwith).|
|Teleport City||The Musical Version of War of the Worlds (1978)||My parents were always willing to indulge my state as kind of a weird kid. One year for Christmas, they got me an LP with which I would become obsessed as a kid, and one that continues to find it’s way into my playlist. It was a bizarre amalgamation of rock opera and old time radio play, featuring the voice talent of none less than Richard Burton: Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.|
|The Unknown Movies||The Devil’s Tomb (2009)||My research uncovered that the budget of the movie was around ten million dollars, but upon seeing the movie you would probably wonder along with me where all that money went to, especially since Gooding doesn’t seem to command as high a salary these days as he did years ago. Mack and his mercenaries don’t have a real base of operations, they are introduced and briefed on their mission in the middle of the desert with only a helicopter and a truck in sight. When they get to the research station, it only has one entrance (and it’s manhole-sized – how did the scientists get all their supplies down there?), and the interiors are by and large not that much more lavish than you’d find in a Roger Corman movie.|