The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Richard Jaeckel

Making his screen debut as a baby-faced young soldier in 1943's Guadalcanal Diary, Jaeckel never really looked back during his career. He was one of Hollywood's best and most recognizable character actors, able to play good guys and villains alike. One of my all-time favorites and long overdue for a fan page. Click on the movie titles below to read the full reviews.

The Dirty Dozen (1967): One of the true guy's guys movies, director Robert Aldrich assembling one of the great tough guy casts ever. Jaeckel plays Sgt. Clyde Bowren, a MP working with Lee Marvin's Major Reisman to train 12 convicts and turn them into commandos for a mission planned for the days leading up to D-Day. A subtle scene stealer, Jaeckel gives the dozen -- Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Clint Walker, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, John Cassavetes -- their nickname, holding his own with such a great cast.

Sometimes a Great Notion (1970): The film that earned Jaeckel a Best Supporting Actor nomination -- he lost to Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show -- and really allowed him a chance to show off his acting chops. He plays Joe Ben, one of the brothers in the Stamper family who have hit some rough times with their logging business in the Pacific Northwest. Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Lee Remick and Michael Sarrazin co-star in an underrated 1970s drama.

The Devil's Brigade (1968): Maybe my favorite Jaeckel performance as he plays Omar Greco, an acrobat who's ran into some trouble -- the stockade -- since he joined the Army. Jaeckel is part of a great ensemble that includes William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards, Andrew Prine, Claude Akins, Jeremy Slate, Michael Rennie, Carroll O'Connor and more in the (mostly) true story of the First Special Service Force. Jaeckel is very solid as Omar (bald head and all) who seems to have found a home with the brigade.

The Green Slime (1968): A really, really bad sci-fi movie that is really fun to watch. Jaeckel and Robert Horton co-star as former rivals forced to work together when their space station (IN THE FUTURE!!!) comes under attack by the Green Slime! Pretty cheap-looking and mostly good for laughs -- not to mention the 1968 vision of the future -- but fun from beginning to end. Also look for Bond babe Luciana Paluzzi as the third member of the futuristic love triangle.

Town Without Pity (1961): Ahead of its time courtroom drama about four U.S. Army soldiers (Jaeckel, Robert Blake, Frank Sutton, Mal Sondock) stationed in Germany who are accused of raping a teenage girl, a high profile case following. Kirk Douglas stars as their defense attorney who must decide how far he wants to go to prove his clients' innocence. Filmed in black and white, this is an underrated gem that deserves a far bigger reputation than it currently has.

Guadalcanal Diary (1943): Making his film debut, Jaeckel plays Pvt. Chicken Anderson, a Marine who with his platoon takes part in the horrific fighting on Guadalcanal in WWII. Jaeckel is solid with Richard Conte, William Bendix, Lloyd Nolan, Anthony Quinn, and Preston Foster co-starring. Released while the war was still very much in question, 'Diary' avoids those propaganda messages that plagued so many 1940s war movies. So many moments really ring true, getting the message across about the hell that was World War II.

Grizzly (1978): A truly bad movie that came in the deluge of disaster/creature/apocalypse movies following 1975's Jaws. Jaeckel, Christopher George and Andrew Prine unite to take down an immense grizzly bear terrorizing a national park. It's really bad, really cheap and really entertaining, especially seeing three character actors like that working together and starring in lead roles. My favorite? Prine's monologue about why he hates grizzly bears, a more than obvious knock-off of Robert Shaw's famous Jaws monologue about the ill-fated U.S.S. Indianapolis.

The Gunfighter (1950): A western that deserves more of a reputation, truly one of the all-time greats and ahead of its time in its on-screen portrayal of wild west gunfighters. Gregory Peck is perfectly cast as Jimmy Ringo, a lanky Texan who's gained quite the reputation as a fast draw and the target on his back that comes with it. Everyone wants to see how fast he really is. Richard Jaeckel makes a quick, effective appearance as one of those youngsters looking to make a name for himself.

The Outfit (1973): One of those perfectly dark, gritty violent crime thrillers from the 1970s, but one that doesn't have a huge following. Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker co-star as two old friends and former partners in crime looking to take it to the West Coast mob. Great supporting cast in an episodic story with Jaeckel, Robert Ryan, Karen Black, Timothy Carey, Bill McKinney, Sheree North, Felice Orlandi, Tom Reese and Jane Greer also starring. One of my favorites, a hidden gem.

Other reviewed Jaeckel films include....
The Violent Men (1955): Also starring Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Brian Keith.
The Gunrunners (1955): Also starring Audie Murphy, Jack Elam, Eddie Albert in director Don Siegel's film.
The Young and the Brave (1963): Also starring Rory Calhoun, William Bendix, solid Korean War drama.
The Naked and the Dead (1958): Also starring Cliff Robertson, Aldo Ray, Raymond Massey, James Best, William Campbell,  L.Q. Jones in World War II drama based on Norman Mailer novel.

1 comment:

  1. Great actor! He played a scary villain who... attacks a young girl, played by one of my good friends in real life, in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE... He could be good and bad and anything... I love his naive, booze guzzling driver in THE LINEUP with Eli Wallach...