Saturday, February 07, 2009

RIP James Whitmore

The veteran character actor picked up two Oscar nominations, a Tony Award, and various other honors in a long and distinguished career, which also included stumping for President Obama. But with some actors you just fixate on one role, and for me it was Police Sgt. Ben Peterson in the sci-fi classic Them! (1954). His heroic demise at the end of the picture, saving two kids from the mandibles of marauding giant ants, made a huge impression on me when I was about the same age as those children, and I've never forgotten it. (He just about gets away himself, then...oh, what an ending. Great movie. Great performance.)

1 comment:

Arbogast said...

Whitmore's death in Them! has a hollowpoint awfulness to it that's usually reserved for a sympathetic monster... the Creature in Frankenstein, the 8th Wonder of the World in King Kong... and is a very different and perhaps more honest form of heroic sacrifice than seen in, say, Quatermass and the Pit, where you lament the demise of the gentle and brilliant Roney but at least he goes out looking Big Evil squarely in the eye. Ben Peterson gets it in the back, so to speak, and his all too human death throes are devastating.