Thursday, June 04, 2009

RIP David Carradine

As prolific as his father John, the actor will always be remembered for his Emmy-nominated role as Caine (pictured) on TV's Kung Fu (1972-1975), which he continued to play on various spinoffs through the 90s. That cult association assured him a place in the Quentin Tarantino universe, a destiny he admirably fulfilled in the Kill Bill saga. Laying down his arms, he was effective as Woody Guthrie in 1976's beautiful Bound for Glory, though late in what appears to have been an increasingly turbulent life he voiced second thoughts about the film. There was still more to like in an eventful career: Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha (1972), with his then-girlfriend Barbara Hershey; the driver "Frankenstein" in Paul Bartel's Death Race 2000 (1975); a curious choice for Ingmar Bergman in The Serpent's Egg (1977); Cole Younger in Walter Hill's The Long Riders (1980), opposite brothers Keith and Robert, in what remains the best telling of that tale; Tom Horn and Paul Gauguin in good TV movies in that period; a tough cop in Larry Cohen's delightful monster-in-Manhattan story Q (1982); a worthy opponent for Chuck Norris in 1983's Lone Wolf McQuade; and, not least, in drag as "Pearl" in the memorably squalid Sonny Boy (1989).

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