Reposting some old reviews.
In case anyone reading these posts couldn’t tell, Robert Shaw is my favorite actor. I first remember seeing him in Jaws and I was captivated. Since then I have made it one of my missions in life to view his complete works and this marathon is a way for me to get a good chunk of them in. From Russia With Love definitely makes my top ten film list because it not only has the world’s coolest secret agent, it also has the world’s coolest secret agent’s best opponent. I could give a debrief of why Sean Connery is the best James Bond but I won’t because this isn’t a Sean Connery marathon (although that might be a good follow up blog), it’s a Robert Shaw marathon. In this film he plays Donald Grant, SPECTRE’s hired hitman that ensures that Bond’s part in the scheme is played out, and then that he is eliminated. What makes Shaw’s performance so memorable is that he doesn’t have any lines for the first hour and a half of the movie so he relies on body language and facial expressions to communicate his thoughts and emotions. I really do think Shaw’s best talent was in his facial expressions. He doesn’t need to exaggerate anything because he can communicate anger with a narrowing of his eyes and tightening of his lips. He can show that he’s serious with a low, menacing tone of voice. He gets to do all that in this film and he does it well, and for most of the movie he isn’t really interacting with the other characters directly, so he does a good job without having to respond to someone else’s act.
Today’s film is The Sting. I’m a fan of Paul Newman and I think he and Robert Redford are wonderful together, and they play well off each other in this film. Shaw is also wonderful playing yet another villain. He seemed to have more roles as the bad guy than the hero but it was probably because he was so good at playing them. The big difference I see in this role is that the villain isn’t cool and collected all the time. His character Doyle Lonnegan is prideful and when he’s cheated he shows his anger. When he’s angry he acts almost childlike, complaining that he’s been tricked by a better cheat or that he’s lost his money in an almost whiney tone of voice. The only distinction between him and a child throwing a tantrum is that his resolution is to kill those that have tricked him. Shaw pulls off this performance flawlessly and even though the film won best picture, Robert Shaw was looked over yet again. That didn’t seem to discourage him from putting his best work forward in all of his roles