Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Harald* + Harold* (for Harold* or Harald*)

Happy Birthday, Bud! Born Walter Edward Cox on March 29, 1948, Bud Cort decided take a stage name due to the fact that there was already a well-known actor named Wally Cox out there. Both men exhibited quirky, sort of geeky personas that, to some extent, belied their actual personalities. Wally Cox is perhaps best known for playing "Mister Peepers" on TV and being the voice of cartoon canine Underdog. He was also married three times; an Army vet; and BFFs with Marlon Brando. Bud Cort, despite his constant association with the 1971 "cult film" Harold and Maude, has in fact been acting in movies and television for almost half a century now. In 2004 he appeared alongside his friend Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. "I had three great grandfathers, all fishermen, all lost at sea," Cort claims. He admits that over the years he has feared being typecast as an oddball, and at times even wished he had never made Harold and Maude. (But we'll forgive him for that!) The previous year he had starred in the perhaps even cultier film Brewster McCloud, which garnered him a nomination for "Laurel Award for Male Star of Tomorrow." A young Roger Ebert wrote of the film: "I'm not sure it's about anything. I imagine you could extract a subject from it, and I'll try that the next time I see it. But I wonder if the movie isn't primarily style; if Altman doesn't have a personal sense of humor and wants his directing style to reflect it. One could, of course, get into a deep thing about birds and wings and freedom, but why?" Bud Cort also landed roles in Up the Down Staircase, Sweet Charity, M.A.S.H., and The Strawberry Statement, for starters. In 1971, he was cast in a movie called Gas-s-s-s (also known as Gas! or, It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It), Roger Corman's last film for American International Pictures. (Corman broke off longstanding ties with AIP after they cut the final scene, a shot in which the Almighty weighs in on the wacky goings-on, and one of which the director was particularly proud.) It boasts an absurdist post-apocalyptic plot line (think Edgar Allen Poe on a motorbike), though as Wikipedia put its: "Eventually God intervenes. Coel and Cilla are reunited with all their friends, and there is a big party where everyone gets along." Which may be the biggest gas of all. If, like me, you're a big fan of Bud Cort, but are yearning to move on beyond Harold and Maude, check out some of his earlier films, along with his middle and late periods as well. There were 133 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 1281 in WorldCat.

(Bud Cort in Brewster McCloud, taken from the web.)

Carol Reid

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