FILMS and TV… George Kennedy Classics

#1970s #1980s #1990s

 

All Roads to Dallas: Reminiscing about the films and TV of George Kennedy…

 

It was sad to hear that, George Kennedy, a great Hollywood star of both the big and wee screen had passed away.

 

 

It was sad to hear that George Kennedy passed away on the day of the 2016’s Oscar Ceremony. Here are 5 of the appearances I best remember him for. Kennedy Was a versatile actor and performer starring in dramatic, western, horror and comedy as well as his later role in the soap opera. He also starred in many disaster movies. However. it’s now only when writing this review that I’ve discovered before his Dallas role, he starred with many of the shows cast in the movies…

 

Earthquake (1974)

Earthquake Official Trailer #1 – Charlton Heston Movie (1974) HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault

This disaster movie from the 1970s centred around a Los Angeles earthquake and its aftermath. Kennedy played a role as a suspended policeman, Lou Slade, alongside another future Dallas (1978-91) star, Victoria Principal who played Pamela Barnes Ewing in the series.

Kennedy won the part for this film and was up against other names such as Alan Alda and Beau Bridges. This particular all-star cast also included Ava Gardner, Lorne Greene, Genevieve Bujold and Richard Roundtree. Much of Kennedy’s role is centred around rescuing others – particularly Principal’s character Rosa. Rosa was his perpetual damsel in distress – and the two starred alongside alpha male heavyweight Charlton Heston. Kennedy literally gets the last word in the movie, something I would remember him for in a future role…

 

Death on the Nile (1978)

Death On The Nile Trailer 1978, Video Detective

An Agatha Christie written book and adapted to film, the film was usually shown on Christmas Day back in the UK, as often as The Snowman but this whodunnit is much more interesting. Sadly missed, over here especially as it has one of the better Hercule Poirots, Peter Ustinov and a fantastic cast.

This is one of a number of all-star films written by Christie that made the big screen. This lavish production has David Niven, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow and Simon MacCorkindale to name just a few of the cast. Here Kennedy played Andrew Pennington, a suspect in the murder of rich millionairess Linnet Ridgeway.

Linnet was played by another future Dallas star and the following year – 1979s – Moonraker‘s Bond girl, Lois Chiles. (Chiles playing two Hollys, Holly Harwood in the former and Dr Holly Goodhead in the latter.) Kennedy plays Linnet’s lawyer who like every other character – apart from Poirot (that we know of) – has a grudge against her… 

 

Airport Disaster Movies Series (1970-79)

The Concorde … Airport ’79 Official Trailer #1 – George Kennedy Movie (1979) HD, Movieclips Classic Trailers

Kennedy was the only actor to star in all 4 of these movies, and always as Joe Patroni. Joe Patroni’s character is multi-talented and was promoted from his initial job being the chief mechanic in Airport (1970) to becoming a pilot, just 9 years later in The Concorde … Airport ’79 (1979).

The other films in the franchise were Airport 1975 (1974) and Airport ’77 (1977). The first film got a surprising 10 Oscar nominations. You could almost play a 1970s game of Six Degrees of George Kennedy as he starred with many other Hollywood Greats including Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Jacqueline Bisset, Jack Lemmon, Robert Wagner, Lee Grant and Gil Gerard. George’s link to a Dallas star, in Airport 1975 was Martha Scott who later was to play J.R. Ewing’s ambitious mother-in-law as Sue Ellen’s mother. And Airport 77, Monte Markham starred and this actor played Sue Ellen’s lover, Clint.

 

The Naked Gun Trilogy (1988-94)

Naked Gun Trailer 1988, retrowhiztv

This time it’s Priscilla Presley –  who played Bobby’s old flame, Jenna Wade – starring with Kennedy alongside Leslie Nielsen. Kennedy showed a flair for comedy in these crime comedies from the 1980s. Kennedy played Capt. Ed Hocken, Detective Frank Drebin’s boss.

‘Imdb stated that the film’s production company had stated they wanted an Oscar winner in the cast for the first film, Naked Gun, From the Files of Police Squad (1988). Kennedy was given the role, having won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Kennedy was keen to get the role and I’m glad the did, as he and Nielsen provide many a laugh.

 

Dallas (1978-91)

Dallas War of the Ewings Promo, Geret Coates

It would be wrong for me not to mention Kennedy’s role as rancher turned oilman, Carter McKay in Dallas. Kennedy joined the Dallas cast in 1988 and stayed until the original series folded in 1991.  He even returned for the reunion movies, J.R. Returns (1996) and War of the Ewings (1998).

In the original Dallas series, his character buys a ranch on the Ewing’s Southfork property. Then during a drought, he makes enemies with the Ewings by building a dam on the river that goes through there. He then fronts a range war with the Ewing family.

Later he becomes Head of Weststar and from this position takes a lead role in the final downfall of J.R. Ewing until… I remember Kennedy’s role well, but as a Dallas fan, I held him personally responsible for the end of the series and of J.R. 

There are many more films and TV Movies with this actor that are worth a mention, but keep tuning in as I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag with some Uninvited spoilers…

 

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