#1950s #1970s #1990s
Mesmerising moments from Martin Landau…
My tribute to the Oscar-winning, movie stealing Ed Wood actor in his movies, TV movies and more.
After learning of Martin Landau’s passing, I was keen to review his work on either television or in the movies. I’d only recently reviewed him in Ed Wood (1994) so I was keen to revisit this and more of his performances. So as I was looking through Landau’s filmography and TVography, Darlin Husband suggested Space 1999, which I sadly only vaguely remembered from my seventies childhood.
Sadly, I missed his parts in Columbo (1973), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1966), Mission: Impossible (1965-69) and The Twilight Zone (1959-64). But I probably saw him in Hotel (1983) and Murder, She Wrote (1984). But I’ve said before, in watching these series famed for an all-star cast, everyone who was anyone was overlooked in the search for a guest star from that soap beginning with a D that isn’t Dynasty (1981-89).
Here are 5 of his many parts to remember him by…
Space 1999 (1975-77)
Space 1999 Season 1 Intro, VenomusV
I only vaguely remember this series, as I wasn’t really a sci-fi fan as a kid. But with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, I made an exception. I possibly didn’t watch Space 1999, as it was produced by Jerry and Sylvia Anderson, and therefore – being the eejit that I was – I probably assumed it starred Thunderbird type Marionettes and not the then Mr and Mrs Martin Landau.
Anyway, it tells of the moon being knocked into space after an explosion and hurtling its’ Moon Base occupants into space – with the moon as a spacecraft – as they come across new peoples, aliens and that kinda ilk. And lots of men in orange suits, with orange labelling on items relevant to the plot and it seems more orange themed than your average Irwin Allen movie.
It was surprisingly produced for British TV and we wee kids saw it in Scotland, but it seems wee kids in Finland missed out after the show was withdrawn after two episodes. This as the series was allegedly too “brutal” and “horrifying”. But happily, it’s been shown in full since then. So hoping for a wee rerun soon for this man with the masterful voice.
North by Northwest (1959)
North by Northwest – Original Theatrical TrailerWarner Bros.
I love this Cary Grant and Hitchcock collaboration. It’s certainly one of my favourites of both this actor and director. The story tells of Thornhill, a man mistaken for a spy and an icy blonde – who inevitably thaws and falls for him – but then he is Cary Grant.
It also stars James Mason (yes him again) and therefore perfect fodder for a certain impersonator. So Thornhill is mistaken as a government agent, in a matter of accidental poor timing. He’s then kidnapped by some men. One of which is Landau playing Leonard.
Thornhill is taken to James Mason’s bad guy, the excellently named Vandamm, Vandamm then tries unsuccessfully to have Thornhill killed. But Thornhill fakes his death leading to a cat and mouse type movie with the Hitchcock touch and his obligatory cameo. IMDb states Landau noticed that Mason and Grant often got direction from Hitchcock, but this appeared to be good as Hitchcock stated he never spoke to actors if they were performing well. The site also adds Landau’s suits were tailored by Grant’s tailor.
Ed Wood (1994)
Ed Wood Bela Lugosi Monologue, xuxuschoice
I reviewed Landau recently in his fantastic award-winning role in Ed Wood (1994). Landau won an Oscar for this part. It’s reported this was the first Oscar for a film star’s portrayal of a film star to win one. In this film, he played the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi.
As much as I loved Depp in this – and it’s one
of the few films the only film he doesn’t irritate me in, it was Landau as Lugosi who for me gave the more stand out performance which was praised by Lugosi’s son. I urge you to read this review for a full appreciation of Landau’s role in this.. or at the very least see the trailer.
Fatal Love / Something to Live For: The Alison Gertz Story (1992)
Fatal Love english movie part 4, Ruth Plussen
Landau starred with a Brat Packer in this much more than Disease of the Month TV movie with Molly Ringwald. This is actually an outstanding biopic on Alison Gertz, who allegedly contracted HIV after a random encounter with a bartender. She then becomes an advocate telling her peers about the condition.
Ringwald is the perfect actress to play this role, as was still in our minds as our eighties teen icon – but then as a red-head rather than brunette – from Fresh Horses (1988) and Pretty in Pink (1988) and therefore made this part for us to connect with at all levels. Landau plays a lovely supportive turn as her father, Jerry Gertz, with Lee Grant as her mother in touching performances from both.
Ringwald gives a sensitive, touching portrayal of Gertz and met with her before filming to give a more personal portrayal. Ringwald hoped and did give more understanding to this role in that this was a condition that could be contracted by any woman, This struck a chord with many women – including myself – in that after seeing this film, it led to a large number of women contacting services to talk about this condition, and sadly Gertz died just months after the film’s release.
Ed TV Trailer, axouille2305
Landau stars here as Al, the protagonist Ed’s stepfather and also stepfather to his brother, (Woody Harrelson). The film also stars Ellen, as (ironically) a TV executive who wants to do a reality show around someone’s life, as it happens live. With her interviewing candidates for this show as the movie starts. Ed auditions with his brother, and gets chosen for the show.
And then his life becomes more complicated, with his confessions and those of his friends and family it becomes must-watch TV. The film also has director Rob Reiner in these scenes making this plot almost foreboding. Landau has some fun lines in this comedy-drama and steals the trailer with his one-liner. It’s one of McConaughey’s best movies along with Interstellar (2014) and Dallas Buyers Club (2013). He and Harrelson play believable brothers.
So now having read his list of TV roles, I’m going to look out for his parts in the Twilight Zone, as I’m sure this actor will be just as memorable in these tales with a twist. After seeing this actor with that indirect praise from Hitchcock himself, he really could be for these parts only, a master of suspense…