Thursday, August 17, 2006

Farewell, Bruno Kirby.

Gifted actor Bruno Kirby died this week of leukemia, and unfortunately his death was out-headlined by the arrest of the creepiest-looking murder suspect this side of the Unabomber. This is a shame, because Kirby, in addition to having an extremely cool name (which he wasn't born with), did some impressive work during his career, and he deserves a proper send-off. Not being capable of such an undertaking, I will still attempt to list a few my favorites among his contributions to the world of film and television.

This Is Spinal Tap: Kirby is not in the movie for long, but he gets a pretty funny scene with the Spinal Tap gang as their limo driver. Cutting people off mid-sentence is a hobby of mine, and I enjoy watching it done to comedic perfection. The part where Kirby is talking about Sammy Davis, Jr., and the bandmembers raise the partition is superbly timed and delivered. Kirby goes on to claim that middle-aged hair bands and their sleazy sexual innuendo are a fading trend; truer words have never been spoken, if you ask me.

The Godfather Part II: That's right, he was in Godfather II, the most ripped-off mafia movie in the entire canon. Before he got stuck playing second fiddle to the god-awful Billy Crystal, Kirby was taking direction from Francis Ford Coppola and doing scenes with no less than Robert De Niro. Give the man some respect.

When Harry Met Sally: I'd like to ask the two people who kindly opted not to stop reading my blog forever after the mention of that craptacular "film" (thanks, Justin and Kelley; love ya!) to hear me out. Yes, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are obnoxious and generally stank up the joint in this movie, but Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher managed to create a few decent moments. I like the part where Kirby and Fisher are on blind dates with Ryan and Crystal, respectively, and decide they like each other better. After dinner, they unceremoniously ditched the gruesome twosome in the middle of the street. About ten years later, the rest of America wised up and did the same.

Homicide: Life on the Street: It doesn't get any better than HLotS, people, believe me. Bruno Kirby had a memorable guest starring role in "The Gas Man," in which he held his own opposite the sublime Andre Braugher. As a man driven solely by denial and revenge, Kirby's desperate loser of a character sets out to kill the police detective who arrested him for murder. The actor alternates effortlessly between pathetic regret and terrifying anger, revealing his considerable dramatic range. He also directed an episode of the show, titled "Heartbeat."

All in all, I think Bruno Kirby had a career that he could look back on with pride, and I hope people will honor his memory by watching one of his non-Billy Crystal movies. If there's a God, this man will win the applause-o-meter competition in next year's "In Memoriam" segment at the Oscars.