Monday, November 16, 2009

R.I.P. Edward Woodward

Edward Woodward, British actor, died today at 79 from a prolonged illness. Most recently he had been on the big British show, "The Eastenders" and was also in "Hot Fuzz" (And apparently did the voice of The Sultan in "Aladdin", hmmm strange)

I am going to go out on a limb and say that Woodward would probably be remembered most for a couple of things, at least on these shores. When I see him, I immediately think of "The Equalizer", which ran for 4 seasons in the U.S. Its interesting because the plot was actually a more "sophisticated" (it WAS the 80's) urbane take on "The A-Team" formula. He played Robert McCall who worked from shadowy C.I.A-like organization called "The Company", and did some bad stuff there and was trying atone for the things he had done by renting himself out (in newspaper ads!) and righting wrongs and correcting things for the average citizen. You know, making things "equal". And it probably won't have worked in the same manner without Woodward.

Here is the one that might have put him on the map, if it didn't take so long because of ownership and rights issues to get "The Wicker Man" released to a wider audience. And it took even longer to get the full, original cut of the movie released because of the same sorts of issues. A lot of people put this on their "Best of...." horror lists- and while I found it eerie, somewhat unsettling, and pretty weird (it WAS the 70's) I wouldn't have said that it was scary-scary. My problem was reading about the "twist" ending beforehand. But the movie is just odd-check out that Britt Eklund dance-but a good, creepy mystery nonetheless. And it wouldn't have held together without Woodward as the staunch, devout, Christian policeman. And you have to work pretty hard with crazy Eklund and Christopher Lee menacingly chewing up the scenery. But Woodward is the glue that holds the movie together, and it would not have worked as well (how well it works-well your mileage might vary) without him as Sgt. Howie. (Great name for the character too, by the way) For evidence of that see Nicholas Cage's/Neil Labutes insane (for different reasons) remake and see how it stands up.

I wasn't aware of this until just now but he was also on a british spy series called "Callan" which apparently takes a sort-of bleak, "Spy Who Came In From The Cold" style look at Woodward working for, I believe, the S.I.S. It started in '67 and sounds pretty cool, so I might have to look it up.

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