28/04/2011

The 80s: When Typecasting Was Done Right

When you surround yourself with all the great creations the best decade ever bestowed on the world as I do, you're going to notice a bit of overlapping. Case in point, watching Ghostbusters on Easter Sunday with my mother and noticing the douchebag in that is played by the same guy who played a douchebag in Die Hard. While typecasting can be the death nail for credibility these days (at least, it is to me), in the 80s it was nothing but a good thing. Allow me to explain with five prime examples:

Need A Douchebag? Call William Artherton!

As seen in: Ghostbusters (1984) and Die Hard (1988)

What a shame William Atherton's long and illustrious career is summed up by the most brilliant line to ever fall out of Bill Murray's mouth. I have no idea whether or not this man has no dick but he is awfully good at playing men who strive for professional greatness even if it means putting an entire city in danger and threatening a Spanish lady with deportation in order to get it. Still, he got his in the shape of an amazing tump courtesy of Mrs McClane and Spengler's infamous "YOUR MOTHER!" retort. Burn.

Need A Slightly More Likeable Douchebag? Call Paul Gleason!

 
As seen in: Arthur (1981), Trading Places (1983), The Breakfast Club (1985) and Die Hard (1988)

When the cast of the greatest teen movie OF ALL TIME reunited on stage to collect the 'Silver Bucket of Excellence' at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, I was very excited to see the presence of Paul Gleason in the crowd. Now there's a man who wouldn't put up with modern day kids with their slang and iPhones and shit. NO, Principal Vernon would have their asses in detention every Saturday until they learnt some values and if that didn't fly, he could always threaten them in private. That'll work too. Gleason made a brief appearance in Arthur as a disgruntled executive and played an almighty bastard opposite Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy but if there's one role that almost meets the greatness of Vernon, it's Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, a man who thinks he knows what he's doing when has absolutely no clue. On the bright side, at least he hoped that wasn't a hostage.

Need A Black Cop? Call Reginald VelJohnson!

 As seen in: Ghostbusters (1984) and Die Hard (1988)

You've gotta love a man who pretends he's buying an armful of Twinkies for his preggers wife when in actual fact you know he's gonna down those delicious, creamy cakes the first chance he gets. I like his style. Reggie (I'm going to call him Reggie) made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in Ghostbusters as 'jail guard' but it's Sgt. Al Powell who lives long in the memory. He was John McClane's only friend (apart from Argyle, John loves black dudes eh?) while he was fighting off those German bastards and he managed to put up with the douchebag above without resorting to anything tougher than telling him he was chatting shit. Kudos my man, kudos.

Need A Bald Authoritarian? Call James Tolkan!

 As seen in: WarGames (1983), Back To The Future (1985), Top Gun (1986), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Back To The Future Part II (1989)

James Tolkan was so typecast the intro of his Wikipedia page is one sentence confirming he's often cast as a 'strict, overbearing, bald-headed authority figure'. Damn, way to make the guy feel bad about his premature baldness. Speaking of which, no one seems to know if that guy ever had hair but he certainly made his mark on 80s cinema by playing ball-breaking federal officers/principals/commanders et al in some of the decade's best loved classics. And if you haven't seen WarGames, you should really watch WarGames.

Need another example? Read The Incredible Suit. Bosh.