The Close-Up Poster Answer and Memorials for Menke, Stuart, Penn and Curtis

by | Sep 30th, 2010 | 2:40PM | Filed under: Other Bits, Quizzes, Contests & Polls

I was very impressed that not only did a decent number of you get the four poster images correct, but quite a few of you knew, sadly, why I picked them.

SpaceMonkeyX was the first to get them all right and to point out the reason behind the theme. (It’s a big day for SpaceMonkey, as he’s also our Reader Who Rocks, coming up later today.) In second was regular quiz winner Paul N, and in third was Ashley, who also knew the sad connection to the news.

The past week has unfortunately been full of celebrity deaths, and we’ll get to most of them below. But with the sad exception of Greg Giraldo (who was not really a film person, but a very smart and very funny comic), most of the passings were older filmmaking folks who were no longer working in the Industry.

But 57-year-old film editor Sally Menke was in the prime of her career–much of which was spent as Quentin Tarantino’s editor/collaborator. Menke was found dead Tuesday near Griffith Park in Los Angeles–she had gone hiking with her dog on Monday, and is believed to have died from heat-related causes such as dehydration or exhaustion during LA’s recent heatwave.

Normally in our celebrity obsessed movie culture we don’t pay much attention to film editors, but anyone who’s a fan of QT’s work (which, as redblog readers know, I am) is aware what a huge role editing plays in the director’s work and just how important Menke was in shaping his films and giving them their distinctive, innovative, and dazzling rhythms–in every single QT film, from Reservoir Dogs in 1992 up through Inglourious Basterds last year. Her death will no doubt mean a very noticeable change in the look and feel of Tarantino’s work going forward.

Menke-edited films from redbox:

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Of course this week also saw the passing of several other bigger-name film folks:

Tony Curtis

Between 1957 and 1960, Curtis did fine work in Sweet Smell of Success (a film I absolutely love), The Defiant Ones (for which he received an Oscar nomination and broke social ground by demanding that co-star Sidney Poitier receive equal billing), the terrific Some Like It Hot, Operation Petticoat, and Spartacus. That’s a helluva filmography for any actor’s whole career, let alone just four years’ worth. Curtis and Psycho star Janet Leigh are the parents of Jamie Leigh Curtis. In the past three decades Curtis had enjoyed success in a second career as a painter. The 85-year-old actor passed away Wednesday after cardiac arrest.

Gloria Stuart

The actress began working in film in the 1930s and was nominated for an Oscar at age 88 for her performance as “present-day” Rose in Titanic–she was the oldest Academy Award nominee ever. She was known as a “Scream Queen” in the ’30s for her work in horror films like Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, and was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild. Stuart passed away Sunday from respiratory failure. She was 100 years old.

Arthur Penn

Though he worked as a director of stage and TV in the ’50s, Penn will be best remembered for one film: 1967′s Bonnie and Clyde. But what an important film it was. Penn was already an established “studio-system” Hollywood director at the time, but as I noted in another Poster Quiz answer this summer, as a part of the established system Penn and his star Warren Beatty were able to kick open the stylistic door that would lead directly to the American independent film renaissance of the 1970s. The 88-year-old Penn died Tuesday of congestive heart failure.

Van Snowden

Okay, maybe Van Snowden’s name (and face) aren’t that well-known, but for some of us of a certain Gen-X age, his work probably shaped our weird childhoods. Snowden was the puppeteer who played H.R. Pufnstuf in the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday-morning TV show–he also played Sigmund in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and worked on several other Krofft shows, such as Lidsville, The Bugaloos, and Land of the Lost. In addition, Snowden did puppetry work as Chucky in the Child’s Play films, as the Crypt Keeper in the Tales from the Crypt show, and on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. He died of cancer last Friday at the age of 71.


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