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The Movies’ Best Right-Hand Men

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Here’s the thing about a great, cinematic right-hand man. He reassures the audience they’ve made a good choice the second he appears on the screen. It’s true even if he’s the bad guy’s right-hand man. Why?  Because he’s the physical embodiment of loyalty. See what you think of this group.

WARD BOND

Truly, one of the great character actors of all time. My goodness, what a list of films: “The Searchers,” “Gone With the Wind,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,”  “Mister Roberts,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “My Darling Clementine,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Sergeant York.” Come on! This was a tough guy with a sparkle in his eye that could light up Monument Valley. Yet he was forever the guy one horse over from the star – usually John Wayne or Henry Fonda.

VING RHAMES

It’s all deadpan brilliance from Mr. Rhames. Thanks to his take-no-guff glare, he’s able to draw your attention without even raising his voice. And when he gives a character a quirky spin, it’s dynamite. He was very high-profile as the right-hand man in the first “Mission: Impossible” films, but I preferred his turn in “Out of Sight” with George Clooney.

SAM ELLIOTT

A leading man in his own right, Elliott eventually took his majestic mustache and headed for right-hand man territory. His steely-eyed talents often were the best parts of movies such as “Road House” and “Ghost Rider,” or pure westerns such as “Tombstone.” Great voice and a unique sort of casual nobility.

JACK WARDEN

He never, ever seemed like he was acting. He played a variety of right-hand men: co-counsel in “The Verdict,” an editor in “All the President’s Men,” a loyal quarterback coach in “Heaven Can Wait.” His characters always knew full well how flawed their friends were, but remained true blue anyway.

RAY WINSTONE

There is a weariness that pervades Ray Winstone’s performances, elevating and deepening them dramatically. He combines the look of an old-time character actor with the inner turmoil of a modern Method master. Check out his work with Jack Nicholson in “The Departed.”

GEORGE KENNEDY

Here’s a case of an actor being so perfect he eventually turned into a parody of himself. Kennedy was the dude in the “Airport” movies – Joe Patroni – who was either helping clear an icy runway or pilot a plane in jeopardy. He later operated as Leslie Nielsen’s partner in the “Naked Gun” movies. Yet I’ll always remember him from “Cool Hand Luke,” as the brutal convict who comes to admire and befriend Paul Newman.

WOODY STRODE

What’s amazing about Woody Strode is how much impact he made in films where he often had little dialogue. He’d have been an action star in another era. Still, he was terrific in films such as “Spartacus,” “The Professionals” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

TOM SIZEMORE

Sizemore’s right-hand men operate within a moral universe all their own. That’s why his crook in “Heat” is just as convincing as his combat soldier in “Saving Private Ryan.” It’s not about right and wrong. It’s about following orders until your last breath.

DAVID MORSE

Morse is a versatile actor who fits into any number of roles, but when he’s in his right-hand man mode, he’s awesome. He plays them all business on the outside, but with an undercurrent of intelligence, empathy and humor. In “The Green Mile” and “The Rock,” when his character questions an order, you can see how much it pains him.

RICHARD JAECKEL

Jaeckel was the epitome of the right-hand man, blending into the background at the same time he kept the hero honest. That was never more true than in “The Dirty Dozen,” where he was the duty-bound MP surrounded by psychos on a combat mission behind enemy lines.

WILL PATTON

Patton does sort of an Everyman version of the right-hand man, and it’s highly effective. It’s a Southern, voice-of-reason approach. It worked very well in the action flick “Armageddon,” for instance. And Patton was remarkable in “Remember the Titans,” where he played a head football coach who is forced to become the right-hand man for Denzel Washington.

MORGAN FREEMAN

Morgan Freeman is the best right-hand man in the history of film. In “Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven,” “Glory,” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” he’s riveting. At times he takes over those films. And he’s almost always doing it while shouldering the weight of the film’s larger message. He’s brains, brawn and conscience.

Now that’s a dependable dozen. Add to The List!

Movie Stars You Forgot Were in a TV Series

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Oh, how quickly we forget. A good many of the actors we’ve come to love on the big screen spent at least part of their career on the little screen. Sometimes it was when they were just starting out, and other times it came much later. Either way, it’s entertaining to see these stars in a different setting.

JIMMY STEWART

It’s hard to picture the great Jimmy Stewart in a TV series, but he actually did two of them! First came “The Jimmy Stewart Show,” 1971-72, in which he played a college professor. Despite tons of publicity, it lasted only one season. He tried again in “Hawkins,” a 1973-74 series about a country lawyer. It fared no better.

SANDRA BULLOCK

Many years before winning her Oscar, Bullock starred in 1990’s TV version of the hit movie “Working Girl.” The show was pulled after a dozen episodes.

CLINT EASTWOOD

Clint, on the other hand, was a TV success story. He played Rowdy Yates on the hit western, “Rawhide.” The show, about the adventures of the longest cattle drive in history, ran from 1959-65. Clint, it should be noted, was not the main character – a situation he would rectify in his subsequent film career.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO

Leo has been in two series: “Growing Pains,” in 1991; and “Parenthood,” in 1990. It’s unlikely we’ll see him again as a TV regular until his movie success winds down. Which brings us to …

TONY CURTIS

Curtis tried TV twice. He was the star of “McCoy,” a mercifully short-lived drama from 1975-76, and “The Persuaders,” an absolute guilty pleasure from 1971-72. In “The Persuaders,” Tony played a very cool, very American adventurer in England. His co-star was Roger Moore, pre-007.

HALLE BERRY

In 1989, a young Halle Berry was part of “Living Dolls,” a show about a teen modeling agency. That’s a young Leah Remini in the photo, lower right.

BING CROSBY

Yep, Der Bingle did a TV series. But, in keeping with his cool, unruffled image, he didn’t stray far from his comfort zone. In “The Bing Crosby Show,” 1964-65, he played an ex-entertainer who was attempting to lead an ordinary, domestic life with his wife and two kids. As you would expect, his answer to most problems involved singing.

TOM HANKS

Lots of people will remember Hanks from his TV series days, but it’s still amazing to think that a two-time Academy Award winner once starred in a 1980-82 sitcom in which he played a guy named Kip who pretended to be a woman named Buffy – in order to get a decent apartment.

CHARLES BRONSON

Classic movie tough-guy Bronson did multiple tours of duty in TV series. He played an adventurous photographer in “Man With A Camera,” 1958-60; a ranch hand in “Empire,” 1962-63; and leader of a wagon train in “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters,” 1963-64. In that last one, his character was Linc Murdock, a much more suitable name for him than Jaimie McPheeters (a young Kurt Russell).

DENZEL WASHINGTON

Mr. Washington was an excellent part of the ensemble in one of my favorite shows, “St. Elsewhere,” from 1982-88. The incredible cast also included David Morse, Ed Flanders and, yes, Howie Mandel.

SHIRLEY MacLAINE

“Shirley’s World,” featuring MacLaine as a magazine photographer and writer, had one season only, 1971-72. But it had a real international flavor, with much of the show set in England.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

By far the most interesting TV series work the great Scott did was “East Side/West Side,” 1963-64, in which he played a crusading social worker in New York City. One of his co-stars was Cicely Tyson. Later, Scott did some uneven series work: “Mr. President,” 1987-88, a comedy about a U.S. president; “Traps,” 1994, in which he played a retired cop; and “New York News,” 1995, set at a newspaper.

HENRY FONDA

It was something of a big deal when Fonda starred in “The Smith Family,” a 1971-72 drama about a police detective. What many viewers had forgotten was that Fonda played a marshal in “The Deputy,” from 1959-61.

MICKEY ROONEY

Mickey has done tons of TV during his long career, including at least five series. I’m only going to mention one of them: a 1982 comedy called “One of the Boys,” in which his co-stars were Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane. Now that’s entertainment!

MORGAN FREEMAN

This one’s my favorite. Morgan Freeman, an actor whose work I dearly love in films, also has a place in TV history as a member of “The Electric Company.” This kids’ show from 1971-77 afforded him the chance to play such characters as Dracula and the utterly sublime Easy Reader. Well done, sir.

Well, that gets things started. Which great examples did I forget?

25 Great Movie Exit Lines

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Like the last bite of pie or the end of a great novel, the final line of a movie can be a beautiful thing. It sends you on your way satisfied and just a little sorry the experience is over. Here are some of my favorites.

SHANE (1953)

“Shane! Come back! Bye, Shane.”

As you might guess, this line is shouted by a little boy as gunslinger Shane rides off in the distance, never to return. Is the kid’s plaintive cry annoying? Yes. But it absolutely works because you know how he feels; you feel the same way.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

“There’s no place like home.”

In a timeless classic full of timeless lines, this is one of the best. Corny, but great.

THE CANDIDATE (1972)

“What do we do now?”

Here, the final sentence of the film is also the whole point of the story. It’s as true now as it was in ’72.

BABE (1995)

“That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

This oddly beguiling movie, full of fun, fantasy and food for thought, ends in the perfect way: A heartfelt affirmation between a man and his pig.

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX (BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK) (1972)

“Attention, gonads, we’re going for a record.”

Unquestionably, the winner of the “Unlikeliest Final Words of a Movie” sweepstakes. Also, the best pairing of Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds EVER.

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)

“You’re next!”

By the time Kevin McCarthy gets all up in your grill with this warning, the movie already has worked its terrifying mojo. Be sure to check the basement for pods before bed.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

“After all, tomorrow is another day!”

Confession time, folks. This makes the List for me not because I love it, but because I’ve always been amazed at the nerve it took to end such a sprawling, high-profile film this way. Kind of like the end of “The Sopranos.”

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

“The horror. The horror.”

Nothing is easy about “Apocalypse Now” – not the lighting, not the sound, not the surreal dialogue. Yet the cumulative power of the whole experience, including the final words, is immense.

THE SEARCHERS (1956)

“Let’s go home, Debbie.”

What’s remarkable about this ending is that you’d never have predicted it.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)

“As you wish.”

The great Peter Falk delivers the goods with a perfect twinkle in his eye. I have serious questions about anyone who doesn’t like this movie.

THE PRODUCERS (1968)

“We open in Leavenworth Saturday night!”

A zany movie HAS to end with a big punchline. Thanks Mel. Thanks Zero. Thanks Gene.

THE PLAYER (1992)

“Traffic was a bitch.”

The biting satire of this last line wraps up the movie in a sarcastic little bow.

SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

Matched with the visual of Gloria Swanson in full nutjob mode, the final line is wonderfully creepy.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

“He would be in Jem’s room all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.”

This one’s kind of a cheat, because of the incredible source material. It doesn’t get better than Harper Lee.

ARMY OF DARKNESS (1993)

“Hail to the king, baby.”

I love this line. It’s got that Elvis-kicks-an-alien’s-ass-in-the-parking-lot kind of vibe, just like the rest of the film.

MAGNUM FORCE (1973)

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Fittingly, this has become one of Clint Eastwood’s many iconic lines. It’s both spare and ironic.

SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)

“Well, nobody’s perfect!”

How do you finish one of the wittiest, most absurd blockbusters in film history? With a line that’s witty and absurd, naturally.

THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (1999)

“Goodnight, you princes of Maine. You kings of New England.”

Hokey, to be sure, but you have to admit this recurring line has a certain lilt.

BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

In this case, the last words pull double duty. They need to leave you wanting to see the sequel. Mission accomplished, Doc.

KING KONG (1933)

“It was Beauty killed the Beast.”

Who knew Fay Wray could have this kind of effect?

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009)

“Nice to meet you. I’m Autumn.”

Of course this is the last line of this smart little movie. How could it not be?

THE APARTMENT (1960)

“Shut up and deal.”

Looking back at this one through the lens of “Mad Men,” the end line is exquisite – all about longings that find their expression in loaded language.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

“I hope.”

I could listen to Morgan Freeman’s concluding narration a hundred times. Oh, wait. I already have.

THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)

“And we’ll go on forever, Pa, cause we’re the people.”

What’s important to me is that even though the film ends much differently than Steinbeck’s brilliant novel, it still carries the same message of faith in human perseverance against all odds.

CASABLANCA (1942)

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Does that line sing or what? Not only is it true to Bogie’s character, it pretty well sums up a whole generation of tough, duty-driven people. Compared to “Casablanca,” most movie exit lines aren’t worth a hill of beans.

That’s my two cents, ladies and gents. Feel free to add yours.

13 Unforgettable TV & Movie Teachers

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The new school year has The Jimbo List thinking back to classic film and television teachers of all time. Some of them are inspiring and some of them are vile – just like in real life.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS IN “STAND AND DELIVER”

Not only does Olmos convey the quiet passion good teachers embody, he also rocks one of the worst comb-overs in cinematic history. Here, he’s introducing students to “cal-culus.”

JOHN HOUSEMAN IN “THE PAPER CHASE”

Born to play this role? I think so. Houseman’s forbidding law professor, Kingsfield, was a career-defining role.

TINA FEY IN “MEAN GIRLS”

Fey, as math teacher Ms. Norbury, is just brilliant. Without detracting from the main characters or plot, she manages to present a teacher who is smart, vulnerable, absurd and compassionate.

MORGAN FREEMAN IN “LEAN ON ME”

His methods were highly debatable, but there’s no getting around the fact that Principal Joe Clark made a lasting impression. Freeman and his bullhorn saw to that.

MICHAEL GAMBON IN THE HARRY POTTER MOVIES

Gambon’s Dumbledore, the head honcho at Hogwarts, was everything we need teachers to be: a mentor, a protector and a champion of our individual potential.

JANE LYNCH IN “GLEE”

She’s conniving, she’s malicious and she’s a wrecking ball of sarcasm. That’s why we can’t get enough of Lynch’s psychotic cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester.

ROBERT DONAT IN “GOODBYE MR. CHIPS”

This film and performance are about as far removed from today’s styles as possible. Yet the eternal struggle to gain control of a classroom remains relevant.

BEN STEIN IN “FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF”

This is always funny because we all relate to it. For a little bit more teaching energy, we give you …

DEBBIE ALLEN, ET AL, IN “FAME”

As teachers at a performing arts high school in New York City, Allen & Company hammered home the need for discipline, diligence and desire in finding success.

LLOYD HAYNES IN “ROOM 222”

Another TV ensemble, this time from the early 1970s. Haynes was inspiring as a teacher at a Los Angeles high school.

DONALD PLEASENCE IN “THE TWILIGHT ZONE”

The episode here, called “Changing of the Guard,” is admittedly hokey. It’s about an old teacher whose former students “come back” to show him the difference he made in their lives.

RICHARD DREYFUSS IN “MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS”

I’ve got to think this is every teacher’s dream: To end a lengthy career with a send-off that brings together students of several eras in appreciation. Dreyfuss plays a feisty music teacher who grudgingly takes a teaching gig in the 1960s and eventually makes it his life’s work.

SIDNEY POITIER IN “TO SIR WITH LOVE”

Mr. P. did smoldering intensity better than anyone. Perfect casting.

Class dismissed. But feel free to add to the List!