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Les Marcott
The Wayward Western Sons Of Warren Oates
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november 2007

After attempting facial gymnastics the likes of which Jim Carrey would be proud of, I've decided to throw in the towel.  I'm not going to be able to contort my face in a way in which I resemble tough guy actor Lee Marvin no matter how hard I try.  And anyway I'm developing a bad case of TMJ.  You see, to join the illustrious semi-secret Sons Of Lee Marvin, you must have a passing resemblance to the late actor. A love and appreciation for the man's work will not be enough to gain you membership into this exclusive club.  Founded by director Jim Jarmusch, other purported members include Tom Waits, Neil Young, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and John Lurie.  I mean even if you didn't particularly care for Lee Marvin, who wouldn't want to rub shoulders with these guys.  But even if I resembled Lee Marvin, I doubt I would be offerered membership.  It appears fame is a big determiner as well when it comes to The Sons Of Lee Marvin admission.  I don't think Mr. Jarmusch would consider the relevance of me being a legend in my own mind as being sufficient for membership.

Oh well, there's always other clubs to consider such as The Bastard Sons Of Johnny Cash...or not. The Bastard Sons Of Johnny Cash is actually the name of a band.  Folks familiar with my writing realize I just can't resist the temptation to name check Johnny Cash every chance I get.  I did join an internet group dedicated to another tough guy actor and former pugilist Mickey Rourke.  I can receive acting insights from Mickey by studying even his most maligned films such as Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.  Hey I realize that's a stretch but the man can deliver.  I was hoping the group called The Mickey Rourke Society would keep me updated on all things Mickey as well as news about his valued pet Chihuahua.  C'mon, even tough guy actors have their soft side.  But alas, the group was nothing more than a front for spammers advertising biker chicks looking for guys with big...well, use your imagination here.

So after much thinking, deliberation, and inebriation; I arrived at the proper course of action. I would start my own group dedicated to none other than the great character actor Warren Oates.  Oates died of a sudden heart attack in 1982, but hopefully his work on film will endure forever.  I decided to call my group The Wayward Western Sons Of Warren Oates. Wayward due to the fact Warren played characters who were just a bit wayward. Western in honor of the genre of film that Warren's acting skills were best showcased. Director Alex Cox once said of Warren, "If you talk to a really good American actor working today, like Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton or Ed Harris, ask who they think is the best American actor, living or dead, it is quite likely they're not going to Marlon Brando.  They'll tell you it's Warren Oates!" warren-oates-2crmsThe minute Warren enters the frame of whatever film of his you happen to be watching, you're riveted by his presence.  You are captivated, wondering what his "character" is going to do or say next.  Someone once remarked that when Warren Oates died, character acting died along with him.  And while there are no shortage of character actors plying their trade in Hollywood today, Warren could do more with that wicked grin and sneer of his than most actors could accomplish with their entire bodies.

So after more thinking, deliberation, and inebriation; I decided to dispense with all of this semi-secret society bullshit business.  Also no need to issue membership badges.  You see the Wayward Western Sons Of Warren Oates don't need no stinking badges!  And you don't need to have a passing resemblance to Warren to enjoy the man's work.  Have your own little Warren Oates Film Festival.  You can start with my personal favorites: the cult classic Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia, The Wild Bunch (both of these films in collaboration with director Sam Peckinpah) then move on to films such as Two-Lane Blacktop, The Cockfighter, The Hired Hand with friend Peter Fonda, and the under appreciated White Dawn.  If comedy is your bag, watch Warren take a comedic turn in Spielberg's 1941, and his unforgettable role as Sergeant Hulka playing opposite Bill Murray in Stripes. And while I may have given up on my idea of a formal club, I haven't given up on  The Wayward Western Sons Of Warren Oates as a title for something. It would make an excellent name for a band.  

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About This Article

©2007 Les Marcott
©2007 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Les Marcott is a songwriter, musician, performer and writer. His latest book of monologues, stories and short plays, Character Flaws, is published by AviarPress.
For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives
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Scene4 Magazine-International Magazine of Arts and Media

november 2007

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