|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Sunday, April 06, 2008 |
( 4/06/2008 09:15:00 AM ) Bill S.
CHARLTON CHEWS: There was a time when if you wanted to see a Hollywood sci-fi movie, you had to put up with Charlton Heston: Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet, Soylent Green, Omega Man. They all featured this magnificent hambone, and it's difficult to imagine any of these movies without him (Tim Burton tried, of course, with his flaccid remake of the first Apes flick.) His histrionic acting style was in an easily identifiable class by itself. Going through a recently released boxed set of Sam and Max: Free-lance Police cartoons, for instance, one of the first impersonations to pop out at me was a Heston-esque refrigerator repairman. To my eyes, though, the best Heston performances were as the villainous Cardinal Richelieu, in Richard Lester's two Musketeer films: a role in which he sinuously played against type and was all the better for it.
More recently, of course, Heston was known primarily as a loudly vociferous gun rights spokesman, a role for which he was ridiculed even more than his over-the-top acting moments. I usually went out of my way to avoid Heston's words in this arena – much as I do most actors, whether they lean either left or right – but whenever I did comes across his talking head, I couldn't help but feel saddened by it. I'd much rather think of him as a champion of great American comic strips, Walt Kelly's "Pogo" and Stan Lynde's "Rick O'Shay," than the cold dead hands guy.