RIP, Herbert Lom

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I missed this one a couple of days ago, but I just wanted to pay tribute to one of my all-time favorite character actors. I remember first seeing Lom when I was 5 years old in “The Return of the Pink Panther,” playing Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau’s character’s long-suffering boss Chief Inspector Dreyfus. He was quite good in any number of movies he appeared in, but in addition to Dreyfus, my favorites are the original “Ladykillers” from 1955, his KGB spy in “Hopscotch” (1980) and as the kindly neurologist in David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone” (1983).

Here is one of my favorite Lom / Dreyfus scenes, from the opening of 1976’s “The Pink Panther Strikes Again.” Dreyfus is leaving a mental hospital after being driven mad by being Clouseau’s boss, but goes off the deep end again after running into Clouseau. This is a bit slapsticky (director Blake Edwards’s stock in trade), but it still brings a smile to my face.

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“Hopscotch” (1980) dir. Ronald Neame

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Is there any cooler actor than Walter Matthau? OK, maybe there a few that are cooler … or maybe several. Who cares, allright?  As one gets older, one begins to appreciate the laconic, laid-back, sardonic charm of the ultimate intelligent curmudgeon. It’s hard to pick a favorite Matthau film, but “Hopscotch” is my favorite. This is completely fun from start to finish, and if you’re a fan of “Fletch,” “Hopscotch” is one of the best smart-ass dialogue films of all time. Many people thought this was an odd choice for The Criterion Collection, but I don’t. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since my Mom took me to see it when I was 10, which was especially cool due its R-rating and multiple “F-bombs” throughout.