Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Big Screen in the Sky

This is turning out to be a sad week here at Film Gab. On Saturday we lost brilliant character actor Kenneth Mars to pancreatic cancer. Mars' film and television career spanned 46 years and included such great films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and What's Up Doc?, but he is best remembered for two roles in Mel Brooks comedies. In Brooks' first hit The Producers (1968) Mars had the ignoble task of making a disgruntled Nazi playwright funny- and he did it. His Franz Liebkind is a comedy landmark that is a masterwork of focus. He slept in his costume, giving co-star Gene Wilder the feeling that Mars might really be crazy. Mars proved that he was not just a one-Nazi wonder when he played the German constable, Inspector Kemp in Brooks' comic masterwork Young Frankenstein (1974). As the unintelligble police hawk with a fake, uncooperative arm, Mars once again created an indelible character. RIP Mr. Mars. It's time you had some of that spongecake und a little wine.

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