• Home
  • |
  • |
  • News
  • Additional Information

    Site Information

     Loading... Please wait...

    Duvall's Dark Side

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Turning 85 today, Robert Duvall abides and endures on screen with one great performance after another. Last year, coming off his seventh Academy Award® nomination for The Judge, he starred in, co-wrote and directed Wild Horses (his fifth time in the director’s chair) and is still keeping up a pace many younger actors would envy. The Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray library is currently home to two Duvall performances, a supporting role prior to his starmaking role in The Godfather and a lead role just a few years after, each part a sinister walk on the dark side. In the recently released The Detective (1968), he’s a hair-triggered cop in the Manhattan precinct where star Frank Sinatra’s principled lieutenant operates, an edgy racist firebrand not above roughing up criminal suspects to get results – and symptomatic of the corrupt system that empowers unequal treatment in the name of the law. Working for director Sam Peckinpah in The Killer Elite (1975), he’s stone-cold as a CIA-contracted mercenary who betrays and brutally decommissions his longtime partner (The Godfather co-star James Caan), unintentionally turning his painfully injured former friend into his most determined and vengeful adversary, headed for a final showdown among the relic naval vessels in a San Francisco shipyard when both converge on the same quarry – one to protect and the other to terminate. Caan is the picture’s protagonist, but Duvall – with considerably less screen time – generates a considerable sense of affectless menace in a shadow world of corporate chicanery and indifferent downsizing. Forty years later, Tender Mercies Best Actor Oscar® winner Duvall is nowhere near downsizing but continues to enlarge a mighty body of screen work. As film historian David Thomson observes, “Duvall’s good-natured persistence is one of the more comforting things in contemporary film.” Also comforting is that more vintage Duvall will come to TT Blu-ray down the road.