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(January 2002)

Memorable Performances
Edward FoxThese three people are talented, hard-working professional actors. They were never A-List superstars but have always given solid, workmanlike performances. Although the appearances mentioned here occurred 20+ years ago, they are all still active and currently working; in theatre, in soaps, on TV and in movies.

We at The Toast see scores of movies every year; year in and year out, movies, movies, movies. Every once and awhile a sparkling performance sticks in the mind. Not always the star. Sometimes a bit part, sometimes a co-star, but always a performance that hits the character dead on. An acting job so stellar, a singular performance so outstanding that it sticks in the mind – even after 20 years.

Edward Fox- An English actor born in 1937; he has specialized in playing ram-rod backed, stiff  upper-lipped British officers such as the mob-quelling "General Dyer" in Ghandi (1982). Outside of his military roles he’s probably best remembered as the eponymous character, an assassin, in The Day of The Jackal (1973). However we’re here to praise one of his best British officer roles. That of "Lieut. General Brian Horrocks" in A Bridge Too Far (1977). His main scene occurs early in the movie. As the leader of the ground portion of the combined airborne/ground operation that is the subject of this World War II movie, he gives such a rousing speech, explaining to his officers (and to the audience) the overall plan, that we at The Toast are always ready to follow him anywhere. He is so compelling in what is basically exposition, usually deadly boring, that his 3 and half minute speech can almost stand alone as a piece of entertainment.

Robert FoxworthRobert Foxworth - A tall, ruggedly handsome actor born in Texas in 1941. His career has mainly been on TV, in soaps. Most famously, Falcon Crest from the 1980s and currently Six Feet Under. Today we’re praising one of his successful movie roles. Joseph Wambaugh is a former LA cop who has become a highly successful novelist, drawing from his former law-enforcement career for material. Many of his books have been turned into movies starting with The New Centurions in 1977. One of the best translations of his novels to film is The Black Marble (1980). Really a comedy more about the pressures of police life than a rock em’-sock ‘em action flick. In it Robert Foxworth plays LAPD "Sgt. A.M. Valnikov", a romantic detective of Russian origin going through a mid-life crisis. In the movie he’s paired with "Detective Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman" (Paula Prentiss) to solve the kidnapping of a socialite’s pet dog. Foxworth is compelling and sympathetic as the dissolute,Frances Sternhagen lonely investigator who falls in love with his partner during the course of the case. His character is a drunk who can barely pull himself together in the morning – he repairs a tear in his jacket with a stapler - Foxworth is perfect at showing the inner demons and outer pressures that drive this character.

Frances Sternhagen is a successful and busy character actor. Born in 1931, she usually plays mothers, grandmothers, elder aunts and such. She caught our eye with her role as the mining colony doctor, "Dr. Marian Lazarus", in Outland, Peter Hyams’ 1981 outer space remake of High Noon. Her character is admittedly third-rate just going through the motions as the chief (and only) physician at the mining operation on Io, the innermost moon of the planet Jupiter. Easily holding her own in acting with Sean Connery (who plays the local Federal Marshal), Sternhagen does a perfect acting arc in growing into Connery’s only ally in his battle with killers brought in to do him in. She’s fun to watch as her character slowly discovers her growing confidence and powers.

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