- BRING ON THE UGLY
As opposed to “Bring on the gimp,” which is a completely different proposition. From, Pulp Fiction of course. Not a real gimp. Am I digging myself a hole here? Anyway, to the point. Hatchet-faced, wrinkle-fest actors in the movies. Those guys with a face like a smacked arse who still manage to hold your attention whenever they’re on screen.
I suppose the prime example of this would be, Charles Bronson. Now there was a man with more wrinkles than a pound-puppy who nevertheless demanded that you watch him in every scene. It helped that he was built like a brick shithouse with more muscles than Morecambe beach. He was good in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape but he really took off when age added an extra dimension. Death Wish might have been his biggest smash but my personal favourites are less well known. In Elmore Leonard’s, Mr Majestyk he played a melon farmer mixing it with a hit man. All he wanted to do was get his crop in but Al Lettieri (even uglier) wanted him dead. Charlie turned the tables though. Then there was Bronson’s best role ever. As a bare-knuckle fighter in the depression era flick, Hard Times. Hardly any dialogue but when he spoke you listened. With the best fight scenes committed to film. And one of the coolest guitar solo theme tunes. Check You Tube.
Probably the most famous Big Ugly would have to be Robert Mitchum. A man who could play troubled dignity or downright evil without breaking sweat. In Cape Fear he showed his dark side to perfection and yet you couldn’t help watching him. That wonderful deep voice worked for his hero roles too. Numerous westerns and war movies, not to mention The Friends Of Eddie Coyle. An aside here. I met him once when he was in England filming with Deborah Kerr. Had a great couple of days watching him work. Downside, the male hairdresser offered to put me up for the night. And I don’t think he was talking about my parting. I declined. I like my hair the way it is.
Then there’s 007 himself. As fantastic a Bond as Daniel Craig is nobody could call him a pretty boy. Actually nobody’s going to call him anything to his face. It’s like the old joke about what do you call a 300-pound gorilla? Answer. Anything it wants.
When it comes to men, character can outweigh good looks and bring something extra to the table. With women it’s a more delicate matter. And considering where this post is being read I’d better tread carefully here. In a sexist society ugly women don’t have the same fallback position of the wrinkled elder statesman. Is that another hole I just dug for myself? Ouch. My first wife used to say that men got better with age while women just got old. A woman of character may display more unconventional good looks though. Ellen Barkin’s broken nose for example. No man could argue that it doesn’t add something to her downright sexiness. That and her perfectly formed... Thingamajigs. After all, Ian Fleming gave Honey Rider a broken nose in Dr No. And not much else. She was naked apart from a knife belt when James Bond first saw her on the beach but it was her nose she covered. That didn’t make it into the movie.
So when I say, “Bring on the ugly,” I suppose what I’m really saying is, “Bring on the interesting character-filled face.” After all, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder then ugly is only skin deep. I know. I see it in the mirror every morning.