Thursday, July 2, 2009

God Speed Karl Malden (1912-2009)

My heart hurts. One of my favorite actors Karl Malden passed on yesterday. To me, Karl Malden made every film he was in better just for being in it. He was a great character actor who excelled in comedy and drama, he could play good guys and bad, and he did all of this with such great intensity. He was a big lumbering teddy bear of a man and my heart always got warm fuzzies when I would watch him on screen. I'm so sad that I never really got to pay tribute to him on this blog while he was alive.

Malden is famous for being "that guy" in films like A Streetcar Named Desire (1952), Gypsy (1962) and On the Waterfront (1954). And that's only the tip of the iceberg. If you look at his filmography, you'll see he's been in numerous top-notch films.

There are three Malden films that I especially enjoy because of him specifically....

Baby Doll (1956) - Malden plays Archie, the frustrated cotton gin owner that just wants to consummate his marriage, but goes crazy because he can't. You can see the frustration popping out of his veins!

Parrish (1961) - Malden plays Judd Raike, the cold-hearted greedy Tobacco tycoon. Read my review of the film here.

Come Fly With Me (1963) - Malden plays Walter Lucas, a widower flying coach to Europe, who falls in love with a beautiful young stewardess. The stewardess, Bergie, falls in love with him before she finds out he's a millionaire. I don't blame her for falling in love with him, because I did a little too.

God Speed Karl Malden....


  1. To say they don't make 'em like Karl Malden anymore is a true enough understatement. He brought "real" to everything he did. Last night I watched Hitchcock's "I Confess" not knowing he had died. Malden, while not the star of the film, delivered a wonderful performance. His scenes with Montgomery Cliff were mesmerizing.

    Well, "Buddy Boy", we definitely will miss you.

  2. What a lovely post, Raquelle.
    So incredibly sad.

    ps. One of my favorites of his "teddy bear" kind of roles is Pollyanna... I've loved him in that ever since I was a little girl.

  3. I did everything backwards with Karl malden! First it was the ads he did for AMEX, then I occasionally would watch the Streets of Sanfrancisco, saying hey that's the guy in those ads! Finally when i was in my 20's i saw the films he did with Kazan as well as "One-Eyed Jacks", "Birdman of Alcatraz", "Cinncinatti Kid", etc etc., he was as good as they get as far as I'm concerned! I can hear him now "BABY DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLL!!!!! TY Karl!

  4. That was a great post, Raquelle. I think today was one of the roughest days I've had writing my blog (it reminds me of January when both Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan died) in that I had to eulogise two of my favs--Karl Malden and Mollie Sudgen (of Are You Being Served). Malden was certainly one of the greats. In fact, I can't think of any performance that he gave that was bad, even when the movie wasn't that good!

  5. Malden lived a very long life, but it's still sad to see him go. I always liked Malden for his voice and casual persona. Even though he was never a big leading man he was always a big presence in each of his films.

  6. Such a lovely post, Raquelle. I'm terribly sad Karl is gone. At least we can take comfort in the fact that he is at peace now.

    Mercurie - I didn't know Mollie had passed on too. Boy what is it lately with everyone dying?

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  8. He was amazing wasn't he? What he did was so natural on screen and at his passing it was a pang to know such an incredible talent and beautiful soul has drifted onward.


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