Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oliver Reed

Oliver Reed would have been 73 today.

Had it not, you know, been for a life of booze, birds and brawling, and all of it done to the extreme.

Here at chez Agitation, where teetotalism is a dirty word and it is unequivocally accepted that brilliance and self-destruction go hand in hand, a celebratory and non-judgemental glass of the old vino is being raised to the memory of one of Britain’s premiere hellraisers.


Franco Macabro said...

Hell yeah, Oliver Reed is one of my heroes! The dude had this presence to him! Ever seen him in Hammer films Paranoiac? Freeking awesome! He was also at his best in Hammer's Curse of the Werewolf. My hats down to Reed and his life long achievements!

Neil Fulwood said...

'Curse of the Werewolf' is amazing for its age and its low budget ... and it's all due to Oliver Reed. He brings such an intensity and physical presence to the role.

He was one of those actors who was always intense and full-on in every role he played. Whenever you see his name in the credits you're guaranteed, whether the film itself is good or bad or indifferent, that Reed will give it his all and make the movie watchable.

Also, he had the balls to live his life on his own terms. Alistair Cooke once said of H.L. Mencken "he couldn't be bought and he didn't give a damn", which is about the highest praise you can afford anyone on this planet. I reckon the same can be said of Oliver Reed.

And anyone who was a drinking buddy of Keith Moon from The Who gets my vote! Here's to Ollie Reed!

Samuel Wilson said...

As you write I'm in the middle of reading Robert Sellers's Hellraisers, the collective biography of Reed, Burton, Harris and O'Toole. It's sad reading, in part because the author seems to be recounting his subjects' dissipation mainly for laughs. I also wonder whether Sellers ever questions an anecdote about the actors. Needless to say there are plenty of mind-boggling Reed stories, but I prefer to remember him for The Devils and the Salkind Musketeer films -- on which, Christopher Lee reports, stuntmen trembled at having to work opposite a man who either didn't know how or didn't want to fake his swordfights.

Aaron said...

I'm not super familiar with Reed's life, but I always enjoy watching him in movies. He actually looks like an American pro wrestler named Jerry "The King" Lawler in that picture you have up.

Neil Fulwood said...

Sam - 'Hellraisers' is a superficial read and fun in that respect, but you're right to point out that it plays self-destructive lifestyles for entertainment value and represents a cobbling together of anecdotes without any movement towards corroboration. Sellers has apparently followed up with 'Hollywood Hellraisers', focusing on the likes of Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.

Aaron - Oliver Reed's life basically consisted of the pub. The guy used to go out drinking with Keith freakin' Moon. 'Nuff said.