Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Akim Tamiroff

Akim Tamiroff was born on Ocotber 28, 1899 in Tiflis, Georgia. The fiery Armenian came close to greatness as Sancho Panza in Orson Welles’ unfinished "Don Quixote"—unfortunately it’s a performance that no-one will ever see in full. The few scenes available indicate nothing short of a virtuoso turn. Nonetheless, as Uncle Joe Grandi in "Touch of Evil" he is terrific: making full use of his Stanislavski training, he brings to life this sweating, grunting hog of a man—without Tamiroff, this remarkable noir wouldn’t be the threatening pantomime classic it is. His other notable films include: "The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek", "Alphaville", "Lord Jim" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" —for which he received a best supporting actor nomination. His peculiarly broad range resulted in a rather aimless career. Hard to place, Tamiroff brought to the screen a unique and implacable charm, an almost friendly theatrical wickedness. One of his lasting appearances is as Jakob Zouk in "Mr. Arkadin", a jittering, eccentric ghoul whose dying wish is a plate of goose liver—a fittingly obscure demise for a truly original performer. Tamiroff appeared in one Euro-western the 1968's “A Man Called Amen” as Pig Sty/Dean Light. Akim Tamiroff died on cancer on September 17, 1972 in Palm Springs, California. Today we remember him on what would have been his 110th birthday

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