RIP: Martin Landau

LandauI was a faithful fan of the 1960s TV show “Mission: Impossible” with its dramatic self-destructing tape introducing the week’s impossible mission to IM Forces leader Jim Phelps. Following the tense theme song by Lalo Shiffrin, the next few minutes of the program would dramatize Phelps’s process of assembling his team. He’d ponder glamor photos of several candidates but every episode required the same cast: a strong man (Peter Lupus), a demolitions/MacGyver-type dude (Greg Morris), an elegant couple experienced in the finer arts of espionage (real-life married couple Barbara Bain and Martin Landau), and someone to fill a mission-specific role played by a different guest actor each week.

It was always Martin Landau as Rollin Hand who was the most captivating of the ensemble cast. He was the inside man most at risk. The man who had to survive on wits, cunning and confidence. The man most likely to be “disavowed by the secretary” should anything go wrong – per the voice on the opening tape.

Years later I discovered Landau as the preening yet sinister henchman in “North by Northwest” along with heavy-weights Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. Landau’s performance was especially delicious as he played the character with just the right amount of obsequiousness.

Watch this juicy clip where Landau’s Leonard reveals the film’s crucial scam to his boss, Philip Vandam.

Sadly, after “North by Northwest” and the successful run of “Mission: Impossible” for which he won a Golden Globe, Landau found himself in the wilderness, unable to snag decent roles befitting his skills. Like all good actors he kept acting, but it wasn’t until 1994 that he got the opportunity to shine once more in multi-dimensional role as the aging Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” opposite Johnny Depp.

Love this scene – RIP Martin Landau.

Books by Conservatives Top the Charts


Appearing this week on the best sellers list in the New York Times Book Review are three relative newcomers by right wing celebs moonlighting as authors.

Number 10: Understanding Trump by Newt Gingrich. “The former House speaker explains the president’s philosophy and political agenda.”

Is this a book or an index card? And how many errata will be issued between now and the end of the year?

Number 7: The Swamp by Eric Bolling. “The Fox News host suggests how Donald Trump can fight corruption and cronyism in Washington.”

Curiously missing from Bolling’s book: Don’t hire your daughter and son-in-law to be senior advisors; don’t pimp your products while occupying the Oval Office; stop raiding Goldman Sachs for every open slot in your administration.

Number 3:Rediscovering Americanism by Mark Levin. “The radio host argues (what else) that the founding fathers would be shocked by the expansion of the modern government.”

They might also be shocked by flying machines, cell phones, anesthesia, television, atomic weapons, corn in a can. So what. Times change – for some.

Liberty Mutual: Insurance for Wimps

In a recent TV ad Liberty Mutual explains its superiority to Brand X because it covers a call to the local auto repair shop to fix a flat tire! That’s right – young men today cannot be expected to manage such daunting tasks as changing a tire. That’s what insurance is for.

A feeble boy in the ad struggles with a panoply of tool-like objects while his sorry-case-for-a-human friend phones daddy for advice. Meanwhile, the dude standing next to mommy smirks smugly knowing he’ll never need to learn any of life’s fundamentals because Liberty Mutual is there (for a fee) to handle it when things go wrong.

I suppose starting a car by popping the clutch, changing the oil, and driving with the left hand while insinuating the right down a girlfriend’s blouse are all soon to be lost arts.

End Note

Let’s stop referring for now to POTUS and go for POTTB (pronounced Pot-bee) instead – after all Trump is really nothing more than the President of the Trump Base. Kinda like the way Annette Funicello ran her fan club, only less organized.

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