If you love movies, it’s hard not to miss him. So, for the past month I’ve been watching Gene Hackman films — not just the iconic ones,2 but also the deep cuts, good and bad. Almost all of them are worth seeing, because Hackman himself is almost always worth seeing, but also because the man had a knack for picking projects that have only gotten more strange with time. I refer to films like Prime Cut, in which Hackman plays a Kansas City gangster named Mary Ann who forces Sissy Spacek to lie naked in a pen at a sex slave farm until Lee Marvin comes along; Cisco Pike, a far-out drug thriller set in early-’70s Los Angeles in which Hackman plays Big Foot Bjornsen to Kris Kristofferson’s Doc Sportello; and Loose Cannons, a confoundingly stupid buddy-cop comedy costarring Dan Aykroyd that has one of the all-time great Netflix plot summaries.
Never mind an oddity like All Night Long.
Or Full Moon in Blue Water:
Hackman for me is the greatest living American actor because — with the exception of the Reverend Frank Scott in The Poseidon Adventure — I always buy what he’s selling. Even when the movie is bad, you believe what Hackman is telling you, right down to the last “heh-heh.”
Hackman’s my favorite.