Donald Sutherland is one of those rare actors who is not only wonderfully talented, but is gifted with a damn fine head of hair. It’s hard to think of any other actor who has made his follicles work so hard in every performance. I first became aware of this phenomenon, when in the mid-1970s Mr Sutherland opened the envelope at, I think it was, a BAFTA Award ceremony in London, where the tall, elegant Canadian, walked up to the podium and revealed a shaved hairline at odds with his long flowing locks. Sutherland was about to appear in the film Casanova, and remarked to audience’s gasps:
“When Fellini says get a haircut, you get a haircut.”
Though Sutherland started as a clean-cut co-star of Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (alongside Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee), and had appearances in The Saint and The Avengers (and even the voice of the computer in The Billion Dollar Brain), there was always this sense he was a geeky straight in a tight suit desperate to try some acid and, maybe if he liked it, wear beads and grow his hair long. Which is kind of what i thought when I saw him as Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H and of course, most memorably as Sgt. Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes.
More from Donald Sutherland’s hair after the jump…
After the success of his B-movie The Delinquents, Robert Altman was given the job of co-directing (with George W. George) this documentary on James Dean. The association of Altman’s surprise hit, about out-of-control kids who just “gotta have action”, and the young actor, who appealed to these troubled teenagers, was considered by Warner Brothers as too good an opportunity to miss.
Made in 1957, two years after the actor’s death, The James Dean Story is a well-constructed documentary composed from archive and photographic footage, interviews and out-takes, which gives a sense of Dean’s life and talents. The film was also a key piece in the actor’s mythologizing.
According to Forbes magazine, the James Dean estate makes $5m a year, which is more than the star made his lifetime. That his fame has lasted so long says much about Dean’s ability to epitomize that certain something generations of film-goers have identified with over the past six decades. As Dennis Hopper once said about Dean:
“He seemed to capture that moment of youth, that moment where we’re all desperately seeking to find ourselves.”
Or, as Dean himself said, in a line from Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince:
Tura Satana died yesterday of heart failure, in Reno, Nevada. Satana had a brief but iconic career during which she was an exotic dancer, starred in the ground-breaking cult film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, dated Elvis Presley and became a cinematic icon.
Satana began her career as a dancer at 14, and was a victim of the brutality and sexism endemic at the time, as she explained in 2008:
“At the age of 15 I became an exotic dancer in the clubs of Calumet City, Illinois, because I had left home due to a bad situation stemming from when I was raped. Instead of the guys who raped me going to jail, I was sent to reform school because they paid the judge one thousand dollars to get off. So I went instead, supposedly because I enticed them to rape me.”
Satana went onto appear in numerous TV shows and films, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce, but it be for iconic role in Russ Meyer’s classic 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! for which she will always be remembered. In the film, Satana played Varla, a sexy, voluptuous anti-hero, who proved:
“A woman, like my character, was able to show the male species that we’re not helpless and not entirely dependent on them. People picked up on the fact that women could be gorgeous and sexy and still kick ass.”
Satana also said:
“There are a great many similarities between Varla and myself. Varla was an outlet for some of the anger I felt growing up. She was also a statement to women all over the world that you can be a take-charge person and still be sexy. She also showed the women world-wide that women don’t have to be weak, simpering females. They just go after what they want and usually get it.”
John Waters once described Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! as:
”The best movie ever made, and possibly better than any movie that will ever be made.”
Born in Japan in either 1935 or 1938 (dates vary), Satana worked her way though a variety of minor TV roles, including appearing with Dean Martin in Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?, before being chosen by Meyer for Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Filmed in the desert outside Los Angeles, in temperatures often over hundred degrees, Meyer claimed that “She and I made the movie…” and that Satana was “very capable”:
“She knew how to handle herself. Don’t fuck with her! And if you fuck with her, do it well! She might turn on you!”
Satana went on to make The Astro Zombies (1969) and Ted V. Mikels’ The Doll Squad (1973), after which she was shot by a former lover. Satana then worked as a nurse, until her cult celebrity led to her return to acting this century with Sugar Boxx, Rob Zombie’s animation The Haunted World of El Superbeasto and Astro Zombies: M3 Cloned.
My dear, dear friend, you have no idea how much you will be missed…
In 2008, Satana talked to Zuri Zone about her cult status:
“I’m thrilled with the status Faster Pussycat has received when it was first released and at all the additional releases. I think the popularity that it has is because we gave them something that they really wanted to see. I also hope that it is because it shows that women don’t have to be weak and helpless to be sexy. We can be in control and still be feminine. I think that I remain a cult figure even after 40 years because the public like what they see on the screen. At least on the film, I will be forever ageless.”
Bonus clip from ‘Faster, Pussycat!’ after the jump…
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