Thursday, May 15, 2008

R.I.P.: John Phillip Law (1937-2008)

A journeyman actor for over four decades, John Phillip Law achieved cult-figure status primarily on the basis of two '60s movies based on European comic strips: Barbarella, in which he played a blind angel who has a hell of a time with a sex-kittenish Jane Fonda; and Danger: Diabolik, a Pop Arty comedy caper that effectively cast him as a masked criminal mastermind. Depending on your tolerance for high camp (The Love Machine), steamy-pulpy melodrama (Hurry Sundown), and second-rate spaghetti Westerns (Death Rides a Horse), you may fondly recall some of his other, ahem, career highlights. But I prefer to remember him as the innocuous Russian seaman who falls for an American beauty in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, Norman Jewison's enduringly amusing 1966 Cold War comedy. And I have to give him props for being a good sport about cameoing in CQ, Roman Coppola's uneven 2001 homage to the sort of tacky European-produced B-movies that provided gainful employment for Law during his heyday in '60s and '70s.

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