A really nice volume here on a career that spanned five decades. Donald Pleasence is a very recognizable face to anyone who has been watching classic films, most notably the Bond series, Halloween films or The Great Escape.
This release from Bear Manor Media reminds me of the formula used by Citadel books on their Films of series. The opening is dedicated to a biography. In this case the first 40 pages. It includes an overview of his personal life and various quotes from those who shared the screen with him including one from Jeff Bridges who worked with Donald in 1975’s Hearts of the West, “gentleness an intense gentleness.”
Once again a screen villain who much like Price and Cushing elicits nothing but kind words from those who knew him.
The theatrical releases are covered with a casting list, a synopsis and a decent commentary on each film. Its the type of book that I’ll refer to after watching a Pleasence film or in researching one I haven’t yet seen. I checked my stats and have currently seen 67 of the films he has appeared in. My count includes some of the films he appeared in that were produced for television. If I could add one thing to the book it would be to include these roles as well. For whatever the reason the author hasn’t listed them. Films like The Defection of Simas Kudirka opposite Alan Arkin or Better Late Than Never. The latter title I recall had a wonderful cast of “faces”. Strother Martin, Harry Morgan and Harold Gould.
Not sure if I have a favorite Donald role but like many I do believe his part in The Great Escape was a scene stealer amidst all the other iconic actors in that film.
I grew up focusing on the horror anthology films he would appear in and of course Halloween and then came Escape From New York. There are plenty of films I haven’t seen yet and many more solid roles that this volume points out I need to catch up with. Some are kind of rare so that works to fuel my passion for seeking out more titles to add to the collection.
Any Donald favorites to share?
Instantly recognizable and a big plus to any movie (or show) he appeared in. Of his early roles, both Hell is a City and The Shakedown are worth checking out, and easily available too.
Hell is a City is solid. His only Hammer film and it’s kind of funny that it isn’t a horror. I’ll have to check out the Shakedown.