Earliest memory of Jack Palance? I’d have to think mine was seeing his brooding yet memorably understated performance as Count Dracula in the Dan Curtis television production of 1973 when I was but a youngster. Not an easy memory to forget and one that has made me a life long fan of the eventual Oscar winner with the raspy voice born in the state of Pennsylvania on February 18th, 1919.
Jack would go on to appear in most every genre of film from 1950 until his death in 2006. From the legendary western Shane to an Oscar for playing straight man to Billy Crystal in City Slickers, Palance was never boring. One performance might see him withdrawn and underplaying his role. Next time the polar opposite going over the top reaching for a thick slice of ham. Either way he’s usually a credit to every film he’s appeared in be it a classic like 1956’s Attack or a campfest like 1980’s Hawk the Slayer.
Why not check out Jack’s attempt at becoming a country music star by guesting on The Porter Wagoner Show. Yes it really happened.
Jack’s big screen debut came in 1950’s Panic In the Streets opposite Richard Widmark for director Elia Kazan. Billed in the credits as Walter Jack Palance, his name never made the poster yet there is no doubting that image front and center seen here on this Spanish release.
Scoring his first Oscar Nomination opposite Joan Crawford in this Noir Classic.
In Shane he memorably made his mark in the western genre, “Why don’t we just gun him and get on with it. One’s run already, it won’t take much to stampede the rest.” Love the scene played out opposite Elisha Cook Jr. in the lobby card below. …. “Prove it.”
Flight to Tangier finally allowed Jack to play the hero opposite the top billed Joan Fontaine.
Headlining a first rate cast in Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife that will see him go toe to toe with Rod Steiger.
I don’t usually include artwork from home video releases but I must say I love the cover art from the Arrow blu ray edition of The Big Knife.
Remaking Bogart was sure to be a tough assignment but Palance was up to the challenge once again leading a superior cast.
What could possibly be better than one Jack? You guessed it, two Jacks.
Jack plays it sadistic while appearing alongside a top cast led by Anthony Quinn in the title role of Barabbas.
Once the 60’s hit Palance found himself working abroad like many of his generation. Even opposite Bardot for the art house crowd in director Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt. “I don’t believe in modesty. I believe in pride! I believe in the pride of making good films. “
Easily one of the most enjoyable action films of the 1960’s with a cast to match, Palance never got any respect when it came to the poster art for The Professionals upon it’s release. I don’t think he minded because who would have ever thought that he’d get the girl. Ok …. and what a girl! Miss Claudia Cardinale.
No stranger to the spaghetti western, Jack, co-starred alongside Bud Spencer in 1972’s It Can Be Done Amigo.
Known as Mister Scarface or Ruler of the City among other titles, this Fernando Di Leo Eurocrime thriller is a worthy addition to the shelf here at Mike’s Take.
It’s 1978 and finally Jack gets cast in a Dirty Harry like role. Damn fine poster here that I’ll have to hunt down.
It took a few years but City Slickers brought Jack a career renaissance and an Oscar to match.
Snarling? You bet. Playing it tough opposite Chevy. “Don’t ever throw a cat on me again.”
I’m sure I’ve missed a favorite or two of both mine and yours but Jack had a huge amount of screen credits to his name and wasn’t always featured prominently on some of the choice titles. The Professionals being a prime example. As is my custom I like to feature something from my own collection and while I do have quite a few Palance titles tucked away I’ve always loved this image of him on the classic anti-war film from Robert Aldrich, Attack. Released in 1956 it saw Jack once again at the head of a dynamite cast ready to pull the pin.