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RIP Pete Postlewaite and Anne Francis

We lost two outstanding, though very different, movie performers today both, coincidentally, from cancer. Both also appear to have been people you might actually want to know in real life.

The extremely well-regarded actor and environmental and antiwar activist Pete Postlewaite was only 64 and leaves us much too soon. His distinctive face was familiar to anyone who went to many movies from the early nineties on and is maybe best known for his outstanding work in movies like “In the Name of the Father” and “The Usual Suspects.”  He was in a number of films directed by Steven Spielberg, who essentially called him the best living actor in the world.

Below is his famous speech from the end of “Brassed Off.” I have yet to see this one myself, but check out the many slightly unusual choices here. He’s not afraid to show the combination of nervousness and righteous indignation that might fuel a moment like this.

The gang at Popdose has more, as does David Hudson at MUBI, Ed Copeland, and Anne Thompson.

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The beautiful and unabashedly sexy Anne Francis, who has left us at age 80, never became a huge movie star, though she did become a TV icon of sorts as “Honey West,” a private eye with a pet ocelot billed as a sort of female James Bond. To movie fans, she has nevertheless achieved immortality for a few key roles. As all “Rocky Horror Picture Show” viewers know, she starred in “Forbidden Planet” in which, as the extremely innocent daughter of a semi-mad (more like deeply neurotic) scientist played by Walter Pidgeon, she had to pull off asking Leslie Nielsen‘s space-ship captain the immortal question, “What is kiss?” (It wasn’t a band featuring Gene Simmons.) She also had crucial roles in two of the more memorable Hollywood “message” films of the 1950s, Richard Brooks’ “Blackboard Jungle” and John Sturges’ “Bad Day at Black Rock.”

In person, she seems to have no shortage of what movie and TV characters used to call “spunk.” You can see what I mean in this TCM interview clip about how she vehicularly resolved a spat with screen legend Spencer Tracy on “Black Rock.” She also displays no shortage of spirit and personality in this interesting combination of promotional and educational film shot at the Santa Monica Airport and featuring the late columnist, Army Archerd.

No word on whether she ever got her license, but I can certainly imagine her flying solo.

Much more at MUBI, as usual.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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RIP Leslie Nielsen (updated)

It would be a fool’s errand to try and argue that Mr. Nielsen’s greatest moments were not in “Airplane” and as Lt. Frank Drebbin in the “The Naked Gun” and the “Police Squad!” series that preceded it. But, with everyone else saluting those amazing deadpan moments now that Leslie Nielsen has sadly left us at age 84, I thought I’d take a moment to take two somewhat less well known moments from his early, less funny movies.

First, before Captains Kirk and Reynolds and Han Solo, there was the not-so-dissimilar Commander J.J. Adams in “Forbidden Planet.”

And here is Nielsen in what honestly really is, in its way, an amazing pre-Zucker Brothers performance by Nielsen. In 1977′s “Day of the Animals” he portrayed an ad man who takes over one faction of an extremely ill-starred group of campers. Below, he indulges in some poor behavior even Sterling Cooper wouldn’t have tolerated.

And, because it’s mandatory, a brief moment of sheer genius from “The Naked Gun.”

More via Roger Ebert,Edward Copeland and MUBI.

UPDATE: More reaction to Leslie Nielsen’s life and passing from David Hudson.

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