Me and Mr. Jones!
Did you know Tommy Lee Jones was (partially) the basis of Ryan O’Neal’s character Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story. The other inspiration was Jones’ Harvard roommate – Al Gore! Of course you didn’t! Who knows all that much about Tommy Lee Jones. We just know he plays a lot of gruff, no nonsense characters whose lack of patience is only exceed by their lack of tact. My kind of saint. In honor of his birthday today, here are my five favorite roles of his!
5) ‘Reverend’ Roy Foltrigg in The Client
This is one of Jones’ more chatty roles as a showboating District Attorney with designs on the governor’s mansion, who wants to know what a young boy named Mark Sway (the late Brad Renfro) knows about some organized crimed shenanigans. Yet, even when playing a self-serving jerk he’s wonderfully charismatic, similar to Hackman – albeit in a more refined way. Jones isn’t usually one for grand gestures or big body movements, so it’s really amusing and enjoyable to see him play someone so flamboyant.
4) John Neville in Eyes of Laura Mars
I’m sorry, I’m lulzing over both the mention of Dunaway’s Oscar win for Network and the use of “Let’s All Chant” by Michael Zager Band in the trailer. “Let’s All Chant” is the reason people feel compelled to burn, steamroll over and toss disco records around like Frisbees. I really love that song! Now this movie, Eyes of Laura Mars is bananas:
While touted as a “psychological suspense thriller” it’s hardly suspenseful. Even with a rudimentary understanding of the suspense thriller genre, it’s fairly easy to figure out the killer’s identity. Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling it. As a character study, well the film is totally soggy, what with all scenery chewing. That said, I absolutely agree with Almon’s assessment of the pluses of this film. It is gorgeously shot. It does feel like being trapped in a disco ball, but in a good way. Though this obviously is entirely dependent on your perspective on mainstream disco culture.
This unintentionally hilarious, train wreck of a film, boasts some impressive overacting by Tommy Lee Jones, with a grip of shoe polish black hair and an array of increasingly horribly outfits. I love his over-the-river-and-through-the-woods performance.
3) K in Men in Black
Upon hearing Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith would be harnessing the power of their individual awesomeness I was a bit hesitant. I just couldn’t imagine liking a summer sci-fi action film more than ID-4. But TLJ dazzled me with his deadpan performance as K. I have no idea how he kept from laughing constantly, but he did.
2) Hawk Hawkins in Space Cowboys
Space Cowboys is a perfect Saturday afternoon movie filled enough geezer gags to run a season’s worth of Friday night programming on CBS. But who cares! The movie is sweet beyond sweet, charming, schmaltzy and I adore it. It’s so schmaltzy, the fame composer Marvin Hamlisch could set it to music and probably win an Oscar. And like the work of Mr. Hamlisch, Space Cowboys is comfort food. This is not a film of edgy performance; it’s so formulaic, the script seems to have been generated from computer, but it is one of TLJ’s best for the final shot alone. I won’t spoil. You’ll need to see for yourself.
1)Deputy United States Marshal Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive
Tommy Lee Jones shut this thing on down. His memorable performance as a crabby, unsentimental, don’t-care-if-you-killed-your-wife US Marshal created so many catchphrases in my house, “Think me up a cup of coffee and a chocolate donut while you’re thinking.” that, of course, it’s number one. I could watch this movie on repeat for days and never get tired of those zingers, “I want a whole mess of phone taps and tell the judge I’ll tell him on (why are you yelling at me) who if I feel like it (why are you yelling at me, Sam?)”.
Happy birthday, Mr. Jones. Can’t wait for MIIIB!