David Carradine's Best Work?
Early reports are that actor David Carradine was found dead today in Bangkok at age 72 and that suicide is the suspected cause of death. Barely a minute goes by without someone in the newsroom coming up and reciting something he did in the "Kill Bill" movies. Carradine may have done fine work in those Tarantino films, but to appreciate his work, you have to know why he was chosen for "Kill Bill" -- as an homage to his early work on the TV series "Kung Fu," grasshopper.
Here is his well-known Superman speech from "Kill BIll."
In the newsroom, there's always a slight if unspoken prejudice against anything achieved decades ago. My interest in movies stretches back to the earliest days of film. And when I think Carradine, I think of David's father, John, that gravelly voiced ultraham best known for his work in Shakespeare onstage and as a villain in Hollywood films ("Stagecoach," "The Prisoner of Shark Island").
Is David Carradine's legacy simply his most recent work? I hope not. Then again "Kill Bill" and other films with cartoon-like characters and violence are not my cup of tea. However, I loved him as a hunted political agitator in Martin Scorsese's "Boxcar Bertha" (1972), which co-starred his longtime girlfriend Barbara Hershey, and as folk singer Woody Guthrie in "Bound for Glory" (1976). Fans of Ingmar Bergman may recall Carradine as the morose hero of Bergman's worst film, "The Serpent's Egg" (1977).
But any way you look at it, he had a compelling career far greater than "Kill Bill."
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