Friday, December 12, 2008

Van Johnson (1916-2008)

Most of his work hasn't really stood the test of time, as far as I can tell, but Johnson was a big star in his time and one of the latest surviving male stars from that era. Two performances from the late period of his stardom, released in 1954, stand out for me: his curmudgeonly alcoholic sidekick to Gene Kelly in Brigadoon and his overmatched naval officer in The Caine Mutiny, caught between Bogart's Captain Queeg and Fred MacMurray's prodding provocateur. Also worthwhile is his work in Battleground (1949), William Wellman's miniature of the Battle of the Bulge. Other writers will likely tell you about other films, and Turner Classic Movies is sure to show us a bunch some day within the next few weeks. These three will probably make their playlist, but I'd like to see some films that don't get revived as often, if only to give Johnson one more chance for a fair appraisal from posterity. I'd be interested in hearing recommendations from the floor.


hobbyfan said...

Most people might only remember Van Johnson not for his movies, but for his 1-shot gig on "Batman" as the lame "Minstrel". Of course TCM will do the inevitable tribute marathon, probably in the next day or three.

Samuel Wilson said...

This IS a movie blog, but I'll join you in regretting that there aren't many of the TV Batman villains left.