Rod Steiger

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Shown from left: Rod Steiger (Best Actor, Estelle Parsons (Best Supporting Actress), George Kennedy, (Best Supporting Actor), George Cukor accepting for Katharine Hepburn (Best Actress) Academy Awards Oscars, 1968 Featuring: Shown from left: Rod Steiger (Best Actor, Estelle Parsons (Best Supporting Actress), George Kennedy, (Best Supporting Actor), George Cukor accepting for Katharine Hepburn (Best Actress) When: 10 Jan 2013

Shown, Rod Steiger, Best Actor, Estelle Parsons, Best Supporting Actress, George Kennedy, Best Supporting Actor, George Cukor, Katharine Hepburn and Best Actress

In The Heat Of The Night Review


Excellent
Forty years on, In the Heat of the Night is still a movie with an importance that resonates. There aren't many movies that are turned into TV series twenty years after they premiere, after all: Carroll O'Connor (who else) stepped in to Rod Steiger's shoes for eight seasons as the moderately racist police chief Bill Gillespie, who gets an unexpected mess on his hands when a dead body shows up on his otherwise small town streets and, perhaps more troubling in his eyes, a black man (Sidney Poitier) arrives unannounced as well.

Of course it turns out that Poitier's Virgil Tibbs is also a police detective, and in one of cinema's least logical plot twists, he is asked by his supervisors back home to pitch in with the murder investigation. All sides are reluctant, at least until the crime is ultimately solved and everyone comes to understand a bit about the other side of the fence. (How that got Tibbs to stick around in redneck central for two sequels and eight years as a TV show is never really explained.)

Continue reading: In The Heat Of The Night Review

The Illustrated Man Review


Weak
"Don't dare stare at the illustrated man!" warns the poster for this Ray Bradbury-inspired sci-fi film. Indeed, don't stare. You'll probably fall asleep. This collection of vignettes culled from Bradbury's collection of short stories (including "The Veldt," unavoidable in American high school), each beginning with a tattoo on an inexplicably (and agrily) tattooed individual, the stories are unfortunately very protracted and poorly produced; the tattoo narrative used to tie them all together is equally sleepy.

Oklahoma! Review


Very Good
"There's a bright golden haze on the meadow," sings Curly (Gordon MacRae) as Oklahoma! kicks off. He's right. There's also a brilliant blue sky filled with cotton-candy clouds and rolling farmland and pretty girls in petticoats. Even the horses are gorgeous. This visual feast, the first feature shot in Todd-AO widescreen (and filmed simultaneously in CinemaScope) was one of many mid-'50s features seemingly designed to lure armies of Americans away from their new black-and-white TVs and back into movie theaters for a dazzling experience.

And dazzling it is. One of the most fun and hummable of Rodgers and Hammerstein's many musicals, Oklahoma! took 12 years to make it from its innovative Broadway debut (it was the first musical in which every song related directly to the plot) to the big screen. The story of the romance between cowboy Curly and virginal Laurey (Shirley Jones in full soprano mode), it has plenty of peripheral characters, each of whom gets a song and dance along the way, from slutty Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame) ("I Caint Say No') and her boyfriend Will Parker (Gene Nelson) ("Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City") to the kind-hearted Aunt Eller (Charlotte Greenwood), on whose farm Laurey lives.

Continue reading: Oklahoma! Review

The Loved One Review


Extraordinary
Decades before Six Feet Under, The Loved One skewered the paradox of the funeral business in appearance-obsessed L.A. Wildly and unpredictably funny, The Loved One careens from scene to scene so quickly you may not be able to keep up with the jokes.

And what jokes they are! The very American Robert Morse stars as a British visitor to L.A., a wannabe poet who gets caught up in the machinations of a cemetary owner (Jonathan Winters) and his top mortician (Rod Steiger in the role of a lifetime). It's more cult than cemetary, and Morse soon becomes enchanted with one the cemetary's guide/beautician/chanteuse (a dippy Anajette Comer). The film haphazardly careens from subplot to subplot, eventually settling into a set piece about a kid obsessed with rockets, which Winters sees as the solution to the problem of running out of space for "loved ones" in the cemetary (aka corpses).

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Hands Over The City Review


Very Good
Anyone who's seen In the Heat of the Night knows all about Rod Steiger's way with inflections. Playing a small-town sheriff and foil to Sidney Poitier's polished, Philadelphia outsider, Steiger wrings meaning from his lines - hesitation, resentment, guarded admiration - that appear much more in the actor's instincts than in the script. He was a patient, controlled actor, and he took his time with his speech when needed, letting the viewer watch his thinking as he distilled the desired connotations from even the simplest of declarative sentences. In Heat of the Night, he could issue an unqualified warning to his big-city colleague by simply speaking his name. "Virgil..."

That's not to say that Steiger couldn't impart meaning in other ways, and it's a testimony to his abilities that, overdubbed in Italian in Francesco Rosi's 1963 political melodrama Hands over the City, he suffers no noticeable decline in emotive power. (Steiger appeared in films shot in French, German, and Magyar as well.) Playing a ruthless Neapolitan land developer named Edoardo Notolla, Steiger loses the inflection but gains an impressive physicality: He matches the most authentically Italian cast members for gestural speech and his attack-dog demeanor tells you that you oppose him at your own physical and political risk.

Continue reading: Hands Over The City Review

Hands Over The City Review


Very Good
Anyone who's seen In the Heat of the Night knows all about Rod Steiger's way with inflections. Playing a small-town sheriff and foil to Sidney Poitier's polished, Philadelphia outsider, Steiger wrings meaning from his lines - hesitation, resentment, guarded admiration - that appear much more in the actor's instincts than in the script. He was a patient, controlled actor, and he took his time with his speech when needed, letting the viewer watch his thinking as he distilled the desired connotations from even the simplest of declarative sentences. In Heat of the Night, he could issue an unqualified warning to his big-city colleague by simply speaking his name. "Virgil..."

That's not to say that Steiger couldn't impart meaning in other ways, and it's a testimony to his abilities that, overdubbed in Italian in Francesco Rosi's 1963 political melodrama Hands over the City, he suffers no noticeable decline in emotive power. (Steiger appeared in films shot in French, German, and Magyar as well.) Playing a ruthless Neapolitan land developer named Edoardo Notolla, Steiger loses the inflection but gains an impressive physicality: He matches the most authentically Italian cast members for gestural speech and his attack-dog demeanor tells you that you oppose him at your own physical and political risk.

Continue reading: Hands Over The City Review

Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World Review


Excellent
Michael Mann don't know nothin'.

If you want the real biopic on Muhammad Ali, look no further than Muhammad Ali - Through the Eyes of the World, a fascinating new documentary that gives a deep and rich overview of the champ's life, while still imbuing it with plenty of star power.

Continue reading: Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World Review

Innocents With Dirty Hands Review


Excellent
Claude Chabrol's meditation on infidelity and murder is creepy and cold, wholly owned by Romy Schneider as its near alien starlet. Dubbed in English, the film has Schneider's gorgeous wife in a loveless marriage to a husky American (Rod Steiger), who is not only free of emotion but impotent as well. A chance encounter draws her into a love affair with a younger man (François Maistre), and before 20 minutes of screen time are up, Schneider has coldly bludgeoned hubby to death while he sleeps. Or has she? I'm reminded of Diabolique, but from the guy's point of view. Sort of. The scenes with the police investigation are on the lame side, but the core of the film -- around Schneider's guilt and fear of the unknown future -- is an excellent freak-out.

Continue reading: Innocents With Dirty Hands Review

The Kid (1997) Review


Weak
It's Girlfight without the girl. Or it's The Karate Kid without the karate. (In fact, judging from the title, that's precisely what it is!) All of this makes for a movie about boxing children, and even though I'm a fan of the sport, this is just a little too creepy to watch.

Jeff Saumier stars as Jimmy Albright, the titular kid who wants to box despite the protests of his father. Eventually he decides to train with the grumpy Harry Sloan (Rod Steiger, scary as always) on the sly. There's heartache and subterfuge -- but do you think little Jimmy will eventually face off against his nemesis in the ring anyway? And who do you think will win?

Continue reading: The Kid (1997) Review

End Of Days Review


OK
Here it is, November of 1999, and I thought we weren't going to get a good end-of-the-world, Satan-conquers-all apocalypse movie (Dogma doesn't count). Whew! End of Days arrives just in time (no pun intended) to quench that Linda Blair thirst.

If you know the basic plot of End of Days ("Satan visits New York in search of a bride") the question you'll be asking isn't, "Is this a bad movie?" Rather, it will probably be, "How bad can it be?"

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