August 23, 2010
If Robert Duvall were some kind of cult leader we’d all be in trouble. The man is a marvel.With the tiniest of adjustments in facial expression alone he conjures such a surge of adoration that I would wade through piranha infested waters for him, pant hems hitched, without a moment’s hesitation. Consider his 1962 film debut as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird.One jolting sidestep out of the shadows, clenched jaw loosening, eyes gathering crinkles at the corners, and Duvall transforms the boogey-man of neighborhood lore into man most likely to snuggle with baby bunnies.In roughly two wordless minutes of screen time at that.You can’t blame Scout for wanting to take his hand.He’s one of two actors I’d feel compelled to squeeze like my own grandfather if I ever saw him in person (the other being Michael Caine).Sure, he played the only bastard to ever shoot John Wayne in a movie. Sure, he loves the smell of napalm in the morning. Sure, he’s had many sinister turns as an actor in his roughly fifty year career, but he can so easily wipe any bad sentiments clean with the slightest smiling squint of his eyes it’s scary.