Saturday, January 14, 2006

Android #5: character actor

Rather than choose someone from this year—the entire cast of Syriana for example, I’m looking to the past for my favorite performance in a character role. The ANDROID for character actor/actress of 2005 goes to Lenny Montana for his performance as Luchino in the 1978 film Fingers.

Montana, who played Luca Brasi in The Godfather but whose career was pretty obscure, is probably only onscreen for a minute at most in Fingers. But his scene is just so integral to what character acting is to me I watched it over and over at least five times in a row.

In Fingers (which was recently remade in France as The Beat That My Heart Skipped), Montana plays a pizzaria owner who owes money to a bookie (the scene was filmed in the legendary NY pizza joint John’s). Harvey Keitel shows up at the pizzaria to get the money and gets a stern lecture from Montana about not selling “slice pizza.”

The pair go into the back room of the restaurant, where Montana delivers a wicked improvisation for Keitel to give him a “double suck”, with toothpick still in mouth, so accurate and dead on I wanted the film to be about this man in the pizzaria from then on.

He’s not in another scene, but I thought about Luchino and his “double suck” quip the rest of the film, Montana was so real in this small scene in director James Toback's cult favorite.

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