Thursday, December 22, 2011
I first noticed Candy in the late 1970s when I came across the madcap series SCTV that starred Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and a bunch of other people. While Saturday Night Live gets most of the credit for changing the face of comedy, SCTV deserves some attention for the outlandish sketch comedy of the show that was a peer to the more celebrated Saturday Night Live. Candy was an original cast member in 1976 for three years before leaving and going into films.
Right off the bat, he popped up in two movies that I loved as a kid: Blues Brothers  and Stripes . I still like them actually. I re-watched Blues Brothers a few weeks ago and lamented the fact that Candy only had a couple of scenes. The first half of Stripes is still comedy gold to me [before it goes all action in the second half] and it is the film that led to my discovery of the late, great Warren Oates. While the roles were small, Candy used his character actor style to steal nearly every scene that he was in. This would be a recurring element when he provided support to bigger stars throughout his career. In these films, Splash  for example, I think of them as much as Candy vehicles as the higher billed actors. He was in some decent to forgettable films in the 1980s, but due to the larger than life personality of Candy, I actually like a lot of those films. Brewster's Millions, Summer Rental, Armed and Dangerous, Spaceballs, The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck are all films from that decade that I've got a soft spot for. Mostly, it's because John Candy was in the film.
Check out part one of Candy being interviewed by Bob Costas in 1989 for Later. Candy talks about Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Splash, dropping out of the Ghostbusters cast and other topics. Who knows what would have happened to Candy's career if he'd been in Ghostbusters. This is a three part interview on You Tube that I recommend for Candy fans as he discusses a myriad of topics related to his life and career up until 1989.
While I was happy to watch Candy in such low-aiming comedies, I always believed that he could do dramatic work if given the chance. In 1991, I was thrilled to see him in the cast of Oliver Stone's paranoid opus JFK as fast-talking, slang-tossing lawyer Dean Andrews. While his time on screen was brief, Candy nailed the smoking, sunglass wearing, hip, 1960s style of Andrews perfectly. A more unseen film also from 1991, Only the Lonely, saw Candy stretch out in the romantic comedy drama. I thought this was going to be the start of Candy's second act as a terrific character actor. That never happened. It was back to forgettable comedies until Candy died a few years later from a heart attack in his sleep. He was 43 years old. Check out Candy as Andrews in JFK in the video below.
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Posted by Joshua Blevins Peck at 6:30 AM