Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sunday Night (and Morning) is... Max Wall

I only saw Max Wall's act on telly once or twice near the end of his career, but I have seen him do Krapp's Last Tape on film. An extraordinary career. This is from Wiki:

He is best remembered for his ludicrously attired and hilariously strutting Professor Wallofski. This creation notably influenced John Cleese, who has acknowledged Max Wall's influence on the creation of his own Ministry of Silly Walks sketch for Monty Python. After appearing in many musicals and stage comedies in the 1930s, Wall's career went into decline, and he was reduced to working in obscure nightclubs. He then joined the Royal Air Force during World War II and served for three years until he was invalided out in 1943.

Wall re-emerged during the 1950s when producers and directors rediscovered his comic talents, along with the expressive power of his tragic clown face and the distinctive sad falling cadences of his voice. He secured television appearances and, having attracted Samuel Beckett's attention, he won parts in Waiting for Godot and Krapp's Last Tape. In 1966 he appeared as Père Ubu in Jarry's Ubu Roi, and in 1972 he toured with Mott the Hoople on their "Rock n' Roll Circus tour", gaining a new audience. His straight acting gained him this review in 1974:

"Max Wall makes Olivier look like an amateur in The Entertainer at Greenwich Theatre...." (The Guardian, 27 November 1974)

I don't know about 'hilariously'. He is funny and something else. He is a figure from nightmares too. He is the Scissorman, The Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu, the Child Snatcher and Dr Caligari. He doesn't only make Olivier look like an amateur, he makes Peter Cushing look a pale imitation of Max Wall.

His last film appearance was in 1989 in the 12-minute movie A Fear of Silence, a dark tale of a man who drives a stranger to a confession of murder by answering only Yes or No to his questions; those two words, repeated, were his only dialogue. The film won a gold award in the New York Film and TV Festival. (Wiki)

Appeared with Mott the Hoople AND (apparently unsuccessfully) with Ian Dury who also had a touch of Max Wall about him.

As much poetry as comedy, I think.

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