A Moment of Lamentation for John Candy
A MOMENT OF LAMENTATION FOR JOHN CANDY
Originally Composed: 15 December 1997
Every year Hollywood has its tragedies. Thus far in 1997, we have had several. The death of James Stewart saddened me to no end. With the loss of Robert Mitchum, we lost one of the last real tough guys the world will ever know. Burgess Meredith’s loss made me want to go back and watch the first three ROCKY movies (and helped stifle any plans for a third GRUMPY OLD MEN sequel.) But all of these men led full lives and contributed all that they could ever be expected to this world. As did Jessica Tandy, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, and many others who have left us in recent years.
But John Candy still had a lot to offer this world. John Candy gave us some of the funniest performances in film history up until the day of his tragic passing on the set of WAGONS EAST! He also showed a knack for tuning fine dramatic performances out of these comedic roles, although his actual dramatic roles were few and far between. As he showed in later films like COOL RUNNINGS and CANADIAN BACON, he was only getting better.
Look back for a moment. It was true that Candy was often typecast in comedies where his gerth was often a key plot device far too often, but he was the kind of guy who could get away with it. He brought a certain amiable charm to these roles, as is apparent in such films as STRIPES, BREWSTER’S MILLIONS, and SPLASH. And who didn’t want a “Mog” of their very own after watching Candy steal scenes in SPACEBALLS? Yes, the man had some down moments, but who doesn’t have a WHO’S HARRY CRUMB or SPEED ZONE on their resume?
Perhaps part of the proof of Candy’s greatness was that he didn’t always have to be the star of the show to steal it. He worked very well in ensembles such as STRIPES, SPACEBALLS, and BREWSTER’S MILLIONS (and SPEED ZONE too, but we try to ignore that one.) He has shared screen time with giants like Steve Martin in PLANES, TRAINS, and AUTOMOBILES, Tom Hanks in SPLASH, and Dan Aykroyd (in one of his last great performances) in THE GREAT OUTDOORS. And who can forget his cameos in HOME ALONE or NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION? They were some of the most memorable moments of those films.
As so many of the Hollywood veterans pass on years after their finest moments have passed, one cannot help but mourn the loss of this extraordinary talent who was still at the prime of his career.
Oh, and a note to Chris Farley. You are no John Candy. You ain’t no John Belushi either, for that matter. Yes, part of those two late greats’ appeal was that they could play the fat guy who rolls around a lot and screams. You, on the other hand, have absolutely no arsenal whatsoever beyond the fat guy who rolls around a lot and screams. John Candy and John Belushi pulled it off because they weere funny. You pull it off because that’s who you are.
They laughed with John Candy. They laugh at Chris Farley.
Update, 19 December 1997: Never mind. He’s dead too. John Candy and John Belushi are dead, so Chris Farley had to go off and die as well. Looks like he had to try to be a copycat in every way.
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