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Frederic Forrest in 'Apocalypse Now.'

Mr. Movie: Frederic Forrest

 I doubt if a face pops into your head when you hear his name. In fact, you might have to Google him to remember what he looks like. Frederic Forrest was a go-to guy for lots of casting directors. He had lots of work and always did a solid, professional job. He died recently. He was 86. He was in many good movies.


The summit of his movie career was in the frankly awful The Rose (1979). It’s billed has a biopic of Janis Joplin. OK by me; I didn’t like her or this movie. Anyway, Forrest was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Dyer, The Rose’s romantic interest. And he was, as usual, unspectacular and solid. I guess the Academy liked him after seeing Bette Middler and Alan Bates chew the scenery down to the nub. BTW he lost to Melvyn Douglas for Being There.


The performance I liked the most isn’t in a movie, but it’s in one of my all-time favorite TV series: Lonesome Dove (1989). If you’ve never seen this, do yourself a favor and check it out. With retired Texas Rangers Gus (Robert Duvall) and Call (Tommy Lee Jones) leading a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, there’s lots of excitement and trouble and fun along the way. Forrest portrays the murderous villain Blue Duck, and he is an Indian that will give you nightmares! There are lots of follow-ups to this series, some quite good. But none AS good.


In Francis Ford Coppola’s monumental Apocalypse Now (1979), Forrest plays Chief, one of the crew of a Navy patrol boat navigating up the Nung River to perhaps “terminate with extreme prejudice” Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Martin Sheen plays the officer in charge, and is later aided (?) by Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall). Based on Conrad’s classic Heart Of Darkness, this is one of the best movies ever made.The film’s famous tagline “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” is intoned by the perhaps deranged Kilgore.


In Hammett (1980), Forrest portrays the title character, a gritty private detective in 1920s San Francisco. Based somewhat on Dashiell Hammett’s detective stories, it is about as noir as you can get. Forrest is good as the PI.


The Stone Boy (1984) is a little film I liked way better than the critics. A family is torn asunder when the youngest boy kills his older brother in a horrible accident. The little guy is so stricken he doesn’t speak any more. Really, Wilford Brimley steals this thing as the kid’s grandfather. Forrest is good as a sympathetic friend.


Forrest can also be seen to good advantage in One From The Heart (1981), Where Are The Children? (1980) and Falling Down (1983). All of the movies in this article are available on DVD. All are for adults.