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ABF Friday:  Christopher Walken edition!


Note: This is a cowbell-free Arbitrary But Fun Friday. Anyone showing up on this blog with a cowbell will be banned.

It’s well known that Christopher Walken has appeared in eight percent of all motion pictures ever made, and that his very presence in a film indelibly changes its character, effectively Walkenizing the entire work: witness, for example, his demonic turn as land developer Reed Thimple in the 2002 epic, The Country Bears.  As David Nusair has written, “the movie just might be worth a rental if only for the sight of watching Christopher Walken belt out a musical number using only his hand and his armpit.” That’s low humor, though.  The good people of The Onion‘s A.V. Club have a much more refined appreciation of the film:

in a deliriously bizarre mid-film moment, he dances around his office alone in red boxers and bunny slippers, playing with his own face, cackling, and dropping an immense remote- controlled weight on balsa-wood models of Country Bear Hall in order to practice the none-too-shocked line “Oh no! Country Bear Hall has been crushed!”

I’ve seen that scene.  I’ve replayed it many times.  It is sublime, I tell you.

Now, any random week of cable-cruising will acquaint you with a healthy cross-section of Walken’s work.  Where would Wayne’s World 2 be without Walken’s sleazy Bobby Cahn?  Wouldn’t you watch Catch Me if You Can again just to see Frank Abagnale, Sr. tell that story about the two mice who fell into the bucket of cream?  Who else could have made Communion so wonderfully unheimlich?  Can you even begin to imagine Antz without the moral crisis experienced by Walken’s Colonel Cutter?  And speaking of Walken in uniform, what’s better than his turn as Captain Koons in Pulp Fiction or his portrayal of Nick Chevotarevich in The Deer Hunter?

So the question for this Friday’s Arbitrary But Fun . . . er . . . Friday, then, is this: what’s your favorite Christopher Walken role and why?  To make things even more fun, we’ll divide Walken’s long career into three phases:

Early Walken: from Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976) to Cannon Movie Tales: Puss in Boots (1988).  And don’t forget about Brainstorm (1983)!

Mature Walken: from King of New York (1990) to Mousehunt (1997).  And don’t forget about True Romance (1993)!

Baroque Walken: from The Prophecy II (1998) to The Wedding Crashers (2005).  And don’t forget about Gigli (2003)!

(We cannot evaluate more recent films in Walken’s oeuvre because we do not yet have the necessary critical distance on them, which is to say, we haven’t seen them yet.)

Have fun . . . and don’t forget to be abitrary!  I’ll be in Washington, D.C., speaking at this thing.  See you Monday!

Posted by on 06/09 at 12:01 AM
  1. Walken in Annie Hall, for obvious reasons.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  01:49 AM
  2. I’m going to vote for Annie Hall’s brother, because it’s the first of Walken’s “small part psycho” roles that I can remember.

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  06/09  at  01:52 AM
  3. Wow, this is really a hard one. And it’s a three-way tie: “Brainstorm,” definitely, just because of all the creepy extra-movie stuff like Natalie Wood dying while Chris was getting drunk with Robert Wagner on the yacht; “Pennies from Heaven,” where he performs probably his best musical number on film; and “King of New York,” just because it’s such a great, insane performance.

    Posted by sfmike  on  06/09  at  02:00 AM
  4. Early Walken:
    His brief, yet memorable turn as Annie Hall’s whack brother (Duane according to IMDB) set the tone early on.

    Can I confess something? I tell you this as an artist, I think you’ll understand. Sometimes when I’m driving… on the road at night… I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The… flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.

    Per the Oracle of Kevin Bacon at UVa, Walken is the 52nd best Center of the Hollywood Universe measured by smallest average degrees of separation from other actors. [Bacon himself is 1049th, Rod Steiger first.] Pretty good, but in the menacing crazy guy category you have Dennis Hopper at #3 and Donald Pleasance at #6 - so he needs to keep churning them out to ascend to his rightful place at the center.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  02:04 AM
  5. The Man with the Plan in “Things to do in Denver when You’re Dead”.  For some reason, this is the definitive Walken psycho-bad guy for me.

    Posted by Dustin  on  06/09  at  02:05 AM
  6. Christopher Walken in Dennis Potter’s “Pennies from Heaven” is unforgettable.  A genuinely threatening and sleazy character, he performs an amazing striptease dance in a bar to the song, “Let’s Misbehave”.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  02:40 AM
  7. I agree that The Man with the Plan is for me the epitomical Walken performance.

    However, the most bizarre performance by Walken would have to be in the 1991 made-for-TV movie, “Sarah, Plain and Tall” - bizarre because it’s so dang normal. I saw this movie several years before I ever took notice of Christopher Walken, and when I realized later who was in that movie, I couldn’t really get my head around it.

    Another fairly random Walken appearance would be him dancing in the Fatboy Slim video “Weapon of Choice.”

    Posted by Ben  on  06/09  at  02:47 AM
  8. in the menacing crazy guy category you have Dennis Hopper at #3.

    I once met Dennis Hopper’s son Julian in a bar in Hell’s Kitchen. He was extremely amiable (I was with three very lovely young women at the time) and invited us back to his place to do “glamour drugs.” We declined.

    I don’t know what the best Christopher Walken movie is (there are just so many!) but the worst has to be “Nick of Time,” notable because it also features Johnny Depp’s worst performance.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  02:48 AM
  9. Weapons of Choice is brilliant, but my fav really does have to be the Pulp Fiction role.  I know it’s not original of me, but I cannot watch that scene without laughing so hard I choke.  I have no idea how Walken managed to keep a straight face while delivering those lines.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  06/09  at  03:09 AM
  10. My vote is for Weapon of Choice. Just so I can leave that link.

    Posted by sharon  on  06/09  at  04:15 AM
  11. Michael, that you have not only seen The Country Bears, but have gone to the length of admitting it publically, has forever ruined what chance you had of becoming an A-list blogger. Dressing it up with a discussion of the Power of Walken offers no redemption.

    But looking past that, I feel giving Walken Sir Alec Guinness’ role in The Bridge on the River Kwai would add a whole new dimension to the bridge detonation scene. Hell, play Walken against Walken and give him William Holden’s character as well. In fact, let him have all the parts. It’s not like he couldn’t pull it off. From there, it’s Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi (and C3P0 for good measure). I’d pay eighty dollars for a seat just to see that.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  05:07 AM
  12. Oh, and so I’m not entirely deviating from the discussion topic, Walken in The Rundown actually made watching The Rock try to act worth the effort. You can’t fake that sort resonance through an entire film.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  05:13 AM
  13. Oh, Penon, if I had any hope of being an A-list blogger after two and a half years at the craft, I would be at Yearly Kos this weekend instead of this professors’ thing, you know.  And I saw The Country Bears precisely to watch Walken at his craft!  I rented it and watched it by myself, in fact.

    And I lived to blog about it.  Besides, I have children.  I’ve seen much, much worse in the company of Jamie and Nick.

    Thanks for the Annie Hall memories!  Off to catch a plane.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/09  at  07:05 AM
  14. I’ll do Michael one better and admit not only to owning The Country Bears but also watching it repeatedly and enjoying it, in part because of Christopher Walken.  But there’s also Diedrich Bader (in 2 roles a la Peter Sellers) with a Baroque performance of his own and some finely crafted songs by my hero John Hiatt.  Of course, I’m so far down the blogging totem pole I don’t even merit a letter, so there’s no risk involved in my admitting my supreme dorkiness.

    Posted by corndog  on  06/09  at  07:20 AM
  15. That’s a no-brainer: it’s “Weapon of Choice” hands down. No question. Obviously.

    Posted by furious  on  06/09  at  08:12 AM
  16. We cannot evaluate more recent films in Walken’s oeuvre because we do not yet have the necessary critical distance on them, which is to say, we haven’t seen them yet.)

    Why Michael, I’m surprised at you! Actually watching the film you’re reviewing is so Web 1.0.  You really need to take a note from the good people at The Corner.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  08:24 AM
  17. People already beat me to it, but the Weapon of Choice video is sublime.  And it’s not just because of Walken dancing and flying, it’s because of the way he sits slumped at the beginning and end of the video.

    Also, Batman Returns, because it’s such a bad movie and he’s strangely not at all out of place in it.

    captcha:  center, as in Christopher Walken’s true place in the universe

    Posted by Crazy Little Thing  on  06/09  at  09:06 AM
  18. I did a CTRL-F and did not find Kangaroo Jack listed. I just thought I should bring it up.

    Also, I have seen one of his first movies, The Anderson Tapes (1971), which is an underrated little caper flick directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam, and even a young Garrett Morris. As for best role, you can’t get around The Deer Hunter.

    Posted by norbizness  on  06/09  at  09:26 AM
  19. He is so droll but so passionate in An Inconvenient Truth. Walken’s face can be so placid but you know that underneath it’s just burning burning.

    Posted by miscellanneous  on  06/09  at  09:30 AM
  20. I very much like Walken as the vicious and cold yet smarmily charming (sounds like our Christopher!) small time crook in trailer park rural southwestern PA. And yet Sean Penn might even be better as the son who wants to be like dad, until things take a wrong turn. Mary Stuart Masterson is very good as well as The Girlfriend.

    CW is also memorable in Things to Do in Denver While You’re Dead, as previously noted.

    If I can stretch it to TV, Walken as The Continental is hilarious on Saturday Night Live.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  06/09  at  09:30 AM
  21. The Walken / Penn / Masterson film I refer to in #20 is, of course, At Close Range (1986).

    Posted by John Protevi  on  06/09  at  09:32 AM
  22. Didn’t anyone like his finely calibrated turn as Bill Hill in Touch? Walken + Elmore Leonard = perfect marriage

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  09:36 AM
  23. Another vote for The Continental.  In 1998 or so, I was talking to a guy who had worked with Walken on a PC game.  Walken learned the lines about tens econds before he had to recrod them.  And his who vibe is so distincty that even when he is actually struggling to remember a line, it seems like just another quirk of his style.

    Of course, for a PC game, Walken was only vaguely concerned with the lines to start with.  Which is why I think of The Continental as his essence performance.  Crazy, funny, disturbing, only vaguely concerned with the lines.

    Walken is a James Cagney for our age.  Cagney was thought of as the consummate raging thug on screen, yet he always thought of himself as a “song and dance man” from New York.  Which is how I have also heard Walken describe himself.  In fact, I think he first started performing as a dancer—and I believe his mother was a Broadway dancer.

    Anyway, my point is:  Walken needs to find, or be given, his own personal YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.  (A movie which many people remember as being in color, because Cageny is such a cherry red performer.)

    Posted by MoXmas  on  06/09  at  09:43 AM
  24. … life lived to help others is the only one that
    matters. This is my highest and best use as a human.
    --- Ben Stein

    [re:The Country Bears]...I lived to blog about it.
    --- our gracious host

    Who says the rightwing has a lock on the purpose-driven life? Some are called to be pompous self-satisfied assholes, some are called to fill the animatronics-inspired movies blogging gap.

    from each according to his abilities

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  09:46 AM
  25. Damn, John Protevi beat me to nominating “The Continental” sketch on SNL.  And then MoXmas seconded it, so I’ll have to third it. I think that role, and that whole episode of SNL, is what truly solidified Walken’s claim to freakdom.  It’s pivotal.  Without it, in fact, I don’t think this post would exist.

    Oh, and to JP Stormcrow (#4)—Rod Steiger is also the most likely answer to just about any old Hollywood actor question in the original Trivial Pursuit.  Now I know why.

    Ha!  My captcha word is “country.”

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  06/09  at  10:05 AM
  26. Although I’m tempted to say the SNL performances or The Man with a Plan, I’ll vote for his performance in the Wedding Crashers. I know that he acted it straight-up. I know that he didn’t do a thing out of the ordinary, no fireworks to put his personal mark on the film. I know that he let Vince Vaughn and whichever one of the Wilson twins that was have all the fun. Still, the fact that he was on-screen made me expect him to do something psycho at any moment, and thus I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

    Lou Brock once said that the toughest pitcher to steal second base from in the National League was Don Gullett, a Reds lefty (more engelian than marxian, methinks). Brock told SI that he had never seen Gullett throw to first, but that on each pitch he was certain that this pitch would be the time.

    As Barry White said, it’s all about the expectation…

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  10:30 AM
  27. So far nobody’s mentioned the revealing interview with Dubya.  So where is that thing anyway.  Oh yes, here.

    Posted by Matt  on  06/09  at  10:42 AM
  28. AT CLOSE RANGE.  Walken and Sean Penn tgether are brilliant.  Big Poison and Little Poison.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  10:46 AM
  29. I vote for mortimer’s response as the most articulate so far. If this were a blue book exam, DB’s “for obvious reasons” would get a C- at inflationary rates. What reasons? Be specific.

    But enough with the meta. I haven’t seen too many Walken movies, although this post is reminding me of some I’ve forgotten. Of the few I’ve seen, I think I’ll go with Wedding Crashers, too. Walken displayed range in it: the implicit menace that mortimer so aptly characterizes, overlaid with an entirely plausible slick Congressy patina, complemented by that comic helplessness in the face of his breath-holding foot-stomping petite daughter, resolving rather touchingly into the concern and support of an affectionate father by the end of the movie.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  10:51 AM
  30. Samuel Beckett’s Suicide Kings. Premise: Kidnap mob king Walken, cut his finger off, duct-tape him to a chair, and let him talk for the rest of the movie as he bleeds out (alcoholic’s vitamin K deficiency). “You guys didn’t think this through too good, did you?” Modulate the continuo of anti-normal with a paradiddle of Denis Leary anti-anti-normal (which ain’t normal, more like those missiles in Alaska if they worked).
    Best single scene, though, is Gabriel playing the trumpet.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  10:52 AM
  31. My favorite late Walken? “Blast from the Past,” a surprisingly fine comedy with great performances from Brendan Fraser, Sissy Spacek, and Walken. Watch it and try not to tell the “duck walks into a bar” joke in his cadence.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  11:15 AM
  32. Pennies From Heaven.  His song and dance turn is the only thing I remember from a movie I saw only once, twenty-five years ago.  Well, I do remember something about lipstick on nipples, too

    Second place: Annie Hall.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  11:23 AM
  33. I’m with sfmike—the Pennies from Heaven striptease is the most exciting few minutes of Walken’s career. Assuredly, I’d certainly put it ahead of Pulp Fiction—a similarly brief role—because, unlike PF, so much of the (apparent) success of the watch/rectum monologue is in the writing, whereas in PfH Walken seems to create the tatooed Tom from the whole cloth of an insane amount of pent-up energy. Incidentially, am I alone in believing that the Bruce Willis portion of PF really dragged?

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  11:38 AM
  34. I wonder how Mr. Walken would feel if he wandered by here and noticed that many consider his performance in Annie Hall his best.  “Yep, it has all been downhill for him since he delivered his three lines in 1977.”

    On the other hand, it could be worse.  We could be saying he peaked out in 1953 as a child actor on the Motorola Television Hour.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  11:42 AM
  35. Nos. 30 and 31 name two of Walken’s funniest turns--as the crazed scientist in “Blast from the Past” and as the angel Gabriel in “Prophecy.” When his zombie helper is killed in the latter, Walken cracks “It’s so hard to find one of these.” “Prophecy” also features Viggo Mortenson (in a bit part as Lucifer!)perched crow-like on a fence while nibbling on a flower.  Clearly Walkenism is infectious.


    Posted by  on  06/09  at  11:48 AM
  36. Oh Michael, thanks for really delivering the goods with this Arbitrary But Fun Friday game.  But the sheer volume of Walken goodness out there makes selecting a favorite very difficult.

    Nevertheless, here are my three (taken from three different media):

    Musical Video: Without doubt the Fatboy Slim performance represents a high water mark among Walken performances.  The choice in casting him attests to both familiarity with his dancing talents and widespread recognition of the value of the aforementioned freaky “Walken effect.”

    Live TV performance: As much as I love love love “The Continental” I have to say Walken’s turn as Bruce Dickinson in the SNL parody of VH1’s Behind the Music: “Blue Oyster Cult” eclipses it.  Who can or would ever want to forget this immortal line (skirting the blog-banning cowbell line): “Easy guys, I put my pants one just like the rest of you...one leg at a time...except, once my pants are on...I make gold records.”

    Movie: While there have been many excellent choices, I have to nominate Walken’s performance in “True Romance” if only for the disturbing scene between him and fellow freak Dennis Hopper.  You know the one I mean.  Apparently, the scene was completely improvised between the two actors.  Director Tony Scott just turned the cameras on and let them go.  The result: pure movie magic.

    Have fun in D.C., Michael, and thanks again for this ABFF game.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  12:11 PM
  37. I gotta stick with King Of New York, just for his delivery of the line (near the film’s climax) “I neva killed anyone who didn’t...deserve it.” Walken and Abel Ferrara are perfectly matched; all the movies they’ve done together are good to great, even New Rose Hotel (I actually like it more than the critically praised The Funeral). Check out The Addiction sometime, and see if you can keep a straight face through Walken’s (as the head vampire in New York) disquisition on William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.

    Posted by pdf  on  06/09  at  12:16 PM
  38. I have to vote twice.

    The hottie vote goes to Brainstorm. Walken-all-in-black is something to behold.  Yowzah. 

    The Cool Evil vote goes to Prophecy (the first one; the sequels are best forgotten).  I’m a sucker for subversive takes on the Angels’ Rebellion story anyway.  Having Walken, Stoltz and Mortenson all sharing the screen was one hell of a bonus. 

    Captcha word:  “Gave” as in the shivers, when Walken spat “talking monkeys.”

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  12:17 PM
  39. Best role: Shannon, the Dogs of War.  It’s a good story: the wounded mercenary, one last job, trying to get back at the tyrannical thug who threw him in jail, sticking it to the man in the end, and so on.  Isn’t it also his first leading role in a movie?  The action hero role works pretty well for him, although you do get the sense that he’s undertasked.

    Posted by Brett  on  06/09  at  12:28 PM
  40. I’m with Kevin and Diotima:  Walken in Blast from the Past is brilliant. 

    The duck joke and his reaction, at the end of the film, to Brendan Fraser trying to explain to him that the Soviet Union collapsed.

    Posted by Mitchell Freedman  on  06/09  at  12:47 PM
  41. How about his cameo in Pulp Fiction?  “I kept this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass for two years . . . “

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  01:15 PM
  42. Anyone seen “The Comfort of Strangers”?  Set in Venice, with Walken as the stalker of a lovely young couple.  Oh, it still creeps me out to think of it.  “My father was a very big man. . .”

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  01:39 PM
  43. Walken in Cronenberg’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” is probably the first time I realized how great he was.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  03:02 PM
  44. Gotta go with Clem in Joe Dirt. It’s all but unwatchable for most of its runtime, but whenever Walken is on screen it comes alive. The rest of the cast desperately tries to milk a laugh or an emotion out of the work, and then Walken casually strolls by delivering his lines in a delirious staccato. In his scenes you actually see all the other actors drop out of character and stare, bug-eyed, amazed that someone could actually make something of his dreary dialogue.
    “You’re talking to me all wrong… It’s the wrong tone. You do it again and I’ll stab you in the face with a soldering iron.”

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  03:57 PM
  45. On the other hand, it could be worse.  We could be saying he peaked out in 1953 as a child actor on the Motorola Television Hour.

    And then there’s his 1964 appearance (billed as “Chip Walken") in the American International Pictures production, “Catalina Bikini Shindig.” Kyle (Walken) tries to woo foreign exhange student Anna Maria (Italian teen bombshell Eula) while thwarting the plans of bike-gang leader Eric von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck). Guest starring Joe E. Lewis as “Pops.”

    Walken shows off his uncanny vocal surf-guitar mimicry in the big number, “Twang-a-lang-a Lotta Love.”

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  04:11 PM
  46. I’m with m.ho (#43)—Walken was so oddball-creepy as the clairvoyant in the The Dead Zone, and I’ve gotten a bad vibe from milk trucks ever since.

    Posted by Orange  on  06/09  at  04:30 PM
  47. How about anonther stretch....Walken directed by Spike Jonze in Fat Boy Slim’s video for “Halfway Between The Gutter and The Stars.” I absolutely love him in that.  His incredulous looks of disgust are classic as Zoolander’s father.  And what about Blast from The Past?  He scared me the most in At Close Range.

    Posted by myrna the minx  on  06/09  at  06:04 PM
  48. I can’t believe no one is voting for The Deer Hunter; nothing fun about it, but I thought his acting was amazing.

    So, Michael, will the Ninety-second Annual Meeting last 90 seconds?

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  06:31 PM
  49. Here’s an unusual Walken song-and-dance appearance, taken from a 1985 TV special, visible in the YouTube link here. Walken shows up at about the 2:40 mark (but the whole thing is worth watching).

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  06:52 PM
  50. So, Michael, will the Ninety-second Annual Meeting last 90 seconds?

    Oh how I wish.

    And from way up in 14:

    Of course, I’m so far down the blogging totem pole I don’t even merit a letter, so there’s no risk involved in my admitting my supreme dorkiness.

    So you’re not at Yearly Kos either, corndog?  Hmmph.  Next year I think you should announce your own netroots conference.  I already have a slogan for you:  On the Internets, nobody knows you’re a corndog.  I say we invite Doghouse Riley and the Talking Dog for starters.

    In the meantime, I’m renting all the Walken movies I haven’t seen, beginning with The Dead Zone.  (Yes, I’ve seen Communion. . . .)

    Posted by Michael  on  06/09  at  07:01 PM
  51. Hurmm.

    Ok. You asked for favorites, but I think his best role was in Suicide Kings. It’s not a bad movie exactly, but it ain’t good, exactly neither. In fact the entire movie is basically a coupla rounds of schtick (’Let’s a write a comedy about kidnapping! And we’ll set it in my dad’s house!’wink, the ending sucks and it has way too many obvious feel-good moments in it. And Walken carries the entire movie while he’s tied up in a chair. And of course, the movie subsumes large parts of his character from Pulp Fiction, without being the same character.

    The purest Walken role is obviously Prophecy simply because nobody else could play that parts.

    I can’t give the nod to The Deer Hunter because whomever mentioned The Dogs of War above is right about it being a good movie. Or rather a great movie, even if it is an action movie. It’s obvious that Walken got the part because of The Deer Hunter (or is it the other way ‘round?) but it dispenses with The Deer Hunter‘s sappy sentimental streak (’Believe us, it hurt us more making this movie then it will hurt you to watch it’wink and goes straight for the jugular. And Walken pulls off the great Nihilistic Statement that is the ending of the movie without coming across as preachy or predictable.

    On second thought, I will give the nod to The Dogs of War over The Dead Zone. I was going to go with the latter, because it’s the only Stephen King I have ever liked possibly because it’s the only Stephen King that’s underplayed, and Walken manages to make the whole thing eminently believable...but...NO!

    [’Is that arbitrary enough?’]

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  07:01 PM
  52. I think his best role was in Mary Poppins, as chimney sweep #3. His song and dance routine was perfection. He stole the scene from the other sweeps.

    Posted by Bob Davis  on  06/09  at  07:25 PM
  53. I’d like to give an honorable mention to Who Am I This Time?. Not because it was his best, but because it’s great and virtually no one’s seen it. ‘80s TV movie based on a Vonnegut short story. Hard to find, but some video rental places have it.

    Posted by  on  06/09  at  10:45 PM
  54. My vote goes to Walken in The Dead Zone.  Tied for second are his roles in The Deer Hunter, Biloxi Blues, and The Milagro Beanfield War.  I guess this makes me a Early Walken man.

    Posted by Jeremías  on  06/09  at  11:29 PM
  55. For a combination of otherworldly, menacing, scary, and odd, not to mention he dances and flys, it’s hard to beat Walken in FatBoy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video. 


    Posted by  on  06/10  at  05:04 AM
  56. How about meta-Walken?  Jay Mohr doing Walken doing the dirty joke in “The Aristocrats” was simultaneously the funniest and scariest thing I’ve ever seen.  I think he also did Walken reading “Goodnight Moon” to a bunch of kids and scaring the crap out of them on a “Simpsons” episode.

    Posted by BikeProf  on  06/10  at  08:49 AM
  57. hands down, best Walken role is J-Man in “Envy.”

    Posted by  on  06/10  at  01:10 PM
  58. I’m a huge Walken fan, and I have only skimmed over a lot of the comments above, but I see no reference to “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead”. This has to be one of my favorites of all time, but I’m going to have to revisit some films I haven’t seen in years. I don’t remember Walken in “The Milagro Beanfield War”, and let me add that as beautiful as this film was I highly recommend the book.

    Posted by F.  on  06/11  at  05:53 AM
  59. I think in time, we will look upon Walken’s so-called ‘performances’ as one big seemless and extended performance stretched over many decades. The same could be said for Hopper, who is kind of his spiritual twin.

    Posted by Saltydog  on  06/11  at  11:36 AM
  60. #53, you beat me to it--I can´t remember if the title is Who am I this time? or Who are we this time? but it was directed by Jonathan Demme, and co-stars Susan Sarandon. Walken and Sarandon are young and gorgeous but play characters who are almost pathologically shy. They can only court each other when they are playing roles in the small town amateur theater company. I saw it when Demme was premiering his Talking Heads concert movie, so that should date it.

    Posted by  on  06/11  at  02:39 PM
  61. http://people.aol.com/people/galleries/0,19884,1201258_8,00.html

    Posted by  on  06/12  at  08:20 AM
  62. Hey - it’s Monday already and still nobody’s mentioned THE RUNDOWN?

    Perhaps that’s because it’s nobody’s favorite Walken, but it’s still damn entertaining stuff. “The Rock” is actually very talented, just for those of you who have not seen him and figured he’s just another dumb hunk.

    The most famous Walken moment here is known as the “Tooth Fairy” bit. Here’s some uncredited Google cut and pastes (uncredited cuz I’m at work and don’t have time, so sue me. No, wait, don’t.)

    Walken is as over-the-top as you’d want. One of his more outlandish speeches involves using the tooth fairy as a metaphor to locals who have obviously never heard of the tooth fairy.

    That Tooth Fairy Speech-

    “I feel like a little boy who’s lost his first tooth, put it under his pillow, waiting for the tooth-fairy to come. Only two evil burglars have crept in my window, and snatched it, before she could get here… Wait a second; do you understand the CONCEPT of the tooth-fairy? Explain it to them… Wait. She takes the god-damned thing, and gives you a quarter. They’ve got my tooth. I want it back.”


    Posted by  on  06/12  at  09:01 AM
  63. I can’t get enough Walken.  Any movie with Walken is worthwhile, he can do no wrong.  How about the “tooth fairy” monolouge from “The Rundown”, vintage Walken. Perhaps his best role is the overlooked gem, “At Close Range” with a very young Sean Penn.  An extremely dark movie, that has probably the greatest Walken monolouge ever, where he explains the finer points of Coyotes in heat to his son (Chris Penn) before killing him.

    Posted by  on  06/12  at  12:50 PM
  64. I have a fever! And there is only one prescription!

    Sorry, I just could NOT help myself

    Posted by  on  06/12  at  04:31 PM
  65. OK, Chris is banned.

    Only kidding.  In reality, I love that skit as much anyone.  But not quite as much as Jay Mohr doing Walken in the “Psychic Friends” skit on SNL in 1993

    Posted by  on  06/12  at  05:04 PM
  66. And all of this eccentric fun is due to the Walken Theory of Acting: “Walken happily admits that he has no judgment, so he has chosen a throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-sees-what-sticks approach to his career. ‘’I’m a terrible analyzer of what will be good,’ he says. ‘Whatever I think the outcome is going to be, I’m always wrong.’” (NYT Magazine, May 30, 2004)

    Just think of how many of these characters we might have missed out on if he had a more cautious approach to selecting roles!

    Posted by Christian Anderson  on  06/13  at  06:35 AM
  67. I remember Walken saying in an interview, that when he gets a script, he whites out all of the punctuation before learning it; hence his characteristic, halting delivery.

    And who can forget SNL’s “Walker, Texas Ranger” sketch, which included Jimmy “JJ” Walker, Texas Ranger; Christopher Walken, Texas Ranger, and others?

    Posted by Baruch Grazer  on  06/14  at  10:51 AM
  68. How about his cameo in Pulp Fiction?  “I kept this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass for two years . . . “

    Fwiw, I think Bob Dylan might agree with this.

    Posted by Matt  on  06/14  at  02:37 PM
  69. Not his best, but fun anyway… how about Trivial Psychic:

    You’re going to get an ice cream headache.  It’s going to hurt real bad.

    Posted by  on  06/15  at  03:07 PM
  70. mroberts - yeah, that ice cream headache line was hysterical. I remember laughing like hell, but I can’t remember where it’s from. It was SNL, wasn’t it?

    Posted by  on  06/15  at  04:55 PM
  71. Has anyone mentioned Dogs Of War? Psycho Walken at his best

    Posted by  on  06/19  at  12:20 PM
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    Posted by HA Creams  on  05/21  at  05:33 AM
  73. How about Evil/Bloodthirsty Walken?  I give you Sleepy Hollow as the example for that.

    Posted by  on  01/18  at  10:45 PM





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