Sometimes, you just peak early. Now, I understand that Richard Dreyfuss has been in quite a few movies. Even though his most memorable roles recently have been in 1995’s Mr. Holland’s Opus and 1991’s What About Bob? (opposite Bill Murray), he really wasn’t able to get back to his prime of the mid-to-late 1970’s. After all, he won his only Best Actor Oscar for The Goodbye Girl, in 1977. Of course, when you work your way up from bit parts, it’s difficult to keep getting leading roles, especially in Hollywood. Now, that’s not to say that Richard Dreyfuss hasn’t been successful. He’s still acting in movies today, which is just testament to his endurance as an actor. And yet, when we look back over his career, two movies immediately jump out as his most known performances. This week’s two films are the performances that are often referred to when anyone talks about the roles of Richard Dreyfuss.
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours
Let’s face it, Richard Dreyfuss has a face that demands a beard. Furthermore, any job related to the sea also demands a beard. Therefore, it would come to reason that Richard Dreyfuss would be the right actor for the part if the part demanded that the character be a Marine Biologist. Thus, we arrive at Matt Hooper: the bearded Marine Biologist. Of course, the great thing about Matt Hooper is that while he’s down to earth, he knows what he’s doing. And because he knows what he’s doing, he can be a bit snarky at times, which makes this character actually quite humorous. His knowledge of sharks is admirable to the point where he willingly will get into the water with a Great White in order to stab it with a syringe full of poison. That is either courage or insanity, but probably a combination of both.
If you want a reason to not go drunken skinny dipping in the ocean, the start of Jaws is a good one. Of course, when the body of said skinny dipper shows up mutilated on a beach, everyone in the little island town of Amity Island goes out in search of the shark that did it. Unfortunately, they stop looking when they find and catch a large shark, thinking they found the culprit. Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) knows better. He knows that the shark is still out there and it’s not until the beast strikes again at a busy beach that they take him seriously. With the aid of seasoned fisherman, Quint (Robert Shaw) and Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Hooper is soon on a boat with a bunch of SCUBA gear and a shark cage, ready to go head-to-head with the monster shark.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Length: 132 minutes / 2.2 hours
Once again, the scruffy facial hair does Dreyfuss a service when he plays this next role: Roy Neary. While Roy is a professional who knows his work (much like Matt Hooper), he has recently been fired after trying to convince everyone that an electrical outage was actually due to an Unidentified Flying Object. Most people figure that after working so long on the power grid, he’s finally snapped, but maybe that’s more proof that he knows what he’s talking about and that he hasn’t gone insane. Once again, Roy’s delivery of some of his lines is actually very comedic for a movie that isn’t specifically designated as such. But would that be from his normal interactions, or are the aliens controlling him to the point of making him say these funny things? Who knows?
When a power outage causes Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) to go to work late at night, he begrudgingly drives his truck out to investigate. While on this job, he finds that not only has the power gone out in the area, but the power went out on his truck as well. It is then that the entire scene is bathed in a scalding light, the only explanation of which is a UFO. Of course, one doesn’t come away from an experience like that unscathed. Despite the obvious evidence of the encounter (a sunburn), it soon becomes apparent that something has entered Roy’s mind. He is haunted by images and notes that he has no memory of, but he is determined to figure out what they mean. Eventually, the U.S. Government contacts him about his encounter, in the hopes that he can help them figure out what is happening in the deserts of the Mojave.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Close Encounters with Richard Dreyfuss
Bacon #: 2 (The Goodbye Girl / Marsha Mason -> Only When I Laugh / Kevin Bacon)