Wooden Acting: Farewell To Martin Landau

Martin Landau died this week at the age of 89. The actor should be familiar to everyone here for his role in the Hitchcock classic “North By Northwest.” In 1995 he won the Best Supporting Actor award for the movie “Ed Wood.”

Landau also starred in the TV series “Mission Impossible,” in which he had a sort of uniform consisting of plaid jacket and ascot (with one too many buttons unfastened on the shirt).

Variety has a fine tribute. — CC

9 Comments on "Wooden Acting: Farewell To Martin Landau"

  1. A wonderful, if sometimes under-appreciated, actor. He lived a good, long life; and did some of his best work in the twilight.

    As the VF article alludes to, if you’ve never seen him as the lead in ‘Crimes & Misdemeanors’, you must. (it also features a great turn by Jerry Orbach as the ‘heavy’).

  2. Correction: Variety, not VF.

  3. One of my favorite details to watch for in Mission: Impossible is how the furnishings and clothes in the ‘apartment scene’ where the IMF discuss the mission are all in shades of black, white & gray. Serves to thematically differentiate that part from the actual mission, and give the characters a sort of ‘uniform’.

  4. roger sack | July 19, 2017 at 8:04 pm |

    If my memory serves me, which it usually does , Landau wore
    2 or 3 eyelet derbies (Bluchers) in North by Northwest. I always
    like the shoes and acquired two pairs from Ludwig Reiter about
    a decade ago. As luck would have it, LR dropped the last ,
    the only one of their lasts that fit me.

  5. Vern Trotter | July 19, 2017 at 11:21 pm |

    Being from New York and starting his acting career in the heyday, it was only natural that he was an Ivy Style dresser. I just read that he was in the same class at The Actor’s Studio with James Dean and Steve McQueen. Refreshing to see these pictures.

    As good a spot as any to relate that I was at 21 last night, the historic Manhattan watering hole and restaurant. A couple of years ago they dropped the necktie requirement. Although I have been there a few times since, I decided to take an informal count of necktie vs. open collar. There were approximately 100 gents present in the downstairs dining room and bar; it was about 50-50. I would say that of those in their 40s and younger, all wore no tie. Those 50 and older all wore ties, as did I, of course. They still have the coat requirement and have a large stash to lend out.

    I wonder, how much is this trend affecting necktie sales?

  6. So many MI cast photos without Peter Graves. Where would we be without Mr. Phelps?

  7. Steven Hill was actually very good in the lead (as Dan Briggs) in the first season, but the showed really gelled when Jim Phelps took over the running of the IMF.

  8. EVAN EVERHART | June 15, 2018 at 11:12 am |

    I always loved Landau’s/Rollin Hand’s 3 piece light gray HBT tweed suit. It was the non-plus ultra of wardrobe perfection. It hit all of the tick marks on the list! over-stitched lapel and edging, hooked vent, patch and flap hip pockets, trim cut, high arm-holes, sack cut, 3-roll-2 lapel (which rolled high!), and cuffs on flat front trousers. It was a thing to behold! Oh, and let us not forget that it even had a vest! I dream about that suit, and always worn with a discrete tie, usually in dark blue or black, though it’s hard to tell with the colorization processes used at the time. He was the most well dressed man, consistently on that show for the 1st couple of seasons….Though Steven Hill/Dan Briggs certainly could give him a run for his money, at least in the first episode with his beyond soft shouldered soft Shetland or Harris tweed HBT sport coat in brown with mid-gray wool slacks, white or pale blue OCBD, and dark navy tie worn in the first episode’s intro scene, and then followed by a “lagoon” green Shetland sweater with open neck OCBD during the “Cast/Crew” choosing scene. Just Exceptional! I like Phelps, but too much padding and polyester on that man. He got too “Groovy”. Hahahaa! I still LOVE that show!

  9. EVAN EVERHART | June 15, 2018 at 11:45 am |

    Honestly, someone should do a piece, with screen-shots of the beautiful ivy-styling of Mission: Impossible! Even though at times the clothing worn was a bit high-street/mass-market – the wardrobes in the later seasons were furnished by Worsted-Tex, and prior to that, I think by a Sherman Oaks purveyor who’s name escapes me at the moment, might have been Galleria Clothiers or something like that). What I found interesting was the transition from the Ivy styled/Traditional clothing moving or segueing from being the most stylish, to eventually being relegated to underlings, hit-men of low standing, and possibly Easter-Bloc flunkies and doofuses – because Damn those COMMIES! No seriously, Damn the commies and pinkos, and reds in all of their iterations and incarnations! Yuck!

    It is fascinating in how the perception changed. Though, interestingly in a later season, a guy who tuned out and turned off; an ex-pat computer genius who was needed to replace Barney when he was captured in the middle east during a sabotage attempt of a chemical warfare program, was transformed into a clean-cut Ivy styled sort of fellow when he finally complied and stopped being a dirty long-hair hippy and decided to help America – after being manipulated and essentially forced to by the team. Interesting indeed, as is the increasingly prevalent insertion of Monarch/MK-Ultra imagery and insinuation within the story lines in the later seasons – actually, that’s creepy. Wow. This has turned into a rant. But seriously, someone should do an article/piece discussing and analyzing the Wonderful style in the first few seasons and how it changed with the times. It’s Fascinating and definitely mirrors Christian’s Rise and Fall essay and supports it in a very demonstrable and visual manner!

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