Monday, December 08, 2008

Beverly Garland, 1926-2008

This is the time of the year when any number of talented, hard-working actors vie for awards in classy, glossy studio movies, so it seems appropriate to also remember the career of a talented, hard-working woman who worked in Hollywood for decades but is today best-known for My Three Sons and a handful of early Roger Corman movies - a realm in which good acting is even harder to recognize, when it appears.

I first encountered Beverly Garland in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode/Roger Corman movie It Conquered the World, in which her husband, played by Lee Van Cleef, is helping an evil carrot from Venus try to take over the world. Passionate yet rational, Garland's character proceeds to take matters into her own hands, and marches down to its cave in Bronson Canyon armed with a rifle to eliminate the monster. What follows, while cheesy and ridiculous, is nonetheless a perfectly fine piece of film acting, bold yet committed and firmly aware of the genre and tone around her. You can see bits of her performance in this trailer, at about the 1:15 and 1:40 marks.

I mean, it's easy to look down at this kind of material, but committed acting is what audiences respond to, and if you find yourself suspending your disbelief in this movie, or The Alligator People or Not of This Earth, it's because of the hard work of Beverly Garland.

Rest in peace.

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