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The Alan Arkin Bio

The Alan Arkin Review –

by Nate Lee


Wait Until Dark

Even though Arkin has a trophy case full of classic comic performances, his sneering, venomous villain in this supremely suspenseful drama is his best performance and in perfect opposition to the brilliant Audrey Hepburn.

Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as a Russian submarine captain)
Wait Until Dark (a really bad guy trying to kill a blind Audrey Hepburn)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated performance as a deaf mute)
The Seven Percent Solution (Sigmund Freud, treating Sherlock Holmes)
Joshua Then and Now (an eccentric dad)
Glengarry Glen Ross (a defeated salesman)
< Grosse Pointe Blank (John Cusack's psychiatrist)
Sunshine Cleaning (Amy Adams's eccentric dad)
Catch-22 (Capt. Yossarian)
The In-Laws (a mild-mannered dentist opposite Peter Falk as an insane CIA agent and his daughter's future father-in-law)
Edward Scissorhands (Edward's "adopting father")
Little Miss Sunshine (Oscar-winning performance as a foul-mouthed grandfather)
Get Smart (The Chief)
The Real Alan Arkin:

The institutionalized insanity of the Army and Yossarian's feeble attempts to make sense out of it somehow reflects his family's persecution at the hands of an insane anti-Communist '50s America.
Acting Style:
Ever since his signature role as Capt. Yossarian in "Catch-22," Arkin has mined his comic persona out of being the guy who is agape with wonder and outrage over the madness (usually comic) around him – from "The In-Laws" to "Scissorhands." In some senses, he has returned to that role with "Sunshine Cleaning" and "Get Smart" and even "Little Miss Sunshine" (where he did more than his share of contributing to the madness).
Bits and Quirks:
Standing still and staring with mouth open. Side-mouth grin. Silly slouch with silly grin (approaching that of Billy Bob Thornton in "Slingblade"). Dips quickly into the New York accent with an especially heavy nasal voice when expressing outrage at the top of his lungs.
Great Scenes:
Wait Until Dark

> The showdown with Audrey Hepburn in the dark
> Jumping out at her
> Teasing her
> Finding the light in the fridge.

Edward Scissorhands

> First meeting Edward at the dinner table
> The backyard party.

Grosse Point Blank

> The brief psychiatric sessions with John Cusack as an unhappy assassin.

Sunshine Cleaning

> Selling popcorn with his grandson
> Working the crime scene with Amy Adams as his daughter.

Joshua Then and Now

> Playing pool and talking to his son about sex.

Get Smart

> The cone of silence
> Attacking the Vice President
> Almost getting speared by the marlin

Go to the... Alan Arkin Bio