Eli Wallach the chapter in Methodical Acting

Western movies have always been a point of attraction to me. Right from my childhood I heard about the cowboys and their movies. I was fascinated by their clothes, appearance and Absquatulate. Their ace-high status in life always attracted me. I made couple of attempts to compare them with Indian film heroes but it turned out to be futile attempt.

I admired his acting Eli Wallach as Mexican bandits and then many of his films in the 1960s. “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” are of my favorite. That was an age when I was fascinated by Eastman color and the cowboy lifestyle. Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Paul Newman are my favorite. I developed a different attraction towards Eli when I watched him die three times in Good Bad and Ugly. Once, he accidentally drank a bottle of acid which was placed next to his soda bottle; another time was in a scene where he was about to be hanged, someone fired a pistol which caused the horse underneath him to bolt and run a mile with his hands still tied behind his back; in a different scene with him lying on a railroad track, he was close to being decapitated by steps jutting out from the train. He always played a role which requires a specific attributes of character. I remember his role in Godfather. Eli played as Altobello, who even donates one million dollars so he could be a part of the Vito Corleone Foundation. Altobello is also Connie Corleone’s godfather and tried to assign Michael. He being a supporting character, story revolves around him. He took audience on the edge of the seat by his riveting acting skills.

Eli Wallah took my heart for the role of Sicilian Silva Vacarro a guy who eventually reign on screen and story.  This experiment with character and story made an image of Elo Wallah who is otherwise an ordinary human but due to some circumstances he becomes a hero. This real to life character and his acting fetched him much praise.

The Magnificent Seven is a western-style remake of Akira Kurosawa‘s 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. Eli played a role of Calvera who lead bandits. Calvera die in gun fight be leaves a valuable question behind. This is the reason people recall him for his role of Calvera.

He grew along with Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and Jackson. He was one of the early students of Method acting, where actors draw upon their own memories and emotions to replicate the emotional conditions for their character display.

He later years of his life he acted  as a store owner in 2003’s “Mystic River,” directed by Eastwood, and had a part in the romantic comedy “The Holiday” in 2006. In 2010, he was featured as an old financial hand in Oliver Stone’s “Money Never Sleeps,” the sequel to “Wall Street.”

He lived for 98 years and enjoyed 66 years of marriage and worked in 100 films. He worked more when he was post 90. As a virtuous character actor and child of postwar, Method-style Theater, Eli Wallach gave us countless faces, and character, he dissolved in to it. But he was an enduring family man, and, of course, one immortal scoundrel.

Today I recall Patrick White for his concept of ‘Mandala concept.’  Everybody has his/er own world and has certain things for bliss. They may not be shared with everyone. Eli portrayed it true to life on screen. Today when he is not there he took away the whole era with him. He crossed all boundaries of nation, language and religion. The world of cinema will always hold high regards for him.

“I never lost my appetite for acting,” Wallach wrote in his 2005 memoir “The Good, The Bad, and Me,” named after his most famous film. “I feel like a magician.”


Published by Rahul Mate

Passionate about cinema, fine art, literature and photography, while teaching in media school Rahul Mate makes a little change into the life of people by connecting them with world of creative freedom.

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