August 14, 2010
James Gammon died last month. May he rest in peace.
My family and I, we were fans. We werenít really familiar with Gammonís distinguished career; only while reading his obituary did I learn that he was a well-known stage actor.
But we did watch videos, and had our very own copy of Major League. We saw it just a few times the same way that the Charlie Sheen character threw a pitch that was just a bit outside. In spite of 47 instances of the f- word (which the kids actually counted one day) it was a family movie, where the underdogs win through hard work, putting the team first, and it included both religion and humor for all ages.
Much like the baseball team they were portraying, the cast made the film a team effort. There was no single star, but rather a handful of leads, each playing a great part. Maybe it was partly the director, and maybe partly the script, which is f--n hilarious. But I have to think that it was partly Gammonís leading by example: a fine character actor, with years of experience in developing a role and understanding its fit in the whole of the story, my guess is that his approach was contagious and led to the success of the film.
One of my favorite scenes was early in the movie, when Gammonís character, Lou Brown, a minor league baseball manager who has fallen on hard times, working as a salesman at a car lot by day, gets a phone call asking him if he would like to manage the Cleveland Indians. With a nuanced performance and a delivery worthy of any baseball manager (who make a calm demeanor their lifeís work), he asks the caller if he can get back to him, adding that he has ďa guy on the other line asking about some whitewalls.Ē
Gammon himself preferred the stage, and regretted that he was unable to make a living at it. Personally, Iím glad he needed the money Ė my life would have been the poorer without Lou Brown.