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Retake: John Heard

Retake: John Heard

We’re done talking about the movies. Now, let’s talk about the series.

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As a part of our eleventh season, every film is directed by a woman. Our John Heard series covers all five films in which he starred that was directed by a woman. It would have been nice to have him in more films that were female-directed, but this series still allowed us to start exploring Joan Micklin Silver and her films, to add more Penny Marshall films to our roster, and to return to Martha Coolidge, who we explored in an earlier series this season.

The films we discussed in this series are Between the Lines (which was a crossover with our previous series, our Journalist series), Chilly Scenes of Winter, Big, Awakenings, and Rambling Rose. What did we think of the films? We certainly start with more John Heard-heavy films but we get less and less of him as the series progressed. Was that a problem? Or did it give us a sense of his career arc? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we wrap up our John Heard series with our member bonus Retake episode where we look at the series as a whole.

Here’s a hint at what we talk about in our John Heard series Retake.

What’s interesting is that late in his career, John Heard said he was a hack actor and never really met his potential after having a great start. We discuss a bit about elements in his personal life and the trajectory toward his death that perhaps lent to his struggle in the industry. But we still love watching him, and whether we’re talking about a lead performance of his or a small role as a framing device, we find him great to watch and talk about.

Between the Lines gave Heard a key role (we argue that he’s the protagonist of the film) in an ensemble film of a group of journalists at an alternative paper. It’s about their personal lives and struggles as the paper gets sold to a corporate entity that plans on changing things up. Heard is great in the film and fits well with that post-60s struggling ex-hippy vibe.

He returns to work with director Joan Micklin Silver in Chilly Scenes of Winter in which he finally gets to play the lead. He’s great in the role, even if it’s a film that perpetually leaves us debating how much a stalker he really is.

With Penny Marshall’s Big, we start exploring roles in which he’s a smaller part and in this case, the antagonist. He’s great here as Paul, Tom Hanks’ nemesis at the toy company.

In Marshall’s Awakenings, his part is even smaller as he’s the doctor running the hospital where Robin Williams’ character works. He’s still an important character but by this point, he’s really coming in as one of the ‘those guys.’ Still, he does those roles well.

We finish with Martha Coolidge’s Rambling Rose, and regardless of whether we agree on the film, we both agree that the framing device that bookends the film and stars John Heard as the adult version of our protagonist is completely unnecessarily.

But Heard pulls it off and does the part well.

And that’s why he’s compelling to discuss. His roles may have gotten smaller and become less important in the films over his career, but he’s great to watch.

Once we finish talking about him, we add all these films to our Flickchart, as well as our February member bonus movie – Cactus Flower.

If we learned anything from this series, it’s that we definitely want to explore more early John Heard films when he had larger roles. Of course we’d also love to add Sharknado and C.H.U.D. to the list. So we may find ourselves dipping into this series more than others because he’s just a compelling actor to watch.

Next up – we kick off our Coming of Age Debuts series! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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