Written by / 11/18/2016 / No comments /

WHERE CREDIT'S DUE: LIST OF FIVE UNCREDITED ROLES

Ron Leibman hides his real name yet he's still Sgt. Vaughn Liceman
Here you''ll discover five different types of Uncredited Roles that were caused either by an on-set rift, an intentional audience surprise, or a favor to the director — beginning with what was most likely due to the movie itself...

"Say it Agaaaain!"
1) RON LEIBMAN IN UP THE ACADEMY: A friend had never seen NORMA RAE but did watch, on a particular Bad Movie Night long ago, UP THE ACADEMY, the abyssal, awkward clunker of a military school comedy, surprisingly created by an otherwise, at that time, brilliant and popular, long-running and downright iconic magazine called MAD, who was jumping on the National Lampoon bandwagon following the blockbuster of ANIMAL HOUSE...

One thing MAD didn't take into account was that a funny script was needed. Perhaps for a bunch of guys who bagged on other movies, it was harder than they realized to create something original (after all, Don Martin and Sergio Aragon├ęs weren't the scriptwriters). Also needed was a director who knew about comedy timing. Along with the horror genre, comedies are the hardest to make since they demand a particular reaction from their audience — beyond simply being entertained. And back to that buddy who was shocked after seeing Ron Lieberman's brilliant turn as an intrepid "New York Jew" Union man down South, who charms Sally Field's flaky single mom/factory worker NORMA RAE into being a diehard spokeswoman for The Union...

RDJ reacts to Ron Liebman
While the lady won Best Actress, Ron certainly deserved a Supporting trophy: But this isn't about his great movie but one where he's nowhere near the opening or closing credits, which is odd since, within a vast ensemble cast, he's unarguably the "leading man" character who drives pretty much everything, and everyone, forward, backward and sideways.

Ron Leibman with Sally Field in NORMA RAE
Within the comedy villain template, where Ron was given full reign for UP THE ACADEMY, John Vernon had a much better chance in ANIMAL HOUSE since a budding comedy genius, John Landis, was behind the lens. Robert Downey Sr., a counter-culture surrealist who specialized in his own brand of unconventional vehicleslacked the comedy chops needed. Although, it must be said: ACADEMY remains a cult flick that even yours truly holds dear as the guiltiest of pleasures. And when it comes to it, the story can be... somewhat involving: Centering on five boys UP against an all-boys ACADEMY whilst bullied by their commanding/demanding leaders — particularly our man, Leibman, as barking Sgt. Vaughn Liceman, who shouts, "Say it agaaaaaain" more times than Diane Lane says "Rusty James" in RUMBLE FISH. But poor Ron; he didn't want his name anywhere to be found, even though his face is all over it.

Bill Murray as Jeff, Cool Loser Playwright Roommate
2) BILL MURRAY IN TOOTSIE: Here's an important one despite only befitting our agenda halfway since Bill Murray's credit does turn up at the end of the movie... But by then it doesn't matter... What's important is the popular comedy actor didn't want his arrival to be anticipated and/or distracting as Dustin Hoffman's best friend and roommate, Jeff. Although appearing only minutes into the picture, he and director Sydney Pollock felt there'd be an expectation for TOOTSIE to be more of an intentional STRIPES-style comedy, which it isn't... And this is no cameo... Bill's a main character, and it's one of his funniest performances, ever, which is saying something given his amazing track record, spanning decades...

Thomas G. Waits as Fox, the levelheaded member of the hunted gang
3) THOMAS G. WAITES IN THE WARRIORS: Actor Thomas G. Waites said, personally, at a Horror Convention for a partial reunion celebrating John Carpenter's THE THING, that he wished he hadn't been to damn... well... young during the shoot of the 1979 futuristic gangland classic, THE WARRIORS, where he clashed with the already cult-established HARD TIMES and THE DRIVER action-packed director Walter Hill over... something or rather... Perhaps the fact Waite's character, Fox, who, after the death of the gang's leader, becomes a silent second in charge, and was intended to be the film's romantic angle, hooking up with hooker-in-denial Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who wound up having more chemistry with the film's star, Michael Beck, and, despite being one of the most important characters (and the smartest, knowing how to talk his way out of corners as the gang's hunted back to their Coney Island turf), Waites's name doesn't appear in the beginning or end credits, and, besides the leader, he's the only character (spoiler alert) that gets killed. Which actually works: It wouldn't be realistic (or very Hill-like) had all the boys survived the perilous journey home. Plus, Fox's death adds to his overall significance. And it's good to know that Waite's name does appear in THE THING: He must've got along with Carpenter since there weren't any women in that movie that he could or couldn't get together with — if you don't count Huskies...

Burt Reynolds is the real, 11th hour Bandit in Part Tres
4) BURT REYNOLDS IN SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT III: This catastrophic third film/second sequel wasn't originally intended to be Jerry Reed taking over as The Bandit, driving with the signature cowboy hat and red shirt in the famous Trans Am across country — not with beer or an elephant but a plastic shark to promote a fish restaurant: What was already (partially) filmed was intended to put Jackie Gleason's Buford T. Justice i.e. Smokey in both driver's seats — as the antagonist and protagonist, it was originally titled SMOKEY IS THE BANDIT... The franchise's same director, an ex stuntman who knew car chases like the back of his hand, Hal Needham, decided to film scenes wherein Reed did what's already been explained, and guess who turns up quickly at the end, bathed in a sort of celestial glow? Burt Reynolds himself, providing a cameo of cameos, quick and simple, dull and useless — probably because he was so close to his SMOKEY I and II, HOOPER and CANNONBALL RUN director, he couldn't say no, even though everyone must've known this turkey wouldn't/couldn't fly...

Harrison Ford returns, but as Officer Bob Falfa
5) HARRISON FORD IN MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI: Speaking of favors to the director, in this case, executive producer — an actor whose A-list superstar reign began around the same time as Mr. Reynolds (SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT was a smash-hit the same year and right before STAR WARS), but for completely different reasons: Harrison Ford is somewhat of an accidental icon being that George Lucas didn't want name-actors to be in STAR WARS, only unknowns... That is, except for British icons Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing as the film's duel ringers... But the three main STAR WARS heroes had to be nobodies, and the funny thing is, despite the fact Harrison played Paul LeMat's bragging, drag racing competitor, Bob Falfa, in George's 1973 all-nighter masterpiece, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, he was as much of a "name" as Carrie Fisher from her scene in SHAMPOO... But as cinematic luck would have it, Lucas was so impressed at how Ford read lines to other actors auditioning for the role of the scene-stealing, smuggling rogue, Han Solo, that he landed the part.. the tail became the dog... Making his uncredited (and at first, hard to discern) MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI cameo a real treat, and not just a favor but a 'thanks' for the man who gave him everything... Meanwhile, busy preparing THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Lucas had handed over the creative reigns to GARGOYLES director B.W. Norton). And it's no shock that Ford's speedy, smack-talking super-jerk Bob Falfa would become a hippie-loathing jerk cop — move over, Holstein!
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