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R.I.P., Ben Gazzara

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 3, 2012

He had charm, and he had menace, sometimes in the same moment, cool and hot at simultaneously, and that way of suggesting that emotions rolled inside him, and woe to him who was in the way when they were unleashed. Ben Gazzara, who has died at 81, reportedly of pancreatic cancer, was someone who always drew the eye on the screen; look at "Anatomy of a Murder," where you've got people like James Stewart,  George C. Scott and Lee Remick onscreen, and there's Gazzara, making you think of a time bomb.

His work varied, some of it challenging, some of it for a paycheck, some a seeming favor.. He had he remarkable collaborations with John Cassavetes and Peter Falk, and his fine pairings with Gena Rowlands. Occasional forays into television, notably with the series "Run for Your Life." He was in "The Big Lebowski" and "Road House" (which, according to IMDB, he said was the one of his movies most shown on television.) A movie about Pope John Paul II (he did not play the pope, and looked old and frail) and a commanding turn in "Saint Jack." He made a mark.

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