The mighty Kurt Russell turned 70 years old on 17 March 2021. The iconic actor has had a long and varied career, starring in a variety of beloved cult classics and out-right global blockbusters. Russell brings a laid-back, blue-collar vibe to his roles and he has always been able to move between a variety of genres.
Kurt Russell’s first screen appearance was opposite Elvis Presley in 1962’s It Happened At The World’s Fair (he plays a kid who kicks Elvis in the shin). He went on to have a long career as a child star for Disney, before teaming with John Carpenter to play the aforementioned singer in Elvis: The Movie. The TV movie was a huge success and the pair went on to collaborate with The Thing, Escape From New York, Escape From LA (not as good as the original) and Big Trouble In Little China. Russell has also starred in Used Cars, Backdraft, Unlawful Entry, Breakdown andthe Elvis themed 3000 Miles To Graceland.
It’s the Carpenter films which will likely be Russell’s lasting cinematic legacy. Anti-hero Snake Plissken has become Kurt Russell’s trademark role and he embraces all the character’s quirks and traits. When he shot the film, Russell was still attempting to break-out from being a Disney child star and he puts his all into making Plissken memorable. A piss and vinegar attitude, Clint Eastwood whisper and eyepatch make the character one of the all-time cinematic greats.
Big Trouble In Little China turns the conventions of the action genre on its head. Russell’s Jack Burton sees himself as the alpha-male, the hero who can handle every situation. He’s all swagger and one-liners, a modern day John Wayne. There’s just one problem – Burton is an idiot, and everyone knows it but him. The real hero is Dennis Dun’s sidekick Wang, who is at the centre of every action set piece, while Burton is usually indisposed.
Great late career turns have been Craig S, Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk, a trio of Quentin Tarantino pictures – Death Proof, The Hateful Eight and Once upon A Time In Hollywood. He returned to his family film roots by playing Santa Claus in two Christmas Chronicles movies for Netflix. He also had integral roles two Fast and the Furious movies in Marvel’s The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.
So far, Kurt Russell’s best performance has been his supporting turn in Cameron Crowe‘s masterful Vanilla Sky . Movies In Focus is of the belief that Crowe‘s 2001 release one of the finest films of the 21st Century. Starring Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee and Kurt Russell, Vanilla Sky delivers on multiple levels. The film stands-up to repeated viewings because it is so rich with themes and undercurrents.