Monday, November 13, 2006

The Curse of Curly

One of the things that struck me about the announcements of Jack Palance's death was how his long and (mostly) distinguished acting career was collapsed down to one role -- Curly, in "City Slickers."

Granted, when you're a newscaster and you've only got two minutes to do an obit, you can only hit the high points. Its a shame that the one movie Palance will be remembered for was basically a pastiche of his most important role,

Jack Wilson in "Shane." All those great movies (we won't talk about the Italian period) and all those TV dramas (remember, he was in "Requiem for a Heavyweight") and it all comes down to Curly.

Palance isn't the only artist to suffer from the Curse of Curly. Although he wrote fugues, chorales, motets, masses, instrumental suites, Johann Pachelbel is known for one thing and one thing only -- the "Canon in D." And just try to find recordings of any of the other of the hundreds of works he composed.

Grant Wood created a number of works in a variety of media -- charcoal, metal, ink and even stained glass. But to the general public he only did one painting; "American Gothic." The Curse of Curly.

My point is this. For most people, knowing the single piece of a "one-hit wonder" is enough. But it shouldn't be. I've discovered some really wonderful music, movies, books and art just by asking "what else have they done?"

It's fine to enjoy "City Slickers." But do yourself a favor and check out "Shane" as well. The Curse of Curly only works with the uncurious.

- Ralph

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