Welcome to September, and the eighth edition of The Franco Files! Still going strong here, folks. . .even despite my apparent inability to really get going on diving deeper into his filmography beyond the recent things that I have seen him in. Some fan, eh? I know, I know.
Here’s me reaching. Today’s entry is not Franco’s most substantial contribution to film, at least in terms of total screen time. But what he does here is still worthy of mention. Dramatic chops? Check. Actual chops? Yeah, he’s involved in some sort of scuffle here. Mutton chops? Well, you can debate his hairstyle all you want. I’m kind of getting away from my point. . . . Where I was going with this bit was, it’s interesting having seen Franco in all of these significant roles, taking the lead even in some instances, and then switching to watching him dutifully fulfill what’s required of a pretty minor supporting character. I’m sure many out there would prefer him to take on these sorts of roles more often. Me? Eh, I’m not one of ’em. I am, however, willing to take whatever I can get.
Francophile #8: Marty Freeman, The Iceman
Role Type: Supporting
Character Profile: Originally written for the part of a Softee ice cream truck creepazoid named Mr. Pronge (shudder), which was subsequently changed to a Mr. Freezy truck driver — same name — played by an incredibly effective Chris Evans . . . Franco’s role ultimately becomes that of an even less major supporting role as a meddling middle-man whose relationship with infamously brutal mob boss Roy DeMeo isn’t particularly clear but a connection exists nonetheless. Franco turns up the smarmy factor to effect a seedy character without having to do too much. (Although I wish he had a little more than this.)
If you lose Franco, the film loses (MAJOR SPOILERS): one of Richard Kuklinski’s most offensive moral backtrackings. The murder of relatively innocent Marty Freeman paints the contract killer in the most cold-blooded light possible, as Kuklinski first intimidates the hell out of and then demands a cowering Marty to pray to God before he pulls the trigger. Granted the scene is written fantastically but it still comes down to Franco’s ability to convince us of the terror associated with being on the wrong end of a gun, particularly in a moment as desperate as this.
Out of Character: [Michael Shannon, who plays the lead Richard Kuklinski, on meeting Franco for the first time:] “You know, James is very into poetry. I like James. I met him in Boston at a train station. I was just standing there one day waiting for a train back to New York and this guy walked up with a baseball cap and sunglasses and a big bushy beard and a trench coat. I kind of thought he might be—he wasn’t dirty—but he looked kind of like he might be homeless.”
Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):
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