Saturday, January 23, 2010

Michael Ripper - man of all ethnicities and nationalities

I’ve been a fan of British character actor Michael Ripper for years. Ever since I noticed him in a dozen or so Hammer horror films he’s been one of those dependable faces I love to see pop up in a supporting role. I can remember reading some critic’s disparaging comments about John Gilling’s film THE REPTILE years ago that made me realize how much I liked Ripper. This writer was down on the film quite a bit and noted that there was a scene in which Ripper’s character made hot chocolate in real time as we watched. He sited this as a dull and unnecessary scene. Poppycock! I’d be happy to watch Michael Ripper make hot chocolate, hot tea, hot coffee or any other brewed beverage as long as he made me believe that was what he was doing! And he could, too. He’s just that good an actor! Plus – THE REPTILE involves a girl that transforms into a big snake so climb down off your high horse. The quiet moments are there for a reason.

But tonight I was watching another Gilling Hammer film called THE SCARLET BLADE and realized that Ripper was heavily made up and playing a gypsy. Trust me- he pulls it off pretty well but it reminded me of the many other odd roles he’s played over the years. He’s been an Egyptian, a French pirate, an Arab trader and several other things he clearly is NOT. How he got tapped to assay these parts must have to do with his capabilities as an actor but it serves to make me laugh when I look over his list of credits. I need to read that biography of his one day and see what he thought about his work.

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