Auld Lang Cinema 

Should old acquaintances be forgotten?

Making movies, for some, is a diversion. For others, it is and has always been the pleasure and passion of turning frames of film into an evocation of the joys and sorrows of life. The catalog of magic shadows grows with each passing year. Before we turn the page on 2010, we remember a few artists who left too soon in body but remain forever in visions of light and shadow.

If Blake Edwards had done nothing more than give us Inspector Jacques Clouseau, he'd still be enshrined in the comedy hall of fame. If you think that Peter Sellers gave us Clouseau, you'd be less than half right. It was Edwards that took an average play, A Shot in the Dark, in which Clouseau was a minor character, and retooled the concept to allow Sellers to fly in rarefied comedic air. Edwards and Sellers teamed up again and again, and even though some of the Pink Panther films weren't classics, they still include classic moments. Edwards also gave us Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, 10 and the funniest pie fight ever filmed in The Great Race. Edwards died on Dec. 15.

Arthur Penn shared more than the same birth year as Edwards. They shared a disdain for convention. Hollywood was notorious for recasting Broadway hits with Hollywood stars and starlets, but Penn would have none of it, insisting Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke re-create their performances for the movie version of The Miracle Worker. Penn changed American film forever when he infused French New Wave themes for Bonnie and Clyde, pushing the envelope of screen violence. Penn died on Sept. 28.

Rolling Stone once called Dennis Hopper one of Hollywood's most notorious drug addicts. But he outlived many of his critics. In the 1950s Hopper starred as an innocent teen in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. In the 1960s, he directed and co-starred in Easy Rider, the jarring mess that bumped film into a new counter-culture era. Hopper staggered around bad movies for a couple of decades, but returned with a heartbreaking performance in 1986's Hoosiers and a sinister one in Blue Velvet. Hopper died on May 29.

The face of feminism in film probably belonged to Jill Clayburgh. It's hard to forget the close-up of Clayburgh as her husband tells her he no longer loves her in 1978's An Unmarried Woman. In other star turns, she played iconic feminists in It's My Turn, Starting Over and First Monday in October. Clayburgh died on Nov. 5.

This year, we also lost Patricia Neal (Hud, A Face in the Crowd) and Jean Simmons (Hamlet, Elmer Gantry), both were beautiful yet underappreciated actresses.

So a toast to the movies and those of true class whom we lost in 2010.

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