On this day in 1940, the actor Raul Julia was born. I hesitate to call him “great” even though he was a very fine actor. The problem is that he was in so much crap, it is amazing. Take, for example, Frankenstein Unbound. It isn’t that it is a bad film, it’s just so odd and silly. Yet up their on the screen are John Hurt and Julia acting their asses off. They are both so much better than the movie. And that was generally true of Julia’s career.
One movie that especially stands out to me, however, is Kiss of the Spider Woman. Raul Julia and William Hurt are great in that and they are about all their is in the film. Unfortunately, I can’t find much of the film online. The film is typical of another aspect of his career: he rarely played the lead role. Another great, but small, role: Sandy Stern in Presumed Innocent. That’s fine; he’s a great ensemble actor, which is the best kind of actor to be.
Some of his star roles are definitely worth checking out, even if they will require more effort than a Google search. One is as the title character in Mack the Knife, a twisted version of the Brecht play. And another title role in Romero, a low budget film made by Paulist Fathers, a group of Catholic priests. It was about Bishop Oscar Romero who was an outspoken advocate for the people, who was assassinated for his troubles. And, of course, Julia was the unquestioned star of Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. It was not his fault! (You can watch the MST3K treatment of the film on Youtube.)
But Julia is probably best known for the ensemble comedies The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. And since I can actually find decent clips for them, here is a wonderfully twisted romantic scene with the similarly wonderful Anjelica Huston:
Happy birthday Raul Julia!