October 25, 1988 [Things Change]

The '80s have been good to Don Ameche--and not just in that corner of showbiz where the Love Boat takes old actors to Fantasy Island, where McCloud and Quincy, M.E. team up to investigate their demise. No, from Trading Places--and just the other month in Coming to America--to the big surprise of Cocoon, Don and his mustache have enjoyed themselves immensely.

But who would've thought that it would take David Mamet and Shel Silverstein to figure out exactly what to do with Don: make him a Don, kind of, a whatsa-matta-for-you Eye-talyen shine-a-da-choose old man escorted around Mametville by the mayor of that strange city, Joe Mantegna, who knows exactly how to deliver a Mamet line: as though such simple words had never been spoken before, so you repeat them sometimes just to make sure they're real--with increased conviction, knowing that the next line waits for the same steady exploration and conquest. Inevitably, Ameche's shoe-shining gentleman reminded me of my father's father, with his cardigan and shirt buttoned up, even without a tie, neat and trim and gentle--but he knew what he knew, and what he knew most is that things change.

With that in mind, it's no surprise that the firmest conclusion is a shrug, the Sicilian heroism--Mamet-ian, too, in a hard-boiled kind of way--that accepts defeat and exile without any fuss, like an old hand at Tahoe betting it all, losing, and smiling through.


Popular Posts