And while we've revived this Bill Paxton Is Dead thread like a zombie--and via a Pia Zadora discussion, of all things!--I suppose I might add my own personal contribution to the remembrances of a first-rate, and marvelously understated, actor, as well as the late fellow whom I knew him through:
If Siskel & Ebert hadn't agreed that "One False Move" was the finest picture of that year, I doubt I would have ever taken the time to find it on cable or at the video rental store, even though I casually knew its star. It was a terrific film indeed, and far and away due to Paxton's turn as a small-town cop in the middle of a major drug bust the Feds have come to Arkansas to spring.
But I was fortunate to somewhat know Paxton a couple years before the world came to know of his considerable talent. He happened to be in a circle of pals that Carl Bressler had. That would be the late Carl Bressler--as opposed to the surviving one in Hollywood, a character actor who, oddly, specializes in playing characters named some variant of "Berg".
You may remember the Bressler I knew from, first, my queries herein as to his whereabouts and whether he was still living, and eventually, my tribute to him posted after a cousin of his spotted my inquiry and related the sad news that this Carl Bressler had died in his sleep, back in the suburbs of his hometown Boston in 2006.
Carl, if you read my tribute to this Stooge Larry Fine-lookalike, was a casual Dylan fan in Los Angeles who in 1978 was helping start the nascent claymation scene in Hollywood, and had even had considerable success, seeing his faux-realism short film "Tuesday" make air on Saturday Night Live not once, but twice. And about this time Carl got the quixotic idea of somehow recruiting Dylan to provide the soundtrack for a new production that Carl had been calling around town to raise the money for.
So, when a 1000-square foot commercial space opened up on the other side of Strand where Dylan's longtime leased rehearsal studio/office at 2219 Main Street was located--opening up directly across from Dylan's front door--Carl snapped it up for his own mini-studio, and spent the next five years watching Dylan come and go. And listening, since Dylan's people would often leave the windows wide open during the upstairs rehearsals. (And occasional bona fide recordings: The entirety of "Street-Legal" was laid down there, and anyone strolling down Strand could have earwitnessed it.)
And after I chatted with Dylan in his wife's Mercedes parked by the front door one Tuesday evening in mid-October 1980, Carl motioned me over and, incredulously, soon enough invited me into his circle of pals. That's where I ran into Paxton one weeknight in December of that year. During a short conversation looking over some of Carl's film props on his shelves, he immediately struck me just as he would once I could ultimately see him in "Apollo 11" or "One False Move"--tremendously in control of himself, and with that positively charming slight Texas accent. So sad that this fellow barely made his 60s.
(And by way, since Carl died in 2006, he never got to hear Dylan's so-called--and SO lingering--Sinatra phase*. And that's TERRIBLY sad because Carl would have absolutely LOVED Dylan's current work with the standards, however melodically inept it is almost every night on The Neverending Tour. I say this because Bressler never seemed to much understand Dylan's talent despite being dazzled by it, and always preferred the numerous sentimental moments in Dylan's art to those endless Dylanesque aspects which endlessly mesmerize so many of us more conventional Dylanologists.)
* Which in fact would be more accurately termed Dylan's Standards period, for many of the Tin Pan Alley tunes his aging and ravaged voice can't hit the notes of are songs Francis Albert never recorded, although I gather all of those on the three albums recently recorded in the Capitol Tower are somewhere indeed in Sinatra's vast body of work.