Monday, May 29, 2006


Paul Gleason (1939-2006)

Asshole Central Casting has lost one of its charter members. Paul Gleason has died at the age of 67. His credits on episodic television were extensive, but it was probably two supreme film roles as jerks that will be his legacy.

First and foremost, there was Principal Richard Vernon in 1985's The Breakfast Club, the chief villain overseeing the quintet of students spending Saturday in detention in a high school library. Of course, it's difficult to watch John Hughes' film these days because it just seems so ridiculous (I always hated the ending), but the last time I saw it I actually found myself more on Vernon's side than the kids. I guess age will do that to you.

The other role that I always remember Gleason for is Deputy Police Chief Dwayne Robinson in 1988's Die Hard, where seemingly every minor character was cast out of Asshole Central Casting (alongside Gleason there were William Atherton, Robert Davi, Hart Bochner, just to name a few) so it wasn't just the bad guys giving Bruce Willis a pain in the ass. He not only excelled once again as a jerk, his deadpan delivery was delicious as he delivered lines like "I guess we have to get some more FBI guys" and "I hope that's not a hostage."

Even earlier, he was the crooked government insider out to slip Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche inside information in 1983's Trading Places, only to end up as bride to a gorilla.

RIP Paul Gleason.

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You forgot Trading Places. Everyone wanted Clarence Beeks to get his comeuppance, but being sodomised by a gorilla for the duration of a transatlantic voyage - that's gotta hurt.

And presumably, like most specialists in cinematic assholiness, he was the nicest of guys.
I heard a radio interview with him one time. It was one of the most profane yet funny things I have ever heard. The radio station said he wore out the seven second delay.

You mess with the bull. You get the horns, baby.
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