Some faces are so authoritatively creepy they do more than stay in your memory; they seep into your psyche, your bones …little pan flashes of something long buried. This guy — I won’t insult his iconic status by identifying him or mentioning the film he starred in — got so far under my emotional skin when I was a kid that he’ll probably stay with me into my next life.
Every time I see this chilling face I think of how he was described: “The sum of all intelligence”…and then I see those reptile tweezer fingers. It’s not that he’s “scary” — it’s knowing for sure that face will never be erased.
The question is, who else in films has had a truly startling puss — something out- there in either a scary or beautiful or mesmerizing way — that you can’t forget him/ her no matter what, no matter how many years have passed?
One of my all-time favorite faces belongs to the young Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter , followed closely by Holly Hunter‘s in Broadcast Newsm and Bob Mitchum‘s in Out of the Past. There was something close to haunting about Leonardo DiCaprio‘s in The Basketball Diaries and Romeo + Juliet. As spell- blnding as Max Shreck’s face was in Murnau’s Nosferatu, I think Klaus Kinski outdid him in the ’79 Herzog version. John Wayne ‘s weather-beaten, squinty- eyed face in Red River….Anna Magnani ‘s in Open City or Guilietta Masina‘s in La Strada….Adam Sandler ‘s in Reign Over Me (seriously). I could go on for pages.