Cinemorgue, which features listings and descriptions of thousands of death scenes that are alphabetized by the names of actors and actresses, is grim and exhaustive and…valuable, I guess, but also kind of strange. I’d forgotten how many times Elke Sommer has been gruesomely killed on-screen. Two skiiing accidents, shot three times (machine gunned in 1969’s The Wrecking Crew, the Dean Martin-Matt Helm movie), blown up, and bludgeoned to death.
Almost all movie deaths, it seems, are brutal, bloody, sudden, ghastly, traumatic and otherwise unpeaceful. Nod-off deaths — like Sir Cedric Hardwicke ‘s passing in The Ten Commandments — have been few and far between over the last 40 years. Is real-life death ever smooth and easy? Only if you do yourself in with pills. James Toback said during a phone chat, which is that (paraphrasing) “almost none of us are going to die as pleasantly as we’d like to…it’s always under circumstances we can’t foresee, much less plan for, and sooner than we’d like.”
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