All my moviegoing life I’ve been slightly perplexed by Ernst Lubitsch. Not his excellent films (Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living, Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, To Be or Not to Be, Heaven Can Wait) but the fact that he never looked the part. Not with that fat cigar, those intense beady eyes and those thick, thuggish features.
One look and people said “no offense but physically this guy is no personification of wit, sophistication and elegant understatement.” For he had the face of a brute, a mob boss, a Teamsters goon, one of Johnny Friendly‘s torpedos, the owner of an interstate trucking company, etc.
I’m sorry but you have to look like the person you are deep down. If you’re a comedian you have to look like Richard Pryor, John Belushi, Chris Rock, Lou Costello or Chris Farley. If you’re a prizefighter, you have to look like Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier, Rocky Graziano or Jake LaMotta. If you’re a poet, you have to look like Bob Dylan, Ezra Pound or James Joyce. If you’re a film critic you have to look a little dweeby and rumpled and bespectacled. If you’re a daily online columnist who does nothing but write all day and watch movies…well, several years ago LexG saw me at a screening and said, “He looks like he writes.”