A Brief Note On Pool

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I have a love of terrible dialogue, delivered convincingly.  This was something they used to do back in the 1950s and 1960s – take these long, comic-book speeches, florid with metaphor and full of emotions that nobody would actually say, and the actors would somehow sell it.
It’s a tricky thing to pull off.  You need both commitment and talent.  If you don’t speak these lines like your next breath depended on them, the phoniness of it bleeds through.  If you don’t have the talent to act it with the proper heart, well, you look callow and stupid.
But when you manage it, well… you get Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Luke that this is a hive of scum and villainy.  You get Charlton Heston screaming at apes. You get Kirk and Khan, uttering lines through the bits of scenery still wedged in their teeth.  You get Jack and Rose on the deck of the Titanic, and yes that movie is better than you give it credit for.
But really, I’m watching two masters work some of the turdiest dialogue ever written: Rod Serling, you did us all a favor with the Twilight Zone, but holy crap your speeches were wooden. The only reason you could get people to believe this stuff is that you realized that you needed good actors… and when you got them they managed to bring your leaden speeches to life.
I’m watching two masters of the craft, Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters, exchange rapid-fire dialogue in one of the best TZ episodes, “A Game Of Pool.”  And I’m thinking, nobody talks like this.  Then I’m thinking, but people should.

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