Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Tom Waits Film Festival

It's a great week to be a Tom Waits fan. On Monday we got a free preview of the Glitter & Doom live album and this Friday sees the release of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus which stars Tom as the Devil.

Waits has said he doesn't consider himself an actor, "I like doing it, but there's a difference between being an actor and doing some acting". That said he's appeared in more than two dozen films though it's also fair to say he's never strayed far from the eccentric persona he's created for himself.

One of my favourite Tom Waits cameos is in Robert Frank and Rudy Wurlitzer's Candy Mountain. Sadly no one's put any clips on YouTube but if you want to see our hero dressed in a remarkable pair of check trousers practicing golf shots do track down a copy.

Here are a few choice clips from the Waits 'acting' oeuvre that I did find on a quick trawl. Please post others you know of in the comments.

Down By Law (1986)
Jim Jarmusch is the director most associated with Waits and Down By Law is easily his meatiest role. There are quite a few songs from Rain Dogs on the soundtrack too. Waits can be heard as another DJ in Mystery Train too.

Coffee & Cigarettes (2003)
More Jarmusch. This sequence was filmed in 1993 but I had to wait a decade before I finally saw it. The most remarkable thing about the clip is that Iggy Pop is wearing a shirt.

The Fisher King (1991)
Tom plays to type as a homeless Vietnam veteran in Terry Gilliam's wonderful New York fable.

Short Cuts (1993)
One of my favourite Robert Altman films and probably Tom's best acting performance.

Cold Feet (1989)
An oddball but enjoyable comedy written by Tom McGuane (Rancho Deluxe, The Missouri Breaks). Tom plays a a hit man called Kenny in his most over-the-top acting performance. There's an even better clip of Waits in Cold Feet at iMDB.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Did I just write that Cold Feet was Waits' most over-the-top performance? Whoops. It's this one, playing the Bedlam bug eater Renfield for his old pal Francis Ford Coppola.

Mystery Men (1999)
Barney Hoskyns' excellent Waits biog Lowside of the Road claims that Tim Burton actually made this deadbeat superhero comedy and that credited director 'Kinka Usher' is a psuedonym. As far as I know Usher is actually a well-regarded ads director. Anyway, in the film Tom plays Dr Heller, the genius who makes the hapless heroes' non-lethal weapons (the blame thrower is my favourite). This clip is an outtake (you'll have to go to YouTube to watch).

What are your favourite Tom Waits films? Have you seen Doctor Parnassus? Do leave a comment below.

Related Posts
Tom Waits 2.0 - Tom's new website and free MP3s

Buy Tom Waits Movies at Amazon


heavyflowe said...

as 'rudy the kraut' in Ironweed

as 'the prophet' in Domino

Nigel Smith said...

Ironweed is great, I just couldn't find a clip. Domino looks like such a stinker that I've never watched it but I've seen Tom's turn on YouTube.

YouTube: Tom Waits in Domino

I've also just ordered Wristcutters on DVD which a friend recommended

juliesocialscience said...

Domino is bad, nasty poison and Mr Waits is embarassing. Tony Scott sure knows how to point a camera at stuff but doesn't know why to point it at stuff. Queens Logic features a hearty, knowing handshake between Tom Waits and Joe Mantegna. At the time, the former was my brother's favourite musician in the whole world and the latter his favourite actor. This handshake pleased him greatly.

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