By Sandy Robinson
Ned Beatty passed away this week and it got me thinking about his various roles and which I liked the best. Some will say Deliverance, Network, Rudy, or as a character in Toy Story 3, but for me, it will always be the lovable nitwit Otis in the Superman franchise.
I was born in the early ’70s and other than Star Wars, the only other movie that I watched as a young kid was Superman: The Movie. Released in 1978, this movie is essentially about good versus evil: Superman/Clark Kent as the good and Lex Luthor as the evil. Played by Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman respectfully, the two main characters have their story written. By themselves, this is still a good movie; however, you need to have great secondary characters to thicken the plot, and in this case, someone to bungle Lex’s plans. That is right, Otis. Otis, played by Beatty, is a simple-minded minion of Lex Luthor and does whatever he commands, or at least tries to. In one scene, cops are following Otis into the subway as he heads to the secret base unknown to him, but not unknown to Lex who has cameras up and takes care of the police. You can actually see on Otis’s face how sorry he is because he wants to protect and help Mr. Luthor as much as he can. This character is flawed but provided the majority of the lighter, funnier scenes in the movie. When Lex first tells us of his plans and reveals the new map, we see one city named Otisville. Lex has a fit and Otis slinks back from comments. His reaction is like he’s been hit multiple times and is waiting to get hit again. As soon as Lex yells for him he comes running like nothing ever happened. Otis getting the codes wrong because he wrote them on his arm and they wore off, classic comedy right there. And his body language alone tells Lex that he screwed up and they would need another plan.
This movie, in my opinion, is an exceptionally good origin story. It is so because the actors took their roles seriously and played them to perfection. Ned Beatty played Otis perfectly and had he not, the movie may have looked silly and not very believable. You can have the greatest hero and greatest villain of all time but without secondary characters like Otis to make it more realistic. While he may be more recognizable in some of his other more serious roles, this one for me is my favorite of his. Rest in peace, Ned Beatty. Now you can fly as well.
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.