ImageWarren Oates is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest actor that ever graced the medium of cinema. He continues to traipse across TVs via the medium of VHS, DVD, internet etc leaving a trail of cinders in his grizzled, charismatic wake. He was a thousand and one rebel clichés brought to life with vim and vigour.  A maverick rogue with a heart of gold. The raw, untethered romance that Oates embodied in life, real and otherwise, will never be seen again. Whether good guy or bad you could only ever be on Oates’ side.  He combined unbridled masculinity with the soul of a poet. This was a man in control of his destiny, restrained and resourceful in the heartiest of atmospheres. A stone cold genius. 

Warren Oates 5:

1)   Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia – Director: Sam Peckinpah

Oates’ perpetual loser takes a journey to hell on a search for riches and redemption.

2)   Cockfighter – Director: Monte Hellman

Hellman and Oates invite you into the willfully stubborn mind of a man who forsakes love for a misplaced and misguided sense of honour.

3)   Two-Lane Blacktop – Director: Monte Hellman

Oates at his most captivatingly beautiful. A cashmere bedecked bullshitter with no map nor purpose but a lust for drama and adventure.

4)   Race With The Devil – Director: Jack Starrett

Motor bikes, motor homes, devil worshippers, Peter Fonda and the man. Laconic boy racer defies the world to challenge his mid-life crisis.

5)   The Hired Hand – Director: Peter Fonda

Oates is the dependable best friend. The kind of man you would lay down your life for. Oates’ undimmed charisma may never fail to shine through but his quiet, unfussy performance is a beautifully understated gem in his filmography. 

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Chapter 1

June 18, 2013

24th September 1980

As I lay in bed, eyes shut tight, body rigid with fear, I could feel the encroaching, claustrophobic darkness of a humid late summer’s eve envelop my body in its clammy grip. The slight breeze that had been drifting in through the window, providing brief respite from the terror of the unrelenting heat, suddenly disappeared, as if sucked back into the unforgiving atmosphere. Lying puzzled, bewildered and terrified, my heart palpitating at every unannounced flickering shadow, I tried my hardest to evacuate all thoughts from the swirling vortex of tumult and pain that was clogging up every inch of my tormented brain.

But…but…but…so many buts…big, big buts…I could not prevent four terminally destructive words from parading their gaudy wares around the inner recesses of my mind. On their soul destroying march to oblivion they seemed to get stuck on a punishing loop. Round and round and round and round. If the inertia of this unforgivably hot night hadn’t already taken hold I would have tried to drown them out with my own cacophonic chorus. Instead I remained still, sweat pouring off every inch of flesh onto increasingly sodden bed sheets.

“WHAT HAVE I DONE?”

“What have I done?” WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE. The question ebbed and flowed but whether near or far the true answer to that exact question remained elusive. “What have I done?” More frightening than the question is the possibility that I might do it again. Two weeks ago I took a step into the unknown and now there are consequences…

Next to me, completely unaware of my anguish, lay popular TV presenter, Gloria Hunniford, her stale beauty radiating an aura of benign decorum. I turned my head to breathe in her bland architecture. Tonight would possibly be the last night we would take detached comfort in empty embraces. Mary Winifred Gloria Hunniford flinched and murmured before losing herself amidst broken dreams while I tried to find ways to escape this broken reality. I slowly raised myself into a sitting position and grabbed the leather bound book that rested on the bedside table. The piercing moonlight helped as I flicked though my contacts looking for the one man who might be able to provide some answers.