Top of the Morning, April 8, 2014
We asked N-G film critic Chuck Koplinski to weigh in on the late Mickey Rooney, including five of his best performances:
"Cary Grant referred to him as the greatest film actor he'd ever seen and when you look at Mickey Rooney's work you can see why. While the actor was accused — and rightfully so — of tearing up the scenery at times, there was seldom a false moment in any of his performances. The very first interview I ever did was with Rooney when he brought the cabaret show he did with his wife Jan to town and as I expected, he was as genuine and cantankerous as I thought he would be, whether waxing about his glory days at MGM or chastising another young writer for not knowing about Hollywood's Golden Age."
Boy's Town (1938)
As Whitey Marsh, a wannabe tough guy trying to deny his own good intentions, Rooney breaks your heart as he cradles his young admirer Pee Wee, after he's been hit by a car.
National Velvet (1944)
As the former jockey Mi Taylor, Rooney proved he could be a generous performer, as here he knows when to step back and let his co-star Elizabeth Taylor shine.
The Strip (1951)
Rooney effectively ventures into the world of film noir as a drummer who wants to open his own club but ends up rubbing shoulders with gangsters and ultimately being accused of murder.
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
Surrounded by grifters with double-crosses being the order of the day, Rooney's Army is the only one with a conscience in this tale of a boxer on his last legs. You can tell it hangs on him like a millstone.
The Black Stallion (1979)
Receiving his final Oscar nomination, this film is a bookend to "National Velvet" as Rooney's Henry Dailey finds himself trying to teach a young boy how to ride a seemingly untrainable horse.