Though John Wayne felt James Garner was the best actor America had to offer, he should have taken some notice of Robert Duvall. I can't name all the incredible rolls Duvall played. When the camera is on this fellow, you don't see the actor, you meet a tangible character. He makes his characters real. In every movie he's been in, whether a primary or supporting roll, he's the glue. He becomes the people he portrays. When I see Duvall act, I don't think of Duvall acting, I'm relating to the person he's portraying. Go rent The Apostle or Tender Mercies, you'll see what I mean.
There is one movie that I didn't care for, but Robert played his part so believably well. The movie was Deep Impact. In the movie a crew of specialists had to be pulled together to rocket up into space to save the world from a mammoth planet-killer comet. I know-I know, Armageddon another big budget movie that starred Bruce Willis came out about the same time with the same premise and was equally as mediocre. The only difference twixt the two is that Deep Impact had Robert Duvall behind the wheel. He played a seasoned astronaut who knew how to pilot the shuttle and kept the diverse crew together to complete the mission. The only reason to watch this movie over Armageddon is to watch Duvall.
Here I am writing about a picture of his that I don't really rate much as a good movie. Go back to To Kill A Mockingbird, The Godfather (one and two), Apocalypse Now, Second Hand Lions, Sling Bland and many-many more. I've seen him in classic television shows from The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Combat. He's been around for quite sometime, and has never disappointed his audience...at least not me.
My favorite movies of Duvalls is when he puts on a cowboy hat. The Lonesome Dove mini-series that people still talk about. Eventually I'll own it on DVD. I'm also a fan of Tommy Lee Jones...the two were great together. The movies Broken Trail and Open Range became instant Western classics - right up there with all my old favorite Westerns. Now I love John Wayne, but John Wayne movies were John Wayne movies. People went to see John Wayne (at least in his later pics). When you go see a Robert Duvall movie, you don't see Robert Duvall. I'm just wondering if John Wayne was wearing that eye patch and missed the great talent of Bob Duvall when making True Grit.
Duvall played a wonderful General Lee in Gods and Generals. I read where Robert Duvall served in the military and has the right to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery when he dies (if so he chooses). For those of you who do not know, Arlington National Cemetery was Robert E. Lee's estate before the war. The land was seized by the Union when Lee chose to side with Virginia. The American dead were literally buried at Lee's front door. Robert Duvall said he was proud to take on the roll of the great Confederate general because his folk haled from Northern Virginia, in fact, Robert Duvall is a descendant of Robert E. Lee. What a great thrill it must have been to portray his ancestor.