My top five Rod Taylor performances which I am a little ashamed to admitting I enjoyed.
1) Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1961) – Rod was always embarrassed by this comic peplum and if truth be told it’s not very good but he is a lot of fun in a broad comic part.
2) Zabriskie Point (1970) – an absolute mess but Antonioni had talent to burn and even when he misfires it’s worth watching. Try to see it on the big screen if it comes around.
3) The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1971) – a complete misfire in many ways with one of the most ridiculous finales in recent memory, but enough dramatic and warm moments to make one wish, really wish, it had been better.
4) Danielle Steele’s Palomino (1991) – don’t laugh. My expectations were low, I’m not familiar with this genre at all, but this was expertly made and I didn’t pick the twists. Delightful to see Rod with Eva Marie Saint again.
5) Welcome to Woop Woop (1998) – a heavily flawed movie but contains Rod’s best performance in the last 30 or so years. He’s hilarious.
My top five Rod Taylor TV performances – for no reason other than for fun. In no particular order:
1) “The Raider” Playhouse 90 (1959) – an excellent corporate drama with Rod strong in a supporting role, the conscience of the piece (he performed a similar function in “The Great Gatsby” and “The Long March” also for Playhouse 90). Superb ensemble cast including Paul Ford and Donald Crisp, wonderful script. This should be better known.
2) “The Argonauts” Cheyenne (1955) – similar to an anthology drama, this is very self contained. A remake of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) with Rod in the Tim Holt role. This got him a lot of attention and deservedly so.
3) “And When the Sky Was Opened” The Twilight Zone (1959) – superb instalment of the classic series with Rod giving one of his best performances as a doomed astronaut.
4) “The Hitchhiker” Tales of the Unexpected (1980) – most of Rod’s credits in the 70s and 80s were pretty dire but this is a lively entertaining vignette, not the greatest script in the world but joyful to watch Rod and Cyril Cusack together.
5) Hong Kong (1960-61) – Rod Taylor really came into his own as a leading man in this series, a highly enjoyable action series in a Hollywood Hong Kong.
The ABC have been putting up lots of their wonderful back catalogue on line – including this “Four Corners” documentary on Utah Mining. This features several clips of Rod Taylor’s hideous ads for the company, shot in the 70s.
The lovely Diane Tomasik, author of The Complete Rod Taylor Website, has kindly given my book on Rod a page on her site. I don’t know if the book had been written without Diane’s encouragement and support – she got me through some difficult times. And her site goes from strength to strength… she’s quiet for a few months and then bam! it’s updated. Terrific work.
One notable thing is so much of Rod’s stuff is available on You Tube now – I only researched the book a decade ago and it was tricky to track stuff down, but now it’s everywhere. Diane’s site has a lot of the links – such as Rod’s appearance in “Tales of the Unexpected”. Wonderful.
“Nerd Formal”, my tribute to the films of John Hughes which had its world premiere at the Stables in 2003, has been recommended for schools by the Australian Script Centre. Thanks, guys! It wasn’t written for schools, hence the swearing, but I’m happy to cut it out if anyone wants to do it! Trinity Grammar did a version a few years ago which was a lot of fun to see.
The brilliant Internet Archive website has hours of wonderful radio shows to listen to – including the Australian adaptation of “Dam Busters” starring Charles Tingwell and Rod Taylor. Listen to it here – Australian radio drama at it’s peak.