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Shane Danielsen Highlights 'Giant' Performances

Pacino, Hackman and Nicholson are among the acting legends on show in EIFF's They Might Be Giants retrospective. Artistic Director Shane Danielsen gives me a rundown of some of his favourite performan...

Pacino, Hackman and Nicholson are among the acting legends on show in EIFF's They Might Be Giants retrospective. Artistic Director Shane Danielsen gives me a rundown of some of his favourite performances from these forgotten classics of New American Cinema.

A feature of the era was the degree to which actors would take chances with roles in left-field films. One such risk-taker was George Segal. “Today Segal is a very agreeable comedian on the sitcom Just Shoot Me,” Danielsen tells me. “Back then he was a major star but would do films as audacious as Where’s Poppa?.” Segal is terrific in this pitch-black comedy, a career choice which must have made his agent sweat.

He also spotlights Elliot Gould, who at the peak of his popularity took the role of a disenchanted vice cop in Peter Hyam’s directorial debut Busting. “Gould and Segal were in a completely different mode and register to any kind of Hollywood leading men that had gone before,” Danielsen observes.

Hollywood veterans were equally happy to be part of this new wave of filmmaking. Jack Lemmon gives an acting masterclass in his Oscar® winning portrayal of a failing businessman in Save the Tiger. His sometime on-screen partner Walther Matthau provides another of Danielsen’s highlights. “He did The Laughing Policeman straight after Don Siegel’s Charley Varrick. It’s a formidable one-two punch.”  

The legend’s style varies greatly from the impressive free-wheeling double act of John Cassavetes and Peter Falk as small-time hoods in Mikey and Nicky. Director Elaine May had a unique approach to drawing outstanding performances from her leads. “She had three cameras running continuously through hour after hour of improvisations,” Danielsen informs me.

He reserves special praise for the star of Night Moves and Scarecrow, both screening as part of the retrospective. “I’m in awe of Gene Hackman,” Danielsen tells me. “You buy him in every frame of Night Moves. You really believe he is Harry Moseby.”

They Might Be Giants provides an insight into a period when actors were willing to take risks for a reason other than gaining indie kudos. And with our latest ticket offer for the retrospective, you can watch three outstanding performances for the price of two.

Buy two full-price tickets and get one free for any of the films showing as part of They Might Be Giants. Offer only available offline until 14th August.

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