28 September 2023

It would be a shame if younger generations began to remember Donald Sutherland only as Kiefer's father. For in his heyday, Sutherland was at the top of his game.

Born in Canada in 1934 and educated at the University of Toronto, the actor spent time studying in England at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art).

There were small parts in genre films in the sixties, including 1965's Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (an anthology directed by Freddie Francis) and Die! Die! My Darling (1965) for Hammer Studios.

Then Robert Altman's M*A*S*H made him a superstar. Somewhat underrated and taken for granted as an actor, Sutherland nevertheless put his stamp on a wide variety of excellent films.

Klute might be remembered for its Oscar-winning performance by Jane Fonda - but Sutherland played the title role, balancing the actress's overt sexuality with a calmness that's a welcome sight in a movie filled with a gritty New York sensibility.

As a private eye searching for a missing husband, Klute is drawn into a world of prostitution and murder - and the actor does a fine job.

Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now was released in 1973. Sutherland portrayed a father recovering from the drowning death of his daughter. He and his wife (played by Julie Christie) head to Venice, where Sutherland is to help restore a church. A blind woman, ESP - and a chilling conclusion that'll knock your socks off...this one is a film that gets under your skin. A real must-see.

By all accounts, 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers should have gone the way of most remakes and long been forgotten. But to many, it's even better than the original.

It was a masterstroke to set the film in San Francisco during the "me" decade...where the idea that aliens have taken over bodies might not be noticed so easily in a place where everyone can seem like a stranger. Sutherland's Mathew Bennell is canny enough to almost survive what transpires. Almost...

Donald Sutherland still works often and if he no longer commands leading roles, well...character parts suit him and he continues to make an impression. Anyone who doubts his talent would be well served to watch his stunning performance in 1980's Ordinary People. It's an exercise in subtlety that is astounding.

Blood Relatives 1978
Castle of the Living Dead 1964
Die! Die! My Darling! 1965
Don't Look Now 1973
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors 1965
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978
Klute 1971
Murder by Decree 1979
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