Friday, July 10, 2009

Fondly Remembering Marty Feldman

I'm afraid I missed this guy's birthday by a few days, as it was on July 8th. But a belated Happy Birthday nonetheless to Marty Feldman, one of the funniest characters to grace the movie screens in both Hollywood and his native England. Though Marty had an unfortunate defect of the eyes, he was able to turn this bizarre physical trait into a successful career as a much beloved screen comic. In order to draw this sketch, I watched him in 1975's The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, where he costarred alongside actor (and first-time director) Gene Wilder. In truth, it's a pretty weak film, although it boasts some quite nice atmospheric visuals and lush colour. Also, it was shot in England, thereby giving them easy access to some terrific British character actors, including Leo McKern (as Prof. Moriarty), John Le Mesurier, and Roy Kinnear.

Much better of course was the film where Wilder and Feldman had first costarred together the year before: Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, considered now to be a comedy classic. Marty Feldman played the assistant, "Igor", (humourously pronounced "Eye-gor", as Feldman points out when his character is first introduced), whose hump seems to migrate between the left and right side of his back. This was the film that firmly established Feldman as a screen comedian in America, although he'd already been a big star on British TV for a number of years. One very bizarre film that I recommend seeing him in is The Bed Sitting Room, a darkly funny, post nuclear holocaust film, where Marty Feldman plays a female nurse that has mutated into...well... a bug-eyed little man!

Sadly, Marty Feldman left this world far too soon back in 1982, the victim of shellfish poisoning that triggered a massive heart attack while he was in the midst of shooting his final film, Yellowbeard. He was only 49 when he died.


Brian Sibley said...

Masterful! In fact, Marty-ful!!

Eric Noble said...

Wonderful portrait of him. I would love to see some of the other work he did.

Kellybean said...

Hi there I know this is very random, however I bought some drawings at a thrift store (not even sure that they are original, but the do say hand colored on the back) and they are sealed and everything so I dare not open. Anyways getting to my point, I have no clue who they are but it does say on the back that they were framed for a Harry Gladstone Int. When I googled it, it brought me here and you were saying you knew him? I just wondered what these drawings were and maybe you can help me. Here is my e-mail: please put subject as "Thrift store art" so I know what the e-mail is. Thank you!

justin said...

great caricature as always! Let's not forget the late Peter Boyle as he was great in Young F. as well!

"Putin' on the RIIITTTZZZZ"!

alexandre said...

Hey Pete! Gotta miss you being away from Sheridan and all.

Always loved your charicatures. If you have a copy of mine I'd love to see it again.

Thanks and have a great summer.


Kali Fontecchio said...

I love him!!!! And I love this!!!

Trevor Thompson said...

Wow, Pete, I had no idea you were such a big fan of Marty. I personally loved him in the series 'At Last The 1948 Show' where he helped scribe the now famous 'Four Yorkshiremen' sketch.

Speaking of great sketches, kudos on your caricature of him. I love it!

- trevor.

PS: Ever get to see the muppet that Henson made of him? They wanted to do caricature muppets at one point, but only ever made one, and it was good ol' Marty!

mike fontanelli said...

A truly beautiful caricature. I've been waiting most of my adult life to get Feldman's brilliant BBC comedy series on DVD - the one with the Terry Gilliam opening, remember?

I recently bought a region-free DVD player (so I could watch Hal Roach Laurel & Hardy movies, which aren't even available in the U.S.! Don't get me started...) The upshot of that was I was able to order a "Best of Marty Feldman" disc on Amazon UK. Great great memories, but unfortunately it was just a tantalizing taste.

I want the whole furshlugginer series!

PaulW said...

Ahh, Marty, you are missed. Anybody see his old TV sketch show in the UK? Some classics, but sadly not shown any more.

As for Young Frankenstein, who can forget Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp?? With the wooden arm? I must have seen it at least a 100 times and it still makes me laugh!

Nice caricature and very nice blog! Thanks for sharing this with the world.