by Dr. Yes
Wednesday night the American Cinematheque’s Max Palevsky Aero theater played host to the Opening Night of a Five Night Tribute to the man Mickey Rooney, and the longest career a memorable evening, highlighted by an in-person appearance by none other than the real McCoy himself, the inimitable, Mickey Rooney.
General Moninger S. Grant got the evening’s festivities rolling with the pre-film announcements, a big crowd and a big applause for Mr. Rooney and what was a highly anticipated screening and Q&A. HEAVYWEIGHT still hits hard. Works the body till the head follows. Rooney’s place in the triangle of pain, Mountain Rivera’s corner, as trainer, "Army" to Jackie Gleason’s manager and Anthony Quinn’s boxer, is a singular example of just how powerful, revelatory even, an actor’s performance can be in a supporting role. Rooney’s character within the relationship of these three men in the twilight of a once great career as they struggle with the degradation of being forced to "get something outta the losing" is essential in carrying the pathos, illustrating a "nurturing" masculine element, and serves as the film’s only comic relief. "Army" pulls it off in one stand alone card game of "War."
With NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 2 and three films in post production, "Recently named the longest career in motion picture history, from ’27 till now, four times Oscar nominated, twice honorary award, Emmy award winner -- the awards get too many. All I’m going to say is here’s Mickey Rooney." With those words, host Peter Hammond welcomed actor, veteran, philanthropist, legend Mickey Rooney down to the Aero’s stage. A stage which has been held by countless giants of the film industry and a few seats in the audience too, this night was really special.
Mickey Rooney, unassuming in air and dress, took a seat alongside Mr. Hammond and Microphone in hand, proceeded to speak in a voice that was soft and steady never wavering and always settling. Mr. Rooney was joined in the audience by friends, family, and his wife Jan.
"Thank you. Well, I made so many bad pictures that weren’t released, A few that escaped. But it truly, I truly… have always believed that Anthony Quinn was one of the great actors of our time and should have been nominated and should have won. (Jackie) Gleason was coming off of Ralph Kramden… Director Ralph Nelson was a patient wonderful gentleman, tremendous gentleman. It was a great honor for me to be an infinitesimal part."
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