Brooklyn-born actor Martin Landau, who passed away July 15, left a legacy of film and television performances dating back almost 65 years, starting with a 1953 appearance on The Goldbergs starring Gertrude Berg.
Although 89 years old at the time of his death, Landau remained busy, co-starring with Paul Sorvino in The Last Poker Game, which was shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and in Without Ward, yet to be released.
Here Landau talks with the New York Daily News about The Last Poker Game and how he was a staff cartoonist and illustrator for the tabloid before embarking on his acting career:
The Savvy Screener remembers Landau by identifying some his most noteworthy roles – and where you can stream them online.
North by Northwest (1957)
Early in his career, Landau landed a supporting role as James Mason’s henchman, Leonard, in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest. Leonard was a silent, menacing presence in the film, as evidenced in this scene with Cary Grant, a New York advertising executive who has just been mistaken for a government agent:
Mission Impossible (1966-1969)
Landau was Rollin Hand, a master of disguises with nerves of steel who helped rescue hostages, steal government secrets and topple dictators for the first three seasons of Mission Impossible’s seven-year run. He starred opposite his wife, Barbara Bain, who played the seductive IMF agent Cinnamon Carter.
Here Landau and Bain share memories about the series, including the reaction of one Russian viewer:
You can stream the entire series with an Amazon Prime subscription.
Space: 1999 (1975-1977)
The husband-and-wife team of Landau and Bain returned for two seasons of the slightly campy British sci-fi production Space: 1999. Commander John Keonig and Dr. Helena Russell are serving on Moonbase Alpha when an explosion rips the moon from Earth’s orbit and sends it flying into deep space.
You can rent episodes for $1.99 in SD from Amazon.
A late-career movie renaissance
At the age of 60, Hollywood began taking a second look at Landau. In a short span, he secured roles that earned him three best supporting actor Oscar nominations – and one win.
In Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), Landau gave a touching performance as Abe Karatz, assistant to real-life, high-flying, post-war automobile entrepreneur Preston Tucker, played by Jeff Bridges.
Tucker can only be streamed by purchasing it — $9.99 in SD or $13.99 in HDX on Vudu.
Landau received a second nod for his turn in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), in which, as Dr. Judah Rosenthal, he tries to rationalize away a guilty conscience after having ordered the murder of his mistress.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is not available to stream, but can be purchased on DVD.
Landau finally did take home the Academy Award for Ed Wood (1994). In it, he resurrects Dracula star Bela Lugosi, who is wooed into one last film performance by one of the most beloved and hopelessly incompetent directors in movie history.
In this clip, an adulatory film crew member accidentally mentions a sore subject — Lugosi’s monster rival, Boris Karloff:
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