Thursday, March 18, 2010

Robert Duvall and The Apostle

Many (if not all) of you will have heard of Robert Duvall. One of America's greatest actors, he has portrayed everyone from Tom Hagen in The Godfather to Harry Hogge in Days of Thunder, and a host of those in between. Fewer (if any) of you will have heard of Walton Goggins. Probably best known for his role as Detective Shane Vendrell on The Shield, Goggins gives such a wonderful performance in the Duvall-directed and -starring The Apostle that he threatens to overshadow such actors as Duvall, Miranda Richardson, Billy Bob Thornton and even Farrah Fawcett and June Carter Cash!

In the film, Duvall plays a Baptist minister cursed with a violent temper. In an arguably justifiable outrage, Duvall accidentally kills a man, and must go on the run from the law. He ends up in tiny Bayou Boutte, Louisiana, and goes about planting a church. One of his first congregants is Goggins' Sam. This is a story of a flawed but deeply devoted Christian, someone who is honest about his flaws but committed to the proclamation of the Gospel. It's a story about God working, as he promised, through broken vessels and jars of clay. Goggins' tearful conversion, as Duvall is being led away to prison, is one of the most powerful scenes I've ever seen.

There's also a great scene wherein Duvall (and his Bible) stand up to Billy Bob Thornton (and his bulldozer)! Chock full of Southern charm, consider this the companion piece to Black Snake Moan, blogged about here. The real reason to watch this movie though, as a movie buff, is to see Walton Goggins' wonderful performance. It serves as a reminder that we've never heard of many of the greatest actors in the world. For every Brendan Fraser there are twenty Walton Gogginses. I'll take Goggins every time.


  1. 1.HOW DARE YOU NICK!!!! Walton Goggins was on THE SHIELD. Millions of people LOVED (mostly me and Guy though) him on that show. Please, please, please, please see that show. I am an evangelist for The Shield. It held the most amazing, gut-wrenching scenes i have ever seen on TV. People I have begged to watch it will call me at hour 15 of an all day and night marathon of watching episodes crying. It is the best writing, casting, acting that has been on tv in a long long time. Every season had several scenes as affecting as that scene from THE APOSTLE.
    The epitome of what God can do with the most broken in us. And Robert Duvall's characters short comings didn't mean a damn thing to the real change that happened for Walton Goggins character. God is God, even- no especially- when we are human.

  2. Oh i forgot to bring up Justified is premiering in the next couple weeks and it is based on an elmore leonard book- and Walton Goggins is in that.
    And i will never post such a long reply as the first comment ever again. Sorry i just got so excited that you blogged about TWO things i REALLY love.

  3. I DID mention The Shield...but I confess that I haven't seen it. And I'm interested in Leonard (I've read the books the series is based on), love Goggins, and love the lead, Timothy Olyphant. And long posts are welcome, Dana!

  4. Good call on the Apostle -- I think it and the Exorcist are the two movies that surprised me in their communication of the Gospel (until the old priest in the Exorcist tells the demon to go into him, which must have been Friedkin's capitulation to the more popular message of humanism).


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