Yours truly has been on a Cliff Robertson kick. You start to notice a pattern over the course of some of his performances.
Robertson onscreen brings an atmosphere of risk. You are both drawn to him and cautious with him. He is both magnetic and dangerous. He's like a tightly-coiled spring that is ready to pop, a panther lying in wait for its prey.
There is bottled tension in many of his performances that seems best released in films like Autumn Leaves, where he's playing a man who could be insane. This is why he is perfect in Gidget (1960), playing the older man who, in the mind of Sandra Dee's sheltered surfer girl, represents something unsafe, something outside of her suburban bubble.
His tensions are unleashed in The Big Show, where scene after scene finds him growling at his brother who wants more control over the family circus.
Even when he's playing a preacher who is kind to orphans in the light comedy My Six Loves, you're waiting for the clergyman to confess some haunting secret.
His estate's official website says that his unreleased autobiography will come out soon, but that announcement is from 2012. I'd really like to read it. I'd like to know the person behind the screen. There is something pent up in this man that I cannot describe. Can't wait for the book.
Do you enjoy Cliff Robertson performances? Comment below; let me know.