best film: Apocalypse Now is the second best film of all-time so if you were in it, or a part of it, it’s your best film (there is zero overlapping cast with my #1 film: The Searchers). Duvall is more than just “in” Apocalypse Now, he eviscerates the screen as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. He’s on fire for his entire short duration on screen.

best performance:   Apocalypse Now but I’m fine if you want to go with his fantastic work in Lonesome Dove. Lonesome Dove is 6 ½ hours and Duvall is probably on screen for 3 of those hours. In contrast, he’s on screen for less than 10 minutes in Apocalypse Now, both are unforgettable characters. Duvall himself thinks his Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae in Lonesome Dove is one of the best characters in screen history (which leads me to believe even he thinks it’s his best work) but I’ve got to give the ever-so-slight edge to his work in Apocalypse Now.

stylistic innovations/traits: I think I have a good beat on Duvall’s career. There are four distinct categories or periods. In the 60’s he was earning his way as a supporting character but he created a name for himself as Boo Radley opposite Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird and then steals a few lines and scenes away from John Wayne and even Steve McQueen. The 70’s mark Duvall’s supporting career in some of the art form’s best films. He’s in 6 masterpieces in the 70’s (4 with Coppola and MASH and then Network). He’s not the best in any of them (and rarely is he the second best) but he’s vital to these films.  Next, with really The Great Santini in 1979 he goes to become a leading man (and he’s superb at it) but doesn’t work for overly talented directors. This covers Santini, Tender Mercies (his Oscar Win), and The Apostle (which he directs himself—and he’s no Eastwood). His last stage is supporting in lesser films and the best of which would probably be James Gray’s We Own the Night (Gray adores and emulates Coppola so this is no surprise he cast Duvall).  All in all Duvall was in 25 archivceable films, had 7 oscar noms, is known for his southern accent/charm but has great range as well (his Tom Hagen in The Godfather couldn’t be more different from Gus McCrae). How about his scene with Marlon Brando telling him that James Caan, Sonny, his son, has died? Tough to top that.

directors worked with:  Francis Ford Coppola (4) and wow—yeah.  And then once a piece with Altman, Penn, George Lucas, Lumet and James Gray.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Apocalypse Now
  2. Lonesome Dove
  3. The Apostle
  4. The Godfather
  5. Tender Mercies

Archiveable films

1962- To Kill A Mockingbird
1966- The Chase
1968- Bullitt
1969- True Grit
1970- MASH
1971- THX 1138
1972- The Godfather
1974- The Conversation
1974- The Godfather Part II
1976- Network
1976- The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
1978- Invasion of Body Snatchers
1979- Apocalypse Now
1979- The Great Santini
1983- Tender Mercies
1988- Colors
1989- Lonesome Dove
1991- Rambling Rose
1994- The Paper
1996-Sling Blade
1997- The Apostle
2007- We Own the Night
2009- Crazy Heart
2009- The Road
2010- Get Low