HE'S A STEALTH PERFORMER—loyally serving the Corleone family, then stealing Apocalypse Now from Don Brando. Lately you’ve mainly seen him pick up paychecks in 60 seconds, but far below the Hollywood radar, he still finds low-budget opportunities to search for actorly truth. He’s Robert Duvall, great American actor.

The Great Santini—William Goldman once defined the difference between a great actor and a mere star by pointing out how in the famous basketball scene, Duvall didn’t pester the writer for some lines of dialogue that would make his macho SOB of a military dad likable.

True Confessions—An L.A. Confidential-like twist on the old gangster/ priest movies, with Duvall as a cynical cop investigating a murder connected to the connections of his monsignor brother (Robert DeNiro).

The Man Who Captured Eichmann—TV movie with Duvall perfectly embodying the banality of evil as the chatty, self-justifying Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

A Family Thing—Old pro performances redeem Billy Bob Thornton’s sitcomish script, in which Duvall discovers he is James Earl Jones’ half-brother.

The Apostle—Powerfully steeped in gospel culture and utterly free of caricature, Duvall’s spellbinding performance as a preacher on a wayward path to redemption was just too damn real for an Oscar.


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