Thursday, May 29, 2008

HARVEY KORMAN 1927 - 2008

"Now go do/that voodoo/that you do/so we-e-e-e-e-e-ell!"

According to the Associated Press, comic actor Harvey Korman has died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago. This report comes from a statement released by the hospital from his family.

For people of my generation and older, Korman will probably be best remembered as part of the comic troupe that graced, and sometimes barely made through attacks of on-stage laughter on The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978). But for me Korman will always be Hedley Lamarr, the oily, corrupt businessman who masterminds the destruction of the town of Rock Ridge by installing a black sheriff, in Mel Brooks’ lunatic TNT blast to the western genre, Blazing Saddles.

Some great moments from Hedy (“That’s Hedley!”) Lamarr as he begins hatching his nefarious plan:

Lamarr: “All right, I'm through being Mr. Goodbar, the time has come to act and act quickly!”
Taggart (Slim Pickens): What do you want me to do, sir?
Lamarr: I want you to round up every vicious criminal and gunslinger in the west. Take this down.
[Taggart scrambles for a pen and paper.]
Lamarr (increasing in intensity): I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers… and Methodists!
Taggart (finding pen and paper): Could you repeat that, sir?

To the motley band of troops assembled to rape and pillage the town at the movie's climax: “You will be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor.”

Lamarr's tongue (used purtier than that of a $20 whore) at work: “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives!”

And who could forget this exchange Black Bart (Cleavon Little), masquerading as a Klansman and describing his qualifications for villainy:

Lamarr: Crime?
Bart: Stampeding cattle.
Lamarr: That's not much of a crime.
Bart: Through the Vatican?
Lamarr: Kinky! Sign here.

Thanks, Mr. Korman, for this great comic creation and all the other laughs you gave us over your 40-year career in movies and TV.

(And thanks to Ray Pride for the YouTube tip.)


Greg said...

Oh Hedley. Christ that character cracks me up. I love Harvey Korman, a comedian not remembered enough today. He even made me laugh in the Mel Brooks' overreaches High Anxiety and History of the World. He was a truly gifted comic.

And not on the IMDB memorable quotes for Blazing Saddles, but it should be:

Governor: 200,000 acres? Good god man, what'll it cost?

Hedley: A box of these.

And no I'm giving context or describing the contents of the box. If you don't know you're missing out.

Burbanked said...

Of course Korman's performance in BLAZING SADDLES is classic, but I'm also a big fan of the HIGH ANXIETY bit where he's tormenting a mental patient by donning fangs and growling at the poor bastard while Mel Brooks' back is turned. It's about as basic as comedy comes, but Korman's comic cruelty really sells it.

Anonymous said...

This makes me sad. :( I've loved "Blazing Saddles" my entire life--I've been watching it (in various versions) since I was a little girl.

The world has lost a great comedic talent. May he rest in barely contained giggles.

Anonymous said...

How about this one...

Hedley Lamarr: Meeting adjourned. Oh, I am sorry, sir; I didn't mean to overstep my bounds. *You* say that.
Governor William J. Le Petomane: What?
Hedley Lamarr: "Meeting is adjourned."
Governor William J. Le Petomane: It is?
Hedley Lamarr: No, *you* say that, governor.
Governor William J. Le Petomane: What?
Hedley Lamarr: "Meeting is adjourned."
Governor William J. Le Petomane: It is?
Hedley Lamarr: Here, sir; play with this.
[hands the governor a paddleball]

or this one...

Hedley Lamarr: [cuts in line at the theater] You dropped your beads.
Hedley Lamarr: [to the cashier, holding up an old student ID for a discount] One please... Uhh... Student?
Cashier: Are you kidding?
Hedley Lamarr: Pain in the ASS...

bill said...

I think "High Anxiety" is very underrated, and, in fact, it contains my favorite single moment from any Mel Brooks movie: Harvey Korman running downstairs to dinner to find that his fruit cup has been removed. The thing that kills me is when he dips his spoon down, and then brings it UP...

I guess you had to be there, but I laugh just thinking about it. Korman was great.

Greg said...

Bill - I love the fruit cup thing too. And correcting the pronunciation of "cerebral."

And in History of the World - "Don't get saucy with me Bernais" or just the way he says, "You look like the Piss Boy."

Anonymous said...

My favorite Korman performance (after BLAZING SADDLES) is a very early movie role in LORD LOVE A DUCK, as the School Principal.

R.I.P. Harvey. You never failed us.

Bob Westal said...

It's been awhile since I've watched "High Anxiety" all the way through, but I agree that's it somewhat underrated and I have fond memories of the words "fruit cup" amd seem to remember a bondage scene with Cloris Leachman that was about perfection....

Steve C. said...

I have to admit, the first thing that pops to mind when I think of Korman is indeed LORD LOVE A DUCK. Mainly because it's ridiculous how awesome that movie is. "Someday, we'll all look back on this and laugh..."

R.I.P. Harvey.

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rob humanick said...

I'll need to check out High Anxiety. But let us not forget Harvey's wonderful turn in the Star Wars Holiday Special as, amongst other characters, and extra-terrestrial, Julia Child-esque chef.

"Stir, whip! Stir, whip! Whip, whip, stir!"

The movie itself is kind of an anti-masterpiece, and Harvey's moments alone are some of the funniest I've ever seen (along the lines of, let's pause this and laugh hysterically for about ten minutes before we're able to resume). He will be missed.