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Jun 3, 2008

Familiar Face - Unknown Name #6 - Harve Presnell

Call them what you want - character actors, "That Guy(s)," scene stealers - I don't care. This is a regular feature where I spotlight one performer, whether they be longtime veterans like J.K. Simmons or Barry Corbin, or a fresher face just making their way up the stardom ranks. For previous FF-UNs, click here.

Today's Familiar Face-Unknown Name:

Harve Presnell

Where You've Seen Him (high profile): In what is no doubt his most famous role (at least in the last 40 years) as Wade Gustafson in Fargo, playing the rich father-in-law to Bill Macy's pathetic used-car salesman. "No Jean, no money!" He's also been featured in Face/Off, Saving Private Ryan, and Flags of Our Fathers.

Where You've Seen Him (not-so-high profile): I was reminded of him after seeing him in two movies I saw parts of in the same day - as one of Jeremy Piven's cohorts in Old School and as a Congressman in Evan Almighty. Neither part was large, but they were typical of the near-50 roles he's had since his career as a character actor took off in 1996 following Fargo's success.

He's also been featured in films such as Patch Adams, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and Mr. Deeds, while also guesting in many a TV show, from "Frasier" to "Monk" to "ER," just to name a few. Additionally, he's had regular role on a few shows, including "Andy Barker, P.I.," "Dawson's Creek," and "The Pretender."

Character Specialties: Many of his roles have taken from his Fargo lead, placing him as rich, angry and/or powerful jerks, be they politicians, military officers, or just characters with names like Preston or Winslow or Edgar J. Hagerty.

My favorite role: It's hard not to pick Fargo. Then again, aside from his interesting past, his recent work outside of picking on William H. Macy and yelling at Steve Buscemi hasn't caught fire with pop culture. Sure, Old School and Evan Almighty made some decent money, but his were really only bit parts there. Meanwhile, his meatier work in TV on "The Pretender" and "Andy Barker, P.I." has come on shows that never made it more than a season or two.

Little Known Facts: For Mr. Presnell, this is my favorite part of the post, as it came as quite a shock to see that the man in the photo above was the same as in the videos below. Those in my age demographic may know him as a gravelly-voice, gruff old bald guy, but Harve made his name in the 60s and 70s as a stage actor and singer. He has but eight film and television credits to his name prior to 1995, but two of them are in musicals that even I had heard of.

Here you can see the 6'4" man in action, first as "Leadville" Johnny Brown ("Amies? Hell, these are our friends!") in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, then as Rotten Luck Willie in Paint Your Wagon, singing the lead for "They Call the Wind Mariah."

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harve_Presnell
On IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0696193/ (Be sure to check out his Bio - he's had an interesting life.)

7 people have chosen wisely: on "Familiar Face - Unknown Name #6 - Harve Presnell"

Adam Ross said...

"Goin to MacDonalds, what do you think they're doing down there? They're not drinking milkshakes, I assure you."

As someone who has repeated pretty much every line from Fargo at some point, I love Presnell's work in the film. Good to see he's led an interesting career. One of my favorite lines is from Stan Grossman:

"We're not horse tradin here, Wade."

Nick said...

His eyes in that picture frighten me...

Daniel G. said...

Wow, this guy deserves some extra attention. He always kind of looks the same these days.

NFL Adam said...

I love this feature. And I'm going to subscribe to these comments, too.

WaywardJam said...

Wow, would never placed Harve in Paint Your Wagon.

I come to Blog Cabins to learn and Professor Fletch, you have once again learned me something new.

Fox said...

This guy made that scene in *Fargo* - the one where Macy is trying to bargain business ideas with him - so tense and frustrating.

I agree with Adam in that I love this running feature of yours. Piper may have to watch his back for next year's LAMMY award for BEST RUNNING FEATURE. :)

The Fraze said...

Hey Fletch,

The Strangers has a little in common with Funny Games (the '97 and '07 versions) but actually it feels more like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Halloween," mainly because of the nature of the killers themselves.

The kids in funny games talk and tease and that's where the torment comes from - here, the strangers are less like real people and more like personifications of death and fear, more like Michael Myers.

To me it's the ultimate reminder of why '70s horror was so good