Sam I am, at least for now | Chuck's World

Jan 25, 2017

The problem with community-acquired illnesses, from mild colds to double pneumonia, is that none of us are special. This cough I developed last weekend? It’s the same one you’ve got.

This is no fun, feeling bad in bunches. Everyone has a story and, being human-type people, we will share our stories with anyone willing to listen (or coughing so much they can’t say no). I have nothing new to add to this season of hacking and hoarseness, other than being able to pull off a decent Sam Elliott impression.

I’ve got a cold, and probably you do, too. I’d be glad to complain, but then I’d have to let you complain back. Let’s just agree that it’s been a rough cold and flu season and go back to washing our hands every five minutes.

Also, it’s helpful if you read this column as though Sam Elliott is reading it aloud to you. I’m this close to nailing that voice.

Sam Elliott has been on my mind, as a matter of fact, as have actors and movies in general. This is what we do when sickness strikes – we curl up with a good movie and a big box of tissues. Or a big movie and a good box of tissues. Either one would work. I’m pretty delirious right now.

I watched “Sully” on my last trip to Arizona – maybe an odd choice the night before I got on an airplane. I paid extra close attention to the safety instructions, at any rate. I liked “Sully,” although I thought it was maybe a little theatrical. Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks aren’t likely to be associated with a dud, and this is not that. I just felt a little manipulated, but I’m a sucker for a happy ending and “Sully” delivers.

And next week I’m sure, no matter how I feel, I’ll watch “Groundhog Day.” It’s been written about extensively, now firmly in the pantheon of significant American films, referred to by National Review writer Jonah Goldberg as “what many believe is the best cinematic moral allegory popular culture has produced in decades.” So that captures the moral allegory audience right there.

But I believe the subject was Sam Elliott. I believe that with all my heart, because honestly I can’t even remember where I was going when I started this. Sam is good enough for a virus-altered brain.

Sam Elliott. Do I have to explain? He’s the lanky, drawling, laconic actor with the sweeping moustache who’s mostly worked in Westerns but has turned in some subtle performances in other movies and television shows, including “Lifeguard” in 1976, a one-year stint on “Mission: Impossible” and, should you still be a little uncertain, he was The Stranger in “The Big Lebowski,” which I may watch today.

It could be the voice, deep and rich, but it’s mostly the moustache. Last year, appearing in several episodes of Netflix’s original series “Grace and Frankie,” another cast member, Sam Waterston, saw a picture of him and summed up the situation.

“Only 10 men in the world can pull off that moustache,” he says, “and this guy is nine of them.”

Elliott is the perfect actor for me to admire, since I really don’t know much about his personal life. He has a daughter my age. He’s currently 72. He’s been married for decades to actress Katharine Ross. I don’t know if he’s a wild-eyed liberal or a common-sense conservative or a libertarian or what, and I’m content with my ignorance. The man can rock a moustache.

My son and I started watching his latest effort, “The Ranch,” another Netflix original, where he plays the patriarch of a Colorado ranch that’s slowly dripping down the economic drain. I haven’t seen enough episodes to determine whether I’ll stick with it or not, but it’s nice to see Sam do his thing.

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