Actor Ben Gazzara passed away last week at the age of 82. Gazzara was a quintessential New York actor with notable work on stage, televison and film. Later in his career he became a frequently hired character actor by directors like Spike Lee, Lars von Trier and the Coen Brothers but to me his best work was done with friend and collaborator John Cassevetes. His largely unscripted role as strip club owner Cosmo Vitelli in Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is one I’ll never forget. I first got a chance to see it on film in a Stan Brakhage 60’s retrospective class in college and have watched it at least twice since then. However he may be most famous for his role as universally hated scumbag Brad Wesley in Road House. I mean who could ever forget this expertly choreographed showdown in Wesley’s taxidermy trophy room?  RIP

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