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Michael Sarrazin, 1940 - 2011

Updated through 4/23.

"Michael Sarrazin, a tall, dark-eyed Canadian actor who starred opposite Jane Fonda in Sydney Pollack's 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, died of cancer Sunday," reports Claire Noland in the Los Angeles Times. He was 70. Noland quotes from a 1994 interview given to the Toronto Star in which Sarrazin recalled working on Horses: "You could have paid me a dollar a week to work on that. It hits you bolt upright; I still get really intense when I watch it. We stayed up around the clock for three or four days.... We stayed in character. Pollack said we should work until signs of exhaustion. Fights would break out among the men; women started crying."

"Sarrazin was one of the last actors to come up through the old studio system, signing with Universal in 1965," writes John Griffin in the Montreal Gazette. "After an indifferent start in television and movies-of-the week, his true talent as a soulful reflection of the tumultuous 1960s was revealed opposite singer-actor Bobby Darin in the post-Civil War drama Gunfight in Abilene, in 1967, and as the reluctant apprentice to grifter George C Scott in The Flim-Flam Man, that same year. Work came fast and furious. He played a tenderfoot Confederate soldier in 1968's Journey to Shiloh with fellow Hollywood rookie Harrison Ford, and was nominated for a Golden Globe as a slacker surfer in The Sweet Ride (1968) opposite Jacqueline Bisset. They began a relationship that lasted 14 years." And then, of course, came Horses.

For the Boston Herald's Stephen Schaefer, "the Sarrazin I remember from those days is the star of sci-fi and horror movies like The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Groundstar Conspiracy and the cheap but frothy comedy The Gumball Rally. He was respected as an actor and not just a profile and his credits include costarring with titans like George C Scott in The Flim Flam Man, James Coburn in Harry in Your Pocket and two films with Paul Newman, Sometimes a Great Notion which Newman directed and John Huston’s The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean."

Updates, 4/23: At TCM's Kimberly Lindbergs looks back on some of her favorite performances. In Peter Yates's For Pete's Sake (1974), for example: "I find it impossible not to root for the love struck couple during their crazy quest for financial security." And "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud's unusual subject matter combined with Sarrazin's telling performance, have garnered the movie a small group of devoted fans over the years."

"The majority of films Sarrazin made in the 1980s and 90s were Canadian productions, few of which rose above the mediocre," writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. "An exception was La Florida (1993), a French-Canadian film produced by his brother Pierre Sarrazin, in which he played a lounge singer called Romeo Laflamme. 'I asked Michael to act in French, which was difficult for him as he'd been so long in LA,' said Pierre, 'but it all came back to him. After all, we'd grown up in east-end Montreal.' Sarrazin's final, brief, appearance will be in Walter Salles's upcoming screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road."

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The movie I best remember him from was The Reincarnation of Peter Proud,
wow! Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Lee Remick, Jacqueline Bisset, Charlotte Rampling, Jennifer O’Neill..not bad…

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