Eli Wallach's death at the age of 98 prompts a look back at some of his most memorable performances. Perhaps best known for his work in Westerns, Wallach also delivered a bewitching turn opposite Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III.
Any appreciation of his versatility, however, has to start with his film debut in Elia Kazan's Baby Doll opposite Karl Malden and Carroll Baker, and include his brooding Guido in John Huston's elegiac The Misfits.
Baby Doll (1956)
In his film debut, Wallach plays Sicilian cotton-mill operator Silva Vacarro in a steamy tale of suspicion, seduction and revenge in the Deep South. Directed by Elia Kazan and written by Tennessee Williams, the film's themes of moral decay, lust, and corruption prompted furious denunciations from New York's Cardinal Spellman and the Legion of Decency.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
Arguably the greatest spaghetti Western ever. Wallach portrays the scheming bandit Tuco (The Ugly) opposite Clint Eastwood's bounty hunter Blondie (The Good) and Lee Van Cleef's amoral Union sergeant Angel Eyes (The Bad) in a Civll-War era search for stolen gold. Directed by Sergio Leone.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
In another iconic Western role, Wallach plays bandit leader Calvera, whose gang preys on a defenceless Mexican town ("If God didn't want them sheared, He wouldn't have made them sheep") until its citizens hire seven gunslingers - Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Robert Vaughan, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Brad Dexter, and Horst Buchholz - to even things up. Directed by John Sturges, the film was based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.
The Godfather Part III
In the final (and unjustly maligned) chapter of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy, Wallach portrays the devious Don Osvaldo Altobello, who plays both sides in an attempt to bring down the Corleone Family. In this scene, he plots Michael Corleone's death ("I have a stone in my shoe") with notorious Sicilian assassin Mosca de Montelepre.
The Misfits (1961)
Directed by John Huston and written by Arthur Miller, The Misfits is perhaps best known as one of Marilyn Monroe's last films. Wallach portrays Guido, who, along with aging cowboy Gay (Clark Gable) and Perce (Montgomery Clift), is rounding up wild horses to be slaughtered and sold for dog food.
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