Home » RIP M. Emmet Walsh, The Funny Old Guy In Everything: Cold Start

RIP M. Emmet Walsh, The Funny Old Guy In Everything: Cold Start

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I’m not sure if you heard, but sometime yesterday M.Emmet Walsh, one of cinema’s most-loved “hey it’s that guy” actors died, at the ripe old age of 88. Walsh seemed like an old man forever, it seemed, and was one of those actors that seemed to be in almost everything. The tenuous automotive tie-in here is that in the Coen brothers’ first movie, Blood Simple, he played an unhinged private eye that drove an impressively ratty 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, an interesting choice, and one that somehow worked remarkably well for that peculiar character.

Here’s a clip of Walsh and that Beetle:

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The ’66 is a good year choice, I think, because in some ways it’s the most potent of the Beetle years. It was the first (and only!) year of the 1300cc/50 hp engine, and that year’s transmission was geared to favor acceleration, so if that creepy, chuckling weirdo in the cowboy hat and buttercream-colored leisure suit needed to make himself scarce, pronto, perhaps he could. It’s a strange, disarming choice for a car in that role, which is what makes it great.

There’s some more automotive tie-ins, too, like this peculiar car chase scene in The Jerk and some seeming hatred for motor oil. Or maybe it’s the cans?

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And, he’s right, Navin is not carnival personnel! He’s not!

Walsh was also Deckard’s boss in Blade Runner:

Look at that weird picture lampshade. Are those safari pictures? I never really noticed that before.

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I think my favorite M.Emmet Walsh bit part was this one in the Coen brothers’ 1987 child-abduction romp Raising Arizona, where he’s just credited as “machine shop ear-bender”:

A spherical object that’s not a piece of the car? I guess the car wasn’t a Citroën DS, then, which had multiple spherical objects. And remember, he’s not talking about that motherscratcher Bill Roberts, he’s talking about Bill Parker.

Anyway, rest in peace, M.Emmet. You’ve earned it.

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Andrew Daisuke
Andrew Daisuke
28 days ago

The grandpa from Harry And The Hendersons. Classic Seattle movie.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
28 days ago

Surprised you didn’t mention his appearance in Knives Out, as the security guard with TRS-80 monitors as closed circuit video displays.

Black Peter
Black Peter
28 days ago

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Holy cow!! I just got that exact same drill press in the background of the Raising Arizona clip. It’s technically a drilling and tapping machine. Neat

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
28 days ago

Also the pilot of the Kevlar “battle raft” in “Missing In Action,” ferrying Chuck Norris around between ass-kickings.

Vehicle-adjacent role in a movie featuring a cool car: he was the medical examiner who provided the first evidence that set small-town sheriff Willem Dafoe off on the trail of shadowy gun runners in “White Sands,” after whom he trailed in his Corvette C2 convertible. Also notable for an early supporting role starting Samuel L. Jackson as an FBI agent, featuring one of his first trademark “angry black man losing his mind in a situation that has gotten beyond his control” roles.

Rest in peace, Emmitt.

Sklooner
Sklooner
28 days ago

I worked with a guy who reminded me of the machine shop ear bender and love that clip, every time I see Emmet I think of that scene

Drew
Drew
28 days ago

What I desperately need to know is whether David recognizes him from anything. I think he was prolific enough that anyone would have seen him, but David is the real test of that kind of ubiquity.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
28 days ago
Reply to  Drew

We already know he doesn’t know The Jerk, so it’s not looking good.

R53forfun
R53forfun
28 days ago

I just finished reading the BBC story about his passing. Between that article and this one I learned so much. Thanks Torch!

What a legend. RIP.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
28 days ago

Bryant : They jumped a shuttle off-world, killed the crew and passengers. We found the shuttle drifting off the coast two weeks ago, so we know they’re around.

Deckard : Embarrassing.

Bryant : No sir. Not embarrassing, because no one’s ever going to find out they’re down here. ‘Cause you’re gonna spot ’em and you’re gonna air ’em out!

Deckard : I don’t work here anymore. Give it to Holden. He’s good.

Bryant : I did. He can breathe okay, as long as nobody unplugs him.

Deckard : [getting up to leave] I was quit when I come in here, Bryant, I’m twice as quit now.

Bryant : Stop right where you are! You know the score, pal. You’re not cop, you’re little people!

[Deckard stops at the door]
Deckard : No choice, huh?

Bryant : [smiles] No choice, pal.

Retirement in peace, M. Emmet Walsh.

A. Barth
A. Barth
28 days ago

The word motherscratcher is in my personal lexicon because of that scene. And he created that memorable character* in what, one minute of screen time?

As he said contemplatively in ‘Back to School’, “Not bad…”.

* The Coens, helped, of course

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
28 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

“Gubmint do take a bite, don’t she?”

As much as I love that movie, and I do love that movie, I have wondered for nearly 40 years now why everyone in Arizona has a southern accent. Then I lived in Tucson for 5 years. And I still don’t understand.

Stig's American Cousin
Stig's American Cousin
28 days ago

“You using the whole fist doc?”

Farewell to one of the greatest character actors of all time. He does fall into the “Was Wilford Brimley Ever Young?” camp. He was in his early 40s doing Blade Runner but could have passed for much older! But Fletch. That doctor scene helped turn it into the 80s classic it is today. Keep making them laugh Emmet.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
28 days ago

In Brimley’s case, they did use age makeup in Cocoon to make him look older, but I don’t think Walsh ever needed that

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
28 days ago

Mooooon River!

D-dub
D-dub
28 days ago

He was in his early 40s doing Blade Runner but could have passed for much older!

He’s 7 years older than Harrison Ford in that scene!
headexplode.gif

Last edited 28 days ago by D-dub
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
28 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

Well, that’s not a totally fair comparison, even now, Harrison Ford is in his early 80s and could maybe pass for 60s

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
28 days ago

The first time I saw Raising Arizona, it was at my buddy Tim’s house. When it got to the scene where H.I. steals the Huggies and whatever cash is in the drawer, we were dying laughing.

We rewound the tape (yeah, I’m old), watched it again, and laughed even more.

We then rewound it AGAIN, took the tape downstairs, showed it to his parents (with NO CONTEXT), rolling on the floor in fits of laughter, then took the tape back upstairs and finished the movie.

I love that movie…

Sklooner
Sklooner
28 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Son do you know you have a panty on your head ? or some such words like that

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
28 days ago
Reply to  Sklooner

“I know Hi has a, uh, checkered past.”

“But Ed here’s an officer of the law twice decorated, so we figure it all balances out.”

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
28 days ago

“And he’s got the sandwich in one hand, and his fuckin’ hat in the other!”

Last edited 28 days ago by Michael Beranek
Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
28 days ago

*A fuckin’ head

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
28 days ago

MELLON! WE NEED YA! GET YER SUIT ON!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
28 days ago

In Blade Runner, he actually appears in a vehicle too!

Sitting in one of the police spinners toward the end, he orders Deckard to find/retire Rachel, who’s disappeared now that she knows she’s a replicant.

“No choice, pal.”

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
28 days ago

There’s at least a 90% chance this dude was in your favourite movie

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
28 days ago
Reply to  ChefCJ

I think it was Roger Ebert who once pointed out that no matter what else, any movie that has him or Harry Dean Stanton in it can’t be all bad.

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
28 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Honestly that’s pretty spot on

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
28 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I don’t know, Pretty in Pink is pretty weak.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
28 days ago

Great theme song though. Second best of the John Hughes movies.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
28 days ago

After “Johnny be Good?”

ESO
ESO
27 days ago

“If you were here” by the Thompson Twins 🙂

Stig's American Cousin
Stig's American Cousin
27 days ago
Reply to  ESO

Sixteen Candles, 944 Turbo parked out front. One of the best 1980s comedy movies ever.

Data
Data
28 days ago

Second best John Hughes movie or second best theme song in a John Hughes movie? I will assume “Don’t You Forget About Me” is the top John Hughes theme song, but then there’s Oh Yeah in Ferris Beuller or a romping version of Red River Rock in Planes and Trains. But then there’s Oingo Boingo’s Weird Science.

John Hughes Directed movies, not ranked:

Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club
Weird Science
Ferris Beuller’s Day Off
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
She’s Having a Baby
Uncle Buck
Curly Sue

Throw in Written By and you end up with a heap more classics. Pretty in Pink was written by him, but not directed.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
28 days ago
Reply to  Data

Definitely referring to 2nd best theme song, not 2nd best movie. I did not realize he didn’t direct. Guess I need to double-check my facts on IMDB before posting.

Also, I forgot about Weird Science, but I’m gonna stick to my guns and put Psych Furs ahead of Oingo Boingo, at least this one time.

AssMatt
AssMatt
28 days ago

How could you forget Weird Science?! There’s a car chase with an ’83 Mondial!
[fake outrage, I haven’t seen the movie]

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
28 days ago
Reply to  AssMatt

Kelly LeBrock was dead to me after hooking up with d-bag extraordinaire, comrade Steven Segal.

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
28 days ago
Reply to  Data

Uncle Buck holds a special place in my heart, I love that film. Great car movie too if you like terrible cars

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
27 days ago
Reply to  Data

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is my favorite of his then Uncle Buck (Also The Great Outdoors and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)
So many good movies

ESO
ESO
27 days ago

After “If you were here” (Thompson Twins)?

AssMatt
AssMatt
28 days ago

Haven’t seen it but I am grateful to it for giving us Randy Quaid in Not Another Teen Movie.

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