By Mark Metcalf Special to Published Oct 01, 2009 at 7:07 AM

Bayside resident Mark Metcalf is an actor who has worked in movies, TV and on the stage. He is best known for his work in "Animal House," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Seinfeld."

In addition to his work on screen, Metcalf is involved with Milwaukee Film, First Stage Children's Theater and a number of other projects, including He recently filmed an episode of the popular AMC series "Mad Men."

He also finds time to write about movies for In this column, Metcalf discusses Hollywood legend Martin Landau.


Martin Landau is going to be in town for the final weekend of the Milwaukee Film Festival. He stars with Ellen Burstyn in a very nice film called "Lovely, Still," which is about love when you get to be even older than I am.

Martin Landau has done just about everything there is to do in the show business. He started out in television when there was live television, as early as 1948. He was nominated three times for Oscars. He won once, for playing Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film "Ed Wood."

He got all kinds of awards for "Ed Wood." He was nominated for an Emmy for a part he played on "Entourage." He acted with Barabara Stanwyk on "Big Valley," Steve McQueen on "Wanted: Dead or Alive," James Garner on "Maverick" and Ward Bond on "Wagon Train." He was in "Bonanza," "Sugarfoot," "The Untouchables," "The Rifleman," the original "Twilight Zone" and the "Alfred Hitchcock Hour." He has worked on almost every important television series since the beginning, along with some of the clunkers.

He was in the famous "Cleopatra" that almost sank Twentieth Century Fox because it cost so much and brought Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor together for the first time.

His first big movie break came from playing the sadistic killer that backs up James Mason and tries to kill Cary Grant by grinding his fingers into Abe Lincoln's brow in "North By Northwest." I'm not kidding. He's done everything. He was even friends with James Dean and rode on the back of his motorcycle through the streets of New York when they studied together at The Actor's Studio.

And, he's still working. "Lovely, Still" was made in 2008. He voiced #2 in "9." He has two films in development, three in pre-production and one finished, waiting for a release date.

Martin Landau is what you might call a journeyman actor. He has worked pretty steadily for 60 years. He has had great success, as he did when he worked his way into a leading role on "Mission: Impossible" and when he played the wonderfully tortured and conniving Judah Rosenthal in Woody Allen's dark and ambitious "Crimes and Misdemeanors." And, he has taken refuge in England when his career faltered here in the United States.

The Milwaukee Film Festival is going to feature "Crimes and Misdemeanors" with a question and answer session with Mr. Landau afterwards. It's not listed in the program, but you can find out about it online. It will play at 7:15 p.m. Friday at the Marcus North Shore Cinema.

Woody Allen wrote and directed a lot of spectacularly funny and moving films in the 1980s. "Crimes and Misdemeanors" is easily one of the best and one of the darkest. Anjelica Huston plays the most annoying mistress I have ever seen on film. At first she is funny, but eventually it turns grating, and finally, when she has to be murdered, you are ready to volunteer for the job. And Martin Landau takes you along on this ride because she is his mistress and he's the one who finally has to silence her hysterical shrillness. Woody Allen often walks a high wire between comedy and tragedy but never with more nerve and bravura than in "Crimes and Misdemeanors." It is one of his masterpieces.

And Martin Landau was part of it, as he has been part of so many other great moments in film and television history, and he will be part of the Milwaukee Film Festival for an entire weekend.


Mark Metcalf Special to

Mark Metcalf is an actor and owner of Libby Montana restaurant in Mequon. Still active in Milwaukee theater, he's best known for his roles as Neidermeyer in "Animal House" and as The Maestro on "Seinfeld."

Originally from New Jersey, Metcalf now lives in Bayside.