Christopher Reeve passed away today. Harry Knowles has the best tribute to his skills as an actor, and the Christopher Reeve Foundation will be his legacy to other victims of paralysis and spinal cord injury.
Reeve was a modern hero, an example of an actor whose roles on screen, and whose example in real-life, defined the term. But he was first and foremost an actor, trained at Julliard, and so the best tribute I can pay is to remember three movies he made, besides his iconic turn in Superman.
Somewhere in Time is an example of solid science fiction, where the fiction takes a backseat to the character story. Reeve plays a man who becomes obsessed with a photo of a smiling woman from a hundred years earlier - and finds a way to travel back in time using self-hypnosis. Wait till you learn why the woman is smiling.
In Death Trap, Reeve plays Clifford Anderson, a student to playwright Sidney Bruhl (played by Michael Caine). The plot centers on a play written by Clifford, a short murer thriller which Sidney immediately desires to take credit for - by trying to murder Clifford. The line between the play and reality gets blurred. The movie is solidly about the interaction between Sidney and Clifford - who are both gay - and their distrustful and scheming relationship. It's not clear initially just who is manipulating whom.
Finally, Speechless - one of my sentimental favorites from college. Reeve is second fiddle to Gina Davis and Michael Keaton, but steals the film every time he is onscreen as the insufferable celebrity journalist Bob "Baghdad" Freed. The pool table scene is hilarious.
There's no better way to pay tribute to Reeve's career than to see these movies, to get a real feel for his skill.