Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award winnerLou Gossett Jr. brings new film to festival
The actor Louis Gossett Jr. co-wrote one memorable antiwar song, “Handsome Johnny”; as played by Richie Havens, it was a celebrated moment at Woodstock, a 1969 outdoor concert full of “people listenin’ to Mick Jagger and badmouthing our country ...” as Gossett’s most famous character would put it about 13 years later. Gossett also starred in a sci-fi antiwar parable, Enemy Mine, as an alien whose aggression had an understandable reason: the male alien was pregnant. So it’s ironic that Gossett’s best-known role is as a no-nonsense gung-ho military man, Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman. Gossett’s Oscar-laureated soldierly bearing was parlayed into four different Iron Eagle movies, where he created and reprised the role of “Chappy” Sinclair, another figure of toughness and probity. Starting off in the 1961 film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Gossett worked with some noted directors: George Cukor in Travels With My Aunt, Hal Ashby in The Landlord and John Boorman in that director’s most obscure film, Leo the Last. Gossett is a solid comic actor; he was quite funny in a memorable Paul Bogart comedy Skin Game, which was unsuccessfully peeled off into a TV pilot with the less suggestive title Sidekicks. Gossett and James Garner posed as a slave and his master, all the better to fleece Southerners; this good-time, bad-taste comedy anticipated Blazing Saddles by a few years.
Gossett appears at Cinequest with his new film, The Least Among You, based on a true story of a man arrested after the Watts riots and sentenced to serve some time in a white seminary. At the seminary, the angry young man meets a janitor (Gossett) who is trying to conquer his own alcoholism. Gossett’s more than merely commanding presence, even in humble roles, suggests that alcoholism wouldn’t have a chance. This Maverick Spirit event includes a screening of the movie and a Q&A session with Gossett.
LOU GOSSETT JR. appears Monday (March 3) at 7pm at the California Theatre.