Happy Birthday Austin Pendleton

Along with Quentin Tarantino’s birthday, we must celebrate the 70th birth of one of my favorite actors, the unique versatile Austin Pendleton, who made his debut in, er, uh, some film called SKIDOO (1968) — but who had actually briefly appeared in PETULIA (1967) — and who first came to my attention as the scene-stealing chess wizard in THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER (1972), which I watched devoutly every single time it came on HBO. I was happy to see him show up as “Max” in THE MUPPET MOVIE (1980), an utterly charming and wonderful film that perfectly projected Jim Henson’s creations onto the silver screen. Here’s a wonderful clip to savor in its whole, featuring Austin and Charles Durning trying to convince Kermit to become spokesfrog for…well, you know. I love Paul William’s infectious songs, particularly during this jaunty road theme, “Movin’ Right Along.” Make a wish!

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