I’m a sucker for a good voice, and no voice was as memorable and amusing as Eugene Pallette’s deep & froggy timbre. His is the kind of voice that startles you when he joins the national anthem/a church congregation’s chorus–the unmistakable, unbelievably harsh and scratchy wonder that we’d call awful if it didn’t make us laugh so much.
On others, perhaps, such a gift would be wasted, but Pallette had the impeccable comic timing and delivery to go with that glorious voice, making everything he did onscreen a wonder to behold.
I think the test of a good character actor is this: How big is your smile when he/she enters the room? Answer this: Can you watch Eugene’s mouth open without grinning?
I saw Pallette as Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood and knew I’d love the flick. I didn’t care what happened afterward, how fun it was (and of course, it was) because once Pallette entered the picture, I was sold.
My favorite Pallette scenes are when his character is in tantrum mode. I’m not a fan of My Man Godfrey, but oh, to watch him rip on his entitled family in it! To watch him pouting for his breakfast by slamming tray lids together in The Lady Eve. To laugh over his immaturity as he battles his wife over comic strip ownership in Heaven Can Wait!
On Pallette’s birthday, I hope we’ll all celebrate the lovable curmudgeony men in our own lives. We all are the better for them.