Ringo Starr can't act. There. I've said it. If you're a Beatles fan, surely that counts as heresy. Don't get me wrong! I adore Ringo! He is very high on the list of celebs that I hope might one day wander into my store. He is wonderful in many, many ways but he is NOT an actor! What brought this on was that in recent days, I've caught A HARD DAYS NIGHT on TV and then come into possession of long-sought copies of Ringo's movies CANDY and BLINDMAN. Ringo simply cannot act.
CANDY is a mess, pure and simple. A legendary failure, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time but this sexy update on Voltaire is just a series of smarmy Buck Henry comedy sketches with A-list stars. That's where Ringo comes in. Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando--Ringo, in 1968, was actually a bigger star than any of them BUT in a very different field and (dare I say it) with a little help from his friends. In CANDY, where several major stars give embarrassing performances, Ringo's accent and delivery shine through as pointless stunt-casting.
1971's BLINDMAN (in which Mr. Starkey coincidentally plays a character named Candy) is, surprisingly, a better film. It's a bizarre spaghetti western with "Tony Anthony" as a blind cowboy trying to get back the 50 brides-to-be he had been hired to deliver to Texas (after they were kidnapped by Mexican bandits). Produced by controversial Beatles and Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein--which kind of explains Ringo's involvement--it's got sex, violence and comedy that all fits together as needed...except for Ringo. Once again cast as a Mexican, his Liverpudlian accent shows through from time to time and while he certainly looks the part of the evil bandit he plays, his line delivery is still amateurish. In spite of the fact that BLINDMAN goes seemingly out of its way NOT to cater to the fact of Ringo's stunt-casting (again here), his performance can't help but take you out of the moment.
And seriously, have you ever seen CAVEMAN?
The lesson learned here, I suppose, is that Richard Lester really is a brilliant director. In A HARD DAYS NIGHT, Ringo really does give an affecting performance and the comparisons to Chaplin are not unwarrented. He shows heart and soul that the rest of the romp doesn't allow for John, Paul or George. In retrospect, however, I can't help but conclude that this was due mostly to Lester's direction and the effective editing of his solo scenes to the "Ringo's Theme" music.
Ringo Starr is one of my absolute favorite celebrities and an international treasure...but he really can't act.