You may not know his name, but Michael J. Pollard's face shows up in everything from Bonnie and Clyde to Scrooged.
By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2002
Videos worth another look
Michael J. Pollard has one of the best faces in the movies, one we don't see enough anymore. Seems there aren't many roles for such an elfin face, curious squint and a grin that could make you wonder if he's all there.
Thirty years ago, Pollard resembled a Hobbit when Hobbits were just becoming cool, a mumbling addition to the youthful antihero movement that declared movie stars didn't need to be handsome.
Today, Pollard is 63 years old and still popping up in straight-to-video endeavors and an occasional independent film such as Tumbleweeds. You may be fuzzy on Pollard's name, but check out these home video selections from his career and the face can't help being familiar:
Bonnie and Clyde -- Pollard's breakthrough role, an Academy Award-nominated performance as C.W. Moss, dim-witted getaway driver for 1930's outlaws Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty). Pollard's sing-song signature line, after fixing their car: "Dirt in the fuel line, just blowed it away."
Dick Tracy -- Beatty joined the other side of the law and brought Pollard with him. The comic book crime fighter gets a splashy film adaptation with Pollard requiring less makeup than most of the goons on display.
Roxanne -- Everybody remembers two things about this movie: Steve Martin's ode to his excessively prominent nose and his clumsy fire department personnel, including Pollard. Cats probably get stuck in trees trying to escape their aid.
Scrooged -- Television executive (Bill Murray) trashes Christmas in an irreverent update of Charles Dickens' classic. Pollard is mostly set decoration, getting laughs just for that face.
Little Fauss and Big Halsy -- Some pretty-boy actors like having Pollard around for contrast purposes. Robert Redford did some of his best early work in this film, playing an egotistical motorcycle racer with Pollard as his simpering mechanic. As in Bonnie and Clyde, Pollard's character was enormously sympathetic, just by being homely and sweet.
Enter Laughing -- Carl Reiner adapted his semi-autobiographical novel about a struggling actor looking for a break. Pollard stole a screen or two as a bumbling actor, more madness than Method.
Dirty Little Billy -- Pollard got only a handful of leading roles including this off-kilter version of the legend of Billy the Kid. The gunslinger was played as a punk kid with an itchy trigger finger. Unavailable on home video since it wasn't a hit, but the film still shows up on cable television.