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 Artie's "disguises" and series' gags.
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Sassy2
SS novice field agent

USA
1001 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2006 :  08:59:05  Show Profile
We all know that Artie's disguises were not meant to fool the audience - that was part of the many gags this show employed. What is very true is that RM purposefully did caricatures in the show, not characters. Many were based on people Ross knew as a child growing up in New York. For the most part, these caricatures were done with love for the subject, although I can think of one that obviously wasn't.

Audiences nowadays are fairly sophisticated which may explain why a certain number of folks who love the show don't always care for Artie's disguises.

Would some of you actor-types here on the board like to discuss the differences between characters and caricatures?





"Time has little to do with infinity and jelly doughnuts."

lleroy
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
261 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2006 :  08:17:18  Show Profile
So, does the lack of replies here mean that there are no actors among us? No help at my house--we're farmers.

Leslie
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2006 :  14:35:30  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by lleroy

So, does the lack of replies here mean that there are no actors among us? No help at my house--we're farmers.

Leslie



I know I am not but I have been considering this question and this is what I have come up with.:


There are some paintings of people that paint them as they are for the most part even making them better than they really are. Then there are those paintings that take the prominent features of a person and exaggerate them by making there nose bigger, or lips bigger, and usually the head is placed on a small body.

This is the way Ross played the characters. He took the obvious flaws in them and exaggerated them. This was usually done through his delivery of lines. There was no way for the other characters to ignore him. I haven’t explained it well but maybe now that I have tried other will express it better.

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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3799 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2006 :  21:28:52  Show Profile
I'm no actor, but I'll make a stab at sassy's question. Don't I always respond to Our Leader's requests?

The simplest thing for us to remember, I think, is that "Artemus Gordon" was a character that a gifted actor named Ross Martin created. He did such a good job of it that many of us, I imagine, may think of his creation as a real human being, perhaps even as a friend whose company we have enjoyed for many years. Much of that, I suspect, owes to the fact that Mr. Martin endowed his character with many of his own traits, such as intelligence, a sense of humor, and a basic decency. That need not have been so, however. Sue Kesler reports that, early on, the actor intended to play the character as much more of a rogue than what we ended up seeing. Since a genuine rascal in our living rooms can become rather tiresome across time, it's probably a good thing that the actor reconsidered that decision.

One of my favorite instances of the compromise that Martin finally brokered for the Gordon character comes at the very end of "The Night of the Burning Diamond." When West asks his partner how he managed to overcome the villains in the kitchen, Gordon concedes, "Aw, I cheated. I used force." The basis of the character was the trickster: If he couldn't gull his adversaries, it wasn't any fun.

If you don't believe me that Ross Martin could create a recognizable character—if his Artie has simply become too familiar to us, as though we think he really is Ross Martin—again I encourage you to rent or purchase Blake Edwards's Experiment in Terror (1962), in which RM played the heavy: a convincingly terrifying performance of a character 180 degrees away from Artemus Gordon. Ross Martin was an actor, and that is what actors are able to do.

With few exceptions, the various roles that Martin's Artemus played throughout the series are indeed caricatures, not characters. That is, they take particular features from the audience's imaginative repertoire of types—the arrogant Frenchman, the charming Irish drunk, the desert rat who may never have existed but many of us grew up seeing Gabby Hayes play alongside Gene Autry—and exaggerate them for comic effect. That's one of the reasons they provoke a laugh from us: we know they are types that lurch over the top of reality. It worked, I think, for two reasons. For one, Martin was not only a legitimate dramatic actor but also a talented farceur. The other reason it worked was the particular context of the series: by its nature The Wild Wild West was over the top. Conrad played things super-straight, leaving Martin to cut loose with the comedy.
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Silver
SS novice field agent

882 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2006 :  06:30:37  Show Profile
Actually, I made a reply early on, but I'd forgotten to log in and so it was lost. Some days I have very little patience, and what I write I tend to try to make more than slapdash, so losing even a short message is aggrevating.

Anyway, here's basically what I had to say, as an experienced amateur actor. (I won't repeat my threat about showing your my CV)

A character is a part an actor attempts to enter into more fully, to become the character. A caricature is a less involved role, played more as an observer, and not nearly as fully developed. Thus, Ross Martin played the character of Artemus Gordon, while as Artemus Gordon he played many caricatures.

I believe that in the reality of WWW Artemus played these as fully developed characters. Think what a brilliant thing it would have been if CBS hadn't been so sure their audience had to see clearly from the word 'go' that these were all Arte! Ross/Arte had the ability to totally confound us if he's been allowed to try.

Silver
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Redhead1617
SS novice field agent

USA
1393 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2006 :  17:13:28  Show Profile  Visit Redhead1617's Homepage
quote:
Ross/Arte had the ability to totally confound us if he's been allowed to try


let's just say that stumbling upon the show, and even after watching my original 25 episodes for the first time, it took an extremely long time to catch on that "Artie" donned a disguise in near every episode... yeah... I was that gulliable... and enjoyed it that much more because I was

I suffer from awful stage fright and the 8 years I spend in marching band, jazz band, and concert band, the few times where I had solos, I was terrified each and every time, so I am no actor, that's for certain. But as a developing writer, I must agree that a character is played as real as possible while a caricature is played looser,a picture of a certain type of person, usually played comically

to the OED!!

~Red

*sigh...where's MY Ross Martin?
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Redhead1617
SS novice field agent

USA
1393 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2006 :  18:29:04  Show Profile  Visit Redhead1617's Homepage
from the OED Maven herself (my best friend),

character- "the sum of moral or mental qualities which distinguish an individual"

caricature- "a portrait or other artistic representation, in which the characteristic features are exaggerated with ludicrous effect"

fascinating .... "character" appears within the definition of caricature... (sorry, English major/geek moment) kind of shows the limitation of the English language here, don't you think?

~Red

*sigh...where's MY Ross Martin?
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Silver
SS novice field agent

882 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2006 :  07:29:12  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by Redhead1617

I suffer from awful stage fright and the 8 years I spend in marching band, jazz band, and concert band, the few times where I had solos, I was terrified each and every time, so I am no actor, that's for certain.



Interesting thing about acting, Red - it's different from other types of performing arts in that some very shy people make great, bold actors. It all relates to this 'character' concept. People are enabled to do things they normally couldn't because it is the character doing them, not that person.

Silver
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Sassy2
SS novice field agent

USA
1001 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2006 :  09:22:34  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by Redhead1617
...fascinating .... "character" appears within the definition of caricature... (sorry, English major/geek moment) kind of shows the limitation of the English language here, don't you think?



It is fascinating, especially since the etymologies are pretty different:

caricature: [French, from Italian caricatura, from caricare, to load, exaggerate, from Late Latin carricre, from Latin carrus, a Gallic type of wagon. See kers- in Indo-European Roots.]

character: [Middle English carecter, distinctive mark, imprint on the soul, from Old French caractere, from Latin charactr, from Greek kharaktr, from kharassein, to inscribe, from kharax, kharak-, pointed stick.]

Wow - a Gallic type of wagon verses a pointed stick.

So yes, Red. Absolutely agreed on the limitations of the language...



"Time has little to do with infinity and jelly doughnuts."
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Redhead1617
SS novice field agent

USA
1393 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2006 :  18:19:26  Show Profile  Visit Redhead1617's Homepage
quote:
it's different from other types of performing arts in that some very shy people make great, bold actors. It all relates to this 'character' concept. People are enabled to do things they normally couldn't because it is the character doing them, not that person.


Interesting and comforting answer Silver, perhaps hearing this at an earlier age might have changed some things for me I always got so afraid that I would "mess up" and my audience would critize me (harshly) for that but a lovely new idea you have given me


Sassy you're a master of many subjects!
quote:
Wow - a Gallic type of wagon verses a pointed stick.

*giggles* language is quite an interesting phenomenon

~Red

*sigh...where's MY Ross Martin?
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