In what has become a much too common theme with our news lately, we must sadly bring to you the death of another Hollywood favourite.
Burt Young, best known for his six-film stint as Paulie in the Rocky series, has passed away at the age of 83. Although only recently announced, Young died on October 9th of undisclosed causes.
Although the actor, born Gerald Tommaso DeLouise, was best known as one of Hollywood’s most prolific supporting character actors, in the wake of his passing, we’d like to highlight a performance of his that is often sorely overlooked.
1982 would see Young’s career at a high point, with 2 Rocky films and an Academy Award nomination under his belt. Shortly before embarking on his third Rocky outing, Young embarked on a role that was about as far from Paulie Pennino as one could get.
Amityville II: The Possession was a highly anticipated sequel, coming three years after the “true story” of George and Kathy Lutz lit the box-office on fire. Attracting a who’s who of character actors, it’s little wonder Young accepted the project.
However, the role of Anthony Montelli was a great challenge for Young, and remains one of the parts to best show off his scope as an actor. Whilst in real life, Burt Young was a warm, jovial man, Amityville II sees him embody the exact opposite.
The Montelli family seem idyllic on the surface, but are constantly walking on eggshells due to their tyrannical father. Young bravely goes against his nice-guy image with the brutish, abusive, and hostile patriarch. In scenes that are even more shocking today, we witness him beat his wife and children, often without due cause.
There are even the hints that the character his sexually violent towards his wife Dolores, played by Rutanya Alda. Apparently, this was much more overt in the film’s original cut, with Young and Alda consenting to film harrowing scenes that the studio eventually cut.
Although the part of Anthony Montelli is perhaps the most unpleasant that Young has ever played, it speaks volumes of how much talent the late actor possessed. He won the nation’s hearts as Paulie, but then dared to go so dark… The unflinching portrayal of chauvinism, brutality and brutishness really does make the viewer question… Does this man deserve his eventual fate?
Sadly, often overlooked as nothing more than a cash-grab sequel, any Burt Young fans out there simply must check Amityville II out to marvel at the scope of his abilities. Whilst not an easy watch, it’s a showcase for the fact we’ve lost another great talent.
So long, Burt, we’ll miss you… But what a legacy you left.