Actor Dennis Farina passed away today at the age of 69. Here is a quick look at some of his more memorable movie and TV roles.
Crime Story (1986)
There’s a reason Farina was so natural playing a cop: He actually was one in Chicago from 1967 to 1985, and fell into acting after serving as a police consultant for Michael Mann. Mann first cast him in a small role in his 1981 film Thief, but Farina would become a frequent presence in his work, recurring as crime boss Albert Lombard on Miami Vice, and showing up in 1986’s Manhunter. That was also the year that Mann built a TV series entirely around him: Crime Story, a serialized sixties period piece about the war between an L.A. cop (Farina) and a Chicago mobster. This scene from the pilot, in which he negotiates a hostage situation at a nightclub, feels like quintessential Farina. Check out his closing threat, delivered slowly and methodically in that Chicago accent (as unshakable in his work as Michael Caine’s cockney): “You hurt anybody else, when this is over, I’m gonna find what you love the most, and I’m gonna kill it. Your mother, your father, your dog. Don’t matter what it is, it’s dead.”
Midnight Run (1988)
The ne plus ultra of Farina’s mobster oeuvre. “You and that other dummy better start getting more personally involved in your work, or I’m gonna stab you through the heart with a fuckin’ pencil, you understand me?” “I don’t want to get another phone call like this, because if I do, I’m gonna get on a fuckin’ plane, and I’m gonna blowtorch the both of you.” “Sidney, siddown, relax, have a sandwich, drink a glass of milk, do some fuckin’ thing, will ya?”
Get Shorty (1995)
Ray Barboni was Midnight Run’s Jimmy Serrano, taken down a peg; he’s violent and dapper, but marked early as a lesser hood by the giant broken nose dealt him by John Travolta’s Chili Palmer. But boy, can he make the F-word pop: “No, no, no, no. Fuck you, fuckball.”
Out of Sight (1998)
As Karen Sisco’s (Jennifer Lopez) father, Farina only appears briefly in this Steven Soderbergh movie based, like Get Shorty, on an Elmore Leonard book. Yet in this scene, with very little dialogue and with very little screen time, he’s able to convince us that he’s a tough guy with a dry sense of humor, but also a loving father. (Watch clip here.)
Law and Order (2004-06)
Farina played the nattily dressed homicide detective Joe Fontana on this NBC show for two seasons. He looked smooth even when shoving a guy’s head into a toilet.
New Girl (2013)
Farina played Nick Miller’s con-man father, Walt, who had a horse-related heart-to-heart with his son in season two episode “A Father’s Love” before dying offscreen.