I saw Batman Forever in the theatre. Twice. That was the summer I was obsessed with Val Kilmer, you see, and it was there, and honestly I still rather like it, not least because of his performance. I suspect one of the reasons I’ve never seen Batman and Robin is that, much as I’ve come to like George Clooney, it just isn’t the same. To this day, of all the men who have played Batman, Val Kilmer still has the best facial structure for it as far as I’m concerned. I mean, not that Kevin Conroy’s matters, but of men who’ve worn the cowl, Val Kilmer looked the most like Batman in it.
That was also the summer we were obsessed with Tombstone, and while Kurt Russell may look astonishingly like Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp is also a blander character, and it’s Kilmer as Doc Holliday who is the chief draw of that movie. What Wyatt Earp does is interesting and worth watching; who Doc Holliday is is interesting and worth watching. The tubercular dentist from Georgia was suave, at least when he wanted to be, and witty and clever and dangerous. And looked like Val Kilmer, who managed to be sexy as hell despite also looking like he’d already been dead for six months.
Also, at the time, Comedy Central would routinely play Top Secret! Which was Kilmer’s first film role, believe it or not, and my goodness but the movie wouldn’t work without him. And not just because it relies on having a handsome star who can sing. It may be Kurt Russell who’s more interested in Elvis, but honestly Kilmer’s first role was also, in its way, playing Elvis. After all, Top Secret! is, in its own way, an Elvis movie. An early one, when Elvis was still young and swinging and swimming in chicks, but definitely the point is that the movie needs a sexy lead who can act, and Val Kilmer definitely hit that.
I could keep going this way, though I’d have to broaden my scope a bit from the summer of 1995. My older sister and I saw Prince of Egypt together in the theatre, the only other Kilmer movie I’ve actually seen in the theatre. Or of course the other perennial Comedy Central movie of his career, Real Genius. My desperate fondness for the scene in Top Gun where he and Tom Cruise are fighting and it’s obvious just how short Tom Cruise is. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The Ten Commandments: The Musical, because why not do a live-action staged version of Prince of Egypt? The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, where he’s full aware that he can’t be crazier than Cage or Herzog and just doesn’t try. Even The Doors, which was my sister’s first date with her first boyfriend.
It honestly breaks my heart a little that he’s one of the people I’ve moved up the schedule out of concern over his health. I don’t remember who I moved out of this slot—it might’ve been Emilio Estevez again—but I wanted to make sure I got to him. I was crazy about him back in the mid to late ’90s. It’s not the best stretch of his career; that was ending just as I got into him. But even after that era, he continued to do genuinely good movies, genuinely entertaining ones. He’s been playing Mark Twain recently, and I’d love to see him at that. Yes, all right, he was a gorgeous man in those early years, and he hasn’t always been since then. But he’s always been talented.
The Saint? Yeah. So on Saturday evenings, a bunch of us get together and read scripts, mostly old radio shows, online. This has leaked into these articles before, most notably any time Lux Video Theatre is mentioned—it was a TV continuation of Lux Radio Theatre, our script source of choice and private obsession. One week, we did a script of the radio show of The Saint. This was in the days of the site Rabbit, which I miss. It had wider capabilities than anything else we’ve used, and one of its differences from Google Hangouts was that you could put reaction images up in the chat. And I downloaded, I don’t know, a solid dozen Val Kilmer images? And still use them occasionally in places where I can use reaction images. So, sure, have Val Kilmer in The Saint.