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The Which Blair Project

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Mark Kermode | 15:17 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

I'm rarely star struck but one actress who has had that effect on me is Linda Blair. She's still best known for her debut in The Exorcist but her body of work is varied and extraordinary. Who else out there thinks she's a real talent and what's her best film?

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    me thinks the doctor has a little crush

  • Comment number 2.

    The only other film i can remember was Exorcist 2 which was an utter stinker.So i looked up her filmography, whilst she had roles in Scream and Red heat the one title that jumped out at me was Macgyver. Now i know The Simpsons has turned Macgyver into a joke, but when i was 10 years old that series was terrific. Mark i'm sure its available on dvd and featured Linda Blair, click onto Amazon now.

  • Comment number 3.

    Linda Blair was in Scream. Apart from that, The Exorcist and its satanically poor sequel I have seen very little of her work. I'll bet Linda Blair is flattered by your devout following of her.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well there are so many to choose from. I loved UP YOUR ALLEY, it shame its not availble on DVD as it was better than it Mel Brooks counter part LIFE STINKS. I also liked the other trashy comedy Linda made with Murray Langston called NIGHT PATROL her characters name was Sue Perman who alway got sick when told her boss didn't want any Crap Tonight from her, get it.
    Yes its a bad comedy but its alot of fun when the watcher is very, very drunk!. Of course who could forget her cameo in Airport 75. A film that became even funnier with the arrival of Airplane five years later.
    But the truth is, although Linda has apeared in some cheap and sometimes truly trashy movies. she has always tried to give as good a performance as possible. She wasn't even the worst thing in EXORCIST 2 a film so bad in story , dialog and direction that the viewer can't look away. But in the case of that movie I will reserve judgement to you good professor.

  • Comment number 5.

    I remember coming in late one night many years ago, turning on the TV and seeing Linda in a little known film called 'Sarah T - Portrait of a teenage alcoholic' she was perhaps aged around 16. A 'made for television' production also starring Mark Hamill (pre Star Wars). The production was cheap and the quality was poor - but Linda Blair was fantastic in the lead role.

  • Comment number 6.

    Without a doubt - Repossessed with Leslie Nielsen!

  • Comment number 7.

    i'll say it. repossessed.

  • Comment number 8.

    She was in the S club 7 tv show. The thought of Dr K watching this just because Linda Blair's in it makes me chuckle.

  • Comment number 9.

    yeah, I remember he being a good sport in Repossessed that was far better than I expected

  • Comment number 10.

    I can't possibly comment on her film career have only seen her in The Exorcist. I have however seen her in an episode of Supernatural in which she was rather good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmPjfkNP6k4

  • Comment number 11.

    I will go with night patrol just because it starred so many icons from my youth linda blair, billy barty (gwildor from masters of the universe) and pat morita (Mr. Miyagi from Karate kid).

    The only issue is I can't find a copy of it anywhere.

  • Comment number 12.

    Linda Blair is a terrific actress that deserves more substantial work, but she seems to be stuck in C-movie hell. With the right material she could be as good as any actress of her generation.

    My favourite film of hers after The Exorcist is Hell Night

  • Comment number 13.

    No Dr K. Please enough. We know you adore The Exorcist but Linda Blair?!? A real talent?!? Just because she is funny & down to earth?!? Who cares when her output has been so pedestrian & dreary. She hasn’t the charisma to carry the exploitation films she made, unlike say Pam Grier, nor has she the acting ability to be memorable in anything else I’ve seen her in. She is far from terrible just a very ordinary thespian. End of.

  • Comment number 14.

    Airport 1975

    The stewardess is FLYING THE PLANE!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    You are OBSESSED, dude. She's had A career. Extraordinary? That's like saying Tom Savini has had an extraordinary acting career. She's been IN movies, but nothing extraordinary apart from The Exorcist.
    What's extraordinary to me is that by being a famous critic, you can throw out such a silly statement and actually find a few hardcore 'yesfans' nodding their heads in agreement. Who else is an extraordinary actor? Tracy Lind? Tiny Lister? Stephen Geoffreys?

    I listen to you because you're generally a funny and insightful guy, not because you're being contrarian or making outlandish statements like this one. An actor or actress CAN be in a great film without themselves being great. It's all up to the director (and maybe the editor).



































  • Comment number 16.

    Well there are so many to choose from. I loved UP YOUR ALLEY, its shame its not availble on DVD as it was better than its Mel Brooks counter part LIFE STINKS. I also liked the other trashy comedy Linda made with Murray Langston called NIGHT PATROL her characters name was Sue Perman who always got sick when told her boss didn't want any Crap Tonight from her, GET THE JOKE.
    Yes its a bad comedy but its alot of fun when the watcher is very, very drunk!. Of course who could forget her cameo in Airport 75. A film that became even funnier with the arrival of Airplane five years later.
    But the truth is, although Linda has apeared in some cheap and sometimes truly trashy movies. she has always tried to give as good a performance as possible. She wasn't even the worst thing in EXORCIST 2 a film so bad in story , dialog and direction that the viewer can't look away. But in the case of that movie I will reserve judgement to you good professor.

  • Comment number 17.

    I really like Wes Craven's "Scream", and although it's uncredited, Linda Blair has a brief cameo appearance in the film. She plays a journalist/news reporter outside the school, trying to extract a few words from Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and according to Cravens audio commentary, it was a deliberate homage.
    You also — blink and you miss her — see Linda in front of a tv camera interviewing a policeman, whilst Sidney walks past the trees and the media frenzy.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Charmingest" mr. Correct Language?

    m

  • Comment number 19.

    He's (conveniently) forgetting Born Innocent. She's so young in it. That is a tough, tough movie that you absolutely could not get away with today, going by the kind of fuss made around something relatively innocuous like Kick-Ass. Come to think of it Sweet Hostage, the central theme of Sweet Hostage, her film with Martin Sheen, is a bit dodgy too. I guess kids were just allowed to portray edgier material back then.

  • Comment number 20.

    Those of you giving Dr K stick for this, give him a pass, please, everyone's allowed one. You should listen to John Waters attempting to extol the virtues of Pia Zadora. Then again, I have a soft spot for Heather Langenkamp and Deborah Foreman.

    Linda Blair is one of those jobbing actors who admirably carry on with having a career of any kind after being all too recognized for their first big hit. Harrison Ford is just about the only one whose career substantially survived Star Wars. Then there's the shark from Jaws, never made another good film at all, stuck in sequels and typecast for the rest of his career (sadly his cameo in Annie Hall was cut).

    I was really disappointed by Repossessed, but thought Linda was an incredibly good sport for doing it. Mark shouldn't waste his time getting us to list good films from Linda's paltry CV, he should be badgering every director he meets into casting her in a comeback role.

  • Comment number 21.

    Savage Streets is by far the greatest post Exorcist Linda movie.

    I love it's unashamed sub Death Wish nastiness, Linda in crossbow wielding ultra butchy gang leader mode and the inclusion of ultimate 80's scream queen Linnea Quigley was a most welcome bonus

  • Comment number 22.

    I did like her in Hell Night which was one of the better slasher flicks of the early 80s, she is a good actress but did lack the sex appeal Jamie Lee Cutis had around the same time, when she was doing low budget horror films.

    Even though Linda starred in various sleazy roles, she was too girl next door in her looks, which I think held her back for a long time, for example, she wouldn't have pulled off the Jamie Lee Curtis role in Trading Places at all, she may have the same acting skills as Curtis, but she didn't have the look, or the figure.

    Now you may think I'm being unfair by comparing her to Curtis, but Curtis herself had that girl next door look before she made Trading Places, but unlike Blair, she was being typecast in low budget horror movies after making Halloween back in 78.

    Blair lost out to Brooke Shields when auditioning for The Blue Lagoon, and apparently she was in talks to star in The Taxi Driver, which she lost out to Jodie Foster. It’s not a question on whether or not Blair was a good actress, she just didn’t have the right look for most of the films that she tried and failed to get.

  • Comment number 23.

    Got her autograph at a memorabilia show. She was really nice to talk to, and was clearly very passionate about her dog charity.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think she was excellent in both cut and uncut versions of 'Born Innocent'. In places it's a hard film to watch - especially the notorious plunger scene - but her performance is both convincing and sensitive. I think the thing about Linda Blair as an actress is that she often exceeds the expectations of fairly average film scripts, such as in Sarah T - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. If the writing is less than great and she is still able to give a great performance, that must surely be a sign of genuine talent.

  • Comment number 25.

    Just wanted to put a quick happy birthday so ........erm.........................HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  • Comment number 26.

    For the love of God, review THE TREE OF LIFE.

  • Comment number 27.

    Awesome! As I was watching this blog post I was hoping you would mention Roller Boogie and, sure enough at the end you did! I love that film... and you're right, it's a fantastic disco film!

  • Comment number 28.

    My greatest memory of Linda Blair is of an interview between her and Ivan Hutchinson (late of this parish, an Australian film critic par excellence, no where near as entertaining as our good doctor, but possibly as well informed).

    Ivan quoted to Linda a comment from another actress (can't remember who) on the subject of Linda's mental health following The Exorcist and Linda commented along the lines of "She can't get any work. In fact the only work she can get is pornography."

    Ivan was completely gobsmacked at this response and it took him some time to compose himself. No doubt he was simultaneously thinking about whether the teev would cut the feed and how a teenage girl was capable of delivering such a devastating come back.

    Tried to find it on youtube but no luck. Ivan Hutchinson was a great man. If you still have access, Mark, you might ask Linda whether she remembers this interview.

  • Comment number 29.

    I disagree with TheConciseStatement @19, about Sweet Hostage. I love this movie with Linda Blair and Martin Sheen. I love their interaction where they discuss the meaning of words. Also how they're relationship changes from kidnapper and hostage to becoming lovers and yet they're love and relationship being doomed. Top notch performances from Sheen and Blair IMHO.

    I also remember with fondness, Sarah T, Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. I was quite young at the time and this really opened my eyes and Linda's performance.

    Will try to find to find RollerBoogie. I just adore cheesy disco movies, like "You Can't Stop the Music" and "Xanadu". Why let a story get in the way of some great disco music.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Charmingest" ???? Mark, that doesn` mean anything!

  • Comment number 31.

    *doesn`t* - my mistake was a tpypo!! ha

  • Comment number 32.

    Right Mark, paraphrasing your own words about Lars Von Trier: "Oh come on stop it Mark!" With all the best will in the world, she's yet another example of a former child actress with one or two big hits, followed by a risible adult screen career - a pattern followed by countless others since (Jack Wild, Macaulay Culkin,Haley Joel Osment etc, etc.)

  • Comment number 33.

    Can't tell which -post Exorcist- Linda Blair pic is the most terrifying, 'Repossessed' (1990) or 'National Lampoon's Exorcist II: The Heretic' (1977).

  • Comment number 34.

    I think you may have exhausted every possible way in which to mention the Exorcist. She does however have a gift to elevate the general feel of what are often pretty awful films.The bath scene in Savage streets left quite an impression on my 15 year old mind.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nothing springs to mind; other than "The Exorcist"... Oh, and "The Exorcist II" but I remember that because of Richard Burton. But i'd be cheating (searching imdb) if I said i remembered any other films with her in...

  • Comment number 36.

    Why does everyone slate Exorcist 2? It's such a weird film! I love it...and the soundtrack is incredible. I'd rather it exist than not. You're all too harsh. It was never going to be like the first! It scared the devil out of me!

  • Comment number 37.

    She's is one of the ultimate b movie queens, and always completely steals the show whenever she appears in one. I do love repossessed though.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    I completely agree with you Ade Dovey. Exorcist 2 doesn't deserve the vitriol bestowed upon it. I'm fond of both John Boorman and Richard Burton, so I may be biased. However, I'd sooner watch it than either of the lacklustre prequels. Exorcist III is an interesting little film but it's hard to take George C. Scott seriously as the central protagonist for a couple of reasons. It's hard to take Exorcist 2 seriously, yet - as you say Ade Dovey - it's strangely enjoyable. Where else were they supposed to go for a sequel?

  • Comment number 40.

    RE:bloodysam@39

    ...not to John bloody Boorman, clearly.

 

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