Robert Duvall has enshrined himself as one of the cinema’s greats over the past six decades with a body of acting work that includes many of my favourite films: NETWORK, MASH, THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER II and APOCALYPSE NOW. The latter; Francis Ford Coppola’s epic 1979 masterpiece on the Vietnam War, based on Joseph Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS; celebrated its 40th Anniversary this year. A savage and darkly comic examination of the absurdity and double standards of war. It includes one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
Bob played regiment commander and surfing fanatic Lt. Colonel William ‘Bill’ Kilgore, a role for which he received an Oscar nomination and won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. In the midst of an early morning helicopter attack against an innocent village, Kilgore orders a napalm strike, then sees a Vietnamese woman toss a grenade into one of his choppers. “Savages” he spits. “You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
Bob has been nominated for an Academy Award seven times, winning the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of country and western singer Mac Sledge in TENDER MERCIES in 1983, adding to his BAFTA, two Emmys, four Golden Globes and a SAG award, among many more.
I drew and sent him this contemporary portrait combined with a Kilgore and quote sketch to Bob at his home in Virginia a couple of years ago and he kindly signed, dedicated and returned it to me.