If you like Johnny Depp, you know that the uncommon actor gives an equally uncommon and masterful performance in any role he has ever played. In this diner scene from the 1993 movie Benny & Joon, Depp portrays an eccentric young man whose style brings back to life the great silent movie era icons Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. In fact, isn’t Depp himself an icon?
Benny, seen here sitting to the left of Depp (whose character is named Sam), lives with his schizophrenic sister Joon following the death of their parents. They are friends with Sam. A lost bet over a poker game commits Sam to living with Benny and Joon. Not an ideal arrangement as far as Benny is concerned, though he quickly surmises that Sam would be the ideal replacement for the many housekeepers who have fled their situation upon witnessing Joon’s frequent outbursts. The scenario is perfect for many twists and a surprising exploration of human relations and acceptance.
Benny & Joon was shot on location, in Spokane, Washington. At first, it was deemed an improbable story that would not catch the audience’s interest, due in great part to America’s well root love affair with action movies at the time the film was released. However, it grossed over $23 million at the box office. “Beneath the domesticated surrealism, though, Benny & Joon becomes genuinely touching,” observed Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman at the time.
We cannot speak of this scene without including the original idea, from Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush, 1925.
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